home made smoked cured bacon

How to make and cure your own smoky bacon

There are few single ingredients that are so universally adored as bacon. And the only thing better than bacon is homemade bacon.


Curing your own bacon, at least once, is a great experience for any meat enthusiast. Although it’s a fairly lengthy process (at least, compared to running to the store and just buying some), it is  a wholly satisfying one, and in addition to the sense of achievement it also yields some tasty rewards. It also gives you control of what exactly is going into the bacon, the degree of quality of the pork itself and of course, the flavoring and level of smoke. And not only that, but it gives you complete control over the thickness of the slices – get as thick or thin as your heart desires!

kurobuta pork belly
Fresh boneless pork belly prior to curing
cured pork belly bacon
Pork belly after curing

There are a few things you’ll need to make your own bacon. Firstly, curing salt (aka Prague powder) which can be bought at better grocery and specialty food stores or ordered online. Second, you’ll need a smoker of some kind (because obviously that’s how you get the smoke flavor!). A pellet grill is perfect for this task because it’s fabulously easy to use, and will only take a couple of hours. I prefer fruit woods like Apple or Cherry to pair with pork, but of course you can go for something stronger like Hickory. Finally, you may want to consider investing in a great quality thermometer. I use and recommend the Thermapen, and also used a Dot to monitor the temp of the smoker.

home made cured bacon
The finished and cooked product

This recipe serves as the core foundation for a bunch of different types and flavors you can try. All you need to do is adjust some of the ingredients and experiment with additions. Brown sugar, molasses, garlic, bourbon, different wood species and a host of other options can be used to create your own signature bacon, and let’s be honest, it’s going to be one helluva tasty process of trial and error.

And of course, once you have all that bacon, you can turn it use it to create completely magical meals like this:

bacon and egg biscuit

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home made smoked cured bacon

How to make and cure your own smoky bacon

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star

5 from 43 reviews

  • Author: Jess Pryles



3lb skinless, boneless pork belly

3 tablespoons kosher salt

1/3 cup white sugar

2 tablespoons pepper

2 teaspoons paprika

1 teaspoon pink curing salt (aka Prague Powder #1)

apple or cherry wood chunks/chips


  1. Start by curing the belly: In a small bowl, combine the pepper, sugar, paprika, salt & curing salt. Place belly on a foil lined tray and pat dry with paper towels. Using half of the cure mix, sprinkle evenly over the surface of the belly, and rub in gently. Turn over and repeat on other side with remaining mix. Place the entire belly and curing mix into a large zip top bag and place in refrigerator for 7 days. Each day the belly should be flipped onto the other side, and the contents (which will transform to a liquid) should be massaged around.
  2. After 7 days, remove from the bag and rinse under water. Pat dry with paper towels, and place back in fridge uncovered (on a rack over a pan to catch any drips) for 24 hours.
  3. Smoke the now cured belly using the apple or cherry wood for three hours at 200f, or until internal temperature reaches 150f.
  4. Store bacon in an airtight plastic bag or container in refrigerator for up to a week, cutting and cooking as required (if you don’t eat it all at once!).
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75 thoughts on “How to make and cure your own smoky bacon”

    1. So I used This recipe a while back and used the 3lbs of belly. I found It was a touch salty but other than that a great recipe, I just used It again and made 10lbs of belly. I cut the salt back to 6tbsp for that 10lb’s and it came out perfectly salty. Love you recipes keep up the good work!

  1. Awesome recipe, easy to follow and it’s delicious. I use the fat cap I trim off of pork shoulder, when making sausages or pulled pork. Still plenty of fat left for both. Leave about 1/2-3/4″ of meat on it and it works great.

  2. I have used this recipe numerous times. YUMMY! I have given a bunch away and everyone says its the best bacon ever. I just added 2tbsps of brown sugar. thanks for the great recipe.

        1. any % replacement of white sugar for amber maple syrup is fine. to do a complete swap would be too messy and ineffective, 50/50 is probably the max you’d want to go. I’m a red blooded Canadian and I go about 30%, so the end result is a rub like wet sand good for making sand castles.

    1. i threw it in the freezer for a couple hours and sliced it. worked well but i need a better knife! it cut well but i’d probably go serrated or a slicer.

  3. I just started the cure I will let you know!! Beginner smoker here… I got a good deal on 3lb’s of Pork Belly!! wish me luck!!

  4. This might just be the best bacon recipe I have ever tried. I have been following this recipe for over a year. A dry cure is hand down better than any bacon I’ve ever bought in the grocery store.

