The combination of fatty, crispy smoked pork belly and spicy pickled vegetables is like a party in your mouth! And, the best part is that it doesn’t take much effort to make perfectly smoked pork belly Traeger style or on any pellet smoker! Craving a bite of these Smoked Pork Belly Tacos with Spicy Pickled Vegetables? Read on and I’ll show you all my chef tips and tricks to make this dish amazing every time!
This post may contain affiliate link(s). As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. See Disclosure.
Pork belly is any cook’s dream come true – it’s meaty, fatty, flavorful, and cooks up juicy and delicious. Smoking pork belly adds loads of flavor and cooking it low-and-slow ensures that the melting fat bastes the meat keeping it so tender and amazing.
Smoked Pork Belly Tacos is a fun way to eat pork belly. I consider this a medium-level smoking recipe, but it’s also certainly within reach of novice smokers.
With a flavor-packed rub and spicy and tangy veggies in each bite, these tacos are some kind of good!
What You Need To Make Smoked Pork Belly Tacos with Spicy Pickled Vegetables
- Traeger pellet smoker or another kind of smoker
- Applewood pellets or your favorite pellet flavor
- Julienne slicer or mandolin
- Pork belly – see my notes below
- Spices and herbs – see below
- Veggies and pickling liquid to make the spicy pickled vegetables – see my notes below
What You Need to Make the Pork Belly Rub
- Brown sugar
- Onion powder
- Garlic powder
- Chipotle powder
- Guajillo chili or ancho chili powder
What You Need to Make the Spicy Pickled Vegetables
- Assorted vegetables (carrots, red onion, cucumber, zucchini)
- Garlic – fresh is best
- Jalapeno – fresh is best
- Rice wine vinegar
Why So Many Ingredients in SMoked Pork Belly Tacos with Spicy PIckled Vegetables?
If you’re intimidated by the long list of ingredients, you can take a short cut by using your favorite brand of rub for the pork. You want it to have Southwestern or Mexican flavors, and something with a fairly assertive punch.
What Is Pork Belly and How Should I Buy It?
Pork belly is the cut that is used to make bacon, but you’re going to buy it raw and unprocessed. Pork belly is sold a variety of ways – in slabs, in strips, and even with a layer of skin on it that’ll cook up into crackling.
For our purposes, you want either a 4-5 pound slab of skinless pork belly, or an equal weight of strips. I buy pork belly from Costco and it comes in thickish 1.5-inch wide strips. I like using the strips best because that delicious rub is on more of the pork.
If you use a slab, you’ll need to slash through the fatty layer on the top of the pork, creating shallow cross-hatches. This will help the pork fat melt while cooking.
How To Make Smoked Pork Belly Tacos
- Combine all the ingredients to make the rub.
- If you’re using a full slab of pork belly, use a sharp knife to make shallow cross-hatches in the fatty layer on top. If you’re using thick strips, you’re ready to go.
- Rub the pork belly with the spice blend all over, working it into the cross hatches (if you’re using a slab). Get that rub on all sides of the pork belly!
- Preheat your Traeger or favorite smoker as per the manufacturer’s directions.
- Set the heat to high or 450-F. When the temperature is reached, put the pork belly on the smoker for 20 minutes to brown up a bit. Flip it after about 10 minutes.
- After 20 minutes, turn the heat down to 250-F and cook for 2.5-3 hours or until the meat is luscious and tender.
- Let it rest in a covered bowl for 15 minutes then slice it thinly and assemble your tacos!
How To Make Spicy Pickled Vegetables
I use my julienne slicer to make long, thin strands out of the vegetables. A julienne slicer is a GREAT gizmo! I can’t seem to use a mandolin without injury, so I turn to this handy, small, and very effective tool for making long, thin veggie strands. I strongly encourage you to get one – it’s an amazing tool!
- Julienne the vegetables, slice the garlic, and chop the cilantro.
- Mix the water, rice wine vinegar, sugar, and salt until it’s dissolved.
- Add the julienned veggies, sliced garlic, and jalapenos to the pickling liquid and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or up to several days.
- To use, drain the liquid and discard. Toss the veggies with the cilantro and you’re good to go!
Chef Jenn’s Tips
- You don’t need to brine the pork belly before cooking it. You won’t be smoking past the point of it being probe-tender (when an inserted probe slides in easily), so it doesn’t need to be brined.
- Prepare this recipe ahead of time! The pork can be rubbed and refrigerated for a day or two in advance, and the pickled vegetables can likewise hang out in the fridge for a few days.
- Like it spicier? Add a teaspoon of cayenne powder to the rub and instead of jalapeno, use a serrano pepper in the vegetables.
- Don’t overcook the pork! If in doubt, cut a piece open and take a bite. It should be tender but not disintegrating. You want your Smoked Pork Belly Tacos to have some substance.
What To Serve With Smoked Pork Belly Tacos & Spicy Pickled Vegetables
You can dress these tacos up with all sorts of tasty sides, or just nosh on them as-is – they’re that good!
Frequently Asked Questions
It depends on the size of your pork belly and how tender you want it. I like my pork belly with some texture still, a bit of chew. It takes 2-3 hours at 250-F to get it just where I like it.
Yes! I use my vacuum sealer to make sure the smoked pork stays fresh. It’ll keep frozen for 3-4 months.
I would say that smoking pork belly for these tacos is a great recipe for a confident smoker. Not difficult, by any means, but not the easiest smoked recipe either.
Like This? Also Try:
STep By Step Process
Smoked Pork Belly Tacos with Spicy Pickled Vegetables
For the Smoked Pork Belly
For the Spicy Pickled Vegetables
- 1 English cucumber
- 2 carrots
- 1/4 red onion
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 jalapeno seeds removed
- 2 tbsp chopped cilantro
- 1 cup water
- 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 tsp sugar
For the Smoked Pork Belly
- Preheat your smoker as per the manufacturer's instructions. Set it to 450-F.
- Meanwhile, combine all the ingredients to make the rub.
- If you're using a full slab of pork belly, use a sharp knife to cut shallow cross-hatches into the top fat layer.
- Rub the spice blend all over the pork belly.
- Smoke it at 450-F for 10 minutes, then flip it and cook another 10 minutes to get some good color on it.
- Turn the heat down to 250-F and cook for an additional 2-3 hours or until the pork is probe tender.
- Let rest for 15 minutes before slicing it thin for the tacos.
For the Spicy Pickled Vegetables
- Use a julienne peeler to make long, thing strands of the vegetables. Slice the garlic.
- Make the brine by mixing the water, rice wine vinegar, salt and sugar until the sugar is dissolved.
- Add the julienned vegetables and sliced garlic to the liquid and put it in the fridge for at least 30 minutes or up to several days.
- Before using, drain the vegetables and toss with the cilantro.
- Thinly slice the pork belly and load corn or flour tortillas with a generous portion of meat and top it with some of the spicy pickled vegetables. Garnish with sour cream if you like, and enjoy!
A Note on Nutritional Information
Nutritional information for this recipe is provided as a courtesy and is calculated based on available online ingredient information. It is only an approximate value. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site cannot be guaranteed.