Homemade Bacon : Part 2 The Smoke

Pork_logoAt the end of Part 1 we made sure we had our salt levels where we want them and our belly had dried uncovered in the fridge over night.  Now it’s time to add one more layer of flavor. Infusing the belly with smoke is the pièce de résistance.   In my opinion bacon just isn’t bacon without a nice kiss of smoke.

Right before the belly is placed in the smoker I like to add an optional coating of black pepper. While the pepper in the cure helps get some flavor into the meat, I’ve found that a nice coat of black pepper right before it goes on really punches it up.  There really is no specific amount here. Use as much or as little as you like.bacon-21a

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If you do not have a dedicated smoker, a grill and smoking pellets work great. I use this Amazen Pellet Tube Smoker 12″ when I smoke bacon at home. It’s very inexpensive and works wonderfully. I typically get a 4-hour burn from a single load of hickory pellets, which gives me all of the smoke without the high temperatures.

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Your smoking chamber needs to be set to 165 degrees or less. Place the belly in the chamber for 4 hours. Keep an eye on the internal temperatures of the belly if you are having trouble keeping your smoking chamber below 165. If your belly is at an internal temperature of 150 degrees for 90 minutes go ahead and pull it off even if you haven’t gone the full 4 hours. You don’t want to run the risk of melting all the fat out of your bacon. Internal temps do not have to hit 150 degrees. Instead, think of 150 as the max.

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Personally, I like to smoke the belly at the lowest temperature possible. In the wintertime my chamber may be all the way down at 40 degrees. The bacon will never get close to 150 degrees internal temp. Smoking at these lower temperatures allows the meat to stay in the smoker the entire 4 hours without running the risk of melting the fat. If you have to remove your bacon before the 4 hours are up it simply means you won’t get quite as much smoke flavor. I would rather have less smoke than melt the fat. In the summertime this may be a bit more difficult, especially if you are using a smoking chamber that generates lots of heat, such as a propane grill with smoke chips. It’s one more reason I like smoking with pellets. They provide lots of smoke without heating up the chamber. For this session my temps hovered around 90 degrees.bacon-23abacon-24a

After the bacon is done smoking, it will be highly tempting to devour the whole thing like a giant bacon candy bar. Resist these urges as best you can and let the bacon cool in the fridge over night. Not only will flavors intensify, but slicing cold bacon is much easier than hot bacon. I like to wrap my slabs in butcher paper so the oils from the bacon don’t make a mess. If no butcher paper is handy aluminum foil will work fine.bacon-26abacon-27a

 

After a night in the refrigerator, it’s time to enjoy the fruits—err, bacon­— of your labor. Congrats! You will never want to eat store bought bacon again.

41 Comments

  1. Pingback: Homemade Bacon

  2. Stacey   •  

    So……which did you like better – the wet or the dry cure?

    • Andrew Armstrong   •     Author

      Stacey, I like the dry cure if I’m trying to add in some different flavors like Sriracha, Maple, etc. If I just want a good classic bacon flavor with minimal fuss I like the wet cure.

  3. Stacey   •  

    Looks awesome! Do you use any charcoal in your egg or only the tube and pellets?

    • Andrew Armstrong   •     Author

      Stacey, I do not bother to light any charcoal because I’m usually trying to keep the temp as low as possible. The pellets give off a good amount of smoke without giving off much heat. If you didn’t want to invest in a pellet smoker you could try and smoke just using charcoal and some wood but you would need to be extra careful and watch your temperature like a hawk. I would normally use natural lump charcoal when I cook on my egg but in this instance I would change over to briquettes because lump burns hotter. IMO the tube of pellets is a relatively small investment, produces a superior product, and creates a more hassle free smoking experience. I’m not paid to endorse A-Maze-n Pellet Smokers I’ve just had great experiences using their product.

  4. Martin Hicks   •  

    Thank you for all this information. Trying the dry cure method right now. Can’t wait to start smoking. Definitely going tp try the wet cure to compare the two different methods. Can’t wait to try the final product.

    • Andrew Armstrong   •     Author

      Awesome Martin. Report back and let me know how it turns out!

      • Martin Hicks   •  

        Andrew, this is by far the best bacon I have ever had. I accidentally missed the dry after cure step, but it is fabulous. This is definitely going to be some Christmas presents this year. Again Thank you.

