Lechon kawali with no deep frying

Lechon kawali with no deep frying

Last month, I shared with you how to make lechon kawali without frying. Sliced pork belly went straight into the turbo broiler and, roasting at 475F, the rinds turned into cracklings — browned, puffed and crisp. But is that possible if cooking with a whole uncut slab of pork belly? Before I answer that, let’s ged rid of the obvious questions first.

What is lechon kawali? Filipinos know but for the benefit of non-Filipinos who may stumble upon this post, lechon kawali is deep-fried pork belly. A slab of pork belly, skin on, is simmered in salted water, drained and cooled then lowered into a pot of very, very hot oil. During frying, the surface of the pork is browned and the skin puffs and turns crisp. The slab of pork is then allowed to rest for a few minutes before it is chopped into serving-size pieces.

That said, let me answer the question as to whether it is possible to make the equivalent of lechon kawali without frying when using a whole slab of pork. The answer is yes but the pork has to be boiled first. There’s the proof in the photo. Looking at those pork pieces you’d think the pork was deep fried. But it wasn’t. It was cooked in a convection oven. Just look at the puffed rind! I’ve done this so many times before, the first time back in 2005 (see lechon sa hurno), and the formula never fails. Consider this entry as a more detailed version of that 2005 experiment.

Why boil the pork first? The size. If you place a large piece of pork in an oven at a very high temperature, the outside will be burnt before the inside gets thoroughly cooked.

So, boil the pork first. Submerged in very salty water. I like adding garlic cloves and peppercorns too. When the water boils, lower the heat, cover the pot and simmer the pork until tender. Depending on the quality of the meat and the size of the slab, that should take anywhere from an hour and a half to two hours and a half.

When the pork is done, scoop out carefully so that nothing breaks apart. The skin is very tender at this point so treat the pork lovingly. Place the pork on a roasting rack and place the rack in an oven-proof dish.

The rack ensures that the heat touches every part of the pork’s surface so that it browns evenly.

The dish underneath is for catching the melted fat. Unless you want a messy oven, place the rack inside a dish.

Preheat the oven to 475F — higher if your oven allows it. When the oven is hot enough, slip the pork in.

After 20 to 25 minutes, look what happens!

Here’s the other side. Nicely browned all over and the skin puffed and crisp.

Let the pork rest for about 10 minutes to allow the juices to settle. If you chop it at once, the wonderful juices will just drip onto your chopping board. So, let the pork rest.

Then, chop. Into slices first. Then, into cubes. Transfer to a plate and serve with rice.

As a final note, I did say I cooked the pork in a convection oven, right? A convection oven is a fan-assisted oven that makes the heat go ’round and ’round. I use an Ariston convection oven (see a photo on my other blog). A turbo broiler works too because it is actually a small convection oven. Can the same result be achieved using a traditional oven? I don’t think so. Of course, you can try — just keep the temperature at the highest setting. If it works, please let me know. I’m sure other readers would appreciate the information.

Share it!
Share on Pinterest


  1. says

    This is the way we cook lechon kawali at home :D my mom said that it makes the dish a little less guilty to eat because of the less amount of fat :D

  2. Mike says

    Just last weekend, I came up with a home cooked version of the Balamban style liempo. I was able to cook it in the oven of a gas range.

    Results? Same flavor but lacked the smokiness of charcoal.

    So to answer the lechon kawali in the oven question, yes it can be done. You just brine the meat first for about 1 and 1/2 hour for each pound of meat (so about 3 hours for every kilo). Then drain away the brine, pat dry the liempo and rub all over generously with salt and cracked pepper. Wrap it in aluminum foil with a bit of space for the steam to escape.

    After letting it cook in the oven for about 2 hours or so, remove the aluminum wrap and drain away the juices. Place the meat on a wire rack and put it back in the oven. The skin will start to crisp and the sides also turn golden brown. Let it rest for about 5-10 minutes before chopping up.

      • Mike says

        hmmm…I didn’t have a thermometer that I could stick into the meat but the oven switch setting was around 360F when I first put it in. Retained the same temp setting after removing the foil.

