December 19, 2013

I’ve been waiting a long time to make a porchetta. Ever since I had the porchetta sandwich at Roli Roti, I knew I had to try making it at home. I’m making a porchetta instead of the same ol’ traditional ham or turkey this holiday. This porchetta came out ah-mah-zing. Salty crispy pork skin so delicious you could eat them like chips and juicy tender interior. I used classic Italian flavors here, a mix of fennel, rosemary, garlic and lemon zest. The key to porchetta is the moist interior and crispy skin. To achieve maximum crisp, the skin must be as dry as possible so I left the pork out for two hours at room temperature before roasting and only seasoned the skin with salt right before roasting. Leaving the salt on the skin for a while draws out all the moisture.

Some butchers will be able to provide you a porchetta cut, which is the belly attached to the loin. If they don’t have it, buy the separate cuts and simply roll the belly around the loin. Ask for a rectangular slab of skin-on pork belly, about 5-6 pounds and a bone-less pork loin about 3-4 pounds. You may need to trim here and there to ensure the belly fits around the loin. I paired this porchetta with a light peppery arugula-parlsey gremolata and roasted rosemary potatoes. This is also delicious served on ciabatta bread as a sandwich. Basically, it’s everything you imagined it to be.


Photography shot with the Canon EOS Rebel SL1 digital SLR camera. Small in size, enormous in performance.

Porchetta Ingredients:

  • 1 10-15 pound porchetta roast (or 1 rectangular slab of pork belly with skin on and 1 center-cut pork loin).  I used a 10 pound porchetta here.
  • 2 tablespoons of fennel seeds
  • 1 teaspoon of black pepper corns
  • 2 teaspoons of red pepper flakes
  • 2 tablespoons of fresh rosemary leaves, minced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • zest of one lemon
  • sea or kosher salt

Arugula-Parsley Gremolata Ingredients:

  • 2 cups of flat leaf parsley, packed
  • 2 cups of arugula, packed
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • zest of 1/2 a lemon
  • juice of one lemon
  • 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • sea or kosher salt

Porchetta 1

The day before you plan on serving the porchetta, marinate the meat. Toast the fennels seeds, peppercorns and red pepper flakes in a pan on medium-high heat until they are toasted and fragrant, about 5 minutes. Keep them moving constantly to prevent them from burning. Allow the spices to cool and crush in a mortar and pestle or spice grinder. Mix in the garlic, rosemary and lemon zest.

Porchetta 2

Prep the meat by placing the skin side down on a large roasting pan or baking sheet. Prick the meat all over about 1/4 inch deep so the spices penetrate the meat. Flip the meat and score the skin by making cross marks. Don’t cut too deep, only slice the skin.

Porchetta 3

Using a meat mallet, tenderize the skin all over for about 3 minutes. Flip the pork, and spread 2/3 of the rosemary fennel seasoning all over. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of kosher or sea salt on this side.

Porchetta 4

Roll the porchetta so loin is on the inside of the roast. If using a separate loin, season the loin and place it in the center and wrap the belly around it.

Porchetta 5

Tie tightly with butcher’s twine in 1/2 inch intervals.

Porchetta 6

Season the outside with the remaining 1/3 of the rosemary-fennel seasoning. Tent loosely with foil and refrigerate overnight at least 24 hours.

Porchetta 7

The next day take the porchetta out two hours before roasting. Leave the porchetta uncovered at room temperature for two hours blotting the roast with paper towels to remove any excess moisture. Season the outside liberally with salt right before roasting. Preheat oven to 500 degrees, place the roast on a roasting rack and roast for 30 minutes. (Make sure your oven is very clean because at such high temps any food will leave your kitchen smokey!) Turn the oven down to 325 degrees and roast for another 1 1/2 to 2 hours or until the meat registers to 160 degrees in the center. My 10-pound porchetta took about 1 hour and 40 minutes to reach 160 degrees after roasting for 30 minutes at 500 degrees.

Porchetta 9

Remove the roast and allow to rest for at least 20 minutes before slicing.

Porchetta 10

Warning, the temptation to pick off and snack on crunchy skin will be strong.

Porchetta 11

Remove the string and carve into thin slices. Serve with arugula-parsley gremolata.

Porchetta 12

To make the gremolata, place garlic, parsley and arugula in a food processor and process until finely chopped.  Alternatively, you can mince all the ingredients with a knife. Transfer to a bowl and add lemon juice to the parsley arugula mixture. Add olive oil and add salt and pepper to taste.

[linktopost slug=”arugula-parsley-gremolata”]

Drizzle the gremolata over slices of porchetta, or slather on ciabatta bread. Layer slices of porchetta on the bread and tuck pieces of crunchy skin in for the best sandwich ever.

Porchetta 13

(images by HonestlyYUM)


Could you go bigger with the pork loin and belly? I have a 3-4 lb pork loin and about 12 lbs of pork belly. I know it sounds like over kill but this is my first time trying to make this and I wanted to make sure I had enough.

My family lives in Sicily and we return every other year. There are many foods we miss, until we return. I have made this twice using your recipe and it is the closest thing I have ever come across in the United States! Great job on the recipe!

