This porchetta recipe is as good as it gets. It's all-belly porchetta with rich and tender meat flavored with fennel and traditional Italian seasonings and has the crispiest, chicharron-like crackling. And won't worry, making this famous Italian dish is surprisingly simple.
If you want your meal to be memorable, put this porchetta on the table. It's beautifully rich meat with skin so crispy it'll remind you of the best potato chips. There's a slight fennel flavor and the tiniest tingle on your tongue from the chilis. The meat is tender yet chewable, the fat melts like butter, and the chicharron is the crispiest around.
If you sneak a bite before you bring it to the table you just might find yourself bursting into a happy dance around your kitchen.
Porchetta is one of the best things to serve at a dinner party or a holiday feast.
- It looks gorgeous on a platter and will definitely be the star of the show.
- There's no last-minute prep – in fact, it must be made ahead of time.
- You'll find that it's nearly impossible to overcook.
- It will wait patiently on your counter for your sides to finish cooking
- Porchetta is wonderfully rich and indulgent so it needs very few sides. A light salad and some potatoes roasted in some of the oil released from the porchetta makes a perfect dinner.
What is porchetta
Porchetta is a wonderfully fatty and delicious boneless pork roast hailing from Italy. Traditionally, porchetta was made with a whole, deboned suckling pig. But now (at least here in North America) it's generally made with only the best part of the pig – rind on pork belly.
The meat is slathered in aromatics such as fennel, parsley, garlic, chili flakes, orange zest, and lots of salt. Then it's rolled into a tight log and left to marinate for at least a day in your fridge.
A long baking time at low temperature followed by a short burst at high temperature creates the tender meat, meltingly delicious fat, and ultra crispy skin that makes porchetta famous.
How to make porchetta
Working with such a large piece of meat can feel intimidating. Clear some working space on your counter and give yourself about 45 minutes to leisurely prep the porchetta.
- Start with the pork belly skin side down and roll it into a long log. Using the tip of a sharp knife, mark where the skin overlaps.
- Now flip the pork belly skin side up and remove the small bit of skin that overlaps. We do this as skin that gets wrapped in the meat becomes gummy and chewy and doesn't crispy nicely.
- Take a pairing knife and spend several minutes stabbing the skin all over. You want to absolutely cover it with small holes. Try your best only stab holes in the skin and not all the way into to the fat or meat. Some holes into the fat layer are fine, just do your best here.
- Flip the belly over so it's skin side down. If parts of it are thicker than others, you can use a rubber mallet to pound the meat so that's it's roughly even in thickness. Then, cut the meat in diagonal lines to create a cross-hatch pattern. Make sure to only cut the meat and not go through to the fat layer.
- Now grind the fennel and chili flakes until coarsley ground – a small blender or food process works well for this. A mortar and pestle is another good option. Mix the ground fennel with the rest of the herbs, spices, oil, and orange juice to make a thick paste.
- Spread this paste onto the meat using your fingers to work it into all the cuts you made.
- Now it's time to roll the belly into a tight log and tie it up! Use butcher twine and tie it at 1-inch intervals – it will look the prettiest after it's cooked if it's tied with closely spaced twine. Cut the ends off the twine after you tie them.
- After you roll the porchetta there is often some meat sticking out of the ends. We usually cut this off so the porchetta looks prettier. But we save it to eat the night we roll the porchetta. Slice this extra meat thin, mix it with olive oil and Italian seasoning, and bake at 350 for about 2 hours. It's delicious!
- Once you've rolled the porchetta it will be a long, unwieldy log. To make it easier to bake and serve, we cut it in half. At this point, you can wrap and freeze one of the logs if you'd like.
- Now all that you have to do is oil and salt the skin liberally then place the porchetta on a cooling rack placed over a baking dish. Put it into your fridge (uncovered) for 24-72 hours.
That's it! Your porchetta is prepared!
How to cook porchetta
Cooking porchetta is the easy part!
- Remove the prepared porchetta from your fridge and let it rest on your counter while your oven warms.
- Liberally oil the skin then put it into your oven and let it roast for 3-4 hours. It will be finished cooking when it reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit. At this point, it won't look very appetizing.
- Remove the porchetta from the oven and crank the temperature up to broil. Drain the fat from the baking dish into a bowl – there will be quite a bit. When your oven comes up to temperature, brush some of the fat you drained from the pan over the skin then put the porchetta back into the oven.
- Turn the porchetta very 5-10 minutes so that it crisps all over. The temperature ovens broil varies widely so keep a close eye on it so that the skin doesn't burn. Once the skin is dark brown and has bubbles all over it is ready!
