Crispy, Fatty, Melt-In-Your-Mouth Porchetta

PorchettaPorchetta is the ultimate meal for pork lovers. Crispy, crackling pork skin; fatty, melt-in-your mouth pork belly; and moist shoulder (or loin) are rolled together in every bite. It’s pork, three ways, in one amazing dish.

When made strictly according to tradition, porchetta is a massive culinary undertaking: a whole, boned-out pig is stuffed with its entrails, herbs and spices and slow roasted in a wood oven. As amazing as this may sound, it’s not exactly manageable for most home cooks. Which is why easier versions of porchetta, like this one made from pork shoulder (or loin) wrapped in pork belly, have become so popular.

This recipe for porchetta still takes a little time and effort, but boy, is it worth it. Once you hear the fatty, juicy pork crackling in the oven and your house fills with the intense, meaty aroma of porchetta you’ll know you’re in for a treat.

First, get your hands on some skin-on pork belly, which you’ll probably have to special order. This thick slab of skin, fat and meat is the most delicious part of the whole dish. Next, decide if you want the middle of your porchetta to be shoulder or loin – this recipe uses shoulder because it’s less expensive and often more flavorful. Lastly, decide on your herb and spice rub. This recipe plays it safe with a traditional blend of salt, pepper, garlic, fennel seeds and rosemary, but you can add even more flavor with fresh herbs, red pepper flakes and citrus zest.

Everything is rolled up into an impressive roast that rests overnight in the refrigerator then cooks for several hours. The skin will be so crisp that it will shatter at the touch of a knife. The inner layers of belly and meat so tender, that they’ll fall apart in your mouth. Invite some people over to enjoy the feast, but not too many. It’s likely you’ll want a little something leftover for yourself the next day.

Serves: 8 to 10

Time in the Kitchen: 45 minutes of prep, 8-12 hours of refrigeration and 3 hours of cooking time



  • 1 4 to 5 pound piece of fresh, skin-on pork belly (1.8 to 2.3 kg)
  • 5 to 6 pounds pork shoulder, butter-flied to an even thickness of 1-inch (ask your butcher to butterfly it for you) (2.3 to 2.7 kg)
  • 2 tablespoons fennel seeds (30 ml)
  • 1 tablespoon black peppercorns (15 ml)
  • 1 tablespoon chopped rosemary (15 ml)
  • 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons kosher salt (25 ml)
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil (45 ml)


Toast the fennel seeds and peppercorns in a dry skillet over medium heat for 1 to 2 minutes until fragrant. Let cool then pulse a few times in a coffee grinder with the rosemary until the texture is finely ground but not powdery.

In a small bowl, use a fork to mash the spice mixture with the salt, garlic and olive oil to form a paste. Other seasonings that can be added to this mixture are roughly 1/2 cup (120 ml) or more of finely chopped fresh herbs, a teaspoon (5 ml) of red pepper flakes and a tablespoon (15 ml) of orange or lemon zest.

Pork Belly

Lay the pork belly skin side up. Using a sharp knife (or utility knife) carefully score the skin in a tight crosshatch diamond pattern, cutting down to the fat but not through it (about 1/4 inch/6 mm deep). The skin can be a little hard to cut through, but scoring it is essential if you want the skin to become as crispy as possible.

Flip the belly over, skin side down, and score the meat side in the same crosshatch diamond pattern. Rub a little bit of the spice and garlic paste all over the pork belly.

With the pork belly lying skin-side down, lay the butter-filed pork shoulder on top of it. Spread the remaining spice mixture on the side of the pork shoulder that’s facing up.

Step 1

Leaving the pork belly alone for now, just roll the shoulder up as tightly as possible so it looks like a long, fat pork loin. Put the rolled pork shoulder near the middle of the pork belly and fold the belly all the way over the shoulder.

Step 2

Roll it once so the two ends of the belly overlap just slightly and the shoulder is completely covered in a draping of belly fat.

**If there’s a gap on the underside because the pork belly doesn’t reach all the way around, that’s fine. Or, if you just have a small piece of pork belly, simply drape the belly over the top of the shoulder.

