Authentic whole roast crispy Norwegian ribbe pork belly

Crazy crispy traditional Norwegian “Ribbe” pork belly

Ribbe, or juleribbe is one of the most iconic dishes in the traditional Norwegian kitchen. Made from pork belly, the goal is the juiciest meat with the crispiest crackling. This method is by far the easiest way of getting the most spectacularly crispy crackling and mouth watering meat.

The traditional Norwegian Christmas dinners:

This recipe is featured in The Big Five traditional Norwegian Christmas dinners & recipes:

Norwegian Ribbe dinner the traditional way

Ribbe is traditionally always served with boiled potatoes and gravy. In addition it is always served with either surkål (sweet & sour cabbage) or rødkål (sweet & sour red cabbage). Typical sides are carrots and brussels sprouts. In addition, many serve with medisterkaker in addition to the Ribbe meat, which is mildly spiced, high fat pork meat cakes.

We serve this with a strong home brewed, caramelly Vossaøl (recipe), and a shot (or two!) barrel aged Norwegian Aquavit. And perhaps Risalamande for dessert 😀

Pro tip: Consider making extra meat, so you can have Norwegian ribbe steam buns leftover dinner!

Every Christmas….

I shit you not – every single year, without failing, recipe upon recipe is published with the promise of the perfect crispy crackling. Hobby cooks and professional chefs alike fuss over minute details, and arguing which method produces the superior result; you must roast it up side down, then flip it half way through. Whaaat?? You must baste it every so often, and roast it for 1 hour per kilo; no, no, no, you imbecile, you must cover in foil and braise it. Are you mad? The key to the crispiest crackling is hand fed, pampered organic pig, from an obscure, ancient Norse pig breed only found in the north-eastern corner of Hakkadalen…it goes on, and on, and on….and it’s sooo labor intensive!


I’m a lazy SOB, and if I can get superior results with a fraction of the work, then I’ll fuckin do exactly that. I have used this exact method unchanged since 2010, and it has consistently delivered perfect results Every. Single. Time.

This method is really simple, and it is based on rock solid kitchen science. It is, as we say in Norway, “Idiot proof” regardless of how big or small your pork belly is.

Pro tip: The weight of the meat does not matter at all, it’s how thick it is that matters. As thermal physics dictates, a thick piece of pork belly will need longer time to reach the same core temperature as a thinner piece.

I will now tell you why this works, but feel free to scroll down to the actual, and very easy recipe and just cook the damned thing if you prefer 😉

The goal:

  • Super juicy meat: you need low and slow heat
  • Crisp crackling: you need high heat


This first clue is that you need to give the pork belly two different heat treatments, with two different goals; first low and slow to make it juicy, then crank up the heat to get the crackling crisp.


But how do you know how long at how low heat, and when to crank it up? Well, that’s damned easy too, because we already know that the number one key to juicy meat is core temperature.

It is a scientific fact that the lower core temperature, the juicier the meat. But we certainly don’t want to eat raw pork; it simply isn’t safe. The lowest recommended core temperature for pork is 62C/145F.

That is what we’re going for. Because when you crank up the heat again, the temperature will continue to rise, and by the time the crackling has crisped up, the core temp will read somewhere around 70C/158F.

But to produce an even juicier result, we use a little bit more kitchen science: a process called osmosis. Feel free read up on it on Serious Eats , but the short version is that salt helps to retain much more juice in the meat.

We also know that key to getting a crisp crackling is a humid heat treatment of the rind; that’s why some prescribe roasting it upside down, or frequent basting throughout the roasting. And finally, we need a killer gravy.

What it all boils down to is this super simple method:

  • Salt the meat the day before to initiate the process of osmosis
  • Braise the meat under aluminum foil together with aromatic vegetables and herbs until you reach a core temperature of 60C/140F.
  • You will use the braising liquid for your killer gravy, so that stock makes itself.
  • Remove the meat from the oven, and crank up the heat
  • When the oven has reached its new temperature, remove the foil, and roast until the rind is crispy, 30-40 minutes.
  • Remove from the oven, and set to rest, uncovered, for at least 30 minutes. This long rest will both let the juices settle, and let the temperature of the meat come down to something that’s actually possible to put in your mouth.

See how easy that was? Ready to cook? Let’s go!


