How to Make Bacon at Home from Scratch:
Baked or Smoked Methods
You have got
to learn how to make bacon from scratch! I recently tried this for the first time and I've got to share it with you because it turned out fantastically! If you are like me, you love bacon. The smokey, rich, salty flavor is delicious either on its own with breakfast or used to wrap grilled foods like scallops, prawns, dates or game birds. You can also cut up chunks of homemade bacon, called lardons
, to lard poultry before roasting, to add flavor to stews and soups or even to augment your salads. With store bought bacon, most is thinly sliced and rather lacking in flavor. When making bacon at home from scratch you can cut it into any size or shape you want! Thick country-style slices or lardons are no problem. The uses are endless. And the flavor? Well watch out! This homemade bacon is delicious and much more bold and rich in flavor than all but the very best store brought types. Learn how to make bacon now!
Most people have not made bacon at home and consider the idea of curing meats and learning how to make bacon at home a bit scary. However, making bacon at home is actually not that hard. Here I will teach you a simple method how to make bacon, how to cure bacon and then bake or smoke it. It can then keep for a while in your fridge or even longer in your freezer. Its definitely worth the effort!
How to Make Bacon - What you will need:
- One 3-5 pound pork belly, skin on, sides cut to make a clean rectangle - Most basic supermarket butchers do not carry pork belly. If you can't find it, try a local ethnic market as many Asian markets carry them. Some come with bones but try to get them boneless, it will make carving and slicing easier later.
- 4 cups coarse kosher salt
- 2 cups sugar
- 3 bay leaves, broken up
- 1 tbsp coarsely ground black peppercorns
- 3 tbsp garlic, minced
- 2-gallon Ziplock bag - It helps to have a nice big bag that closes securely.
- Meat thermometer
- If you are going to smoke your bacon, make sure you have plenty of smoking wood in addition to your grill and fuel for the grill. Hickory or Applewood both make an excellent smoked bacon!
How to Make Bacon:
- First, prepare your curing salt by combining the kosher salt, sugar, black pepper and garlic in a bowl and mixing well. The measurements above give a large batch in case you are curing several pork bellies, which can be easier if you use a lot of bacon. If you are only doing one pork belly, you can make a half or even quarter batch of curing salt.
- Pour about 1/2 cup of the curing salt onto a large pan and press all sides of the pork belly into the curing salt to coat thoroughly. Rub the salt into all surfaces of the pork and dredge so that it is completely coated.
- Place the belly into the Ziploc bag. Only include the curing salt that sticks to the belly, discard the rest of the free salt which remains in the pan.
- Seal the bag tightly and refrigerate for 5 days, flipping and rubbing the belly through the bag once a day to redistribute the salt mixture. The pork will quickly start throwing off a good deal of liquid. This is normal. You will notice the meat get firmer as it cures if you squeeze it. If the belly is very thick it may still feel a bit squishy in the middle after 5 days. If this is the case, you can leave it in the refrigerator for up to 2 more days, no more than 7 days total.
- Remove the belly from the bag and discard the cure. Rinse the belly thoroughly under cold water in the sink, rinsing off all the extra curing salt on the surface. Then pat it dry with paper towels.
- At this point, the pork can be refrigerated for up to 3 days, uncovered. At the very least, I recommend letting it rest for at least 4-6 hours to let the salt in the meat redistribute after removing the curing salt.
- The belly should then be gently cooked. This can be done in two ways, either in the oven or in a grill or smoker. If you plan to use the bacon as a salt pork for cooking and flavoring other ingredients in recipes, I recommend going with the regular baking method, it is easy and the result is delicious, even without the smoking. But if you are a die-hard outdoor cooker and crave that smoked flavor, particularly if you are going to be eating the bacon primarily with eggs and breakfast, then go for the smoking technique which will add a rich flavor complexity to it.
- If you are going to cook it in the oven, preheat your oven to 200 degrees F. Place the cured belly on a baking rack and cook it until the internal temperature reaches 150 degrees F. I recommend cooking straight for about 1 1/2 hours and then testing. If it is not ready, test again every 15 to 20 minutes until done.
- If you are going to smoke the bacon, preheat your grill and adjust the burners or your vents (if using charcoal) to maintain not much more than a 200 degree F internal grill temperature. Add abundant smoking wood. Once the temperature is reached and the wood is smoking, add the pork belly and cover. Smoke, maintaining the gentle heat and smoke, until the internal temperature reaches 150 degrees F, as described above for the oven method. For more tips on smoking bacon see my Smoking Home Made Bacon page.
- Let the meat rest until cool enough to handle. With a shape knife, slice the skin off, leaving as much fat as possible on the belly. You can discard the skin but if you braise it until tender, cut it up and fry it in pig fat till crispy it makes a delicious treat!
- When the bacon is done you can refrigerate the bacon or freeze it until ready to use. In the refrigerator it can last up to about a week. In the freezer, much longer.
When ready to use, simply use a sharp slicing knife to cut off thick slices from the end. To make lardons, cut thick slices (about 1/2 inch) and then cut these crosswise again into 1/2 batons.
I hope these instructions on how to make bacon inspire you to try it out and see for yourself just how good it is!
Enjoy your homemade bacon!
If you are done learning how to make bacon and are now looking for ideas how to use your delicious homemade bacon to enhance other grill cooking dishes? Check out my Bacon-Wrapped Stuffed Jalapenos Recipe and my Chorizo-Stuffed Bacon-Wrapped Dates Recipe!
Done learning how to make bacon?
Return to the Barbeque Grill Recipe page.