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Maple Bourbon Pork Belly Burnt Ends

Backyard Bonanza: Maple Bourbon Pork Belly Burnt Ends

Maple Bourbon Pork Belly Burnt Ends

These Maple Bourbon Pork Belly Burnt Ends are destined to become a legend at your next backyard gathering. Imagine perfectly tender cubes of pork belly, slow-smoked to juicy perfection and then bathed in a sticky-sweet glaze of maple syrup, bourbon, and rich BBQ sauce. Each bite offers an explosion of flavors and textures – a crispy caramelized exterior giving way to melt-in-your-mouth pork belly.

This recipe is surprisingly easy to follow, requiring minimal prep work and transforming a simple cut of pork belly into an impressive appetizer or finger food.


For the Pork Belly:

  • 2 pounds pork belly, cut into 1-inch cubes (approximately)
  • ¼ cup high smoke point oil (like canola or avocado oil)
  • ½ cup Maple Bourbon Seasoning (or your favorite pork rub)
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
  • Cowboy Hickory Pit Logs (or similar wood smoking chips) - optional

For the Maple Bourbon Glaze:

  • ⅓ cup your favorite BBQ sauce (preferably a thicker sauce with a good smoke flavor)
  • 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons bourbon


  • Marinate the Pork Belly: Pat the pork belly cubes dry with paper towels. In a large bowl, toss the pork belly with oil and your chosen pork rub until evenly coated. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or ideally overnight, to allow the flavors to develop.


  • Don't skip the marinating step! This infuses the pork belly with deep flavor and helps ensure a tender, juicy result.
  • If you don't have Maple Bourbon Seasoning, create your own by combining brown sugar, smoked paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, black pepper, and a touch of cayenne pepper.
    • Prepare the Smoker: Preheat your smoker to 250°F (120°C) using hot Cowboy Charcoal or similar briquettes. If desired, add 1-2 Cowboy Hickory Pit Logs (or similar wood smoking chips) for an extra smoky flavor.


  • If you don't have a smoker, you can use a grill set up for indirect heat with a smoker box. Alternatively, bake the pork belly in a preheated oven at 275°F (135°C) for 2-2 ½ hours, then broil for a few minutes to achieve a crispier exterior.
  1. Smoke the Pork Belly: Arrange the marinated pork belly cubes in a single layer on a smoker rack, leaving space between each piece for even air circulation. Smoke the pork belly for 2 ½ hours, or until it reaches an internal temperature of 165°F (74°C).
  2. Glaze and Caramelize: While the pork belly smokes, prepare the glaze. In a small saucepan, combine your chosen BBQ sauce, maple syrup, and bourbon. Heat the mixture over low heat, stirring occasionally, until it simmers and thickens slightly, about 10 minutes.
  3. Bump Up the Flavor: After 2 ½ hours of smoking, transfer the pork belly cubes to a disposable aluminum pan. Dot the top with half of the cubed butter. Sprinkle the brown sugar evenly over the pork belly. Return the pan to the smoker and continue cooking for an additional 1 ½ hours, or until the pork belly reaches an internal temperature of 205°F (96°C).
  4. Get Saucy and Caramelize: Once the pork belly reaches an internal temperature of 205°F (96°C), remove the pan from the smoker. Brush the pork belly generously with half of the prepared Maple Bourbon Glaze. Crank up the heat in your smoker to as high as it will go (usually around 300-350°F) and return the pan for 5-10 minutes, or until the glaze caramelizes and becomes sticky.


  • Baste the pork belly occasionally with the remaining glaze during the final caramelizing stage for extra flavor and shine.
  • Keep a close eye on the pork belly during the caramelizing process to prevent burning.
  1. Rest and Serve: Once your pork belly burnt ends have reached smoky perfection, resist the urge to devour them immediately! Transfer them from the smoker and allow them to rest for at least 10 minutes. This allows the juices to redistribute for a more tender and flavorful experience.
  2. Enjoy! Serve your Maple Bourbon Pork Belly Burnt Ends warm with toothpicks for easy grabbing. These delicious morsels are perfect as an appetizer, finger food or even a main course with a side of coleslaw and baked beans for a true backyard barbecue feast. They're also fantastic for potlucks and game days, guaranteed to disappear quickly!

Additional Tips:

  • Leftovers? No problem! Store leftover pork belly burnt ends in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Reheat them gently in a low oven or on the smoker until warmed through.
  • Spice it Up: Want to add a kick of heat? Include a pinch of cayenne pepper to the pork rub or drizzle the finished burnt ends with your favorite hot sauce.
  • Get Creative: This recipe is a great base for exploration! Experiment with different BBQ sauce flavors, wood chips for smoking, or even try glazing with other sweeteners like honey or molasses.

With a little planning and smoker magic, you can create these irresistible Maple Bourbon Pork Belly Burnt Ends that will have your guests raving. So fire up the smoker, grab your favorite beverage, and get ready to enjoy some backyard barbecue bliss!