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


  • Author: Jess Pryles

Ingredients

Scale

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


Instructions

  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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44 thoughts on “How to make and cure your own smoky bacon”

  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. 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. 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.






  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. Ralph Fischer

    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!!






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