  5. Dominic   •  

    Hi Andrew,
    Trying the whole home bacon curing thing for the first time – reading your blogs/methods have been really useful. Just a question tho – you say you try and keep the temps as low as 90℉/32℃ – at these temperatures I’m guessing that this does not fully cook through the pork is that correct? To fully cook through the pork wouldn’t you have to be getting the internal temp to at least 155℉ to have a cooked bacon product or is this not necessary? My only question is food safety or does tbd nitrate take care of that in the curing process? Would love to know your thoughts! Thanks heaps your site is really interesting. Dom from Downunder

    • Kevin   •  

      You still fry the bacon after you slice it, so that’s the cooking stage. The smoke stage isn’t intended to cook the bacon, only to get the nice smokey flavor that’s needed.

  6. Gary   •  

    when using the A-maze-N Products smoker with pellets, do you light the pellets at the open end with a lighter and then set it in the smoker and let it smolder?

    • gary   •  

      I bought a small butane torch from harbor freight,($9.00) lit the open end for 2 minutes and it smoked perfect and lasted over 4 hours. The bacon turned out great!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  7. Carl   •  

    Just took my 3 batch of bacon off the smoker. Each batch looks better than the first. I use the dry cure and smoke using pellets (hickory and cherry) and the A-maze-N smoker tube in a 30 gal trash can fired by a single burner hot plate covered with a Weber Kettle. The setup looks hokey but it keeps the heat below 150 degrees and the smoker tube works as advertised.

    I haven’t used the wet-cure yet, why fix it if its not broken? Maybe next time. Great bacon, thanks for making the method so clear and easy.

  8. Carl   •  

    Gary,
    That’s what the instructions say. If you have to lay it down, I’d put a piece of foil, with some holes poked in it, over the open end so the pellets don’t fall out. Today I set the tube standing up on the hot plate and the plate caused the pellets to smolder. It worked really well that way too .

  9. Brian T   •  

    I just finished my first batch of bacon. It is absolutely the best tasting bacon my tounge has ever had the privilege of meeting! I used a cure and some brown sugar and let it sit in the bottom of my fridge for seven days, flipping it once daily. I finished it in my electric smoker with apple and peach wood chips. I now know that the store bought stuff is a far cry from what bacon was meant to be! Thank you for all the great tips! I have already purchased another pork belly to continue to make my tounge happy and a whole bunch of my family members are lurking around as well 🙂

  10. Charles McMurrough   •  

    I have a Big Chief smoker, will this work? Plan to use the dry cure. Thanks for the good information.

  11. John Herry   •  

    I have both the tube and original A-Maze-N smokers. Best purchase ever for making sure you product gets a good smoke flavor!

  12. Robert S   •  

    Andrew,
    I made some bacon with the dry brine with the honey as you did. I made a cold smoker out of my old offset smoker, my Traeger and a 4″ aluminum dryer hose. I was able to keep the temp at 121 F or lower so I smoked the belly for 6 hours using a Lumberjack Maple-Hickory-Cherry blend pellet. The flavor of the bacon is amazing, but I have to cook it at very low temps otherwise the bacon burns and turns black very quickly. This is probably caused from the honey (I’m guessing). Am I missing something or perhaps didn’t rinse off the belly good enough after removing it from the brine? Has anyone else run into this problem? This is my first go at making bacon so I thought I would ask for advice. I have the other half of the belly in the wet brine right not but it won’t be ready to smoke for another 6 days.

  13. Susanna   •  

    very informative and easy to follow, thanks

  14. Erika   •  

    I absolutely enjoyed reading all your instructions, and definitely appreciate all the instances of prose. Thank you! I live in a loft in downtown L.A….I have access only to an oven and a BBQ grill on the rooftop of our building. Is there any way to adapt the smoking process to either the over or the grill? Please advise—I’d love to try this recipe out!

  15. Lee   •  

    Andrew,
    Great article! I have been researching this for some time and am a bit confused on the whole meat temp. My goal is the finished product to be raw like bacon from the butcher. Does taking the internal temp to 150 give you cooked or partially cooked bacon? My though hads always been cold smooking as you mentioned making the finished bacon raw. I use a smoke generator which puts very little heat in the chamber. Based on your instructions, it would seem I could run just the generator with no addiaitonal heat.

    Thanks

  16. Bill Guest   •  

    What is that thing sticking out of your intake on your egg ? Long like bacon.

      • Andrew Armstrong   •     Author

        Close, it’s a BBQ Guru. Basically accomplishes the same thing. I did have a stoker unit a few years ago but switched over.

