This article was updated on 09/07/2023 for clarity.
There’s nothing more delicious than freshly roasted crispy pork belly. But a close runner-up is reheated pork belly (if you reheat it in the right way).
I conducted an experiment to find out the best way of reheating pork belly, so that the skin kept its crispy, crackly texture, and the meat didn’t dry out.
In a rush? Here’s the short answer.
The best way to reheat pork belly is in a frying pan. Slice the pork belly into thin slices while heating some oil in a pan. Once the oil is hot, add the pork belly and sear it on both sides. Next, use a pair of tongs to hold the pork belly skin-side down against the pan for 20-30 seconds.
How I tested reheating pork belly
I roasted a nice chunk of pork belly until the meat was melt-in-your-mouth-tender and the skin was crispy, fought off the temptation to devour it, and left it in the fridge overnight.
The next day, I tested four different ways of reheating the pork belly.
- Oven: Good for large pieces of pork belly.
- Air fryer: A bit too drying.
- Frying in a skillet: My favorite way and good for small bits of pork belly.
- Microwave: Good for meat, but bad for skin.
I was looking for juicy meat, crispy skin, and a quick and easy reheating method.
How to reheat pork belly in the oven
Time: 10-15 minutes (longer for a joint)
- Preheat the oven to 350°F/180°C and separate the skin from the meat of the pork belly (optional – see notes below if you don’t want to do this).
- Wrap the meat in aluminum foil, adding a spoonful of stock or water to the foil parcel before sealing it.
- Place the meat on the lower shelf of your oven and put the skin uncovered on a higher shelf.
- Heat the meat and the skin in the oven for 10-15 minutes. If the skin isn’t crispy enough for your liking by the time the meat is done, then put it under the broiler for 1-2 minutes.
If you don’t want to separate the skin and the meat, just cover the pork belly’s meat with foil, leaving the skin exposed.
The foil with the liquid helps produce succulent meat by rehydrating it. I personally like using apple juice as my liquid but I know water is much more convenient!
For the skin, it’s best if you can place it on a wire rack with a drip tray underneath so it had sufficient airflow. If this isn’t possible, crumple up a piece of foil and use this as the ‘wire rack’.
Note: 10-15 minutes is a guesstimate based on a slightly- thicker-than-average slice of pork belly. If you have thin slices, your meat won’t need as long. If you have a big joint, it’ll need longer.
Results: The oven was a solid performer in my test. The meat was decent (very slightly on the dry side), and the skin was crispy. However, it took the longest, which lost it a point in my eyes. If you have a big joint of pork belly, using the oven will be your only real option unless you want to cut the belly up into smaller pieces.
How to reheat pork belly in a skillet
Time: 3-4 minutes
- Heat a thin layer of oil in a pan until it’s shimmering. The pork belly should sizzle when it hits the pan.
- Add the pork belly and sear it on both sides for 1-2 minutes before using tongs to hold the skin-side down on the pan
- When the skin is crispy, you can serve the pork belly.
If you have pork-belly bits, simply stir them in the pan until they’re heated.
Feel free to add anything else to the skillet you want. Sauces, vegetables, rice, or eggs are all great additions to a pork belly stir fry.
The pork belly might fall apart slightly if you’re too vigorous with the stirring, but this doesn’t take away from the taste.
Another option you have is to use more oil and shallow fry the pork belly pieces. This will dry the meat out but crisp the skin up beautifully.
(but it’s not the healthiest option).
Results: I’m a big fan of pan-frying pork belly. You get succulent meat and a crunch on the skin without dissecting the belly. But it will only work with slices or smaller bits of pork, and you need to stand by the stove attending to the meat.
Reheating pork belly in the air fryer
Time: 3-4 minutes
Rating: 9/10 (skin), 6/10 (meat)
- Set the air fryer to 350°F/180°C.
- Sprinkle the meat with some water or stock, avoid getting any on the skin.
- Cover the meat section of the pork belly with foil, leaving the skin exposed.
- Place the pork belly in the air fryer basket with the skin facing outwards
- Heat the pork belly for 3-4 minutes, then check its internal temperature with a meat thermometer. If it’s 165°F/73°C, the meat is ready.
You need to be very careful not to overdo it in the air fryer. Air fryers are small, super-heated convection ovens. A minute or two too long, and the meat will be dry as a bone. The foil aims to trap moisture and protect the meat from drying out too much. But it can’t save it completely.
Another warning is don’t overcrowd the air fryer with pork belly. There needs to be enough room around the meat for air to circulate. If you’ve got a lot of pork to reheat, do it in batches.
Psst… on my first attempt my skin wasn’t that crispy because I accidentally got some water on it, so be careful with this.
Results: The air fryer was a quick and convenient way of reheating my pork belly, and I got super crispy skin. But the meat was a bit dry. A major downside is that not everyone has an air fryer!
How to reheat pork belly in the microwave
Time: 1-2 minutes
Rating: 9/10 (meat), 2/10 (skin)
- Place the pork belly on a microwave-safe plate. If you have a big chunk of belly, it’s best to slice it up so it reheats quicker and more evenly.
- Sprinkle the meat section of the belly with some water. Avoid getting any water on the skin.
- Heat the pork belly on high in 30-second intervals until it’s heated through.
- If you want crispy skin, remove the skin from the meat and heat it under a hot broiler for 2-3 minutes.
If you decide to take the skin off the pork belly and just put the meat in the microwave, then put the meat in a bowl, sprinkle on some water, and cover it with a pierced piece of plastic wrap.
This will trap any steam and rehydrate the meat. You can also cover the meat with a damp paper towel.
Results: The meat was nice out of the microwave. It was juicy and moist. But, as expected, the skin was not longer crispy, instead it was soggy and chewy. If you’re in a hurry, the microwave is okay. But if you have time to crisp the skin up another way, that’s a far better choice.
How to store pork belly
To store pork belly, wait until it’s cooled to room temperature and then place it in an airtight container in the fridge. The pork belly will last 3-4 days. To keep the skin as crispy as possible, cover it with a paper towel. The paper towel will absorb any excess moisture.
It’s important to wait until the pork belly is cool because otherwise, condensation in your container will turn the skin soggy.
But never leave pork belly out at room temperature for over two hours. After this, bacteria can start to multiply, and you risk getting sick.
Can you freeze pork belly?
Pork belly freezes really well. Wait until it’s completely cool, then wrap the pork belly in aluminum foil and put it in a heavy-duty freezer bag. Squeeze as much air out of the freezer bag as you can before putting it in the freezer. The pork belly will be good for up to 6 months.
Always portion up the pork belly before you freeze it to save you having to defrost more than you need.
If you have smaller bits of pork belly, like slices or bites, I recommend flash-freezing them. Lay them out on a parchment-paper-line baking tray and put them in the freezer for an hour. You can then transfer the pork belly pieces to a bigger container without worrying about them sticking together.
If you want to thaw the pork belly, take it out of the freezer and place it in the fridge the day before you want to use it.
Or you can cook the pork belly straight from frozen. The general rule is to add on 50% cooking time for frozen meat. So if you would cook it for 2 hours from fresh, you need to cook it for 3 hours from frozen. The oven is best for reheating frozen pork belly.
What to do with leftover pork belly
If you don’t fancy eating your leftover pork belly by itself, here are a few ideas for what to do with it.
- Have it for breakfast mixed into scrambled eggs or an omelet.
- Add it to fried rice along with any vegetables you have that need using up. A fried egg on top finishes off the dish nicely.
- Make a sandwich for lunch! Pork belly and slaw. Or you can get a little fancier and use the pork belly in tacos or steamed buns.
- Make a pork belly ramen. Great for warming you up on a cold day.
- Make a variation on the famous Italian pasta bucatini all amatriciana. Pork belly, onions, and tomato sauce – delicious!
Read next: How To Reheat Bao Buns
The BEST Way To Reheat Pork Belly [Tested]
- 1 portion pork belly
- 1 tsp oil
- Heat some oil in a pan until it’s shimmering. The pork belly should sizzle when it hits the pan.
- Slice your pork belly up or chop it into small bits.
- Add the pork belly to the pan and fry it until it’s heated through.
- Flip the pork belly over so it heats from all sides, focusing on the skin side at the end to get it extra crispy.
- Another option you have is to use more oil and shallow fry the pork belly pieces. This will dry the meat out but crisp the skin up beautifully.