How To Cook The Best Grilled Pork Belly Recipes

Family salu-salo (eating/feasting together) is usually one of the best memories for a person to reminisce, especially for Filipinos. These family feasting occasions are always overwhelmed with a variety of dishes, especially grilled meat, fish, seafood, and mixed veggies. Therefore, let’s recreate those memories by learning first how to make Liempo as your family treats in your next salu-salo.

A typical way of salu-salo is a boodle fight wherein the family eats through kamayan (using bare hands in eating). Usually, in this way, a heaping amount of rice and a variety of viands (ulam) are scattered but well-arranged over a long banana leaf or leaves, if extended family and relatives are joining. And they often include juicy grilled cuts of Liempo as the exciting part.

So, for you to prepare for your upcoming family feasting, it’s high time that you get to learn this recipe. Fortunately, through this feature, you can pay attention to Liempo’s descriptions, its marinade, how to solve issues, and suggestions to improve your cooking. Lastly, trivial information to further understand this dish. 

What is Inihaw na Liempo dish

Grilled Pork Belly is the direct translation of Inihaw na Liempo. It is one of the popular variants of Filipino Pork Barbeque. Ideally, this is a convenient choice for those who crave a barbeque but avoids skewering pounds of meat in the sticks to save time and effort. 

grilled pork belly on a wide plate with lettuce
(Photo Credits to: hubpages)

Regardless of the shortcut, you can’t dare to underestimate a well-marinated Liempo because it will take your breath away. Indeed, your first bite won’t stop you from over-indulging and eating more until you find yourself dying of high blood pressure. Just kidding, so just eat moderately.

What is the Liempo marinade made of

The secret to the wonders of pork belly cooked with smoke or barbecue Liempo lies in its marinade, which you will use in the coating. For this reason, you must do the necessary preparations like buying, cutting, and measuring as provided in the recipes. To understand further, listed below are the ingredients and the benefits of food(cooked from the smoker grill).

pork marinade in a rectangular bowl
  • Soy sauce – This seasoning makes for an ideal brine base for your marinade. A staple for most Filipino dips and marinade, this ingredient brings out and enhances the food’s natural flavors. Plus, it is an effective tenderizing agent as it breaks down a tough food protein called myosin. 
  • Garlic – Freshly-minced cloves of these are necessary to provide another depth of flavor and warmth to the Liempo marinade. Besides, this essential aromatic brings a delicious fragrance to any food(including those cooked with smoke). It is excellent to put fresh garlic in your brine, but garlic powder will work as an alternative if you lack time. 
  • Brown Sugar – Putting granulated sweetener provides a touch of sweetness in your marinade that balances the acidic and sodium content of other ingredients. This sweetener aids in browning reactions that result in an enhanced savory flavor of the  Liempo. This sweetener can tenderize tough, rubbery, and chewy pork belly slices when marinated for a long time.
  • Salt – This all-around seasoning penetrates the pork belly during the entire marinating process. Salt is a natural flavor enhancer, and it also lengthens the shelf life of your pork belly.

However, putting salt will take a toll on the food’s texture as salt draws the pork’s moisture, making it dry. Yet, fret not as other tenderizing ingredients in your marinade, as previously mentioned, can save its lost moisture. 

  • Pepper – The “King of Spice” is excellent to add in the pork marinade when freshly ground. A sufficient amount of this ingredient in the savory brine provides a non-intimidating kick of heat to the food when it grills. You may adjust its amount depending on your spice tolerance. To give spicy the flavor and more.
  • Calamansi – Calamansi is included in our recipes. The acidity of calamansi juice tenderizes the pork by breaking down its proteins. It also adds a punch of tangy and sour taste that balances well with other ingredients’ saltiness and sweetness. If calamansi is not available in your local stores, you may replace it with lime or lemon extract.
  • Banana Ketchup – This ketchup variant is made famous in the Philippines, which is sweeter than the original style tomato ketchup. Most Filipino grilling bastes banana ketchup as it provides a soft and slightly tangy glaze and an appealing red hue that makes your inihaw na Liempo more appetizing. This one is essential in our recipes.

