Homemade bacon is really not hard to make. If you have a smoker, a pork belly, and a few simple ingredients, you can easily cure and smoke your own bacon. With homemade bacon, you control the ingredients and flavors, and save money. Home-cured bacon costs about half the price of quality, store-bought bacon. And, it’s fun to make!
When we lived in our “sticks and bricks,” we had a huge wood-fired smoker and made bacon regularly. We left that smoker behind when we became full-time RVers, and were really missing our homemade bacon. Now, we have a Green Mountain Grills Trek Portable pellet smoker, and a batch of homemade bacon seemed like the best way to test it out. Would we see a difference in the bacon using a wood-fired vs. pellet smoker?
- You can buy pork belly at Costco or your local butcher shop.
- For nitrate-free bacon, eliminate the pink salt. We have not tried this yet, but know of others who have. Typically, we eat nitrate-free meats, and the amount of curing salt in this bacon recipe is very small, so we let it slide. (1 teaspoon spread over 5.5 pounds of belly)
- If you do not have a smoker, you can bake the belly in the oven at 250 degrees until it hits the internal temperature of 165 degrees. You will not have a smoky bacon, but you will still have delicious homemade bacon.
- Curing Salt: https://amzn.to/3P6jJ1d
- Green Mountain Grills (GMG) Portable Trek Pellet Smoker and Grill: https://amzn.to/3P08p6N
- Meat Slicer: https://amzn.to/3J8foa6
- LaCrosse Probe Thermometer: https://www.lacrossetechnology.com/products/ltv-bbq1
discover. cook. enjoy.
Delicious Home-Cured Bacon
- 5.5 lb pork belly, skinless
Basic Bacon Cure
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1/4 cup Kosher salt
- 2 tbsp black pepper
- 1 tsp Curing salt
- 1 tsp thyme, dried (optional but recommended)
- 1 tsp garlic powder, (optional but recommended)
- 1 tsp onion powder, (optional but recommended)
Curing the Belly
- Trim the loose ends and excessive fat from the pork belly. Score the top fat cap so the cure can penetrate the belly.
- Measure and mix the Basic Bacon Cure ingredients in a medium-sized mixing bowl. Spread and rub in a thin coating of the Cure on all sides of the pork belly.
- Wrap the pork belly tightly with plastic wrap or put in a 2-gallon zip-lock bag. Place the pork belly in a container. During the curing process, the pork belly will purge moisture and the container will catch it.
- Refrigerate the pork belly for 7 days. Each day, turn the pork belly and discard the liquid. Turning daily will ensure an even cure. You will want to put a bit of weight on top of the belly to help purge the moisture. Anything heavy you already have in the fridge will do, or add a heavy pan or container.
- After 7 days, the pork belly should be firm to the touch. Remove from the fridge and rinse the pork belly thoroughly to remove the excess salt and sugar. Return the pork belly to the fridge to air dry overnight. This step allows additional moisture evaporation and results in a tacky pork belly that will more easily take on smoke.
Smoking the Belly
- Preheat your smoker. For more smoky flavor in your bacon, smoke at 200 degrees (lower and slower method) and for a less intense smoky flavor, smoke at 250 degrees.
- Smoke the belly to 165 degrees. It will take 2-3 hours depending on the temperature you chose. Always insert a probe thermometer into the thickest part of the belly to monitor temp.
- Once at temp (165 degrees) remove the bacon from the smoker and let cool for about an hour. Refrigerate overnight to tighten and dry the bacon for slicing.
- If you do not have a smoker, you can bake the belly in the oven at 250 degrees until it hits an internal temperature of 165 degrees.
Slice the Bacon
- Remove the bacon from the fridge and slice at your desired thickness while it is cold. You can use a slicer or a knife.
- You will have about 5.5 pounds of bacon and even though it cured, it will not last in the fridge for more than 5-7 days, so you will need to freeze the bacon. Portion the bacon into the quantity you desire and place in a zip-lock freezer bag. When ready to use, let thaw and enjoy!