For the pork belly

  • 1-1.2 kg pork belly (tynnribbe)
  • fine sea salt
  • 1 onion
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 large carrot
  • 2 cellery stalks
  • 1 sprig thyme
  • 4 bay leafs
  • 500 ml low hop ale (English bitter for example)

The beer gravy

  • Braising liquid from the pork
  • 2 tbsp real butter
  • 2 tbsp flour

To serve

  • 1-1.2 kg boiled potatoes
  • 400 g butter steamed brussels sprouts
  • 400 g butter steamed carrots
  • one batch red cabbage*

*Surkål is made in exactly the same way, but consists of only white cabbage, caraway seeds, salt, water and apple cider vinegar, and maybe some fat from the Ribbe.

Method in detail

I remember making this when I lived in Canada, and finding the right cut of meat was hell, so here’s my best explanation:

Though a similar dish is popular in the rest of Scandinavia, Norwegians primarily use the bone-in pork belly (lower 3/4th in the pic) rather than the bone-in pork roast (upper 1/4th in the pic) that they use in Denmark for their “flæskesteg” for example.

You are specifically after the lower parts of the rib cage called “tynnribbe” in Norwegian, not the thick, meaty part near the back. I think this cut is superior, simply because you maximize the amount of earth-shattering crispy crackling.

That entire piece is sold as “familieribbe” in Norway. I think it’s a spectacularly bad idea, because there’s such a tremendous difference in thickness it’ll be impossible to get right; either the thick part will be undercooked, or the thin part will be dry as fuck.

So look for a piece with good marbling, relatively even thickness, not too big areas of thick fat layers, and you want approximately 1 cm fat layer right underneath the skin. You definitely also want the section with bones, because you’re also making a stock.

Please also make sure the pig is bred organically, and has access to roam freely. Pig farming, even in Norway, is one of the absolute foulest meat industries that exist, so buying organic at least ensures the pig was well taken care of, before landing on your plate. I think we owe them that much.

Lea and I chomped down 1.2 kg pork belly over two dinners. That was a lot of meat for us. I would say that for normal eaters, I would recommend 250 g per person (remember there is bone in this too), and for big eaters around 300 g. Definitely not more if you also plan to serve a dessert. Like our Risalamande

Now, finally…

With a very sharp knife, score the skin. I like to use my razor sharp chef’s knife, but many swear by a carpet knife where you can easily adjust cutting depth; Make sure to cut all the way through the skin, but not into the meat beneath the layer of fat. You can also ask your butcher to do this.

The scoring is important for two reasons:

  1. It helps rendering out the fat, and
  2. It makes it easier to cut the meat for serving.

Some make a square pattern, some make super thin stripes, and some make a diamond pattern. The diamond pattern is my least favorite, cause it makes it harder to cut the meat when you’re ready to serve; you’ll be cutting in between the scoring. And whereas the strips and squares run along with the bones, the diamonds run across them…

  • Strips: 5-10 mm thick
  • Squares & diamonds: 15-20 mm thick

Next, season liberally with fine sea salt; remember this is a big piece of meat! Rub it well into the crevices of the scoring, and on all sides of the meat. Put on a roasting tray, and set uncovered in the fridge overnight.

The next day, coarsely chop the onion, bash the garlic, and cut the rest of the veg into large-ish chunks. Put everything in the roasting tray, pour over the beer, and with the pork belly on top.

Make sure that the pork belly does not sag down in the middle, or else fat and meat juices will pool here and make it impossible to get crisp crackling. Rearrange the pork belly, supporting it underneath with the veg pieces so that it’s relatively flat, or gently slopes down in the sides so that fat and juices can be drained. Just remember an even height is crucial for evenly crisp crackling.

Insert a thermometer probe into the thickest part of the meat, making sure you do not hit bones. Cover everything with aluminium foil.

Put into the oven, and roast at 150C/300F until your core temperature reads 60C/140F, approx. 1-1.5 hours depending on thickness.

Remove the pork belly from the oven, crank up the heat to 230-240C (Google it to convert to Farenheit). When the oven has come to the new temperature, remove the foil and put the pork belly back in. If you have a convection oven, use convection.

Note that if your oven has uneven heat, it may be a good idea to rotate the tray after 15 every minutes to avoid burning and/or chewy rind. This is also a good point to make sure you still have sufficient liquid left in your roasting tray. Remember this is for your gravy, so refill a bit with warm water if running low. Don’t add too much water though, or you’ll get a watered out gravy.

The whole crisping process should take 30-40 minutes – this really depends on your oven, so pay close attention the first time you make it. You may also want to turn the tray 180 degrees in the oven for an even crisping-up.