In case this condiment is not available in your local stores, we do not advise you to resort to the tomato-based version as it will not give you the desired taste of BBQ; instead, mash some ripe bananas, add vinegar, salt, and pepper, then you are good to go!

  • Oil – Do not estimate the power of fat in your basting thing, as this will help infuse all the flavors in your heated food when you smoke it in a griller. In addition to this ingredient in the dish, it can also prevent you from having a hard time coming up with a clumpy and unglazed Liempo.

Troubleshooting About the Grilled Pork Belly Meat Recipe

Mistakes may not always result in ruined meals. So in case you overcooked or poured in too much seasoning on your Liempo, you can rely on these simple troubleshooting solutions(indeed one of the unique recipes!). It can save you precious minutes.

  • What should I do to remedy my overcooked Liempo? – To make tough food less visible, chop it up into small bite-sized chunks to make it chewable. Afterward, mix 1/2 cup of water with a tablespoon of sweetener and pour it into overcooked food. Mix it gently until all the Liempo has absorbed the water mixture.
  • How can I save my salty cooked Liempo? – Baste your Liempo with a new mixture of banana ketchup and oil, as the added sweetness will distract your taste buds from the saltiness. However, if you are not a fan of overglazing heated foods, you may add some acids, such as calamansi juice or lemon juice, to balance the excess sodium content.

Free Recipe Trivia

One of our exciting recipes has a unique that is not well-known for most food(cooked with smoke in the grill) lovers, and we are sharing this for free! Here it is: Pork is an integral part of Filipino cuisine. To give you a glimpse of its culinary history, the Filipino translation of pig, “baboy,” might be derived from an Indo-Malay word “bayi”/” babi.” In the past, ancient Filipinos have shown that pork is an essential element of the Filipino culture. 

However, if we trace back, the etymology of Liempo does not belong in the same language family and historical chronology. The word is Spanish sounding, but please do not be tricked as “Liempo” came from Chinese loanwords “lieng,” which refers to breast and “PO,” which means the bacon cut of pork. An exciting free trivia about one of our recipes, right?

Recipe Tips: Proper way to marinate pork Belly (Barbecue Marinade and Rubbing Sauce)

Coming up with a well-mixed and flavor-stuffed marinade is a step nearer towards your goal. Now, try to master how to marinate your pork Liempo because this requires creativity and skillfulness. Once you have done this, you’re ready for the grill!

  • Hand – massage – shortly massage the pork belly with your bare hands while it is submerged to the marinade before you store it inside the refrigerator. 
  • Ample Time – depending on what you prefer, marinating may run from a minimum of 3 hours to as long as overnight. However, the meat gets mushy when you marinate it for over one day. Likewise, other red meats like beef and lamb require a more extended period of marinating for the seasonings to reach the connective tissues, making it delicious to the bones. 
  • Tender Cut – fortunately, pork belly is considered a tender cut meat because of the amount of fat it has. The flesh quickly absorbs the marinade rather than tenderizing it. 
  • Use of Plastic Bags – It is better to use resealable plastic bags than metal containers when storing the meat and its marinade. Metals are prone to sudden chemical reactions that might ruin your recipe. Just ensure that you deflate the plastic bag before sealing the marinated meat inside. 
  • Amount of Marinade – proportionate coating or basting of the marinade to the size of meat is essential to achieve the desired flavor of your Liempo. At least ¼ cup of the marinade is sufficient to evenly flavor a pound of pork belly. 

Best Served With

To make you crave more, you can enjoy an excellent Liempo with many partner foods, condiments, and beverages. See the list below and be amazed and crave in minutes! 

soy sauce with cayenne pepper in a small sauce bowl

Pork Belly/Pork Liempo with Calamansi and Soy sauce 

What else can make a quick and fresh dip other than this pair? You can save some from the marinade ingredients and set it aside, so you already have a standby drop. 