  5. This sounds delicious and simple, but I have a question. We have just had our first pastured hog processed at the butcher and I did have the belly sliced. (First time with a “cut sheet”)

    Of course, when we pick it up, the bacon is frozen into 1lb sliced packets. I tried frying it using only salt, pepper, etc, but NOT tasty at all. My question – how do I cure, smoke, use this recipe since it is already sliced and in 1lb packages? Thanks so much

      1. So I used This recipe a while back and used the 3lbs of belly. I found It was a touch salty but other than that a great recipe, I just used It again and made 10lbs of belly. I cut the salt back to 6tbsp for that 10lb’s and it came out perfectly salty. Love you recipes keep up the good work!

    1. Sounds a lot like the uncured smoked jowl I get at an international grocery. I fry it with a good bit of black pepper ground over it. I avoid salty foods like bacon and I enjoy it. But its not bacon.

    2. I did the same thing and have a bunch of packages of “Fresh Pork Side.” We just found a recipe that really makes it tasty, 2 TBS brown Sugar, 1 Tsp salt, 1/8-1/4 tsp pepper. Mix it up and use a shaker to dust the strips in a foil lined baking sheet. Cook 20 minutes @ 350 F, then flip, dust again with shaker mixture and finish cooking another 10-20 mins depending on thickness of slices until desired crispness is achieved.

  6. I smoked this at 185 using supersmoke on my ironwood 885. Used maple wood which gave it just a hint of sweetness. Absolutely delicious!

  7. This recipe is amazing!!! I finished the cure and smoking process yesterday I used Apple wood, and my Mastercraft smoker. I have to be honest I was a little leery using sugar as I am not a big fan of sweet Bacon. but this is not to sweet at all. it just has light hints of sweetness. And I can not believe how amazing the Bacon is. So much better than any Bacon I’ve ever had. cooked some of course the first day. and this morning bacon and Eggs!! Thank you for sharing this recipe. if you have any doubts I suggest you put them aside and try this recipe!!! I would give it 10 stars. P.S I did have to order the Prague Powered #1 off of amazon! could not find it locally. Bon Appetit. I will be making this again soon!!

  8. Delicious recipe Jess. Perfectly cured and not too salty. I opted to allow the cured bacon for a few days longer which helped for a deep smoke. Used cherry because I had it but apple and hickory are my favorites.

  9. We were looking for a recipe to make back bacon, something we have had in England, Cornwall, and Scotland, that we cannot find here. I chose this recipe and was very impressed. We use a pork loin rather than belly, and is very close to what we had in the UK. After curing and smoking, we sliced the back bacon, and vacuum sealed packages of 4 slices each and froze them. We now back bacon whenever we want, for a price comparable to what we would pay for regular store bought bacon.

  10. This was my first attempt at making bacon. I was was just tired of our butchers as it was way to salty. This recipe was easy to follow, and has an incredible flavor, sweet/salty ( but not to much) and Smokey. It’s a keeper for our family.

  11. Did three pounds in October. Now getting ready to smoke ten pounds that I have finished curing. My Family loves this bacon.

  12. Jan 12 /22
    Great recipe and simple. Second time today.Doing 10lbs.now. Using Treager gourmet pellets . Stepped it up a bit with some garlic powder, cumin, and smoked paprika+ Real home grown Maple syrup. Anxious to try. Could be slow though -15 C -5F but I have a winter blanket for my smoker

  13. Hey Jess,

    First time doing this. Belly’s just gone back in the fridge this morning uncovered for 24hrs. My question is how come we hot smoke and not cold smoke?

    Are we not in effect cooking twice before we eat if by hot smoking. I’m a novice so all the info is appreciated

    1. I know it’s a little bit late lol but I’d let it rest for at least 4 hours in the fridge and then slice it up. I have a meat slicer and a vac u sealer so I process my own bacon now. Seeing that the prices of store bought stuff is $10.00 lb from semi decent bacon. But now that I’ve learned how to do it I’ll never buy it in a store again. lol my last two times buying pork belly I got it at $5.89 lb so I basically double my money by making it myself, and friends now want to buy bacon off me and say they would happily pay $10-15.00 bucks for a pound of fresh homemade bacon 🥓!

  14. The best and easiest recipe! Thanks you Jess. I have been using this and recommending to my friend for ages.
    I have made many versions, sweeter, savory and chili. I alway come back to this.

  15. Hi Jess ,have a smoker on its way , can’t wait to try making bacon . I’m wondering if you could use other cuts of pork for this . Maybe pork loin or shoulder ,cut to appropriate size and make something like Canadian bacon . Not sure how hard pork belly will be to find where I’m at.

  16. Absolutely delicious! Followed the recipe as written, except I did 24 pounds and used pecan pellets. Perfect balance of sweet and salty notes.