    • Andrew Armstrong   •     Author

      It’s a BBQ guru. It’s a temperature sensor and a fan that stokes the fire. I can use it to regulate the temps in the egg a bit easier. The egg is generally pretty easy to use the Guru just makes it idiot proof. I can use all the help I can get 🙂

  17. Toni Nixon   •  

    Good Morning Andrew
    I’m an American living in Northern Ireland for past 15 years. I have only been able to get american style bacon when I go home once and year. I have just moved out to the country and have decided to end my isolation in a bacon free country (irish bacon not even considered to be real bacon). Yours was my first hit for how to make bacon. After reading your directions I now am looking forward to being liberated from bacon boredom. I need to purchase a smoker. Can you recommend one that would be available over hear?
    Thanks Toni

  18. Patrick Menehune   •  

    Andrew,
    just a quick note saying that your guidance in making bacon,
    Could not be simpler,
    For a person who raises there own pork and wants to make use
    of the side pork without a big hassle , you have layed it out perfectly.
    I use your method and have yet to hear a negetive responce…
    Thank you for the knowledge. …

  19. Richard Wolske   •  

    Hi I’ve been making beacon for years this is a very good article ! Thing I’ve seen that I don’t like myself are soaking chips ! I have a old time smoke house and can smoke 200lbs at a time . My buddy uses a smaller smoker and soaking his chips leave a musty taste in the meat . I taste this instantanly, not a good flavor . I told him about this and he stopped soaking the chips and his produced come out great .
    One thing I liked about this article is that washing your beacon off and frying a piece before smoking is the only way to make sure your not to salty !! Job well done . Don’t be afraid to scub your sides with a bristle brush and let sock for a hour or so to remove the saltiness . The sausage maker . Com is a great book to help you get good food recipes and instructions. This will keep you and friends healthy

  20. Erick Garcia   •  

    I just finished getting the dry rub on. I can’t wait to smoke it and taste this bacon. This is a great tutorial. Thanks

  21. Barry   •  

    mmmmm Bacon. Doing research is tricky when it comes to bacon. Everyone has their own way. Great piece of literature this! I loved reading through it. Your explanation; Excellent. Next step Youtube? You do not use heat and others do. You are the first person not using heat that I saw.

    1 – To heat or not to heat? What will the difference be?
    2 – No heat all year round or best just in winter?
    3 – What about using one of these home made smoke generators and simply pumping out smoke (there does not seem to be any heat)?

    Great job thanks Andrew. We appreciate people that share and to ask questions off of.

  22. Joseph Thompson   •  

    In your opinion how long is to long for pork belly to be in a wet or dry cure?

    • Andrew Armstrong   •     Author

      Joseph I wouldn’t go too many more days past what I call for in the recipes. The pork could end up being too salty. Be sure and slice a piece off and fry it before you put it in the smoke. If it’s already too salty try soaking it in water over night and then try and then refry a piece the following day to see if it’s improved for your tastes.

  23. Scotty   •  

    I tried the dry cure. After the first fry test it way too salty. I soaked it in cold water for an hour and tried another test fry. It seemed OK, so I went ahead and dried it overnight as recommended. Next day I smoked with Apple wood for four hours on the lowest heat I could get on my vertical smoker (about 198). I then cooled it and put it in a zip bag overnight. I fried some up today for BLTs. It was great with an heirloom tomato and no additional salt. Is there any way after the cure and smoke to reduce the saltiness?

  24. Barry593   •  

    Thank You so much Andrew for this easy to do recipe. Step by step with pictures. Trying this with Berkshire pork belly. You have inspired us backyard smokers and that is great! Followed the recipe and results were…WOW! I am just guessing here, but I bet you have a deli slicer. I need one now!

  25. Ray W Potter   •  

    Great Stuff here Andrew. Im shopping for pork belly this week.

  26. Melody Pospisil   •  

    After paying mega bucks to have our self raised pork cured?? with little to no taste we are now about to take the lunge ….. I have 5 pigs to deal with I’ll be back and let you know how it goes we will be using my father inlaw’s old smoker “really a converted steel refrigerator at least the inside is all ready cured” and we plan to use hickory chips for smoke, Dad’s favorite!

  27. Berry   •  

    I took my bacon out of the smoker last night and had some for breakfast this morning. Delicious!!
    Thank you for the easy to follow step by step instructions it couldn’t have been easier.
    Again the end product is AWSOME THANK YOU!!!!! for sharing your knowledge.
    How long will the bacon keep in the refrigerator

  28. Danielle   •  

    I loved the curing recipe, I have a question. ….
    Do you HAVE to smoke it? I understand about the flavor it adds, but after curing, can I slice and eat it?

  29. Christina T Cleary   •  

    Just tried my first go at bacon. Know what I love about it?? I love that you can actually taste the pork and the smoke..and not just the salt. It is so good because it is NOT super salty!! I added some maple syrup into the brine, so it has a very nice sweet maple undertone. I made about 20 lbs, so Im really really glad it came out well. Froze it so I can slice it easier. Bought a slicer just for the bacon..lol.

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