I made this recipe using a pork belly and a pork tenderloin it was perfect it was a 10 lb belly wrapped around the pork tenderloin the seasoning was perfect I had left overs so I sliced it paper-thin on a slicing machine the next day when it was cold for left overs. It made awesome sandwiches thank you for this recipe this will be an add on for Thanksgiving. Everyone loved it.

Glad you liked it!!

Hi Karen – hoping you read this….was gonna buy already made from espositos in Philly, but it can make just as easily and reheating wont give crisp skin – i notice the pork belly larger than your loin in the picture – did you continue rolling with the skin on the belly or did u trim the belly to fit (or butcher the skin off the part of the belly that was continuing to roll over the loin?

I just continued rolling it with the skin on. The piece was so thick there wasn’t really much that ended up rolled under itself. Hope you enjoy your porchetta!

Dear Karen,

Being of Italian descent , I have always wanted to make a Porchetta. News Years day is the target . Can’t start 2018 without pork and football. Just want to let you know that the success of my dinner and all of 2018 depends on your recipe and seasonings. LOL . Do you feel the pressure? 🙂
Happy New Year. This looks amazing.


Hi – this looks amazing. I’m planning to make one for Christmas. What’s the serving number for a 10-15 pound porchetta roast? Thanks!

I would go by pounds per person and estimate 1.5 pounds per person. That may be little too much but better to have leftovers than run out!

How many people did this feed. I’m thinking of doing a porchetta for Christmas Eve dinner.

This fed 6 people and we had lots left over, although we had side dishes too. It will feed a lot though!

can you just use pork belly or do you have to use the belly and loin combo

It is traditionally made with the belly and loin, but I suppose you could just make with belly, although it would be pretty fatty.

This is my second time cooking the porchetta but this time for a bit smaller crowd. (I cooked a 15 pounder porchetta and 15 of us could not finish it) I’m planning on making a 5 pounder for 5 people. Will the cooking time be the same or shorter?

The cooking time will be shorter. The best way to figure out timing is to use a meat thermometer and cook until it registers to 160 degrees.

We pretty much followed this recipe with the exception of using a rotisserie instead of roasting in the oven. Since we couldn’t find a Porchetta cut here in Portland on short notice, we ended up rolling pork belly around a roast. The toasted herb mixture was perfect!!! We will definitely make this again and are looking forward to using the leftovers for sandwiches today with the leftover gremolata and some caper mayo. Yum!!!

I am a busy owner of an aerospace manufacturing company in Camarillo. My mother always wanted to teach me a porchetta. However… she passed away without telling me her secrets.
After a lot of research with dozens of different recipes on the internet, I landed with Karen’s recipe.

I can tell you all re results were incredible. Her directions were flawless and my porchetta was a tremendous success.

So, I dedicate it to my mom. A wonderful Italian woman who could just basically cook ANYTHING. I appreciate your website Karen. There are a lot more recipes I want to try. Your instructions are simple and the pictures amazing.

Thanks for the recipe

Paulo Marin
Thousand Oaks, Califonia

Thanks Paulo! I’m so glad it came close to your mother’s– that makes me so happy! Enjoy 🙂

I’ve actually made porchetta with a rolled leg of pork. Just unroll the roast you buy and spread it out, cutting in the thick pieces so it lays flat and just proceed that same as the recipe. Believe me it makes a beautiful roast, especially when you can’t get the “proper” cut

Bravo! Thanksgiving is just around the corner and this got me so pumped up, right now! Thank you!

Hi takam…

You can brine the loin but do not brine the belly. Actually you could do the opposite and leave the belly scored-skin-side-up in the fridge for two days; uncovered. The idea is to remove the moisture in the skin and outer fat, not add it.

You can catch the drippings in a pan. To avoid steam, you can add some oil to the pan to keep the drippings from burning. You can always chill the drippings to remove extra congealed fat. But really a bit of water below the rack should not inhibit the crisp.

Hi Karen,

I tried this once but I got a rubbery fatty skin. How can I crunch it up? I did brine it overnight as I was hoping to get a juicier meat. Do you recommend brining? Do I need to place a pan of water under the rack to catch the dripping oil? Wont the steam prevent it from crunching up?


I think the non-crunchy skin resulted because of the brine. You really don’t need to brine this kind of cut because the loin is wrapped in pork belly, i.e., fat! Give it another go, but this time don’t brine the meat and just do the dry rub in the directions and make sure to pay the belly dry before placing it in the oven — I promise you’ll get crispy skin! Good luck!

Very impressive. I plan on smoking one in my Kamado style (like a Big Green Egg). Question – If using porchetta cut, does some of the skin get wrapped inside the roll. I saw it done once where they just removed about 2 inches of skin on one end and then joined the ends without a tight roll like you demonstrate.

It just depends on how long the belly part is but yes if left on the skin does get wrapped under so your butcher (or you) can remove it!

Recipe looks amazing! Im making it this weekend! However none of my butchers here provide the porchetta cut, so I’m doing the belly/loin way. This might be a silly question to ask…but will a centre-cut loin suffice (like the recipe calls for)…or will it be better/best/suggested to use a tenderloin?

Good question. I’m actually not sure, but I’m sure your butcher could tell you the answer!

Fortunatelly I live in Italy and I just buy porchetta!


Seriously though, what a beautiful chunk of meat. It is so beautifully done.

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