  17. Very nice. I made this and smoked it with a combination of apple and cherry wood. I started with a 6 lb. slab and followed the recipe pretty precisely. Main difference is I used plain coarse ground (iodine free) salt instead of kosher. Just bought another slab of pork belly that weighs in at about 10 lbs. I’m going to split it and add a touch of maple syrup to half as a trial. But the family loves it.

  18. Well I just made this recipe with a few tweaks, i used a Apple spice & brown sugar and smoked it on my Oklahoma Joe offset stick burner and I’ll tell ya what this has become my new bacon recipe from here on out! The flavor with Apple &cherry wood smoke makes you want to just sit there and cook bacon 🥓 and eat it as it comes out of the cast iron skillet! Ms. Jess a Huge thank you for sharing your recipe! This was part of a test I was doing on bacon 🥓 and brine and vs wet brining this by far is my now go to! I went 5 days on the brine, set in fridge for 24 hrs then to the smoker, vs the wet brine which took min of 8-14 days brining, 24 hr set up in fridge then to the smoker so it dry brine and this recipe with the Apple spice brown sugar add ! 🙏♥️♥️♥️

  19. Tried 3 lbs a few weeks ago and everyone I have shared it with says its the best bacon they’ve ever had. Currently have 12 lbs curing cut into 3 lb slabs, on one slab I substituted brown sugar instead of white. Already thinking ahead to my next pork belly down the line and thinking about using maple sugar from a local sugar bush on one of the slabs. New into smoking but this bacon recipe made me look like a pro!!

    1. Avatar photo

      How as it with brown sugar? Did you not use any white sugar? I was thinking of trying it that way.

  20. Great. I did the sugar 50/50 white & brown. After I took it out of the smoker I brushed on maple syrup & sprinkled with a little maple sugar. Mmmm good.

  21. So I bought a pork belly at Costco, cut it in half and used half to make a smoked pork belly on my Vision kamado smoker. I always wanted to try making my own bacon and found Jess Payless’ site. Followed the recipe exactly though I had to double it given the size of the belly I had. Used my electric smoker to maintain the exact temp needed and added a smoker tube for extra smoke filled with a 50/50 mix of hardwood pellets and cherry wood chips. Refilled the tube after about 5 hours with only cherry chips. I mug cherry chips in the normal smoking port a few times, but I don’t think it was really necessary.

    Took about 10 hours to get to the 150 degrees needed. (Okay, I admit I had 155 deg in my head so it actually got to 153 before I realized my mistake). Had about 8 hours of continuous extra smoke. I stuck it in the refrigerator last night and sliced some for dinner after work today. THE BEST bacon I ever tasted! Not really that difficult to make and well worth waiting for. Thank you so much for the recipe. Bookmarked your page ‘cause I’m making this again!

  22. Avatar photo
    Marcel Van Der Mark

    Made this yesterday.Amazing flavour, and lots of fun curing and smoking it. I find the bacon a bit to sweet though. Perhaps forget the white sugar, and substitute a much smaller amount of brown sugar? Will that affect the brine for curing? Keep up the great work, Jess!

  23. I’d tried to make bacon from another recipe, and it was so salty we couldn’t eat it as bacon proper. I’ve done this recipe twice and It is AWESOME! Will do a couple of full pork bellies next time.

  24. Fantastic recipe. I just finished curing, slicing, and vacuum packaging 22 pounds of applewood smoked bacon. Followed your recipe with the exception of replacing the white sugar with a 50-50 mix of white and brown sugars. Thanks for sharing.

  25. Excellent recipe for beginners and experienced folks alike. The first time I ever made bacon I used this recipe and now I play with ingredients a little but the recipe is so good it’s hard to change much. My friends all basically beg for bacon once it’s ready and it’s fun to treat others!

  26. First time I tried this I thought it was a little too salty. I cut the kosher salt down to 2 Tbsp and used maple sugar instead of white sugar. Came out amazing. Also cooled to room temperature after smoking then tightly wrapped in plastic wrap and refrigerated overnight to set texture and flavor before slicing.

  27. Jess,
    Sorry I haven’t posted in awhile cause I have made bacon quite often using this recipe. I just did a 15 lb pork belly. I’t was awesome as always.The reason i made so much is everybody loves it and the price was 3.98 a lb.

  28. I liked the comments on this recipe and decided to go with it a day ago; bought the pork belly from Costco and created the mixture with one mistake…I used pink Himalayan salt instead of curing salt. Will this be a problem? Can I add a wee bit of curing salt to the ziplock bag?


    1. Yes, this is a problem. Himalayan salt is not curing salt (even though they are both visually pink) and therefore the product will not cure to the same degree. I would not recommend adding it in after the fact.

  29. Very good recipe. Consider using maple sugar instead of white or brown sugar, and maybe a little garlic powder. It adds a level to the flavor profile you can’t get with store bought bacon.

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