        To crisp up the sides and skin on top, I switched on the grill top (the upper flame portion inside the oven). Took about 15 minutes or so.

        I’ll be making sure to take exact notes and measurements next time. The weekend liempo was just an experiment after I tasted it in Cebu :)

        • Connie says

          Oh, double heat after the foil was removed. Are you using an Elba oven? I have an Elba gas range and it’s like that — with a top broiler and rotisserie. Haven’t used the broiler and rotisserie though.

  3. says

    Talaga naman handle the pork lovingly pa ha :) I’m somewhere in Thailand right now, Connie, and at lunch I had this lechon kawali stirfried with krapao, chilis, and kai lan. Ang sarap!

  4. says

    Wow. This is amazing. I have to try this at home. Here in Cebu they cook the pork belly into a small amount of water until the water evaporates and produces oil. The pork will then be fried into its oil. We call Lechon Kawali, Adobo. I don’t know why it’s call Adobo. I think that’s the mystery behind the Cebu food.

    This post is very helpful,esp for me that I love to experiment different kinds of Filipino recipes. Great!

  5. leann says

    Hi connie, I’ve been following your site since i move here in michigan. I came from New York and it is indeed your site is easy to follow.
    I did try the lechon kawali and they love it, it taste like lechon.. :)
    No splatting of oil, and no consuming of oil.
    Your post are very helpful to everybody.

    Thank you so much. God Bless.

  6. Natz SM says

    Hello Ms. Connie,

    Back in the late 80s early 90s, I use to request my suki bakery to bake my lechon kawali in their regular but really large electric oven whenever it was part of my party menu and had to make about 10 kilos or more. I would bring in the slabs of liempo already pre-boiled in salt water and other spices, drained and cooled in the ref overnight. They charged me a minimal amount per kilo but it saved on cooking oil, time and most importantly, I was free to prepare other dishes. (Apparently, I was not the only one availing of this service especially during holidays)

    It always turned out perfect- well puffed and crispy rind yet tender and juicy inside.

    BTW, I love lechon kawali with sibuyas, kamatis and bagoong isda. Hilaw na mangga is optional!

  7. Bessie says

    Connie, GMA Pinoy TV’s Life Pinoy Style show of Chef Ron Bilaro. He used a regular oven – 400F. Pls. visit his website, for “Ron’s Lechon de Oven” recipe. Season 7, episode 1.
    I will make your Lechon Kawali very soon! Thanks for the recipe. ;-)

    • Connie says

      It doesn’t say it’s a regular oven. In fact, it does not say what kind of oven at all. Nor if the heat should be underneath, on top or both. :sad:

      • Bessie says

        Ooh, I’ve seen that episode and he used a regular / traditional oven, pork was placed in the middle rack. 400F. Naalala ko, hindi nagpuputok-putok ang skin just like your lechon kawali. :-)

          • Bessie says

            Yes, you are right. I like your lechon kawali with no deep frying – crispy. I’ll use my turbo. ;-)

          • Mike says

            Sorry for the late reply, just got back from GenSan.

            I have a La Germania 5 burner oven.

            The temp setting is about 360F for the first 2 hours, wrapped in the aluminum foil. I guess the steam from the prok juices and spices cooked the liempo slab (about 1 kilo).

            After removing the foil and placing it on the middle rack, I let it crisp and dry up for another 30 mins with the same temp.

            After 30 mins, I shut down the lower flame and turned on the top burner (my oven doesn’t allow simultaneous top and bottom) and let the skin crisp up. Took about 15 minutes or so.

            I’m thinking of doing it again (aluminum foil and all) but using the rotisserie this time and tying the pork up so the stuffing won’t spill out.

            I’ll let you know what happens next time :)

          • Connie says

            Oh good! Cause I have a rotisserie too but haven’t used it yet. If it works with liempo, I can cook a lot of slabs for a party using the two ovens simultaneously! Yey!