When you are happy with the way it looks, remove from the oven, transfer to a cutting board, and let sit at room temperature, uncovered, for at least 30 minutes.

I know this long rest will raise an eyebrow or two, but consider this: the meat will have a temperature of around 70C when it comes out of the oven. Fat has a very high heat capacity, so if you eat it too soon, you’ll have to blow on it to avoid blisters.

As the meat sits, the temp will come down to 55-60C, which is an actual enjoyable temperature for meat. The meat juices will also get time to redistribute evenly throughout the meat, so that when you cut into it, you will hardly loose a drop of juice:

The beer gravy is made like this:

Transfer the braising liquid to a taller, narrow heat proof container. Skim off the rendered fat. Reserve for other cooking, to put in the red cabbage, or in the leftover Ribbe steamed buns.

The last few drops of fat can be tricky to skim, so plop a handful ice cubes into the container. This will cause the fat to solidify instantly, and will be super easy to lift out. Failing to remove the fat will cause the gravy to split.

Your container with braising liquid should measure 0.4 liters. If too little, add more water.

In a small sauce pan, melt the butter, then stir in the flour. Toast this at medium heat to a nice nutty brown. The darker the more flavor, but take care not to burn things, cause then it’ll turn bitter.

Gradually whisk in the braising liquid, making sure lumps does not form. You should end up with a nice, not too thick gravy. Adjust with water to personal preference.


  1. Your rough language, using the “F” word, was very distracting and unnecessary! The recipe and information was useful and interesting. In the USA, that word is still considered vulgar to many!

    • Hi Karen!
      You know, if you have a problem with how I find it natural to express myself, feel free to use your scroll wheel, and scroll on to one of the, literally, hundreds of thousands of blogs with bland language, and equally bland food 🙂

      In the mean time, I will continue to express myself in whichever way I choose to on my own goddamned blog.

      Life is too fucking short to deny oneself access to the most versatile word in the entire English language.

      Bless your heart, Karen 🙂

          • I never seen tynnribbe in Australia, what other cuts could be used instead? regular pork belly (without bones) or leg/shoulder?? And do you think cooking time would be different? Thanks mate!

          • Hey Jo in Australia! If you don’t have a local butcher that can cut this for you, I’d go for regular pork belly without the bones. It would be extremely similar, except you have no bones for an amazing stock for the gravy. See if you can find a few pork bones that you can add to the pan and roast alongside…should work out nicely. In a pinch maybe try a few chicken wings in there instead, but clearly won’t be quite the same 🙂

      • Well said, Sverre….de amerikanerene er veldig “prudish”, synes at alle i hele verden skal være akkurat som dem. Stakkars stakkars, Uff!!! Ikke nødvendig å motta drttt fra dem!

      • Here here! It’s your blog and if the Karen complaining is really American, she should believe you have freedom to express yourself however the hell you want.

        This recipe sounds great and pics look amazing!

    • Your rough language and use of the F word is literally what sold me on this recipe. Can’t wait to try it!

    • Hi Karen!
      You must be not very well read, as you have clearly not heard the saying about sailors, and their vocabulary and eloquence.

      Feel free to find yourself one of the hundreds of thousands of blogs on the internet with bland food, and bland fucking language 🙂

      PS: As English is my second language, IMAGINE what I can do in Norwegian!

  2. oops! hit send toooo fast without editing LOL…”F word” and I’m cooking this recipe today. I talked with my Hawaii butcher and he cut it specially per my instructions and your recommendations. I will let you know how it goes!

  3. The best !! – I can’t find ribbe down here in sofla – so I will be attempting this year with pork belly that has the skin – next year I may break out the $$$ to get whole one from D’artagnan – Tusen takk – for your helpful and fun page! God Jul!

  4. Fy fæn!!! I can’t wait to try this!!! I am trying to prepare julribbe for the first time after years of pinnekjøtt. This recipe sounds fucking awesome! Tusen takk!!!

  5. I’ve never made it before, but the fact you talk about dry brining has me wanting to try. I have a question, though: You mention having it at a lower temperature, then taking it out and waiting for the oven to heat to a higher temperature, then putting it again. Doesn’t this risk overcooking the meat? Would it be easier and maybe just as good to have it, say, at 220 for 1-1.5 hour? I’m not trying to instruct, just wondering since it might decrease cooking time.

    • Hi Anders! Good questions! Giving the Ribbe two different heat treatments like is kinda like reverse searing a steak; First you take it to the internal temp you want, or slightly below, and then you finish off at high heat.

