How To Cook the Best Lechon Kawali

crispy lechon kawali in a food box with sauce

Filipino families love to celebrate every special occasion in their household, whether it is a birthday party, graduation, a wedding, fiesta, anniversaries, holidays and other celebrations.

Filipinos are ostentatious and competitive when it comes to cooking foods whenever there’s something to celebrate.

One of the most popular dishes in Filipino food culture that can brighten every party is Lechon Kawali, and it’s found even in a simple banquet. It is made with pork belly parboil until it becomes edible and then deep-fried until golden and crispy.

crispy lechon kawali over chopping board with knife, sauce, vinegar and cucumber

Dipping this in fish sauce, vinegar with a mix of soy and chilli peppers or  lechon gravy makes Lechon Kawali fantastic. 

So do you want to know more about this dish and make your own best Lechon Kawali? Read on!

What Is A Lechon Kawali?

Lechon Kawali is a version of the original Lechon. Yes, It is the whole pig pierced in bamboo to be roasted quickly over the heat of flaming charcoal while Lechon Kawali uses a method of boiling it first before deep-frying the pork belly in oil to achieve delicious crispy pork meat. 

golden brown and crispy lechon kawali

Lechon Kawali also resembles the famous Bagnet dish of the Ilocanos. Their main differences are that Bagnet’s meat is dry, light, and crackles, while the exterior of Lechon Kawali is salty and extra crispy, and the interior is tender and moist with fat and juicy meat.

Should I Be Worried About Lechon Kawali Calories?

The exact amount will vary depending on cooking time and temperature, ingredient density and the specific type of oil used.

SERVING SIZE115g or ½ cup

How to deal with the errors of cooking Lechon Kawali?


Using a lid to cover the frying pan is not actually a solution, but putting a little amount of dissolved cornstarch or flour in hot oil before frying the meat can actually solve the problem, to prevent oil from bursting.

Putting too much oil, is one of the factors why the oil is splattering. Use enough oil that can cover the pork. 

Also, too much heat is a risk. Apply the suggested temperature and don’t you ever try to reduce the boiling and frying time. In cooking (as well as in life) don’t trust ‘shortcuts’ to dictate what must be done.

This clear impatience will only lead you to a disastrous outcome. 

Fascinating Facts about Lechon Kawali 

delicious lechon kawali with sauce over white plate

Okay, so you have heard and tasted this one-of-a-kind-dish, but are there things you still don’t know about lechon kawali? If you have enjoyed peeling the crispy layers of this heaven-sent dish, maybe you would also enjoy peeling these fascinating facts of you’re well-loved ‘lechon-kawali’. 

1. What is ‘Kawali’ ?

If you are a foreigner and have tasted this wonderful dish, you might have wondered what the word ‘kawali’ meant? If no one even bothered to tell you this, then let us define it for you. ‘Kawali’ is a traditional Filipino cooking pan where almost all their dishes, including the ‘lechon’, are cooked.

FYI: This word is not related to any pig’s parts. Foreigners might assume that it is since it is attached to the name of the dish. 

2. How to Keep the Meat Moist? 

When it comes to meat, one of the top headaches of cooks is how to keep their meat moist? And if you’re planning to do a ‘feat’ in cooking Lechon Kawali, this problem will never leave you away, so how can you exactly solve this ‘meat mystery’? 

The secret is to boil the pork until it becomes ‘slice-tender’ but should not fall apart in shreds. Cooks must never forget this golden mean to keep their lechon moist, which makes this dish even more delectable. (Yum! Yum!) 



If you think that achieving the perfect crisp is all about oil, oil, oil, and fry, fry, fry, then it’s impossible for you to find the holy grail of the perfect crispiness you’ve been searching for. 

The first thing that you must do (and here’s the secret) is to boil the meat until it gets tender. I repeat, until-it-gets-tender. And if you’re too impatient to wait for the right tenderness to set in, then you’ll have a rubber to fry in your pan.

You’re meat will remain tough no matter how long you fry it. 


Letting your pork float and boil in a bland hot water might not be a creative idea to create a heavenly dish. To take advantage of this 30-minute-or-more-process (which is quite long), why not use this time to heighten the flavor of your pork? But how?

By adding salt and onions and peppercorn in the boiling water and let them seep through the insides of the pork. You’ll achieve two benefits in this process: making your pork tender while adding necessary and additional taste that will make your dish more flavorful. 


Most people are making the mistake of fully covering the pot when the oil starts to splatter. Well, of course, that’s one of the common (and understandable) response when this happens, but actually, it’s wrong. 

Fully covering the pot will create more water in your dish because it traps the steam inside the pot which forms into water, and it will negatively affect the quality of your dish. Also, it will cause the oil to splatter more when it drips from the base of the cover. 


Aside from the flavorful taste of various dishes, what makes it more special are the ‘companions’ that come with it. They give additional and necessary bursts of tastes that perfectly complements the main dish – and ‘Lechon Kawali’ is no different. 

It is not to say that that ‘Lechon Kawali’ lacks in something, but every flavorful dishes are really meant to be accompanied by something. 

Two of the classic (and probably still the best) companions for the ‘Lechon Kawali’ are lechon sauce and vinegar. Two words can only describe these two:“Just Perfect”. It might sound like an exaggeration to say this but it really heightens the eating experience.

There’s no need to get fancy on what can go with your ‘Lechon Kawali’, because its best companions are simply sitting right inside your pantry. 

For more delicious recipes, visit Eat Like Pinoy!

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Best Lechon Kawali Recipe

This Lechon Kawali is one of the most popular dishes in Filipino food culture that can brighten every party and is found even in a simple banquet. 
Course Main Course
Cuisine Filipino
Keyword Best Filipino Lechon Kawali Recipe, Best Pork Adobo Recipe, How to cook the Best Filipino Lechon Kawali, Lechon, Lechon Kawali, Pork Recipes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Servings 4
Calories 648kcal
Cost $5-$20


  • 1.1 lbs Pork belly
  • 3 cups Water
  • 1 pc Onion big size
  • 1/2 tsp Peppercorns
  • 1 tbsp Salt
  • 3 cups Cooking Oil


  • Boil water in a pot over medium heat.
  • Add the pork belly, salt, peppercorns, and onions. Simmer for 30 minutes to 1 hour or until meat gets tender.
  • Skim the scum that will float on top, then cover the pot. Lower the heat and continue cooking for a few minutes.
  • Transfer the pork in a small meat rack and refrigerate overnight to dry and cool it completely.
  • Then, start deep-frying the meat for about 350 F to 375 F. Note: Put each meat in a pot with extra care. Fry until crispy and golden brown.
  • Sprinkle cold water onto the meat and hot oil every 5 minutes while frying it, to make the skin of the pork crispier.
  • Prepare a wire rack. Then, remove the meat from the pot and place them on the rack to cool down. Leave for about 5 minutes.
  • Cut into serving pieces.
    Tip: Best served with lechon sauce or your choice of dip.
  • Serve hot and enjoy!


Calories: 648kcal | Carbohydrates: 1g | Protein: 12g | Fat: 66g | Saturated Fat: 24g | Cholesterol: 90mg | Sodium: 1794mg | Potassium: 231mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 12mg | Iron: 1mg
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Eat Like Pinoy

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