Once you make your own bacon, you'll never go back. This easy recipe will walk you through exactly how to make smoked bacon at home!
Sometimes I think I have too much thinking time. I come up with whacky ideas, and off the wall projects.
Other times, I think I'm a foodie genius.
I bet you can guess which way this stroke of smoked bacon inspiration went.
This recipe is dedicated to makin bacon.
Tips + tricks
No. 1 --> Making your own bacon is not a hard process but there are a few steps involved, please read through this entire blog post at least once before starting. There's a printable recipe card at the bottom of the post.
No. 2 --> I've written pretty exact directions, including little tips and tricks I've picked up through the process of making this bacon many many times, in the body of this post, and I'll leave another more concise set of directions in the printable recipe card.
No. 3 --> Freeze your belly slightly before slicing. We've found that especially with the electric slicer it's nice to have that fat solidified a bit before we start cutting cause it can lead to a gooey mess.
No. 4 --> Cook your bacon the RIGHT way. Check out my How To: Cook Bacon Guide!
All ingredients in this recipe are subject to the size of your pork belly. You will need to calculate them each time you make bacon, but these are the ingredients you need on hand:
This recipe has a few little tools that make it much easier to complete. Here's a list of the things I use when making home smoked bacon:
- parchment paper or wax paper
- gallon ziplock bags
- sticky notes
- food scale that measures in grams
- 3 small mixing bowls
- cookie sheet or chafing pan
- Traeger or other smoker
- meat slicer
- vacuum sealer
How to make
- Gather your equipment: Tear 3 decent sized sheets of wax or parchment paper, get a decent food scale, a pen, some sticky notes, 3 1-gallon ziplock bags and 3 small mixing bowls.
- Slice the pork belly into smaller slabs. I like to cut mine into thirds, as they generally fit perfectly in a 1-gallon ziplock bag. Place each slab on a sheet of parchment paper.
- One at a time, pick up the cut pork belly and place it on the scale. Measure in grams. Write the weight on the top of your sticky note.
- Calculate your dry brine. I use this awesome web-based calculator and select the following options; US curing standards, Skin Off. Then I use the measurements listed for salt, sugar and the minimum amount of nitrates. Write these numbers on your sticky note. Place each one beside the corresponding slab.
- Make the dry brine. Place your small bowl on the scale and tare it out. Measure the specified amount of salt, then tare, add the sugar, tare, and then the nitrate salt. Mix this together thoroughly. Do this with all slabs of bacon, being sure to keep each brine mix with the correct slab.
- Sprinkle the brine mix on the corresponding pork belly, making sure to get both sides, and the edges. Pat it in. Return the belly to the wax paper.
- Fold the wax paper on top of the belly and slide it into your large ziplock bag. Squeeze the air out of the bag, and place on a cookie sheet (I like to use my chafing pan), to contain any possible drips and place in the fridge for 7 days.
- Flip the bags every day for 7 days, give them a quick massage.
- Wash the pork belly. On the 7th day, open the ziplock bags and remove the slab. Run it under cold water and rinse it well.
- Place the washed belly onto a wire cooling rack and set it on top of a cookie sheet. Place the belly back into the fridge uncovered overnight.
- Preheat the smoker to 180f. Remove your bacon from the fridge and smoke it until it reaches an internal temperature of 145-150f.
- Remove the bacon from the smoker and allow it to come to room temperature before proceeding.
- Freeze the bacon slabs for at least 1 hour before attempting to slice with a meat slicer, or a good brisket knife and a steady hand.
- Vacuum pack the bacon in portion sizes that work for your family, and store in the freezer until ready to use, 3-4 months, if it lasts that long!
How to store
We store all our bacon sliced and vacuum-sealed in the freezer. I say it lasts 3-4 months, but to be honest, I don't think we've ever had homemade bacon last that long in this house. According to the Food Safety And Inspection Services website, 3-4 months is bang on!
