Making homemade bacon is a lot easier than it sounds. All you need is some pork belly and a little time to create thick, juicy, delicious bacon.
One of the best things about homemade bacon, besides being able to brag about the fact that you can make it, is you end up with a thick bacon brick that can be sliced thick or thin or cut into little cubes that we like to use instead of butter or oil when we’re making soups and stews or sautéing vegetables. It’s also pretty amazing when you’re trying to build a better BLT.
How to Cure and Smoke Bacon
Think of this recipe as a good starting place when you’re learning how to cure and smoke bacon at home. Once you learn the basics, the options for different seasonings are endless, which opens up all sorts of culinary and probably coronary doors.
The seasonings we use for this homemade bacon recipe are high quality with a fairly traditional flavor profile. The maple syrup and brown sugar add both a hint of sweetness and depth of flavor, while the mustard powder rounds out the flavors with the pepper balancing everything out.
When you’re curing smoked meats, it’s important to use the right amount of pink salt, sometimes known as Prague Powder #1, which is for meats that will be partially cooked or smoked. The FDA recommends a ratio of 1 level tsp for every 5 lbs of meat.
We like to keep a small container of dry cure around that can be used when we’re curing things. This dry cure recipe below has been adapted from Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn’s book Charcuterie, which is an invaluable resource when you’re learning to cure meats.
The dry rub recipe below is enough for curing 20 lbs of meat and is designed to be made in bulk, with only a small amount going to the 2 lbs of pork belly in the main recipe.
The general rule for how long to cure bacon using a dry rub in the fridge is a week.
The pork belly should be firm to the touch before it goes into the smoker. Let’s be honest; there really aren’t any bad options when it comes to choosing what wood to use for smoking. Hickory, apple, or mesquite are all going to be good choices.
As long as you stay away from pine or other softwoods, the bacon is going to taste delicious. We’re partial to apple, with its mellow smoke flavor producing a bacon ideal for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.
For more fun ideas on how to use your smoker, read The Best Meats for Smoking & How to Make Them Delicious. Cooks interested in learning more about smoking should read our deep dive, A Complete Guide to Smoking Food, for tips, tricks, and techniques.
Mmmmm Bacon Recipes
A few of our favorite recipes featuring bacon are Sweet Corn and Bacon Pasta and Bacon Bourbon BBQ Burgers.
If you want to see how much bacon you can cram into a meal, try making our Bacon Infused BBQ Ribs with a side of German Potato Salad with Bacon Two Ways.
- 2 lbs pork belly
- 2 tbsp dry cure
- 1 tbsp maple syrup
- 1 tsp brown sugar
- 1/4 tsp mustard powder
- 1/4 tsp ground pepper
Basic Dry Cure
- 8 oz kosher salt
- 4 oz sugar
- 1 oz Prague Powder #1
- Start by mixing the dry cure, mustard powder, brown sugar, and ground pepper together. Rub the entire pork belly with the mixture, including the sides.
- Pour the maple syrup on the pork belly and rub it in, making sure to get your hands all nice and gooey. Put the pork belly in a ziplock bag and store it in the fridge for around a week, flipping it every day or so.
- The bacon is ready to smoke when it is firm to the touch. When you take the bacon out of the bag, give it a good rinse under the sink and pat it dry.
- We like to smoke the bacon with apple or hickory for two to three hours at around 200℉. It also can be slow roasted in the oven. The bacon is done when its internal temperature reaches 150℉.
- Once the bacon has been smoked, slice it and cook it the way you would any other bacon.
The nutrition information shown is an estimate based on available ingredients and preparation.
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