  8. Jo Santos says

    Hi Connie, I did it last Saturday in the turbo at 392 degrees F, I turbo roasted the 1.5 k pork belly for 40 mins after it was boiled for 1 1/2 hr. The skin was nicely puffed and so crunchy. Thanks so much for sharing your recipe.

  9. Lisa says

    Hi Connie

    Am trying this recipe this week, we only have a traditional oven, which level should I put my oven rack? Middle or bottom.

    Also I believe the highest setting of this one is 550, should I maximize this?



      • Lisa says

        HI Miss Connie

        Thanks for the info, with respect to your answer, if its 550, how long should it be in the oven, do I still have to use the broil setting? If so, how long.


        • Connie says

          I don’t know exactly how long. I suggest you watch the meat closely after 10 minutes.

          When browning meat, it is always advisable to use the broil setting.

  10. says

    hmmm…i haven’t tried doing lechon kawali without frying. i will give it a shot this weekend.

    i do fry it deep and hot oil, and rock-frozen meat slab after hours of boiling a day before. same for crispy pata.

    nowim hungry. =S

  11. says

    lol, yes some says so. but it worked for me tho.heheh

    if you also have tried the crispy hito at palaisdaan resto in tayabas quezon, it follows the same procedure, tho no boiling.


    so im going to try this method of yours tomorrow. im craving for it after seeing your

  12. Lisa says

    HI Connie

    I did the lechon kawali this week, after boiling the pork, I wiped the pork with a clean kitchen towel, to remove the excess moisture, because if I put it in the oven, I might end up steaming the lechon kawali instead.

    I put the pork in the oven and waited for the oven to reach again 550, then started only the cooking time as soon as the thermostat read 550.

    It was good, and the aroma was really heavenly good.

    We will try to do it again, because we were not able to use the broil setting.

  13. celeste says

    HI Ms connie! How are you? I have an electric oven toaster which i think is an electric oven toaster/convection oven. it has rotisserie (it was a gift so im not really sure plus i cant find the manual anymore). it has top heat (the broiler i guess) and bottom heat. if i put the pork slab there should i open the top and bottom heat or just the top part? i just finished boiling the pork and will cook it in the oven tomorrow. il wait for your reply :) thank you

  14. celeste says

    Oh thanks for the clarification. Uhuh it only has temperature control, selector for top heat and bottom heat or both, and timer up to 1hr I think. What do u think? Will it do? Or I moght have to experiment.

    • Connie says

      Oh, I don’t know. High heat is essential but it has to be controlled heat. Otherwise, the meat might burn and fry up.

        • Celeste says

          hi ms connie! just want to update you. it worked! i had the lechon kawali for lunch today. i used the appliance i mentioned in my last message, the electric toaster/oven rotisserie (i dont know what its exactly called ‘coz cant find the manual) and the pork slab turned out juicy, crispy and puffy :) but had to cook it for 1 hour. basta it was more than 25mins. i had to watch it the whole time too since this was nmy first time to cook pork in that oven. i was ecstatic when the skin started puffing. LOL! simple things make me happy. home cooking rocks! thanks for the recipe. next in my list is your chicken picante :) have a good day!

  15. Marj says

    I just tried this and turned out great. I used a regular gas oven, cooked the lechon kawali at 450 for 40 minutes and the skin turned crispy. Thanks for the idea!

  16. gina says

    @ celeste: what happened to your cooking? we have the same oven setting that is why im interested about the result… tnx in advance for sharing…

    @ ms. connie: thank u so much for sharing your wisdom of cooking… you are really an angel to us who dont really know the ins and outs of cooking… god bless and more power!!!

    • celeste says

      hi gina! the pork slab turned out crispy, juicy and puffy. just perfect for me :)put it in the highest setting, mine is at 250c and then you cook it for an hour. check it from time to time. since it was my first time i initially set it for 30 mins and then had to set it again for another 30. i open both the top and bottom heat and then had to adjust near the end to just the top heat.:)

  17. says

    This looks so delicious. I can taste the pork just looking at the picture. I recently became a vegetarian, but I remember the taste of lechon when I ate meat. I grew up around a lot of Filipinos and I now live near Little Manila in NYC, so the smells of Filipino food always fills the air. It’s hard to be a vegetarian around so much yummy Filipino food!

