Making bacon at home is surprisingly easy and quite rewarding. One advantage of making your own bacon is that you can control both the quality of your meat and the seasoning. By selecting high-quality ingredients, like the all-natural, heritage pork we sell here at Augustus Ranch, you are starting with exceptionally clean and flavorful fat. Because of the high fat content, bacon freezes very well, which also means that it’s worth the time to make a large batch, since you can store the final product for a longer period of time. Lastly, most store-bought bacon contains preservatives. Our recipe for homemade bacon without nitrates allows you to limit the additives in the food you eat.
If you are wondering how to make bacon at home, you’ll need to season your cut of pork belly, let it sit in the refrigerator for six to seven days and then cook it slowly until the internal temperature reaches 145 degrees. Once the meat has cooled, you can slice it and enjoy it, knowing your bacon was made with no artificial ingredients or preservatives. It’s really that simple.
Making Your Own Bacon: Two Recipes In One
To show how versatile the process is, we’ve split this recipe into two variations. Version A is homemade bacon without smoking prepared in the oven with no sugar and seasoned with herbs and two types of salt. In Version B, a grill is used to smoke the meat, and the pork belly is seasoned with a more traditional mix of salt, brown sugar and black pepper. The most important seasoning in this recipe is salt, which we add as a percentage (2.9%, to be exact), based on the weight of the meat you are using.
Although you can make bacon at home with neither of these tools, we’d recommend having a small countertop scale and an internal meat thermometer on hand, especially since you can use both items for other purposes. We suggest weighing your ingredients to ensure a more accurate measurement. If you don’t have access to a scale, you may want to purchase your spices from a grocery store with a bulk aisle, since you can use the scales there to get the amount you’ll need. A meat thermometer will help you determine when your bacon is done.
Note: In this recipe, we use weights for the spices, since the amount of these seasonings is relatively small and we want to be precise. If you choose a different size of pork belly to begin with, just adjust the seasonings accordingly.
Version A: Oven roasted, no sugar added homemade bacon
- 2 ½ lb boneless, skinless pork belly
- ¾ oz kosher salt
- ¾ oz smoked salt
- 5 sprigs fresh thyme, cut into a few sections
- 1 sprig rosemary, cut into a few sections
Version B: Smoked, traditionally-seasoned homemade bacon
- 2 ½ lb boneless, skinless pork belly
- 1 ¼ oz kosher salt
- ¾ oz brown sugar
- 1 ¼ oz black pepper
Prep Time: Version A & B: 30 minutes, plus 7 days in the fridge
Cook Time: Version A & B: up to 2 hours
May we recommend:
- Large Ziploc bags, to brine your pork belly
- Aluminum foil
- Hickory wood chips for version B (you can also use apple or mesquite)
Step 1, Version A: Season your meat. Mix the salts together until well blended and rub the mixture on all surfaces of your pork belly. Make sure to use all of your seasonings and to apply the rub evenly. Next, apply your herbs as evenly as possible. Place your seasoned pork belly into a large Ziploc bag. If it doesn’t quite fit, fold the meat in half. Label the bag with the date and seasoning type and remove as much air as possible before sealing. Put your bag on a plate or small tray to prevent any potential leaks.
Step 1, Version B: Season your meat. Mix all your spices until well blended and apply the rub to the pork belly. Make sure to get the top, bottom and sides and to use all of the seasonings. Place the seasoned pork belly into a large Ziploc bag, removing as much air as possible before sealing. Label your bag with the date and seasoning type. Put your bag on a plate or small tray to prevent any potential leaks.
Step 2, Version A & B: Brine your pork belly. Leave the pork bellies in your fridge for six days. Flip the bags every two days to ensure an even coating and distribution of the brine.
Step 3, Version A & B: Prepare your meat. After six days in your fridge, remove the bags of pork belly and rinse your meat under cold water, removing any seasoning on the exterior. Pat the pieces dry with paper towels and store them overnight, uncovered, on a tray or plate in the fridge. This step is more important for the grilled bacon (version B) than the oven roasted variety, as a drier piece of meat will create a better surface for the smoking process.
Step 4, Version A: Cook your pork belly in the oven. Preheat your oven to 250 degrees. Put the pork belly either on a roasting rack on top of a tray or directly on a clean oven rack with a tray underneath so that air can circulate to all the surfaces of the meat. Insert your meat thermometer into the center of the pork belly from one of the sides. Roast your meat until your bacon reaches an internal temperature of 145 degrees. Cooking will likely take up to two hours, depending on your oven and the thickness of your pork belly.
Step 4, Version B: Grill your pork belly. Preheat your grill. If you are using charcoal, place just a small amount of coals on only one side of the grill so that the pork belly can cook over indirect heat without any coals directly underneath. To add a smoky flavor, soak your wood chips in water and wrap them in a foil pouch. Poke holes in the top and bottom of your foil pouch so that heat can enter and exit. Place the pouch on top of the coals once the cooking process begins. You will likely need to replace the pouch at least once while the meat is cooking. Insert your meat thermometer into the center of the pork belly from one side. Cover your grill and cook it until it reaches an internal temperature of 145 degrees. Make sure to monitor the heat of your grill. If it gets too hot, open the grill to let it vent and dampen the air vents to let less oxygen into the grill before covering it again. You want the meat to cook slowly, so make sure the pork belly doesn’t cook too hot and fast.
Step 5, Version A & B: Cool and slice your bacon. Remove the pork belly from the heat and let the meat cool. Slice off a small piece so that you can try the final product! The final smoked version is a deep mahogany color, partly because of the brown sugar in the rub. Version A is slightly lighter in color when fully cooked. After the meat cools completely, place your bacon in the refrigerator, uncovered, overnight. Although you may be tempted to start frying your bacon right away, storing it in the fridge overnight will make it easier to slice and portion.
Step 6, Version A: Store your bacon. After your bacon has cooled overnight in your fridge, split it into two parts: one for slices, that is cut to be the correct length to fit fit inside a pan or cooking tray easily, and the other to create cubes called lardons. You can use these smaller pieces of delicious pork fat to season vegetables and to cook and add to a variety of foods, including omelets, salads, pasta dishes and potatoes. Since homemade bacon does not have any added preservatives, add a date to your containers and make sure to eat it within a week or store it in the freezer to defrost later on.
Step 6, Version B: Store your bacon. After the smoked pork belly has cooled in your fridge overnight, cut your meat in half. Slice half of the pork belly and put the other half, whole, into the freezer so that it can be defrosted and sliced when you are ready to eat it.
Step 7, Version A & B: Cook your bacon. My favorite way to cook slices of bacon is in the oven. The even, consistent heat from the oven produces the best results. Your bacon can roast to crispy perfection on top of a rack so that the fat can drain while hot air circulates evenly. With that said, you can also pan fry your bacon, or use any other cooking method you prefer.
Once you’ve cooked your own bacon, you’ll never go back to buying it from the store again. The combination of high-quality pork belly plus your own special blend of seasonings will result in a final product that you are proud to share with family and friends.