How to get the crispiest skin
Porchetta is only as good as its crispy skin, which means this is one part that you have to nail. If you've ever seen pictures of porchetta with smooth skin, just know that this is not what you're after! Luckily, there are only three things you need to do to get that delicious, potato chip-like skin.
- Poke holes all over the skin. Pick up a paring knife and lightly stab the skin all over. You'll need to spend several minutes doing this as you really want to cover the whole surface of the skin in small holes.
- Oil the skin. Rubbing oil all over the skin will help the fat to render and the skin to become extra crispy.
- A blast of high heat. In order for the wonderfully crisp bubbles to appear, you must put the skin under high heat. Within minutes you'll start to see the skin change. It will darken and then lots of super crispy small bubbles will magically show up.
Most of the time you'll want to buy ½ pound of uncooked meat per person. But once you start eating pork belly it's incredibly hard to stop, which is why we plan on 1 pound per person. Also, leftovers are excellent in sandwiches so it's wise to plan on making extra!
Cooked pork will keep well for 3-4 days in a covered container in your fridge.
What to serve with porchetta
Porchetta is a wonderfully rich and indulgent meal and is best served with lighter sides. A simple green salad tossed in Italian dressing is a great way to cut the fattiness of the porchetta. We also like to serve some roast potatoes that we cook in some of the fat released from the porchetta. Here are a few other options that go well with porchetta:
- Italian Potato Salad
- Garlic Butter Rice
- Roasted Cherry Tomatoes with Garlic
- Roasted Acorn Squash
- Garlic Butter Asparagus
More delicious dinner recipes
- Juicy Baked Pork Tenderloin
- Lemon Herb Butter Roast Chicken
- Pulled Pork Shepherd's Pie
- Chicken Puttanesca
- Creamy Chicken Lazone
If you love this recipe as much as we do, let us know with a 5-star rating!
- 1 whole skin-on pork belly, 12-15 lb
- 2 tablespoons fennel seeds
- 1 tablespoon chii flakes
- Zest from 2 oranges
- ¼ cup orange juice, squeezed from ½ an orange
- ¼ cup olive oil, divided
- ¼ cup chopped parsley
- 2 tablespoons sea salt, divided
- 1 tablespoon EACH: minced rosemary, thyme, sage, and black pepper
Prep the porchetta
- Roll the pork belly into a long log and then mark where the skin overlaps. Unroll and remove the skin from the overlapping part.1 whole skin-on pork belly
- Unroll and remove the skin from the overlapping part.
- Use a paring knife to poke shallow holes all over the surface of the skin. Try not to go too deep and make lots of holes.
- Turn the pork belly over and cut diagonal lines into the meat to form a cross-hatch pattern.
- Grind the fennel seeds and chili flakes until coarsely ground. Transfer them to a bowl and add the orange zest, orange juice, 1 tablespoon of olive oil, parsley, 1 tablespoon of sea salt, pepper, rosemary, thyme, and sage and mix to form a paste.2 tablespoons fennel seeds, 1 tablespoon chii flakes, Zest from 2 oranges, ¼ cup orange juice, ¼ cup olive oil, ¼ cup chopped parsley, 2 tablespoons sea salt, 1 tablespoon EACH: minced rosemary, thyme, sage, and black pepper
- Run this paste all over the meat, using your fingers to work the rub into the meat.
- Roll the pork belly into a tight log and tie it with butcher twine at 1" intervals.
- Optional: if there is a lot of meat sticking out from the ends of the porchetta roll you can cut it off for a neater presentation. (see notes)
- At this point, the porchetta will be VERY long. Cut it in half to make it easier to cook.
- Rub the pork belly log with the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil and sprinkle the remaining 1 tablespoon of sea salt over the skin. Put the porchetta on the rack set over the baking dish and put it into your fridge for 24-72 hours.
Cook the porchetta
- Preheat your oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove the porchetta from your fridge and rub more olive oil over the skin. Put it into your oven on a middle rack and let it roast for 3-4 hours. It will be done when it reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Remove the porchetta from the oven and turn the temperature to broil. Lift the porchetta on the cooling rack off the baking dish and carefully drain all the fat from the bottom of the baking dish into a heatproof bowl. Put the porchetta back onto the baking dish and baste the skin with the fat in the bowl.
- Once the oven comes up to temperature put the porchetta back into the oven. The skin will turn dark brown and bubbly under the high heat, but watch it very carefully so that it doesn't burn. Every 5-7 minutes, use 2 pairs of tongs to carefully rotate the porchetta so that the skin crisps all around. You'll know it's ready when it's dark mahoggany brown and the skin has lots of little bubbles in it.
- Remove the baking dish from the oven being very careful not to spill any of the hot fat that's in the baking dish. Let the porchetta rest for 15-20 minutes before carving it with a serrated knife.