Maple Bourbon Pork Belly Burnt Ends



Maple Bourbon Pork Belly Burnt Ends are the ultimate BBQ treat, combining the rich, succulent flavor of pork belly with the sweet, smoky taste of maple and bourbon. Imagine a bite-sized piece of meat that’s crispy on the outside and melt-in-your-mouth tender on the inside. This recipe is perfect for a backyard cookout or a cozy dinner at home. Ready to dive into this mouth-watering journey? Let’s get started!

Table of Contents

2Ingredients Needed
3Preparing the Pork Belly
4Making the Maple Bourbon Sauce
5Seasoning the Pork Belly
6Smoking the Pork Belly
7Cooking the Burnt Ends
8Adding the Maple Bourbon Sauce
9Final Touches
10Serving Suggestions
11Tips for Perfect Burnt Ends
12Variations and Substitutions
13Storing and Reheating
14Health Considerations

Ingredients Needed

To make these delectable Maple Bourbon Pork Belly Burnt Ends, you’ll need the following ingredients:

  • For the Pork Belly:
    • 5 pounds of pork belly
    • Olive oil
  • For the Seasoning:
    • 2 tablespoons kosher salt
    • 2 tablespoons black pepper
    • 2 tablespoons paprika
    • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
    • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • For the Maple Bourbon Sauce:
    • 1 cup maple syrup
    • 1/2 cup bourbon
    • 1/4 cup brown sugar
    • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
    • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
    • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
    • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika

Preparing the Pork Belly

Start by preparing the pork belly. Trim off any excess skin and fat, leaving a thin layer to render during cooking. Cut the pork belly into 1.5-inch cubes. These will be your burnt ends.

Making the Maple Bourbon Sauce


Next, let’s prepare the sauce. In a medium saucepan, combine the maple syrup, bourbon, brown sugar, apple cider vinegar, Dijon mustard, soy sauce, and smoked paprika. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the sauce thickens, about 10-15 minutes. Set aside to cool.

Seasoning the Pork Belly

Before smoking, season the pork belly cubes. Drizzle olive oil over the cubes and toss to coat evenly. In a small bowl, mix the kosher salt, black pepper, paprika, garlic powder, and onion powder. Sprinkle this seasoning blend generously over the pork belly cubes, ensuring all sides are covered.

Smoking the Pork Belly

Preheat your smoker to 250°F (120°C). Place the seasoned pork belly cubes on the smoker grates, leaving space between each piece for even cooking. Smoke the pork belly for 2.5 to 3 hours until they reach an internal temperature of 190°F (88°C) and develop a nice bark on the outside.

Cooking the Burnt Ends

Once the pork belly is smoked, it’s time to create the burnt ends. Transfer the smoked pork belly cubes into an aluminum pan. Pour the Maple Bourbon Sauce over the cubes, tossing them gently to ensure they are well-coated. Cover the pan with aluminum foil.

Adding the Maple Bourbon Sauce


Place the covered pan back into the smoker and cook for an additional 1.5 to 2 hours. This allows the pork belly to absorb the flavors of the sauce while becoming tender and caramelized.

Final Touches

After cooking, remove the foil and stir the pork belly cubes to recoat them with the sauce. Continue cooking uncovered for another 15-30 minutes, or until the sauce is thick and sticky, and the pork belly pieces are irresistibly caramelized.

Serving Suggestions

Serve your Maple Bourbon Pork Belly Burnt Ends as a main dish or appetizer. They pair wonderfully with classic BBQ sides like coleslaw, potato salad, cornbread, or baked beans. For a refreshing contrast, consider a crisp green salad or grilled vegetables.

Tips for Perfect Burnt Ends

  • Quality of Meat: Choose a good-quality pork belly with an even distribution of meat and fat for the best results.
  • Consistent Size: Cut the pork belly into uniform cubes to ensure even cooking.
  • Temperature Monitoring: Use a meat thermometer to monitor the internal temperature for perfect tenderness.
  • Resting Time: Let the burnt ends rest for a few minutes before serving to allow the juices to redistribute.

Variations and Substitutions

  • Different Meats: While pork belly is traditional, you can try this recipe with beef brisket or pork shoulder for a different take on burnt ends.
  • Alternative Sweeteners: Substitute maple syrup with honey or molasses for a different flavor profile.
  • Spicy Kick: Add a dash of hot sauce or cayenne pepper to the Maple Bourbon Sauce for a spicy twist.

Storing and Reheating

Store any leftover burnt ends in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. To reheat, place them in a preheated oven at 250°F (120°C) until warmed through, about 15-20 minutes. You can also reheat them in a skillet over medium heat.

Health Considerations


While Maple Bourbon Pork Belly Burnt Ends are a delicious treat, they are high in fat and sugar. Enjoy them in moderation as part of a balanced diet. Consider pairing them with healthier sides like grilled vegetables or a fresh salad.


Maple Bourbon Pork Belly Burnt Ends are a true delight for BBQ enthusiasts and food lovers alike. The combination of tender pork belly, sweet maple, and smoky bourbon creates an unforgettable flavor experience. Whether you’re hosting a summer barbecue or looking for a special dish to impress your family, this recipe is sure to be a hit. So fire up your smoker and enjoy the mouthwatering goodness of Maple Bourbon Pork Belly Burnt Ends!


1. Can I make this recipe without a smoker?

Yes, you can use an oven set to a low temperature (250°F) to mimic the slow-cooking process. Add a small pan of water in the oven to create steam, which helps keep the pork belly moist.

2. Can I use a different type of alcohol for the sauce?

Absolutely! If you prefer, you can substitute the bourbon with rum or whiskey for a slightly different flavor profile.

3. How do I know when the burnt ends are done?

The burnt ends are ready when they are tender and the internal temperature reaches about 190°F to 200°F. They should be caramelized and sticky on the outside.

4. Can I make the sauce ahead of time?

Yes, the Maple Bourbon Sauce can be made up to a week in advance. Store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator and reheat before using.

5. Are there any vegetarian alternatives to pork belly burnt ends?

For a vegetarian twist, you can use firm tofu or portobello mushrooms. Marinate and cook them similarly, keeping in mind the different cooking times for these alternatives.


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