Slowcooker Five-Spice Braised Pork Belly (Gluten-free!)

Slowcooker Five-Spice Braised Pork Belly (Gluten-free!)

Make your house smell fragrant with this gluten-free Taiwanese-inspired five-spice braised pork belly! It takes little hands-on time, perfect topping to go on rice and noodles!

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Secret to melt-in-your-mouth braised pork

Choose pork belly!

Pork belly is a thick slab cut of pork where layers of fat and meat alternate. You may find them sold either with skin on or skinless. The pork skin is tough to cut through when they are raw. So using a sharped knife to cut them efficiently and safely is definitely a good idea!

Besides braising and stewing, pork belly meat is also great for stir-fry if they are thinly sliced! Check out my meat prep post to learn more about how to prepare your pork belly in different ways for freezing and cooking!

Pork belly meat prep

How is this five-spice braised pork belly unconventional?

In a traditional recipe, pork belly are often found braised with a spice bag containing whole pieces of star anise, cloves, cinnamon, etc. However, to make things easier (and cheaper!), I substituted the whole spice bag for five-spice powder. The result is wonderful!

Conventionally, this recipe is made on the stovetop, simmered for over an hour to make it juicy and tender. Fast-forward to today’s kitchen, here I am with my hands full taking care of my 6-months old. Keeping an eye on a burning stove for an hour is not an option, so using the slowcooker become my favorite cooking method!

Adapted from Angel’s recipe (which is amazing in itself!) , I have also included modifications for hubby’s allergy. This modified version is gluten-free, garlic-free, no wine. Yet, it is still delicious that you will keep wanting more!

To make this gluten-free five-spice braised pork belly, you will need (affiliate links):

Do soy sauce necessarily contains wheat?

Conventional soy sauce do contain wheat a lot of times as it helps with the fermentation process. However, if you need gluten-free substitutes, there are a lot of options available too!

In place of conventional soy sauce, you can use the following alternatives. (Affiliate links)

Should I brown the meat before slow cooking?

You don’t have to but it is recommended.

From my experience, chicken is the most forgiving meat when it comes to skipping the browning. Basically you are still getting good flavorful meat with decent texture without extra time on the stove. In contrast, personally I think beef gives a mushy texture and a “stale” taste when they are slow-cooked without browning first.

How about pork?

Pork is a tricky one as its texture varies so much from leaner cuts like the tenderloin, to fattier cuts like pork belly. In the case of fatty pork belly meat, the browning is more for deepening the flavor and maintaining structural integrity of each piece. It helps keep all the alternating layers together for nicely looking pieces.

So you mean I CAN skip browning? Yes. You will still yield yummy flavor from the five-spice, aromatics and soy sauce. The rich texture of the fatty meat will keep you going back for more!

What should I serve braised five-spice pork belly with?

The tender meat along with the rich sauce are delicious served with warm bowl of rice. It is also great over noodle soup and the sauce can add flavor to the broth too!

Want to be more creative? Try serving them over polenta or mashed potato for a fun gluten-free fusion dish!

Looking for more gluten-free slow cooker recipes?

Check out the Belated slowcooker recipe collection!

Gluten-free Slowcooker Five-Spice Braised Pork Belly

Make your house smell fragrant with this gluten-free Taiwanese-inspired five-spice braised pork belly to top your rice and noodles!
Prep Time30 minutes
Cook Time8 hours
Total Time8 hours 30 minutes
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Chinese, Taiwanese
Keyword: five spice, pork, pork belly, slowcooker
Servings: 8 people
Calories: 915kcal
Author: Brenda

Ingredients

  • 2 lb skin-on pork belly cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 2 tbsp cooking oil
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar or coconut sugar, or omit for low-sugar version
  • 1/3 cup gluten-free soy sauce
  • 1 1/2 tsp five-spice powder
  • 2 tbsp blackstrap molasses
  • 4 cups filtered water
  • 1 white or yellow onion cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 2 cups carrots cut into 1.5 inch pieces

Instructions

Optional: Brown the meat.

  • Heat a pan over medium to high heat. Pour 2 tbsp cooking oil into heated pan then place pork belly pieces evenly over pan.
  • Once the searing side looks no longer pink (or until browned if you have time), turn the piece and repeat on all pieces and all sides

Sauce and seasoning

  • In a medium bowl, mix together brown sugar (if using), gluten-free soy sauce, five-spice powder, molasses and 1 cup of water

Slowcooking

  • Place onions pieces, then the prepared pork belly pieces to the bottom of the slowcooker.
  • Place cut carrot pieces over pork
  • Pour the mixed seasoning sauce on top. Then add water until 0.5 to 1 inch below the top of the ingredients
  • Cover and cook on low for 8 hours, or high for 4 hours
  • Serve over preferred side dishes and enjoy!

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