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posted August 25, 2015

Homemade Smoked Bacon

Making your own homemade Smoked Bacon is a bit of a process, but it’s 100% worth the effort. I’m here to walk you step-by-step through making your own smoked bacon from scratch that is way better than anything you’ll get at the store.

Stack of homemade smoked bacon slices on peach butcher paper with text overlay - Homemade Smoked Bacon.

Smoked Bacon

I don’t think I’ve ever cooked anything that made me as excited as this homemade smoked bacon. I mean, it’s bacon. Which is awesome enough. But the fact that I bought a giant slab of pork belly and turned it into beautifully seasoned and smoked homemade bacon made me near giddy. I can’t even wait to share the process with you and watch the proud homemade bacon glow wash over you.

I’m not going to pretend that I am the first person to attempt to make bacon, I did a lot of reading on proper cure times, ratios of curing salt to bacon thickness, etc. I did, however, create these two awesome cure recipes from all of the knowledge I gleaned from those who have made bacon before me. I hope you give them a try!

Cured and smoked pork belly on a wooden cutting board.

Homemade Smoked Bacon

Making homemade bacon is a several day process, but it is totally worth it. I’m going to detail my steps for you here so you can follow along and venture into beautiful, homemade smoked bacon territory.

First, you need to pick up a piece of pork belly. Thickness will vary, but lately Costco has been stocking beautiful, already skinned slabs of pork belly. If you are buying from a butcher, see if you can get them to remove the skin from the belly for you. It can be a bit of a nasty job to remove this skin yourself, and it also increases your cure time since it is typically not removed until after the time spent in the cure.

If you have a large piece of meat, I recommend dividing the pork belly into smaller portions so it is easier to handle in the cure. I usually portion mine off so they can easily fit in a gallon sized zip top bag.

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How to Cure Bacon

Next, it is time to make the cure. There are two cures in the recipe card below. The peppered cure is a little more sophisticated with some added spice. It is amazing on BLTs and cheeseburgers. The recipe notes contain the ingredients for the maple cure. It is the perfect mixture of sweet and salty and it just screams breakfast.

When you’re ready to make your bacon, place the pork belly in a plastic bag with the cure and seal the bag tightly. You can also vacuum seal the bag to remove all the air if you have this available. Place the bag in the refrigerator and allow it to cure.

Allow the pork belly to cure for approximately 7 days. A general rule is to cure your bacon 7 days for every inch of thickness. Make sure you flip your pork belly over in the cure and massage once a day. If you hit the 7 day mark, you can test your bacon by slicing through the middle to be sure the pork belly is pink all of the way through with no gray left at all. If it isn’t pink through, put it back in the cure for another day and test again. The texture should also feel like a well done steak when it is done curing.

Sliced pork belly into bacon strips on a wooden cutting board.

How to Smoke Bacon

After the cure, the pork belly needs to be rinsed and returned to the fridge to develop a sticky skin called a pellicle. I like to place my pork belly on a wire cooling rack on top of a cookie sheet before returning to the fridge. You need to leave your bacon in the fridge for 12-24 hours; I usually leave mine overnight. This air drying time in the fridge will help the smoke really cling to the meat by creating that tacky exterior.

Now it’s smoke time! I like to use apple wood to smoke my bacon, but maple and hickory are also awesome choices. Fire up your favorite pellet grill and keep the temperature as low as possible (I was smoking around 165 degrees F).

Place the cured pork belly on the grill grates of the smoker, close the lid, and smoke for about 6 hours or until the internal temperature is up to 155 degrees F. Invest in a GOOD quality thermometer! It will make all the difference in the finished product if you have an accurate temperature reading. I always recommend ThermoWorks thermometers because they are insanely accurate and very durable.

Once the pork is smoked, you are ready to slice and fry it up! Finally after all of that waiting, it is time to eat that glorious, salty sweet piece of meat heaven. It is hard to resist slicing pieces off right away, so definitely cut off a few pieces and fry them up. If you’ve got the patience, chill the bacon completely before slicing. It’ll make the job much easier when the meat is cold. You can use a meat slicer if you’ve got one, but I just used a really sharp knife and went to work! If you feel intimidated, come try a piece of my homemade bacon. It’ll pluck up your courage. Venture out of your comfort zone and try something new. You got this!

How to Smoke Bacon on a Grill

If you don’t own a smoker and don’t want to buy one, you can actually make a smoker out of your propane grill. Follow through steps below or watch my video for a full tutorial for smoking on a gas grill. 

