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How To Make Homemade Bacon (Wet Cure)

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There’s seriously nothing better than homemade bacon. A little sweet, a little salty, and a lot smoky, homemade bacon is easier than you might think! Grab some pork belly from the store and treat yourself to amazing bacon like you’ve never had before!

Homemade bacon sliced on a cutting board.

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I wish I could properly explain how amazingly delicious homemade bacon is. Forget the store-bought stuff, this bacon is just about the best thing ever! Yes, making it is a labor of love, but the results are mouth-wateringly delicious!

You can eat homemade smoked bacon right off the smoker, but if you have the patience, chill it and slice it thin (or thickish) and fry it like you would regular bacon. Heaven! The fat renders to crispy porky goodness, and the meat is tender. Smoky and a touch sweet, this bacon isn’t a salt bomb, either.

What you’ll love about Making Homemade Bacon


  • It tastes WAY better than store-bought!
  • You can control the salt and seasoning!
  • Make as much or as little as you like, and freeze it!
Homemade sliced bacon on a cutting board.

Wet Cure VS. Dry Cure

What’s the difference between wet curing and dry curing? For most home cooks, you have a choice between wet curing – or curing in liquid (aka brine) – or dry curing, which is coating the meat in the pink curing salt and spices. Both methods require refrigeration, though wet curing requires slightly less time. In both cases, they need to cure for days – around a week, in fact, so curing meat isn’t a quick hobby. This homemade bacon recipe uses a wet cure – so give yourself lots of time and get ready to feast on something phenomenal when you’re done!

How To Cure Meat

I’ll give you specific steps below on how to cure your own bacon, but basically, you use a combination of Prague Powder #1, or pink curing salts, plus other seasonings, and let the meat sit. There’s a bunch of science and chemistry behind this, but basically, the moisture is drawn out of the meat, the seasoning is pulled into the meat, and the Prague Powder #1 inhibits the growth of bacteria.

Sliced homemade bacon on a cutting board.

What Is Prague Powder #1?

Many, many years ago, I tried to make my own corned beef without Prague Powder #1. It was a nasty disaster. Then, I learned from an expert how to cure meats, and I’ve never looked back. The secret ingredient to a successful cure is Prague Powder #1. Also called tinted cure or pink curing salt, it is a combination of 6.25% sodium nitrite and 93.75% sodium chloride.

Prague Powder #1 is the secret behind cured meats keeping their flavor and long shelf life. This curing agent inhibits the growth of bacteria and helps preserve flavor and color. It’s important to use the correct amount of Prague Powder #1 and avoid like the plague any recipe that doesn’t give the guideline of 1 teaspoon of pink curing salts per 5-pounds of meat. Too much or too little curing salts can have an adverse effect and can ruin your bacon.

**Warning – Prague Powder #1 is NOT table salt! DO NOT use it in place of pink Himalayan salt or any other salt. Keep this product out of reach of children and label it appropriately.

Ingredients

  • Pork belly – Look for SKIN OFF pork belly with a good distribution of fat and meat.
  • Water – Use distilled or boiled and cooled water.
  • Dark brown sugar – Dark brown sugar has much more flavor and richness. You can use light brown if that’s all you have.
  • Salt – I use kosher salt for all my curing because the flavor is purer. If you use table salt, use about 1/3 less.
  • Pepper – Finely ground black pepper is what you want here. Save the cracked pepper for pastrami.
  • Prague Powder #1 – The rule of thumb is 1 teaspoon per 5 pounds of meat, but we’re using 3 pounds of pork belly, so that works out to 3 grams of powder, or about 3/4 teaspoon.
Homemade bacon ingredients in a bag, labeled.
Ingredients.

You’ll Also Need

  • Scale – For weighing the pink curing salts.
  • Zipper bag – Large plastic zipper-top bag. A 1-gallon bag will hold 3 pounds of pork belly.
  • Traeger pellet grill – Or another smoker capable of maintaining a consistent temperature.
  • Applewood pellets – Or your favorite flavor.
  • Digital meat thermometer – Cooking bacon to the proper temperature is imperative. You don’t want to overcook it.

How To Make Your Own Bacon With a Wet Cure

  1. Wash and pat dry (with paper towels) the pork belly.
  2. Score diagonal slits into the top of the pork belly being careful not to cut too deep. You just want to get the brine down past the fat layer on the top.
  3. Combine the dark brown sugar, salt, pepper, and Prague Powder #1 in a zipper-top plastic bag and mix well.
  4. Add the water and swish around to dissolve.
  5. Add the pork belly and massage it around to coat evenly with the brine.
  6. Refrigerate the pork belly for 5-6 days, flipping it and massaging it once a day.
  7. Remove the pork belly from the brine on the last day and rinse it well under tap water. Pat it dry.
  8. Fire up the smoker to 180-F as per the manufacturer’s guidelines.
  9. Smoke the pork belly at 180-F for about 30 minutes to give it a good bit of smoke.
  10. Turn the heat to 200-F and smoke the bacon until it reaches 145-F on a digital meat thermometer.
  11. Rest the meat before serving. Enjoy!

