This authentic Mexican chicharrones recipe bring the authentic flavors of street food to your kitchen! These golden nuggets of delight are made from pork belly and fried to perfection.
Chicharrones are a popular dish in Mexico and many other Latin American countries. They are made by deep frying pork belly until crispy and then served as a snack or used to make other dishes.
In Mexico, the chicharrones can vary in size and texture depending on the pork cut used. We eat them on tacos with guacamole and other accompaniments, while the leftovers are mostly used to make stews like chicharron en salsa.
They are really delicious with that crispy outside texture and meaty inside. Just thinking about it makes me drool!
- Pork —I recommend pork belly with the skin on, cut into large strips.
- Spices & seasonings —salt, garlic, and bay leaves.
- Lime peel & juice —for a citrusy aroma.
- Water —to lightly boil the meat.
How to Make Chicharrones
Cut the pork belly into 2 inches-wide strips. Make deep cuts to the meaty side of each strip ensuring you don’t cut through the skin.
Place the meat in a large heavy pan and add bay leaves, garlic cloves, lime peel, lime juice, and a good sprinkle of salt.
Slightly cover the meat with water and bring to a boil over medium heat.
Cook for about 40-50 minutes with the pot uncovered and turning the meat from time to time to ensure it cooks evenly.
After that time, the water should be almost gone and the pork belly should be half cooked.
Turn the heat to medium-low and keep cooking, stirring from time to time. You’ll see that as you cook it, the meat will release its fat and start frying nicely.
TOP TIP: Use a splatter screen over the pot to keep pops of oil from ending up all over your stovetop and your arms!
Continue cooking the pork belly, using tongs to flip it, and fry on all sides. After 30 minutes the meat should be golden brown and crispy.
Chicharrones are done when the meat is dark brown and the rinds are bubbly and nicely crispy.
Remove the cracklings from the pot and place them inside a large strainer over a bowl or on a cooling rack.
Cut them into small bites and serve warm with a squeeze of lime and a drizzle of hot sauce.
Leftovers can be used to make stews like chicharron en salsa roja. It is as simple as simmering the pieces in a flavorful salsa. Once cooked they will become soft and the preparation can be used to make quesadillas, tacos, or masa gorditas.
Useful Tips & Notes
- Choose the right cut: Use pork belly with the skin on, as the fat helps render and achieve crispiness on the cracklings.
- Deep-frying temperature: Allow the fat to heat to around 375°F (190°C). This high temperature will help render the fat quickly and create a crispy texture.
- Monitor carefully: Keep a close eye while frying them. They can go from golden and crispy to burnt quite quickly.
- Use a splatter screen: The frying process can cause hot oil to splatter. Using a splatter screen or lid can help protect your arms when you turn the meat.
- Drain inside a strainer: Avoid placing the chicharron over paper towels as they can create steam and make the crispy meat soggy.
- Let them cool: Allow the cracklings to cool slightly before enjoying, as they’ll become even crispier!
- Don’t throw the fat: The fat released during the cooking process is called manteca (lard, in English) and can be used in many other recipes, such as tamales or refried beans.
Storage & Reheat
Chicharrónes lasts up to 10 days if stored properly. Once they have cooled down, transfer them to an airtight container.
Before placing them in the container, you can add a layer of parchment paper at the bottom. This helps absorb any residual moisture and oil, which can help maintain crispiness.
If stored at room temperature, they will last up to 3-4 days. Make sure you place the container in a cool, dry place, away from direct sunlight and humidity.
If stored in the fridge, they will last up to 10 days. Do this if you want to use the cracklings as a base for a stew where you’ll cook them with sauce.
If you want to eat them on their own, place them in a preheated oven at a low temperature (around 250°F or 120°C) for a few minutes. This can help restore some of their crunch.
More Pork Recipes
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Chicharrones (pork belly cracklings)
- 1 Large heavy pot
- 1 splatter screen
- 3 pounds pork belly (in one piece, skin on)
- 3 cloves garlic (skin on)
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 lime (peel and juice)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Cut the pork belly into 2 inches-wide strips.
- Make deep cuts to the meaty side of each strip ensuring you don’t cut through the skin.
- Place the meat in a large heavy pan or pot along with garlic cloves, bay leaves, lime peel, lime juice, and salt.
- Add water to slightly cover the meat and bring to a boil over medium heat.
- Cook with the pot uncovered and mix from time to time until almost all water has evaporated (about 40-50 minutes).
- Turn the heat to medium-low and cook for 30 minutes flipping the meat every 10 minutes or so to allow it to release its fat and starts to fry.
- Continue cooking for another 30 minutes using tongs to flip the meat and fry on all sides (see notes).
- When you see the meat has become dark golden brown and the pork rind is bubbly and nicely crispy, chicharrones are ready.
- Remove them from the pot with a slotted spoon and place them on a cooling rack for 10 minutes.
- Cut them into bite-sized pieces and serve warm or allow them to cool down completely and enjoy later.
- Keep a close eye on it while frying the chicharrones. They can go from golden and crispy to burnt quite quickly.
- The frying process can cause hot oil to splatter. Using a splatter screen or lid can help protect you from oil splatters.
- Avoid placing the chicharron over paper towels as they can create steam and make the crispy meat soggy.
- Allow them to cool slightly before enjoying, as they’ll become even crispier!
- The fat released during the cooking process is called manteca (lard, in English) and can be used in many other recipes, such as tamales or refried beans.
Maricruz Avalos Flores is a Mexican cook and photographer living in Italy where she shares authentic Mexican & Italian recipes that can be easily made at home using easy-to-find ingredients.