How to Smoke Bacon

By A.J. Andrews

Bacon undergoes a two-step production process that takes it from the fresh pork belly you find at the meat counter to the smoky slices you fry at home. Both steps in bacon production -- curing and cold smoking -- require no special equipment other than a basic backyard grill. You don't need the nitrates and nitrites you find packed in store-bought bacon, either; a basic salt-and-sugar brine is all you need to flavor the pork all the way through.

Roast pork belly
credit: vikif/iStock/Getty Images
Chill the bacon in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour to make it easier to slice.

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Step 1

Rinse the pork belly and let it air dry on paper towels. Simmer 1-cup kosher salt and 1/2-cup sugar in 1 gallon of water until it dissolves.

Step 2

Let the brine cool to room temperature. Transfer the brine to a food-storage container and submerge the pork belly in it. Cover the container and place it in the refrigerator.

Step 3

Brine the pork belly for 48 hours. Take the pork from the brine and rinse it. Pat the pork dry with paper towels.

Step 4

Place the pork belly on a plate lined with paper towels and let it air dry uncovered in the refrigerator until a grayish coating, or pellicle, forms on its surface, or for about 24 hours.

Step 5

Fill an aluminum loaf pan with about 5 to 6 cups of hardwood dust and place it to one side of the charcoal tray in a barbecue grill. Light 5 charcoal briquettes in a chimney starter and let them burn until they ash over.

Step 6

Transfer the coals to the tray of hardwood dust using tongs. Open the top and bottom vents.on the grill.

Step 7

Place the pork belly fat-side-up on the cooking grid; place the pork near the hardwood tray, but not directly over it. If you're smoking more than one piece of pork, space the pieces at least 1 inch apart.

Step 8

Close the grill lid. Smoke should billow from the top grill vent vigorously after a few minutes; if not, add another briquette.

Step 9

Place a metal-probe instant-read thermometer in the vent hole on the grill lid; the temperature inside the grill should measure between 80 and 120 degrees Fahrenheit. If the grill measures hotter then 120 F, open the lid for a few minutes until it dips to the desired range.

Step 10

Stir the hardwood dust using tongs every hour; add about 1 cup of hardwood dust every 1 1/2 hours. Turn the pork belly 180 degrees on the cooking surface after 3 hours of smoking.

Step 11

Smoke the pork until it turns light brown, about 6 hours. Let the bacon cool to room temperature and store it up to a week in the refrigerator in an airtight container.

Step 12

Slice the bacon as needed and cook it to an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit.