How to Make the Perfect Pork Crackling & Festive Feast

Words: Crush

Some might argue that the best part of Christmas is staying up till midnight to unwrap the gifts piled beneath the tree, others might say that it’s listening to carols on repeat; but the older we get, the more we realise that Christmas is all about sharing belly laughs and delicious roasts around the table with family. As we count down the days ’til Christmas, we’ll be dreaming of the perfect spread, and this year, that includes pork belly crackling.

Crackle the Crackling

Christmas may be a holiday rooted in tradition, but it’s okay to break the mould every once in a while and make new ones. Perhaps that means hosting your family for Christmas lunch for the very first time or introducing a new main to your traditional spread. But, as we know, hosting and preparing Christmas lunch can be daunting, especially if you want to impress guests with a special feast. So, we’re lending a helping hand and sharing our recipe for cracking the perfect pork crackling, every time – consider it an early Christmas gift.

Recipe: Crackling Pork Belly Roll

Nothing says ‘celebration’ like golden, crackly pork. Master this method for perfect crackle.

Serves: 6-8  | Prep time: 20 minutes + Overnight refrigeration | Cooking time: 1 hour + 35 minutes


2 kg pork belly roll
a sharp craft knife/NT cutter
olive oil
salt and pepper
10 sage leaves, chopped
2 sprigs of rosemary, chopped
a small bunch of flat-leaf parsley, chopped
zest of 1 lemon
kitchen string


Take the pork belly out of its packaging and pat dry with paper towel. Place onto a rack and put into the fridge to dry overnight. This step is important as the dryness of the skin is what ensures the crispy crackle. Placing it onto a rack allows air to circulate all around it, so a rack is preferable to a plate, which has direct contact with the meat.

Lay the pork belly on a cutting board and pat the skin dry with a paper towel. Set the blade of the craft knife so that it’s just long enough to cut through the skin without cutting into the meat (because you can adjust the blade length of a craft cutter it is a preferable tool to using a knife). Carefully cut parallel lines along the surface of the skin at even intervals. 

Flip the pork belly over and drizzle the meat with a little olive oil. Sprinkle the chopped herbs in an even layer over the meat then season with salt and pepper. 

Cut 4-5 lengths of string. Roll the pork belly up tightly and tie it in intervals with string to secure it. Place the pork belly roll onto a wire rack on a baking tray and pop it into the fridge overnight to dry out the surface of the skin, this will ensure perfect crackling. 

The Next Day…

Remove the pork belly from the fridge and allow it to come to room temperature.

Preheat the oven to 230 ºC. 

Rub the skin with salt and be sure to get it into the score lines in the skin. Once all of the scores have been salted, rub the excess salt off the surface of the skin. Brush with oil and place into the oven and set a timer for 30 minutes. Keep an eye on how your crackling is doing.

After 30 minutes, drop the heat to 160 ºC and continue cooking for another hour or until the internal temperature reaches 70 ºC. For extra pop on your crackling, you can brush the skin with oil and turn the grill on full for the last 5 minutes of cooking time.

Keep an eye on it while it grills, so that it doesn’t burn.

Let the roast rest for at least 15 minutes before slicing and serving. Enjoy with your favourite festive sides for a special feast.

For more cooking inspiration, try these SA Pork recipes. | Facebook | Instagram

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