Lechon Kawali (Filipino Crispy Fried Pork Belly) Recipe

a close up of lechon kawali (Filipino crispy pork belly)

Melissa Hom

Why It Works

  • Salting the pork liberally and allowing it to air-dry in the refrigerator overnight after boiling results extra crispiness.
  • Cutting the pork into 2-inch slices creates the right balance between crispy outsides and juicy interior.

Filipino lechon kawali is one of the great pork dishes of the world, and the only hard thing about making it is waiting for the boiled pork belly to air-dry in the fridge overnight before being fried until intensely crisp and crunchy on the outside and meltingly tender within.

Recipe Facts

Active: 20 mins
Total: 10 hrs
Serves: 6 to 8 servings

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  • 2 pounds (900g) boneless skin-on pork belly, cut in half
  • 8 medium cloves garlic, smashed
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
  • 1/2 cup (120ml) soy sauce
  • Kosher salt
  • Canola or peanut oil, for frying
  • Rice or cane vinegar, preferably spicy, or Lechon sauce (such as Mang Tomas), for dipping


  1. Place pork belly, skin side down, in a large pot and add enough water to completely submerge meat. Add garlic, bay leaves, peppercorns, and soy sauce. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then lower heat and reduce to a simmer. Cover and cook until pork skin can be pierced with a knife with no resistance, about 1 hour. Transfer pork to a wire rack set in a rimmed baking sheet and season liberally with salt all over. Refrigerate pork until skin has completely dried, 6 hours or overnight.

    collage: 2 pieces of pork belly submerged in water and aromatics; cooked for 1 hour; a knife piercing the skin to show doneness

    Melissa Hom

  2. Remove pork from refrigerator and cut into 2-inch slices.

    The cooked pork belly after it has been refrigerated overnight, being cut into 2 inch pieces

    Melissa Hom

  3. Fill a wok or Dutch oven at least 4 inches oil and heat to 375°F over high heat. Working in batches, fry pork until deeply browned and skin has bubbled and crisped, 7 to 10 minutes. Transfer pork to a paper towel-lined plate and season with salt to taste. Cut pork slices into 1-inch pieces. Serve immediately with vinegar or Lechon sauce for dipping.

    collage: pork belly frying in oil and then being lifted with a spider spatula

    Melissa Hom

Special equipment

wok or Dutch oven

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