You've fried bacon, you've baked it in the oven... but have you tried smoking it? Smoked bacon is a fantastic use for your smoker or grill!
We brought it with us when we moved back from the United States a few years ago, and mostly went unused for a couple of years.
Smoking food is such a simple process, but such a great way to impart smoke flavor in ... basically whatever we want.
We had to wonder... if bacon can be baked, could it also be smoked? Like really smoked - hot smoked - as a cooking method?
As it turns out, the answer is YES.
A little bit of time with some indirect heat and smoke yields the kind of bacon that will take your breakfast - or club sandwich - to a whole other level.
It’s also super easy to do!
While there are many posts out there explaining how to make your own bacon, this is a post about a cooking technique for bacon.
You can definitely use this method for already cured homemade bacon, though!
Now that I’ve talked about the pros, there’s one item for the “con” side, when it comes to making these delicious smoked bacon slices:
You don’t really get any of the creamy white fat that you may be used to saving, when using other smoking methods.
By the time the fat renders off bacon when smoking it - and collects in the tray - it’s not really anything you’ll want to cook with.
Expect it to be pretty black from collected soot. Best to just throw it out when you’re done!
How Bacon is Made
While this is not a homemade bacon recipe, I may as well address that technique, for those looking for that info :).
In general, the way bacon is made depends on the type of bacon being made, and the quality being aimed for.
Back Bacon starts out as a pork loin, while traditional bacon strips start out as slabs of pork belly.
From there, the meat goes through a curing process. This can happen one of three ways:
Dry curing is when pork bellies are rubbed with seasonings and curing salts (usually Prague power, a pink salt made from sodium nitrite), and left to cure, usually for a week or more.
Wet curing is when the curing salt and flavouring ingredients are combined into a salty liquid, which the piece of pork belly soaks in for several days.
Injected curing is an industrial production method, not really something you see in home bacon making. The cure ingredients - sometimes including liquid smoke - are injected into the cut of meat and allowed to cure for just a few hours before proceeding.
Supermarket bacon tends to go through wet curing or injected curing, while artisan bacon tends to be dry cured.
The Smoking Process and Beyond
The cured pork belly is then rinsed off (dry curing and wet curing), dried a bit, and smoked.
When making bacon, the smoking step is usually cold smoking - smoking that’s done for flavour, rather than to actually cook the bacon.
From there, the smoked, cured bacon usually makes a trip through a meat slicer before being packaged. It’s then shipped, sold, and - usually - . eventually ends up in a frying pan.
To appease the Google overlords, there is a printable recipe card at the end of this post... but this is such a simple recipe, that calling it a “Recipe” is being generous.
On the most basic level, this recipe involves only 2 ingredients: Bacon and smoking wood.
There are many different types of bacon available in any grocery store, and you can just use your favorite bacon for this technique.
Thick cut bacon is a good bacon to use for this technique, but I like the finished texture of regular cut bacon to make it the best bacon for smoking.
How much bacon you can smoke at a time depends on your smoker. Leaving a fair amount of room between pieces, a pound of bacon takes up less than half of the grill grates in our smoker.
The wood chips - or wood pellets - are what imparts the smoky flavor into your bacon
We generally use the Jack Daniel's Bourbon Barrel Wood Chips - which is somewhere between “mild” and “robust” for flavour.
See my Crispy Smoked Chicken Wings post for a ton of information on the various varieties of wood types, and the kinds of flavours / intensities of smoke that they impart.
While the most basic “recipe” here - just straight bacon - is fantastic on its own, you can definitely customize it to your tastes.
You can add whatever flavours you like to your bacon, before smoking it.
You can use a premade dry rub, or a mix of seasonings. Some of my favourites for bacon are:
You can sprinkle a bit of seasoning on the bacon slices before or after placing them on the wire rack sections.
Alternately, just mix your choice of seasonings in a large Ziploc bag. Add some bacon slices to the plastic bag, seal and shake to coat them.
It’s the best way to evenly coat the bacon, without a mess!
If carbs aren’t as much of a concern when making this, you can coat the bacon slices in brown sugar, or brush a bit of maple syrup (maple bacon!) on the surface of the meat before smoking the bacon slices.
If you’re keeping keto, you can do the same with Swerve Brown Sugar Substitute.
