Who doesn’t love pork belly?! This Instant Pot Braised Pork Belly recipe is one of my favorite dishes for New Year’s Eve, dinner parties, and any other special occasion. It’s a classic comfort Chinese entree recipe and it’s really easy to make using your Instant Pot.
Why This Recipe Works
This recipe is unique in its preparation, but it results in a perfectly tender, well balanced final dish. We start out by marinating the pork in a mixture of shallots, garlic, fish sauce and soy sauce, which gives a delicious touch to the pork belly.
What really makes this recipe stand out is the use of sugar to make a caramel-like sauce. The pork belly is then cooked in this caramel mixture which gives it a delicious sweet outer shell that adds a nice textural element.
Shallots – you can also use onion, but I prefer the milder taste of shallots here.
Fish sauce – don’t skip on the fish sauce! It adds big umami flavor. A little bit goes a long way.
Thick soy sauce – thicker and darker than regular soy sauce, thick soy sauce is also significantly sweeter. They are not interchangeable.
Pork belly – pork belly can be hard to find but should be sold at your local butcher shop. Look for a lean cut and try to buy it whole rather than pre-sliced to cut big chunks.
Sugar – you can also use light brown sugar, but it’s easier to monitor the cooking using white granulated sugar.
Coconut water – plain water works as well, but coconut water gives a special taste to the pork.
How to make Braised Pork Belly
Gather your ingredients:
In a large bowl, add the shallots, garlic, fish sauce, soy sauce, salt, and black pepper, and mix until well combined.
Place the sugar in the Instant Pot and select “Sauté”.
Cook for about 10-15 minutes or until sugar starts to become dark in color, stirring frequently.
Add the pork belly pieces and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring continuously.
Select “Cancel” and stir in the coconut water.
Secure the lid and turn to the “Seal” position. Cook on “Manual” with “High Pressure” for about 35 minutes. Then release the steam naturally for 15 min.
Carefully, remove the lid and serve with sliced scallions for garnish.
- You can marinate the pork belly pieces in the shallow-soy sauce mixture ahead of time, up to a few hours in the refrigerator, to infuse extra flavor.
- When you are cooking the sugar, be sure to stir constantly to avoid scorching. Once the color starts to turn, it will quickly turn from golden brown to black, so you’ll want to keep a close eye on it, so it doesn’t burn.
How to Serve Instant Pot Pork Belly
I like to serve this Instant Pot Pork Belly at dinner parties as an appetizer or shared plate. You can serve it with toothpicks to make it an easy appetizer.
If you want to make a complete meal, simply serve it over rice and alongside a fresh salad. Here are some other unique ideas for rice sides that pair well with this recipe:
More Pork Recipes
If you like pork recipes, here are a few more options for you to choose from:
FAQ About Pork Belly
Can I use something else other than Pork Belly?
Sure! Feel free to use pork shoulder or even tofu. For more ideas check these pork belly alternatives.
Is there another name for pork belly?
Pork belly is also called side pork belly pork side. It is from the underbelly of the pig, and it’s the cut of pork that pancetta and bacon come from.
Is pork belly the same as bacon?
Although bacon is made from pork belly, they are not the same, and you cannot use bacon in this recipe. Bacon is cured and smoked, and typically sliced somewhat thin, while pork belly is the raw product before curing, smoking, and slicing.
- 2 shallots chopped finely
- 3 garlic cloves minced
- 2 tbsp fish sauce
- 1 tsp thick soy sauce
- 2 1/2 lb lean pork belly cut into 1-inch squares
- 7 tbsp granulated sugar
- 2 cups coconut water or water
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 scallion chopped
- Take the shallots, garlic, fish sauce, soy sauce, salt and black pepper and mix well in a bowl.
- Add the pork pieces and coat with the mixture.
- Place the sugar in the Instant Pot and select saute.
- Cook the sugar for about 10-15 minutes or until golden brown.
- Add the pork belly pieces and saute for 5 minutes.
- Cancel the saute and add the water.
- Close the lid and cook on high pressure for 35 minutes.
- When cooking time ends, wait for a natural release for 15 minutes.
- Once done, do a quick pressure release and open the lid.
- Add scallions on top, serve and enjoy 🙂