Once opened and in the fridge, cook your bacon within 4-5 days.
Picking A Pork Belly
This recipe really hinges a lot on the pork belly, so it's important to pick the best one you can.
Try to find a pork belly that is roughly 1/2 pink meat and 1/2 creamy white fat. Let's be real, the fat is the decadent part of the bacon, so make sure there's a good amount of fat.
We have had excellent luck procuring skinless pork bellies at Costco, as an added bonus, they are cryvac'd so they are perfect for freezing until we're ready to get to bacon makin'! Can you tell we live in the boonies and a stock up trip to Costco is a real treat? Haha
If you don't have a local Costco, check in with your butcher. Our butcher has always been able to supply us with trimmed pork belly whenever we've needed it.
What if my belly has wonky ends?
Don't worry! The one I've photographed for this recipe has some wonky edges, some places where it won't slice super well, or be worth bacon. You know what you do with those? Chop them into lardon, or leave them larger and use as bacon ends.
If you've never cooked with bacon ends before , you'll love this! Chop them and use them in potato bacon soup, fry them up for bacon bits in your salad, or mashed potatoes. Grind them up to use them in your cabbage rolls, or perogies.
The list of uses for bacon ends is endless and I often run out of bacon ends before I run out of bacon!
What pellets to use?
Kevy and I are huge Lumberjack Pellet fans, we buy them in bulk, and go through them in bulk. We've used a few different pellets to smoke bacon; applewood, cherry, and most recently the competition blend which is 1/3 maple, 1/3 hickory, and 1/3 cherry. Each one has been fantastic.
I guess, what I'm saying is that bacon is so perfect, I don't think any pellets could take it off the bacon pedestal, though, I'd probably avoid mesquite and straight hickory as they may impart too strong a flavour.
I talk about our Timberline 1300 probably daily. It's embarrassing how much I of my day is spent thinking about, talking about, using our smoker. *shoulder shrug* What can I say, I'm a changed woman. Show me the smoke!
Truly, we love our Timberline, it’s double-walled for insulation and can easily handle Alberta winters, has 3 stainless steel racks for all your large batch smoking (*ahem, bacon), not to mention WiFire - which I thought was dorky, but actually rule! You can get a Timberline from HOME DEPOT or WILLIAMS SONOMA.
Other smoked recipes you'll love
Don't be afraid to smoke your own bacon. Once you smoke your own bacon, it will be awfully hard to go back to store-bought!
- 1 skin-off slab of pork belly
- kosher salt
- brown sugar
- #1 Prague Powder curing salt
- Slice the pork belly slab into manageable pieces.
- Weigh each piece of belly and enter the information in this dry cure calculator.
- Mix up the required cure for each slab and rub it into the pork belly.
- Slide each slab into its own ziplock bag, and remove as much air as possible before sealing and placing it in the fridge for 7 days.
- Each day, flip your bacon and give it a little massage.
- On the 7th day, remove the cured pork from the fridge, give it a really vigorous rinse, then place on a wire cooling rack in the fridge overnight.
- On the 8th day, remove your bacon from the fridge and smoke it at 185f for 4-5 hours, or until it reaches an internal temperature of 150f.
- Allow bacon to cool before placing it in the fridge or freezing. We like to slightly freeze the pork belly before we slice into bacon.
- Vacuum seal bacon into desired quantities and keep in the freezer until ready to cook.
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Light Brown Sugar
Prague Powder No.1 Pink Curing Salt
Morton Coarse Kosher Salt
Traeger Timberline 1300 Grill
Nordic Ware Natural Aluminum Baker's Half Sheet
Baking and Cooling Rack
Full Size Stainless Steel Chafing Pan 2 1/2"
FoodSaver Automatic Vacuum Sealer
Solimo Gallon Food Storage Bags
PaperChef Culinary Parchment Paper
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 2Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 1mgSodium: 25mgCarbohydrates: 0gFiber: 0gSugar: 0gProtein: 0g