Chef Jenn’s Tips

  • Curing and smoking meats is my favorite food hobby, but it takes time! You can’t rush a cure. Plan it out and make sure you have the time to make your homemade bacon properly.
  • Drying before smoking – Should you fridge-dry the meat before smoking? Some say that the pellicle (the tacky surface on the dry meat) attracts more smoke. I’ve tested this, and my super-taster doesn’t detect enough difference between dry and wet meat after smoking. This is purely a personal preference. If you do want to dry the meat, pop it into the fridge for 12-24 hours after rinsing and before smoking.
  • Salt is essential as a preservative and flavor agent, but you don’t have to go overboard! This bacon is not salty. Increase the salt by a tablespoon or 2 if you like your bacon salty.
  • If you’re going to go through the trouble of making homemade bacon, make more than 1 slab! I do a whole 10-12 slab of pork belly at a time. I order from the butcher and cut it into 3-pound hunks.
  • Don’t use pre-sliced pork belly. Costco and other retailers sell 1-2 inch wide slices of pork belly. This will not work with this recipe -they will over-cure because the meat is so thin. You need a good 3-pound slab.

Recommended

How To Slice Bacon

Cold meat slices much more easily than warm or hot meat. For the best results, once cooled, pop your homemade smoked bacon into the fridge for 4 hours or overnight. Then, use a meat slicer to slice the meat into slices.

Serving Suggestions

Everybody comes running when I pull bacon off the smoker, and we slice off yummy bits while it is still hot. Smoked bacon – when cooked to 145-F and rested for 5 minutes, is safe to eat and let me tell you, it’s freaking delicious. Eat it right away, or show some restraint and serve it in the following ways:

  • Sliced and fried like breakfast bacon – This bacon will crisp up but go no higher than medium heat when cooking. The sugars in the bacon can burn.
  • Used as an ingredient – So many recipes call for bacon, like soups, salads, pastries, entrees, homemade pizza pockets, and more. This easy homemade smoked bacon adds incredible flavor to all dishes.
  • As a garnish – Lardons, a fancy term for thick-cut bacon cut into matchsticks and then fried, is perfect on top of green beans, brussels sprouts, salads, and more. I always use a portion of every batch of homemade bacon to make lardons and freeze them before frying.
  • Eat it whole! – Smoked bacon is fully cooked. You can just slice it and eat it along with your favorite side dishes.

Step By Step Process

Homemade bacon sliced on a cutting board.
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How To Make Homemade Bacon

Homemade smoked bacon is a beautiful thing, and if you've got a smoker, you will fall in love with homemad bacon! For breakfast, on a sandiwch, or just enjoyed whole, there's nothing quite like homemade bacon!
Course Breakfast
Cuisine American
Keyword bacon, homemade bacon, pork belly, smoked bacon, smoked pork belly
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours 30 minutes
Curing time 5 days
Total Time 5 days 2 hours 40 minutes
Servings 18 servings
Calories 408kcal
Author Chef Jenn

Ingredients

  • 3 pounds pork belly skin removed
  • 3/4 cup distilled water or boiled and cooled water
  • 6 tablespoons dark brown sugar
  • 4 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 4 teaspoons ground black pepper
  • 3 grams Prague Powder #1 about 3/4 teaspoon

Instructions

  • Wash and pat dry (with paper towels) the pork belly.
  • Score diagonal slits into the top of the pork belly being careful not to cut too deep. You just want to get the brine down past the fat layer on the top.
  • Combine the dark brown sugar, salt, pepper, and Prague Powder #1 in a zipper-top plastic bag and mix well.
  • Add the water and swish around to dissolve.
  • Add the pork belly and massage it around to coat evenly with the brine.
  • Refrigerate the pork belly for 5-6 days, flipping it and massaging it once a day.
  • Remove the pork belly from the brine on the last day and rinse it well under tap water. Pat it dry.
  • Fire up the smoker to 180-F as per the manufacturer's guidelines.
  • Smoke the pork belly at 180-F for about 30 minutes to give it a good bit of smoke.
  • Turn the heat to 200-F and smoke the bacon until it reaches 145-F on a digital meat thermometer.
  • Rest the meat before serving. Enjoy!

Notes

Chef Jenn’s Tips

  • Curing and smoking meats is my favorite food hobby, but they take time! You can’t rush a cure. Plan it out and make sure you have the time to make your homemade bacon properly.
  • Drying before smoking – Should you fridge-dry the meat before smoking? Some say that the pellicle (the tacky surface on the dry meat) attracts more smoke. I’ve tested this, and my super-taster doesn’t detect enough difference between dry and wet meat after smoking. This is purely a personal preference. If you do want to dry the meat, pop it into the fridge for 12-24 hours after rinsing and before smoking.
  • Salt is essential as a preservative and flavor agent, but you don’t have to go overboard! This bacon is not salty. Increase the salt by a tablespoon or 2 if you like your bacon salty.
  • If you’re going to go through the trouble of making homemade bacon, make more than 1 slab! I do a whole 10-12 slab of pork belly at a time. I order from the butcher and cut it into 3-pound hunks.
  • Don’t use pre-sliced pork belly. Costco and other retailers sell 1-2 inch wide slices of pork belly. This will not work with this recipe -they will over cure because the meat is so thin. You need a good 3-pound slab.

Nutrition

Serving: 3slices | Calories: 408kcal | Carbohydrates: 4g | Protein: 7g | Fat: 40g | Saturated Fat: 15g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 4g | Monounsaturated Fat: 19g | Cholesterol: 54mg | Sodium: 543mg | Potassium: 151mg | Fiber: 0.1g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 10IU | Vitamin C: 0.2mg | Calcium: 10mg | Iron: 0.5mg

A Note on Nutritional Information

Nutritional information for this recipe is provided as a courtesy and is calculated based on available online ingredient information. It is only an approximate value. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site cannot be guaranteed.

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