Why Not Do Both?
Add some brown sugar or sugar substitute to the bag of spices, or sprinkle a bit of seasoning on after adding maple syrup - it’s all good!
For best results, you’re going to want a smoker that allows you to have a lot of control over the heat. For best results, you want to maintain a medium heat - 300 degrees F.
This temperature allows you the time for enough smoke flavour to develop, before fully cooking it.
So, as long as your smoker allows you to maintain that temperature, the actual type of smoker doesn’t matter. Electric Smoker, a Pellet Smoker / Traeger Pellet Grill, a Charcoal Smoker, even a Big Green Egg - whatever works for you!
Ours is a Propane Smoker / Gas Smoker.
All smokers are going to be slightly different in terms of how they operate, so I recommend reading any included manufacturer's instructions, if you’re not already familiar with your smoker and setting up the smoke box.
Unlike most of our smoking recipes, you do NOT need a meat thermometer for this one. No real need to measure the internal temperature for bacon slices, after all!
You will, however, need some aluminum foil. More on that in a bit.
Preheat your smoker to 300 F.
While it’s pretty standard to fill your smoker’s water pan with hot water, we did NOT - opting to dry smoke for extra crispiness.
Get your smoker going and the smoke... stabilized? Is there a better term for that?
You don’t want to put the bacon in during the initial strong white smoke, you want the lower intensity, almost wispy smoke for this.
Heavy white smoke tends to cause a lot of soot, in our experience. Sooty bacon is not tasty bacon!
Using your aluminum foil, fashion a shallow drip pan that completely covers the bottom rack of your smoker. This will collect rendered fat, preventing it from reaching the bottom of your smoker.
Alternately, you can use a small sheet pan, if it fits your smoker. Just be sure to center your bacon over the pan!
Place bacon on the racks, leaving space between each. I recommend laying them across the wire rack, rather than along them.
It reduces the risk of the bacon slipping through the cracks as it cooks / shrinks, and gives it a fun, wavy look!
If you’d like, you can sprinkle a little extra brown sugar substitute / brown sugar and/or seasonings on the top of the bacon slices. (We didn’t, this time).
If you have any known hot spots - for ours, it’s the very back of the smoker - avoid placing bacon in that area.
Hot smoke bacon at 300 degrees F for 25-40 minutes, or until it reaches the desired doneness / smoke level.
Your smoke time will vary wildly based on your smoker, your preferences, and the thickness of the bacon used.
Use paper towels to dab off any excess fat that may be pooling on the surface of the bacon.
Serve hot, or cool to room temperature and chill in an airtight container - or on a plate, covered with plastic wrap - until use.
More Smoked Food Recipes
Looking for low carb excuses to fire up the smoker? Here are some fantastic ideas for you:
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Smoked Bacon Slices
- 1 lb Bacon
- Wood chips of choice
- Preheat your smoker to 300 F.Note: While it’s pretty standard to fill your smoker’s water pan with hot water, we did NOT - opting to dry smoke for extra crispiness.
- Get your smoker going and the smoke... stabilized.You don’t want to put the bacon in during the initial strong white smoke, you want the lower intensity, almost wispy smoke for this.Heavy white smoke tends to cause a lot of soot, in our experience. Sooty bacon is not tasty bacon!
- Using your aluminum foil, fashion a shallow drip pan that completely covers the bottom rack of your smoker. This will collect rendered fat, preventing it from reaching the bottom of your smoker
- Arrange your bacon on the racks, leaving space between each. I recommend laying them across the wire rack, rather than along them.It reduces the risk of the bacon slipping through the cracks as it cooks / shrinks, and gives it a fun, wavy look!
- If you’d like, you can sprinkle a little extra brown sugar substitute / brown sugar and/or seasonings on the top of the bacon slices. (We didn’t, this time).
- If you have any known hot spots - for ours, it’s the very back of the smoker - avoid placing bacon in that area.
- Hot smoke bacon at 300 F for 25-40 minutes, or until it reaches the desired doneness / smoke level.
- Your cook time will vary wildly based on your smoker, your preferences, and the thickness of the bacon used.
- Use paper towels to dab off any excess fat that may be pooling on the surface of the bacon.
- Serve hot, or cool to room temperature and chill in an airtight container until use.