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Lechon Kawali- Air Fryer

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We were craving Lechon Kawali, so I cooked it in the Air Fryer for a greaseless version. Lechon Kawali is the classic Filipino dish of crisp  roast pork (lechon) cubes originally deep-fried in a kawali (skillet). I have shared the traditional way of cooking Lechon Kawali stove-top in past blog posts. In the Philippines, we often cooked this deep-fried in a frying pan.

This time, in my American kitchen, I wanted to limit the grease in our food. We’ve been on self-quarantine and staying sedentary most of the time. Friends have urged me to use the Air Fryer to cook Lechon Kawali. I replied, ‘Technically, it’s no longer Lechon Kawali, but Air Fryer Lechon, because we didn’t use a skillet.” That said, the outcome was a surprise. As I slid open the bottom drawer of the air fryer, the sizzling slab of pork belly looked as magnificent as though it had been deep-fried. The crisp, blistered skin was oozing and searing from the fat. And the potent pork aroma was as familiar as lechon at a party. I was so thrilled I found a way to cook Lechon Kawali, without hot oil from the pan jumping on my arms and hands.

The slab of pork was perfectly well-done. I cut the meat into cubes. I heard the crackling sound from the crunchy skin. We dunked the crisp pork belly pieces into the thick, sweet lechon sauce on the side. Nothing else felt as glorious as this at this precise moment.

Lechon Kawali - Air Fryer

This version of the Filipino Lechon Kawali, the classic pork dish was cooked in the Air Fryer for a grease-less entree. The original stove-top Lechon Kawali are pork cubes deep fried in a kawali (skillet). I first boiled the whole slab of pork to tenderize it. Then it took a few hours to dry out in the refrigerator. The final stage of cooking was done in the Air Fryer and it cooked faster than the familiar stove-top way. Best of all, there was no hot oil jumping out of the pan. Serve with a side of lechon sauce and steamed rice. This is an Asian in America recipe. Serves 2.
Prep Time1 day
Cook Time49 minutes
Total Time1 day 49 minutes
Course: Dinner, Lunch, Main Course
Cuisine: Asian, Filipino
Keyword: Lechon Kawali Air Fryer
Servings: 2 people
Calories: 70kcal
Author: Elizabeth Ann Quirino


  • Air Fryer
  • Stock pot (6 quarts)


  • 1 pound pork belly, whole slab, fat trimmed
  • 1 cup pineapple juice
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 whole medium-sized onion sliced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper

For serving:

  • lechon sauce, on the side; use bottled from Asian markets
  • steamed rice


How to boil and prepare the Pork:

  • In a stockpot, combine the whole slab of pork with the pineapple juice, water, garlic, onion, salt and pepper. Stir the liquid. Cover and cook over medium-high heat for 35 minutes till pork is tender and cooked thoroughly. Pierce the meat with a fork to check on tenderness.
  • Remove the pork slab from the liquid. (Note: Keep the broth in the refrigerator or freezer as a base for other dishes).
    Place the pork in a container. Refrigerate and let the pork dry out for 4 to 6 hours, or up to overnight.

How to cook in the Air Fryer:

  • Take the slab of pork from the refrigerator. Place it on the basket of the Air Fryer and close the drawer containing the pork.
    Set the temperature at 400 F and cook in the Air Fryer for 7 minutes.
    Then turn down the temperature to 375 F. Continue cooking in the Air Fryer for 7 minutes more.
    *Note: In between cooking in the Air Fryer, you will hear the pork 'bursting'. Do not be alarmed - it's the pork, not the machine.
  • When pork is cooked, click to turn off. Unplug before touching anything else.
    Slide open the drawer. Use a pair of long tongs to take out the pork. It will be hot and sizzling, so be careful not to touch the inside parts of the machine that can burn your hands.
    Place the slab of pork on a chopping board. Using a cleaver or large knife, chop the pork into bite-sized cubes (about 1-2 inches).
    Serve while warm with a side of lechon sauce and steamed rice.

What is an Air Fryer:

  • An Air Fryer is a counter-top kitchen appliance, which uses hot air in combination with high speed air circulation (what is also known as TurboStar rapid air technology), and a top grill to cook the food in a non-greasy way. The ingredients are heated from all sides at once. Most of the time, there is no need to add oil to the ingredients.
    Safety: When using the Air Fryer, as with all other appliances, please read the product manual for basic safety precautions and instructions.

Cook's comments:

  • Filipino Lechon Sauce is a sweet, thick gravy that is served with roast pork. It consists of cooked pork liver, bread crumbs, garlic, onions, sugar, bay leaves and seasonings. Bottled Lechon Sauce is found in Asian markets or online sources. Sometimes, I make homemade Lechon Sauce, which I shared on a past blog post.
    I used a Philips Air Fryer that is a small-sized model, which can fit ingredients that makes dishes for 2 people. This model has a removable basket at the bottom, which is like a drawer that slides in and out. (This is not an ad. This is my own opinion).


Serving: 1g | Calories: 70kcal | Carbohydrates: 17g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 1172mg | Potassium: 153mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 12g | Vitamin C: 13mg | Calcium: 21mg | Iron: 1mg

Notes on Nutrition: The nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and specific brands of ingredients used.

Did you like this recipe? I have more Filipino Instant Pot recipes in my newest cookbook Instant Filipino Recipes: My Mother’s Traditional Philippine Cooking in A Multicooker Pot by Elizabeth Ann Besa-QuirinoBuy my cookbooks and books on Amazon.com sold worldwide in paperback and Kindle format.

Copyright Notice: Hello, Friends! Please DO NOT LIFT OR PLAGIARIZE my original recipe, stories, photos or videos. All the images and content on this blog are COPYRIGHT PROTECTED and owned by my media company Besa-Quirino LLC. This means BY LAW you are NOT allowed to copy, scrape, lift, frame, plagiarize or use my photos, essays, stories and recipe content on your websites, books, films, television shows, videos, without my permission. If you wish to republish this recipe or content on media outlets mentioned above, please ASK MY PERMISSION, or re-write it in your own words and link back to my blog AsianInAmericaMag.com to give proper attribution. It is the legal thing to do. Thank you. Email me at [email protected]

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