  1. Make a smoke pouch. You can buy hardwood chips at almost any grocery store, usually in the outdoor cooking aisle. Fold up a large square of aluminum foil into a pouch around the hardwood chips. Use a knife to punch a bunch of holes in the top of the pouch.
  2. Fire up the grill. Turn on one of your grill’s burners to High and place the pouch over the burner. Once your wood starts to smoke, turn the temperature down to medium.
  3. Cook the pork. Place the cured pork belly on the un-lit side of the grill and close the lid. Allow the wood chips to smoke and smolder until the internal temperature of the bacon reaches 155 degrees F. You may need to add a new pouch of wood chips if your first burns out before you get your bacon up to temperature.

Sliced bacon on a plate next to mashed potatoes.

How Long to Smoke Bacon

With the temperature of your smoker holding steady around 165 degrees F, it will take around 6 hours for the meat to fully smoke. 

The goal here is to get your pork to an internal temperature of 155 degrees F. You want to keep the temperatures low during this smoke so you cook the pork through and add all the smoky flavor without rendering any of the fat in the belly.

Recipes for Homemade Smoked Bacon

Ready to put this bacon to good use? Check out some of our popular recipes here on Hey Grill Hey!

Smoked Bacon Recipe

Stack of homemade smoked bacon slices on peach butcher paper.

Homemade Smoked Bacon

Making your own Homemade Smoked Bacon is a bit of a process, but it's 100% worth the effort. I'm here to walk you step-by-step through making your own smoked bacon from scratch that is way better than anything you'll get at the store.
5 from 4 votes
Prep Time : 20 mins
Cook Time : 6 hrs
Cure Time : 8 d
Total Time : 8 d 6 hrs 20 mins
Servings : 20 people
Calories : 24kcal

Ingredients
 

  • 1 5-pound slab pork belly (skin removed)
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh cracked black pepper

Peppered Bacon Cure

  • 1 ¼ teaspoons Prague Powder #1
  • 5 Tablespoons coarse Kosher salt
  • 5 Tablespoons brown sugar
  • 3 Tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon maple syrup
  • 3 Tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon cracked black pepper
  • 1 ½ teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes

Instructions

  • Prepare the cure. Combine all ingredients for the bacon cure in a bowl. It will be a paste-like consistency. This is exactly what you want.
  • Cure the pork belly. Place your slab of pork belly in a large plastic bag (either a large vacuum seal bag or a gallon zip top bag works great for this). Using your hands, transfer some of the cure to the bag with the pork belly and spread it on all sides. Make sure to thoroughly coat all sides of the bacon and use all of the cure. Seal the bag tightly, removing as much air as possible. Place the sealed pork belly package in the refrigerator and cure for the next 7 days. Flip and massage the pork belly once per day.
  • Develop a pellicle. After the 7th day in the cure, remove the bacon from the bag. Gently rinse the pork belly to remove any thick slimy build-up on the exterior of the pork. Place it on a wire rack above a baking sheet. Pat the pork belly dry with paper towels. Season the top with the tablespoon of fresh cracked black pepper. Place the peppered bacon in the fridge (while still on the rack) and leave uncovered for at least 12 or up to 24 hours. This step helps develop a tacky coating called a pellicle on the exterior of the bacon.
  • Smoke the bacon. Preheat your smoker to 160-170 degrees F using your favorite hardwood. Apple, maple, and hickory are all popular for smoked bacon. Place the pork belly directly on the grill grates, close the lid, and smoke for approximately 6 hours, or until the internal temperature of the pork belly reads 155 degrees F.
  • Slice and cook. Let the bacon chill completely in the refrigerator before slicing. A cold slab of bacon is much easier to slice into even pieces. Slice your bacon as thick or as thin as you like (one beauty of making it from scratch) and fry up in a cast iron skillet. Enjoy!

Notes

This recipe was originally written using Morton's Tenderquick as a cure. It has been updated to reflect the superiority in the flavor of the final product when using Prague Powder #1. If Tenderquick is still your preferred method, you can plan to use 1 Tablespoon of Tenderquick per pound of bacon you are curing.
You can make Maple Bacon following the same recipe steps above, but using the following ingredients for the cure:
Maple Bacon Cure
5 pounds pork belly, skin removed
1 1/4 teaspoon Prague Powder #1
5 Tablespoons maple syrup
5 Tablespoons brown sugar
5 teaspoons cracked black pepper

Nutrition

Calories: 24kcal | Carbohydrates: 6g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 1mg | Sodium: 4mg | Potassium: 45mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 58IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 17mg | Iron: 1mg
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**This post was originally published in August 2015. We recently updated it with more information and helpful tips. The recipe remains the same.

homemade-smoked-bacon-pinHomemade Bacon after CureHomemade Bacon with TenderquickHomemade Bacon on a Pellet GrillHomemade Bacon in CureHomemade Bacon PellicleHomemade Bacon on a Traeger

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