Traditional bacon is made from the belly, but you can DIY cure and turn a cheap pork butt into super flavorful buckboard bacon.
One of the most popular recipes I’ve ever published was my guide on how to make your own bacon at home. Turns out people really love the craft behind being able to make your own bacon from scratch. When you DIY, you also get to choose how thick you want it cut, and you can add some fun flavorings into the cure, too. Traditionally, American bacon is made from the belly only. Fun fact: Canadian bacon is made from pork loin, and Australian bacon is the loin with a bit of the belly left on it, too. You could even argue that traditional Italian jowl guanciale is a form of bacon.
So you see, there’s not merely one type of bacon, or one cut it’s made from. Which brings us to Buckboard bacon. Also sometimes called Cottage bacon. This is made from the pork shoulder (aka butt), which is the same cut that is traditionally used for pulled pork. Shoulder is a tougher cut, but is also known for having a richer pork flavor than some of the lighter cuts like loin. Pork butt bacon has an incredible depth of flavor and does taste quite different to belly bacon. The best part? Butt is cheaper per pound than belly is!
For this cure, I used an equilibrium dry cure method, which weighs the salt according to the weight of the meat, with a final salt percentage of 2.5%. The concept of an equilibrium brine relies on the accuracy of ratios, to ensure a consistent result (aka – the bacon will never end up too salty). I aim for a mix of 2.25% kosher salt to 0.25% pink curing salt, to bring the total to 2.5%. The other aromatic ingredients are not influential to the cure itself, so are not calculated as part of the ratio. My recipe below is for a 4lb pork butt, but you can use this handy calculator to adjust the quantities to your exact meat weight.
A note on pink curing salt: this is THE KEY to the cure. It is NOT the same as pink Himalayan salt. It actually contains sodium nitrate which is what actually cures the meat. It’s also extremely important to use it in the correct ratio of 0.25% of the total meat weight. You can find pink salt easily here online.
How to make buckboard bacon
- Total Time: 339 hours
4lb boneless pork butt
45.36g/1.6oz of kosher salt
4.54g/0.16oz of pink curing salt
18.16g/0.64oz white sugar
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon onion powder
2 tablespoons cracked black pepper
- In a bowl, combine the salt, pink salt, sugar, garlic, onion and black pepper.
- Rub this curing mix all over the pork butt, ensuring ALL of the cure ends up on the meat.
- Place the butt into a large resealable bag, then place it into the fridge to cure for 14 days. Once a day, flip the meat over and massage the contents of the bag to keep the cure distributing.
- After 14 days, remove the cured butt from the bag, and rinse under cold water.
- Pat the meat dry with a paper towel, then place the butt onto a rack.
- Place the rack into a smoker preheated to 180f for 2-3 hours, until the pork measures 160f internal temperature.
- Remove from smoker and allow to cool, then store in an airtight container in the fridge. Slice bacon as needed, then cook as usual (oven baked or pan cooked).
Pink curing salt cannot be substituted, and is not the same as Himalayan pink salt. You can purchase it online here.
- Prep Time: 14 days
- Cook Time: 3 hours
Keywords: bacon, pork butt
27 thoughts on “How to make buckboard bacon from a pork butt”
……and, once cured, you could rinse it, put in a stockpot of cold water covering the meat slowly bring it to a boil. If you get thick white froth change the water and bring the pot back to a boil.
Cook at a low boil for 30 minutes per pound or 30 minutes per 450 grams.
Perfect hot, served with cabbage and potatoes as a more authentic March 17th meal. Delicious cold in a sandwich, or sliced and sautéed in a little butter…….with eggs……..
I am five hours into the smoke. The Soul Forge is an RT700, set on LOW (180), and I’ve hit the stall at 145. Temp history has been steady, with variation of 8 degrees at most, and that only after looking and taking a photo to gloat to friends. Waiting patiently for the outcome, the look of the pork reminds me of smoked butt we used to buy at a meat market in Menominee Falls, WI – hoping that the meat is similar.
I can’t get a relatively thin belly to 160 I.T. in a 180 smoker in 2-3 hours, let alone a larger chunk 😉 Otherwise, I want to try this.
Question… Is any liquid from the cure emptied out each day?
Nope – you just swirl it around in the bag as you flip it, but leave it in.
got the thickest i could find, split in to two pieces. used dry cure. turned out fine except one side was two lean for my taste. more like canadian bacon, getting ready to make more now. will use leaner side for boneless ribs.
Can you let it cure longer than 14 days?
It’s not advisable to let it cure too long.
So once cured can you just freeze for future use?
yes you can!
After pulling from smoker can this be eaten sliced like ham?
Crisp fried cottage bacon makes the best BLTs going!
I have two questions if I may.
1. How does the sell/use by date effect the length of cure?
2. If I debone the butt and cut into two thick slabs will that effect the cure time.
Thank you. Absolutely love your recipes and informational videos.
I’m curious as to why the hot smoke? Otherwise, this sounds fabulous!
This recipe works very well its very good as is but also very easy to adjust to your own liking.
Can you foodsaver the meat to accelerate the curing process (by creating a vacuum)
How on gods beautiful earth are you able to get a pork butt to 160 in 2 hours at 180 degrees? The cure looks great tho. I smoked mine for 3 hours and then moved it to the oven bc I had other stuff I needed to grill. It’s been in the oven at 180 for over 5 hours and still is around 140 internal temp.
After the internal temp hit 160, I let it cool and would slice a piece off then fry it in a cast iron or carbon steel. Super delicious and I’m going to be exclusively doing this instead of buying regular bacon.
After salting for 14 days or so, a high % of moisture has been removed. It shouldn’t have that long temperature “stall” that’s typical when smoking a fresh Butt.
Thanks your idea is very nice i will be using it.
4.2 lb pork butt (weighed after deboning) with nice fat layer on top which I scored with diamonds so it looks pretty. I finished smoking a few days ago using 180-190 F electric smoker and pecan wood. It took about 5 hours to get 160. Held in the frig for a couple of days, then used the meat slicer (1/8 – 3/16 thick). Leaner than belly so I used a little butter to fry it up. Very meaty, just enough juicy fat, beautiful smoke to compliment the pork. Not sure what I paid for it; was paying 49 cents / lb now up to 1.99/lb; 7 more butts in the freezer and I am sold on Buckboard bacon.
How do I know the meat is actually cured. Should I have a lot juice in the bag?
Have made this recipe 4 times now and and agree with everyone about smoking time. I start mine at 125 no smoke to dry the meat then up to 160 with either apple wood or pecan for A few hours ten up to 180 until the internal temp hits 140 or so. Then I give it A r20 minute ice bath dry on rack then refrigerate over night. Slice it the next day is very flavorful I add A small amount of all spice to cure.
I’d like to try this. But up hatred 🇨🇦 It’s too cold now to operate my Bradley smoker. Is it necessary to smoke this.
very easy to follow directions my came out perfect making another four pounds today because I know when the kids come for Christmas I’ll be all out because it will disappear after they. taste it.
I cannot bring myself to use pink salt. I used to, but the dangers of intestinal distress for a period vs cancer down the road shy me away from it. I use sanitary processes and thoroughly cook my cured meats. Haven’t had a problem yet. (Knocking on wood table). What are your thoughts Jess?
Love the recipe, split my regular sugar in with 1/2 brown sugar and added extra black pepper turned out great. Next batch gonna try maple sugar. thanks again for sharing your recipe.