  18. says

    Hi Connie,

    Did the pork / oven smoke too much? I don’t want to set off the smoke detector. I have a regular (big) convection oven but not outdoors like yours.


  19. Jamie says

    oh no!!! I failed to read the “convection” oven part! I was too excited to try this one that I failed to read the *note!

    I’m doing it anyway…I just hope the result will be good, if not the same. I’ll let you know what the outcome is.

  20. andie says

    hi ms. connie! i just have to share that this is a spot-on recipe! tried this last week and it turned out delicious!! at first i thought the skin didn’t crisp up in my broiler bec it didn’t look like yours (not as brown and no ‘popped’ skin). pero when i chopped it, sobrang lutong! tried and tested talaga lahat ng recipe nyo and i want to thank you as always for sharing. i’ve been reading your blog since 2006, from the time i was single till now that i am married. and am really grateful for all that you have shared. more power to you!

  21. mae says

    Hi, Connie! Thanks for posting this. I’ve been cooking lechon kawali in oil and had no luck in making the skin crispy.

    I saw this posting 6 months ago and I finally got the chance to try it yesterday. I was very surprised on how well it turned out! It was very crispy and I think healthier than deep frying! :)

    I boiled the pork butt for over an hour the night before and froze it. Thawed it out in the fridge and placed it on a grill rack like you said. After 10 minutes in my oven (not using convection) on 475 degrees, the skin started to pop already and there’s no oil splatter at all! I did alter the cooking times based on what I saw. I noticed after 25 minutes the batch I was cooking was 50% crispy (skin-wise). So, I baked it for another 15 minutes and it was about 75% crispy. I decided to take it out and let it rest for 20 minutes. I put it back in again for another 15-20 minutes and it was 100% crispy.

    Besides adjusting the cooking time, I was very impressed with this technique. I didn’t know that you can cook lechon kawali without frying it in oil and that baking it in high heat can make the skin real crispy.

    Thank you for posting it!

  22. Ed says

    Thanks for the posting this.
    Ive been cooking lechon kawali using this method for a month now.

    But this is what i did

    1. Boiled the pork for 45 minutes or so until it becomes tender. Salt and bay leaves
    2. Left it outside the house (temp outside was -10 or so with windchill to -22
    3. Fry it till it becomes slightly brown. I think about 25% brown. Low heat
    4. Dried it using paper towel
    5. Left it outside to cool and again theres the windchill factor
    6. Convection oven 425 degrees for 15 minutes and then switch it to broil at 500 degrees for 2 minutes

    And its really crispy. And also really noisy because Of the fire alarm. Hahahahhaa.

    Also i tried cooking it without frying and made
    Lechon kawali sisig.

    Again thanks for posting this connie

  23. takamsalechon says


    I think I have a traditional oven. It has a rotiserie on top with the hot grill.

    I have tried cooking lechon kawali in this oven before just by using the gas range but after 2.5 hours of baking, it never became crispy. It was a chewy rubbery skin but the meat was good. I am going to try grilling it after baking for a few minutes, how high do you think I can place the meat? Right under the grill or the second rack below that?


  24. says

    Thanks for this – will definitely try it!

    Do you have other recipes for convection ovens? We bought one for our mom (Asahi) and we have no idea (yet) on what to cook or bake with it!:)


  25. Valerie Te says

    Omg!! I just read the part where you did not use the xonventional oven!! My pork is in the oven right now with no foil!! I’m not sure how it will turn out!! Wish me luck!

Commenting Guidelines

1. Read the post carefully before asking questions.
2. Stay on topic; this is not an "anything goes" forum.
3. If you're on a recipe page and you want to substitute an ingredient or a procedure, please don't ask if it will work. I cannot make a guess about something I have not tried.
4. Self-promotion is not allowed. You will be blacklisted and your comment will be deleted.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *