Have a feast on this Lechon Belly Roll with skin so crispy and meat so tender and juicy. Made flavorful with simple herbs and spices like lemongrass, green onions, garlic, and chili.
I am on a roll. And yes, pun intended! After posting about the success of my Crispy Pata where I found a sure way to get that light crunch on every pork skin—fried or roasted. Now, I am here to share this deliciously flavorsome Lechon Belly Roll that was an equally great success.
Just look at the photo below and you will get an idea of how crunchy the skin is! Check out how juicy that meat is.
What is Lechon Belly?
Lechon is a Spanish word for roasted suckling pig. However, it is actually not limited to small piglets, big ones are also roasted and made into Lechon. In the Philippines, you call roasted suckling pig a "Lechon de Leche". Usually more expensive than a regular Lechon. But it is the buttery and super tender flesh that you are actually paying for. Although the name is Spanish, it is believed that early Filipinos were already roasting pigs or boars way before the Philippine Hispanic era. The most popular place in the Philippines to get the best Lechon is Cebu City.
Roasting a whole pig on a spit over charcoal is a pure indulgence. Roasted over charcoal for about 8 hours, it is reserved only for very special occasions like graduations, baptism, wedding or a large family gathering. Nowadays, you do not have to buy the whole pig to enjoy Lechon as many lechoneros sell also per kilo. And then there is Lechon Belly Roll.
Cooked the same way as Lechon but using only the most coveted part of a pig— the belly. Because of its tenderness and depth of flavors, it is very typical to see the belly part of a Lechon to go first. This recipe though is not cooked over charcoal but at the convenience of an oven.
What are the ingredients for Lechon Belly?
Lechon Belly is actually very simple to make. It needs planning ahead, that is true because it requires a long oven time.
Aside from the pork belly, the other things needed is the seasonings. Different regions use different stuffing depending on what is available in the area.
The most common spices/herbs used are:
- green onions
- tamarind or batwan
- salt or fish sauce
- soy sauce
- achuette oil
Get fresh belly with pale pink meat and firm to touch. The fat should be white. Avoid the ones that look greasy.
Choose a belly that has just enough fat in between the skin and the flesh.
The ideal thickness would be 1.5 to 2 inches. Remember the thicker it is the longer it needs to roast.
When rolling try to close the roll completely without overlapping the skins so all of it will roast to a crisp. I used a pork belly that is 8 inches wide that enclosed the stuffing perfectly.
Tie the belly roll with a kitchen twine securely to prevent the stuffing from coming out the seams.
- 3.5 pounds pork belly - about 1 ½ inch thick
- 1 head garlic - chopped
- 5-6 stalks green onions - roots trimmed and then bundled
- 4-5 stalks lemongrass - bundled
- 4 pieces green chili peppers - or Thai chili if you like it more spicy
- 2 tablespoons salt
- ¼-1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
- 2 tablespoon fish sauce
- 1 tablespoon lye water
- 1 tablespoon vinegar
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- Lay the pork belly with the skin-side up. Poke several shallow holes using a fork or the tip of a knife. Turn it around and do the same with the meat side, this time only bit deeper but without going through the skin.
- Season the meat side with ground pepper and fish sauce. Transfer the meat with the skin-side up on a pan. Rub the salt all over the skin to draw the moisture out. Refrigerate the pork uncovered for at least 3 hours.
- Remove the salt and moisture from the skin using a kitchen or paper towel.
- Turn the pork belly meat-side up on a dry surface. Arrange the chopped garlic, green onions, lemongrass and chili on top of the meat. Roll the meat to encapsulating the fillings inside. Secure the roll by tying it with kitchen twine at 2-inch intervals. Place it in a roasting pan with rack.
- Brush the skin with lye water and refrigerate for another 1-2 hours (or overnight). Take it out of the fridge and brush with vinegar then soy sauce. Let it dry out in the fridge or in front of a fan for a few minutes.
- Roast in a preheated oven at 180°C/350°F for 2 hours then increase the temperature to 200°C/400°F and roast for another 30 minutes to an hour or until skin becomes crispy. (SEE NOTE)
Hi There...i followed your recipe to the T but the skin on mine broke into pieces. Any idea why?
Hi Jason, what do you mean that the skin broke into pieces? Do you mean it cracked or did it bubble?
I have tried making it exactly as instructed but the skin is crispy hard and not crispy crunchy. I do not know what I did wrong. Please advise.
Hi Consuelo, some trick I learned to make the skin crunchy is to brush lye water or vodka on it. Others also let the skin dry out overnight in the fridge before putting it in the oven.
Mary lou says
Can i freeze before cooking after i roll? For a make ahead
You can refrigerate if to be cooked on the following day or up to the next 5 days. Freeze it if longer than that.
Hello. Do I have to cover the belly with aluminum foil in the first 2 hours? Or leave it uncovered? Thanks.
No need to cover with foil. But if it gets brown too fast then you can tent it with foil and just remove it later on.
Christine S. says
I assume if it’s a larger piece of meat the cooking time is longer? When I adjust the recipe to 3x it doesn’t change the time. I assume it would be triple the cooking time? Please advise
If it is thicker then, yes, you might have to cook it longer but if it is only longer but same thickness, then same cooking time.
Made this for Christmas and followed the recipe as written, with adjustments based on the larger pork belly I had. Turned out great, well-seasoned, tasty! The skin was crispy, and the meat was very juicy! While some other recipes cut into the meat prior to rolling, this one kept the meat intact (except for a few holes poked into both sides) and kept the lechon juicy! We almost finished the whole 8 lbs of pig! Thanks for a great recipe!
Thanks for the great review, Leilani! Happy that you like it!
Wow so good and crunchy… first time to make and was a success.
Do you have a recipe for a lechon sauce for this as well? I could probably search online but I just love and trust your recipes, so as much as possible, I'd rather ask for yours!
Hi Morissa, unfortunately, we do not have it at this time. But I will add it to our list.
Thank you for this recipe 😄🥰 this was by far the only recipe that made the skin really extra crispy. I already tried alot of different recipes previously, and no one met my expectations. And the taste? Just perfect ❤ thank youuuuu!
Aaaww...that is so great to hear, Mykz! 😘
I don't have lye water, is that ok? What does the lye water do anyways? Thanks!
It makes the skin crunchy, others use vodka instead.
This recipe is awesome! I used it multiple times and it always have the aame crispy skin! Thanks for sharing!
Thank you for the great review, Erik!
I tried your recipe! And it was A-W-E-SOOOOOOOME! the flavor and juiciness of the lechon plus the crispy skin is just WOW! this is my family's favorite kapag may handaan kami. Thank you so much for sharing!
That is so great to hear, Maxx. Glad your family enjoys it.
Hi. Do you use pork belly with skin on or off?
Hi Tina, definitely skin on, only! You want that crispy lechon skin, it is the best part of it!
I love this recipe very much.
Question tho , how can we keep the leftovers crunchy and crispy?
You can try reheating or removing the skin and fry it.
Can I roast the pork in an air fryer?
If yes, at what temperature and cooking time?
yes u can at 180 C for an hour and 15 minutes or until skin is crispy. must turn it from time to time for ven cooking.
Hi, I was wondering if the cooking time depends on how many lbs the meat is? Like I'm about to roast a 10lb slab. How long should I cook it for?
Hi i don’t have lye water, but i have vodka, how many tablespoons of vodka to use then? Thanks 😊
Just enough to brush the skin with.
Thanks so much for the delicious recipes--always my go-to.
Can I roast 2 or more slabs of lechon belly in my oven simultaneously? Or would it adversely affect the cooking?
Many thanks and Merry Christmas.
Sure you can, Milena.
If I roast 2 slabs together, will I need to increase roasting time?
Since they are 2 separate slabs with each the same thickness as in this recipe then no need to change the time as long as your oven is big and there is enough room for both without touching.
Do I need to increase roasting time if I roast 2 slabs simultaneously at one time? Thanks.
If there is enough room for the heat to circulate then the same amount of time should do it.
If i dont have batwan or tamarind, can i use lemon?
I did not use it in mine.
Hi Bebs, is there a way to make it in advance and store it frozen in the freezer?
Once it is roasted it is best eaten immediately while the skin is crunchy.
Very good recipe btw.
Would this work even without rolling or tying up the pork belly?
Well, rolling the belly around the stuffing is what gives the meat the flavor but I guess you can also place it flat with the aromatics placed at the bottom, just make sure they are evenly spread so you get even flavor all throughout.
Hello! Its hard to buy with less fat pork belly. Did you happen to take off the skin and lessen the fat? Just like how they make Porchetta?
Thank You and More Power!
Hi Roy, you just have to choose a good slab with good fat and meat proportions. Some of the fat will melt and turn to oil and a little fat should be ok from time to time 😉
Hi! Why do you put lye water in the lechon belly?
What does it do to the skin?
As mentioned in the post, it makes the skin crispier.
I can’t find lye water, do u think I can use the substitute you recommended in your crispy pata recipe?
I heard vodka work well too...
Hi!! Did you Oven-Roast it? I mean is it specificall says Roast (option) in the oven or just the normal oven will do?
And why does the color differs from the other lechon which is red? Thanks!
Hi Faye, it is the normal oven setting and I use an electric oven but also works with a gas oven. Others brush their Lechon with soy sauce to make it more red/brown.
Hi Beb what if i dont have lye water,what alternative can i use?
I read that vodka works well too...
Will the subsitute for lye water (baking powder + water) used As lye water susbstitute in kakanin will work too for crispy lechon belly Ma’am Bebz?
I haven't tried it in this one so I cannot say for sure.
Question: what does Lye water and vinegar do to the skin? Thanks
Hi Imee, lye water is used to denature the proteins in the pork skin that will make it crispy/crackle. Brushing it with vinegar afterward will remove the after-taste if any. But since the amount of lye water used is really minimal, no need for the vinegar actually.
Bernadette Baguio says
Hi what oven setting did you use for roasting this in the oven? Im using fan grilling and but it's cooking the topmost first
I just use the regular, top and bottom heat, no fan.