      Removing the Ribbe from the oven before cranking up the heat prevents the meat from overcooking while the oven is coming up to its new temperature. Makes sense?

      • Thanks a lot for answering. Ya, it makes sense. I haven’t tried it yet, as I haven’t found organic ribbe anywhere, but I’m hoping to find it soon.
        I was also wondering, why low hops beer? Just personal preference or? I know nothing about beer 🙂

        • Well I’m a beer geek, and a home brewer, so you’ve come to the right place!

          In addition to flavor and aroma, hops are what gives beer bitterness, and you need bitterness to balance the alcohol to make it not taste boozy.

          You want strong beer with fatty food cause the alcohol balances the fattiness. And you need some hops to balance the alcohol in the beer.

          But it is possible to use *exactly* so little hops to *just* balance the alcohol, without the beer tasting bitter, but more wineous, and that is what I meant with a low hop beer.

          English barleywines hits that sweetspot, while Americans use a shit ton hops and produces a very different, and bittwr flavor. Nice some times, just not necessarily with most Norwegian food 🙂

  6. Plan to try this soon! Quick question:. When I was young we would sometimes eat roast pork with lingonberry sauce/jam. Would lingonberry go well with Ribbe?

    • Hi Chuck! Well, the short answer would be you can, and it would probably taste really good, and I use ligonberries with almost every traditional food that I make, but it’s not a traditional thing to do for ribbe as I know it.

      The lingonberries add a wonderful acidic kick to any food, and helps to balance fat. With ribbe, you usually have either surkål (vinegar pickled white cabbage), or rødkål (vinegar pickled red cabbage), and they do pretty much the same job at balancing the fat. Makes sense?

  7. Dude….You need to scope out one of Aussie mates “Nats what i reckon” youtube channel, he hit the big time by simply cooking real fucking food and educating people to not turn to bottled / convenience foods and swearing like motherfucker whilst doing it.

  8. Hi there! This will be my first time attempting to make tynneribbe as I’m from Canada. I was just wondering if you rinsed the salt brine off of the meat before you reseasoned it? Forgive my complete lack of knowledge😅

    • Hi Sonya! LOVE Canada! (and we might even go back to BC next summer!) You won’t be using so much salt you need to rinse it off – it’ll simply be drawn into the meat and season it from within 🙂

      • Oh that’s so cool! BC is the best province (I’m not biased at all 😉). I really appreciate your prompt response!! God Jul

        • It TOTALLY is, and I’m not biased in any way either! After having lived in Vancouver for a few years, I am simply stating very obvious facts 😉

  9. “ Hobby cooks and professional chefs alike fuss over minute details, and arguing which method produces the superior result” then proceeds to add another “guarantee” recipe for the perfect result. Oh the irony.

  10. I just came to say that ribbe was perfect! And easy, huge points from this. God jul!
    Btw. I even didn’t notice language. But I’m from a land of heavy metal and “perkele”. 😉

    • Awesome! Glad it worked out so well! Perkele! <3
      One of our absolute favorite bands is the Mors Principium Est from Finland 😀
      God Jul!

  11. My neighbor is Norwegian … he makes this for Christmas – orders it from a butcher in Florida and has it fucking shipped to Chico, CA … looking forward to tomorrow …

  12. Jesus dude, this looks good. I’ll be making the shit out of this tomorrow for a family dinner. I’m also living in Norway – will pick up a nice low hop beer tomorrow from MENY to go with the gravy. Thanks for taking the time to write and upload this recipe.

  13. Love your expressive language! I’m an 80 year old Norwegian and although my family were farmers I do swear like a seasoned sailor, especially in my kitchen. I will definitely be following your advice for my Christmas Eve dinner this year. Thanks!

    • That is awesome! And thank you! I’ll just keep doing my thing, and if people don’t like it, they are free to scroll right past, instead of smearing their own shame all over my blog 😀

  14. I’ve made a salt-crust Chinese-style pork belly that got a delicious crisp skin, but this method skips wasting all that fucking salt. Looking forward to trying it! My Norwegian ancestors will be proud, I’m sure. 😆

  15. Jeg er Engelsk og Norsk. I kveld prøver jeg å lage juleribbe. Jeg vet at er ikke jul ennå, men jeg kunne ikke vente.

    • Å inst inn i svartaste helvetes skeivpulte mås-pikk faens bibelforpulte raude Eirik å tykje kor satans koseli å hør fra dæ!! Go middag!

Leave a Reply

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