The carbonated bubbles and coolness of soft drinks can wash away all the grease in your mouth (we won’t judge you!) made by your unforgiving munch on the Liempo and its juicy skin.

Sinigang soup 

Take a sip of this hot and sour soup to stimulate your salivary glands in preparation for the yummy pork belly and its juicy skin. You can also consume it simultaneously with the food cooked from the smoker grill, especially if you plan on overeating to load up for the entire day. 

Burong Mangga with Sauce

Directly translates as pickled mango in English. It is a fermented unripe mango in a liquid mixture of water, salt, and sweetener. You can add some chopped chilies for a fiery kick.

A little amount goes a long way. Scoop about half a teaspoon together with rice and Liempo and have them all together in one bite– a symphony of Filipino flavors will surely surprise you!

Ensaladang Talong 

Eggplant salad is a classic Filipino side dish prepared by combining mashed grilled eggplants, tomatoes, onions, and sprinkled with calamansi. Eggplant salad is excellent to consume fresh alongside Liempo. Plus, you can prepare this in minutes.

Salted Egg with Tofu

After you grill the Liempo, you cannot go wrong to partner it with salted duck eggs. Together with the salty white layer, the creamy and rich yolk complements well with the juicy box-cuts smoked food’s chargrilled taste. The crispy fried food will make it a more exciting food.

Halabos na Hipon 

A no-fuss sauteed shrimp will make a non-threatening companion with the Liempo. The sweet and light taste of this seafood complements the fat and charcoal aftertaste of this cooked dish. 

Buko Pandan 

This dessert is a mixture of strips of young coconuts, condensed milk, cream, and pandan jelly. Having a cupful of creamy buko pandan will end your meal with a sweet note. Close your eyes, and you’ll think of a tropical paradise in minutes!

Beer or Wine with Tofu

In this case, smoked pork belly will surely make a great alcohol companion with fried, crispy food. You can enjoy Liempo and its juicy skin, beer, or wine. Just keep an eye out to your pulutan-greedy friends and make sure they do their share! So you can enjoy the cheering of beer and wine friends!

Pancit Bihon 

When served with the pork belly, this noodle food already wishes for not just a long but also a happy life. Reply now to your friend and say you will bring this duo to make a grand birthday feast!


Truly, Liempo is like a blockbuster movie that, when served, almost everyone wants it. Glad to say, with the information loaded in this blog, you can become an excellent director wannabe of this movie. All you need is a creative mind and a skillful hand in coming up with the right mix and match of flavors to make your grilled pork belly meat an outstanding feat. 

Therefore, there is no reason why you can’t treat your family in the next boodle fight. Try this recipe(with steps instruction) and master how to grill Liempo. Once you master this, you can’t imagine how your friends will reply to your newfound cooking skill. Be proud to make a Filipino culinary masterpiece and reply now to your friend that you’ll make the extra celebration memorable with your awesome Liempo.

For more delicious recipe, visit Eat Like Pinoy!

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5 from 1 vote

Best Grilled Pork Belly Recipe

Course Main Course
Cuisine Filipino
Keyword Pork Recipes
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Servings 4
Calories 763kcal
Cost $5-$20


  • 1 lb Pork belly cut into strips
  • 1/2 tsp Ground black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp Salt
  • 1 tbsp Soy sauce
  • 4 cloves Garlic crushed, minced
  • 1/2 cup Brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup Ketchup
  • 1 tbsp Cooking oil


  • In a large bowl, combine pork belly with black pepper, salt, garlic, sugar and soy sauce. Mix well. Cover then refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  • Then grill the pork  belly while basting the top part of the pork after flipping it over.
  • Serve hot with spiced vinegar or toyomansi. Share and Enjoy!

Ketchup marinade

  • In a small bowl, combine ketchup and oil.


Calories: 763kcal | Carbohydrates: 37g | Protein: 12g | Fat: 63g | Saturated Fat: 22g | Cholesterol: 82mg | Sodium: 716mg | Potassium: 362mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 33g | Vitamin A: 154IU | Vitamin C: 3mg | Calcium: 39mg | Iron: 1mg

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