Once the pork belly is snugly around the shoulder, use cooking twine/string to tie the belly to the shoulder in 2-inch/5 cm intervals as tightly as possible. This is easiest with two people; one person holds the porchetta together and one ties the strings.

If the ends of the rolled pork are uneven and pork belly or pork shoulder is hanging out, use a kitchen shears to trim the ends of the belly or shoulder so they are even.

Transfer the porchetta to a wire rack set in a rimmed baking sheet or roasting pan. Sprinkle a light layer of salt on top. Refrigerate the pork uncovered overnight.

The next day, bring the roast to room temperature for 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 450 ºF (232 ºC)

Put the porchetta in the oven and roast for 45 minutes.

Turn the heat down to 325 ºF (163 ºC) and continue to roast the porchetta until a thermometer stuck into the middle of the roast registers between 150 ºF (66 ºC) and 160 ºF (71 ºC). This will take around 2 to 2 1/2 hours more.

Let the porchetta rest for 30 minutes before slicing thinly.

To reheat porchetta leftovers the next day, heat up slices under the broiler until the fatty layers are soft and supple again.


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26 thoughts on “Crispy, Fatty, Melt-In-Your-Mouth Porchetta”

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  1. Wow that looks devine. Too time consuming for me, but if you cook it for me, I’ll be there in a heartbeat!

  2. Heck yeah! Pork wrapped in pork – looks beautiful.

    I can see how this could be adapted to other things. Meatloaf wrapped in porkbelly; chicken or quails wrapped. Even a salmon.

  3. If you can’t find pork belly at regular supermarkets, try an Asian grocery.

  4. maybe porkbelly wrapped in porkbelly!

    At the Italian restaurant where I work we have tried to sell an “authentic” porchetta made from a nice whole organic pig, A lot of work and I don’t recommend trying it unless you are very dedicated and skilled with a boning knife and pig musculature!

    Our customers didn’t understand it and frequently returned it for “too much fat”. I guess we need more primal diners!

  5. A family member made this for our Christmas dinner last year, and it was truly awesome! We used the recipe (similar to this one) from Molly Steven’s excellent cookbook “All About Roasting: A New Approach to a Classic Art.”

  6. Recently had some porchetta made from a boned out and rolled pig FACE. Phenomenal. Went great with the grass fed beef heart tartare and bone marrow.

  7. Wow! This really looks delicious!!! Although, it really needs a lot of effort, at least it will still be worth it! HA HA. Makes me hungry right now. Hmm.

  8. Yum – looks lovely! Sounds like it would be good with sage, apricots, maybe pine nuts? Will definitely give it a try, thanks Mark.

  9. I am so going to my local farm shop – they’re about the only place I can think of that I’d be able to get the pork belly for this, they work with local farmers and butcher everything on site!!! Am so looking forward to trying this!! 🙂

  10. Fabulous! We just put one together using wild boar. Can’t wait to roast it!

  11. Made it on Sunday. It was awesome, I wish I could post a pic. As usual, there’s always deviations from the recipe, but I didn’t trim the pork shoulder that was hanging on the outside of the pork belly roll (why waste it, for aesthetics maybe?) And I dusted the outside with a special fennel salt I picked up, instead of just plain salt. Perfect!

  12. Proper Porchetta is made from the head of the pig. It is also gets vacuum sealed and cooked Sous Vide.

    1. Don’t think they had Sous Vide cookers back hundreds of years ago ….

  13. This is traditional food from the region I grew up in! Countryside near Rome. The recipe is very close to the original: sea salt, pepper, garlic “in its shirt” and fresh wild fennel flowers (not seeds). The difference is that traditionally we roast the whole one-year-old (female) pig in a wood oven. So I am afraid i must contradict Aaron’s comment above: Head, vacuum sealed, sous vide? neee: This is a thousands-year-old recipe, from the times of the Etruscans and the Romans 😉

  14. Do you think I could make this with a shoulder roast and fat back instead of pork belly? I just bought some pastured fat back (unsmoked) and I have no idea what to do with it. I’d really like to do something more interesting than make lard out of it.

  15. Any Latino meat market should have pork belly available, too. It’s usually sold in thick slices but if you ask for a whole one, they’ll likely have it.