|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Servings: 6 to 8|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 37g||47%|
|Saturated Fat 13g||66%|
|Total Carbohydrate 11g||4%|
|Dietary Fiber 0g||0%|
|Total Sugars 11g|
|Vitamin C 0mg||0%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|
From breakfast to dinner, and even dessert, bacon is an all-time favorite. With our recipe, you can make your own bacon at home. By making your own tasty bacon, you can decide what's in it—meat from pastured, organically fed animals, if you like.
Although the process is lengthy, curing and cooking your own bacon yields flavorful and even tastier bacon than store-bought. So few people cure their own bacon or salt pork at home that some butchers don't carry fresh pork belly. Order yours ahead from a local farm or butcher.
While most commercial bacon in the United States is smoked, bacon and many of its cured-meat cousins in other countries are cured but not smoked. With bacon, the smoking step is more about adding flavor than it is about preserving the meat. Smoked or unsmoked? That's up to you. Our recipe gives you a choice to use the smoker or to cook the bacon in the oven. For the smoker version, we recommend hickory or applewood shavings for the best flavor.
Curing meats without expertise and care can lead to a product that is harmful to human health. We encourage you to consult and study the proper techniques, follow the USDA's guidelines for cured and dried meats, and have at hand a meat thermometer. Because bacon is not eaten raw, using curing salt, or nitrates, is up to you.
Click Play to See This Savory, Smoked Bacon Recipe Come Together
"Simply put the ingredients on a piece of pork belly and wait for it to cure. I couldn't slice it as thinly as packaged bacon, so the result was slightly chewier and more flavorful. A pleasing balance of sweet and salty. After trying it, I will make bacon from scratch more often." —Heather Ramsdell
2 to 3 pounds pork belly
1/2 cup brown sugar
3 tablespoons kosher salt (or other coarse, non-iodized salt)
1 1/4 teaspoons ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon curing salt, optional
Steps to Make It
While there are multiple steps to this recipe, we've broken this bacon preparation process down into workable categories to help you better plan for curing and cooking.
Cure the Bacon
Gather the ingredients.
Carefully pat the pork belly dry with paper towels. Score the fat cap of the pork belly in a cross-hatch pattern.
In a small bowl, combine the brown sugar, salt, pepper, and optional curing salt. Mix well.
Rub the seasoning mixture onto all sides of the pork belly using very clean hands. Spend a couple of minutes massaging the curing mixture into the meat.
Place the pork belly, along with any leftover curing mixture, into a plastic bag and seal it shut. Store it lengthwise in the refrigerator for 10 to 14 days, turning the bag over occasionally. The bacon should be fully cured at this point, with a firm texture and no soft spots.
Rinse the bacon well and again pat it thoroughly dry with paper towels.
Preheat the oven to 200 F / 93 C. Roast the cured bacon on a sheet tray until the internal temperature reaches at least 150 F / 66 C, the minimum safe temperature for consumption of this product. The process should take about 2 hours.
Store the bacon in a tightly sealed container or bag in the refrigerator for up to one month or in the freezer for up to one year.
When ready to eat, slice bacon to desired thickness and fry bacon slices in a nonstick pan or cast-iron skillet and enjoy.
Smoke Cured Bacon
Rather than cook the bacon in the oven, if you have a smoker you can smoke the bacon to give more flavor. After rinsing off the cure, place the bacon on a rack and let it dry for 1 to 2 hours to form a pellicle—a sticky surface layer of proteins that forms on the surface of the meat. This helps the smoke cling to it, resulting in more flavorful bacon. Smoke the cured, air-dried bacon at approximately 200 F until it reaches an internal temperature of 150 F / 66 C, the minimum safe temperature for consumption of this product. The process should take between 1 and 2 hours. Slice and fry your bacon in a nonstick pan or cast-iron skillet and enjoy.
Liquid Smoke Shortcut
You can "cheat" by using liquid smoke. If you opt for this version, be sure to buy liquid smoke made from natural smoke and not a synthetic version.
- Preheat the oven to 200 F / 93 C.
- Place the bacon in the oven and baste it with the liquid smoke. Use a pastry brush to evenly coat all sides.
- Roast the cured bacon until the internal temperature reaches 150 F / 66 C. This should take about 2 hours.
- Place the bacon on a rack over a pan to catch any liquid smoke drippings and air-dry for 30 minutes.
- Transfer to a tightly sealed container or bag and refrigerate for up to one month or freeze for up to one year.
How to Cook and Store Homemade Bacon
Once baked or smoked, the bacon can be sliced or cut into chunks for cooking. Cut the bacon into several pieces and then freeze those individually for the most convenient use later on. Be mindful that consuming raw bacon, even if it was baked or smoked, can result in foodborne illness.
- Fry bacon in a skillet, crisp slices in the oven, or even microwave it.
- Don't throw away the bacon grease, and definitely don't pour it down the drain. Use it as cooking oil to add a meaty flavor to savory dishes.
What is curing salt?
Most commercial bacon contains nitrates, which are sold to the home cook in blends called "curing salts" or Prague powder. Nitrates preserve the bright pink color of the layers of meat in bacon and other preserved meats and help eliminate bacteria. In very small amounts, they are considered safe to consume, but because of the evidence that these products can cause carcinogenic compounds to form and lead to many types of gastric cancer, many people choose to leave them out. If you are concerned about bacteria in your homemade bacon and don't mind having some added nitrates, include the curing salt.
Song P, Wu L, Guan W. Dietary nitrates, nitrites, and nitrosamines intake and the risk of gastric cancer: a meta-analysis. Nutrients. 2015;7(12):9872-9895. DOI: 10.3390/nu7125505