This last week I’ve been MAKIN’ BACON and I couldn’t be happier to share this homemade bacon recipe with you. I know “MAKIN’ BACON” is cheesy, but bacon is so incredibly delicious it makes you do cheesy things. My house LOVES bacon and we always enjoy thick-cut slices from our local butcher. While our local meat market has amazing bacon, there is nothing like makin’ bacon homemade – and bacon is surprisingly pretty easy – I did mark this at a “Medium” skill level because it requires the use of a smoker as well as a slicer. Both of these things aren’t too difficult to use, but will require some learning if you haven’t used them much beforehand.
This particular recipe was inspired by two people: My brother, A.J. and John Setzler’s Kamado Joe Smoked Bacon Recipe Video. I recently had the opportunity to visit my brother at his house and he and I were able to talk cooking – – not just in-the-kitchen-cooking, either. He is a smoke-aholic, meaning, if he could smoke meat for every meal, every day, he would do it. If you follow me on Instagram, @theworkfromhomechef, you’ll find my recent wings picture, and that was also ALL him. He let us try some of his homemade bacon, and I knew as soon as I would arrive back home I would be trying out a few renditions on my own. Travel is so important when broadening your pallet and cooking repertoire, even a trip to visit your relatives can provide inspiration and new information!
The easiest part of this recipe is getting the pork belly seasoned with the curing rub. After that, be sure to think ahead and remember that curing will take AT LEAST 8 days. I wait at least 9 days – patience is key, but you’ll be fine after 8 days (but 9 & 10 is better, friends). While the bacon is curing in the refrigerator, you flip it once a day – don’t forget this part as it is important for the curing process. SET A REMINDER if needed, or grab an accountability partner – mine was my brother. 🙂
After curing, it is a few simple steps before your pork belly will be happily smoking away for about 2-3 hours. Keep a close eye on the temperature – the time I give is a guide because when smoking – it is done when it is done, and not a minute sooner. Once it is smoked, it rests covered for about 30 minutes at room temperature, and then it is placed in the refrigerator until it is cold. The purpose of putting it in the refrigerator is so the meat can get firmed up before slicing – – at this point you are ALMOST ready to throw your very own BLT Party. Oh, that’s going to happen at my house one day, just wait for it.
Slicing can be the most time consuming step. You have a lot of pork belly to slice. Do not attempt to do this by hand, you won’t return to bacon makin’ after that and I will have failed you. I use a very basic slicer – – nothing fancy. I purchased this one off Amazon for about $100, but I’ve seen some that could work for around $60. Someday, I will invest in a professional-grade slicing MACHINE, but for now, this works perfectly. I was able to slice all of this bacon and wrap it in about an hour. Play around with the settings to find your perfect thickness, but I went with setting 3 on this slicer. I recommend using a vacuum-sealer for wrapping, but plastic wrap and butcher paper or foil will work fine, too.
ALRIGHT – Have you bought in yet? I hope most of you have skipped to the recipe by now. If not, I have to add making your own bacon is super economical as well (for all of my frugal pals). You’ll make up the money from your slicer because thick-cut bacon of this quality is NOT cheap. You won’t find this level of bacon goodness at an ordinary budget grocery store and you can pump out pounds of Smoked Maple Bacon for under $5 a pound if you are careful and once you get the hang of things.
Now it’s TIME. Let’s start Makin’ some Bacon!
Smoked Maple BaconDifficulty: Medium
My recipe for homemade Thick-Cut Smoked Maple Bacon uses pure maple syrup along with savory spices to create a perfect balance of sweet and savory bacon.
8-10 pound pork belly, cut in half, rinsed, and patted dry
- Pork Belly Curing Rub
1/4 cup kosher salt
2 tsp pink curing salt (Prague Powder #1)
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 tbsp red pepper flakes
2 tbsp sweet paprika
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp coriander
1/4 tsp allspice
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
- Pork Belly Smoking Rub
1/4 cup freshly cracked black pepper
1 tbsp paprika
1 tbsp onion powder
1/2 tsp ground clove
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
- Curing the Pork Belly
- Combine all ingredients for the Pork Belly Curing Rub in a medium bowl, EXCEPT the maple syrup. Set aside.
- Poke holes on both sides of the pork belly using a knife. Rub both sides of the pork belly with maple syrup, followed by the prepared curing rub. Place the meat in a zip lock bag or vacuum sealed bag. You can also use plastic wrap. Remove most of the air. Place wrapped pork belly on a large cookie sheet.
- Place in the wrapped pork belly in the refrigerator for 8-10 days. Flip once a day.
- Smoking the Pork Belly
- After 8-10 days, remove the wrapping from your pork belly, rinse completely and pat dry. Set aside.
- Preheat your grill or smoker to 200-225°F and add a mix of maple and hickory wood/pellets. Be sure to set up your grill for indirect cooking, heat deflectors in lowest position, and the grill grates in the highest position.
- Combine all ingredients for the Pork Belly Smoking Rub, EXCEPT the maple syrup.
- Apply more maple syrup to both sides of the pork belly and then add the prepared smoking rub.
- Place the meat on the smoker or grill and smoke until the pork belly reaches an internal temperature of 150°F – depending on size about 2-3 hours.
- Remove the pork belly from the smoker or grill and tent with foil and allow to rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.
- Place pork belly in the refrigerator until completely chilled. Square up the pork belly by slicing off uneven ends, if desired. Slice to preferred thickness using an electric slicer.
- Cook your bacon via your preferred method and serve!
- You can also wrap the bacon for use later. Because of the large quantity this will yield, I like to wrap mine after slicing and then freeze for later use.