Homemade Applewood Smoked Bacon

Slicing the homemade applewood smoked bacon.

Have you ever wondered How to Cure Pork Belly? Or How To Smoke Bacon? And what is Pink Salt, anyway? Get the answers and tips on making your own Homemade Applewood Smoked Bacon with this simple recipe.

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pork belly

Any excuse for homemade applewood smoked bacon

Scott is my grill-master.  I give him due credit for just about everything prepared on the Weber.  This bacon is no exception.  In fact, it was his idea.  He’s made his own bacon before and was jonesing for some thick, hand-cut slices of cured and smoked pork belly.  I admit, I liked his thinking, but the only way I was going to give-up valuable refrigerator space for a week, was if I got to share the process with you.

He agreed to my terms and a few days later I came back from Costco with a 10-pound slab of pork belly.  OK – it was a little more than we needed, so we trimmed it to about 7 pounds and saved the rest for another recipe…   Making your own bacon might seem like a daunting prospect — and unnecessary when you can get some pretty good bacon at your local market, but there is really nothing that compares to from-scratch, applewood smoked bacon.  Nothing.

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Prague powder or curing salt

What Is Pink Salt or Prague Powder?

  • Prague powder is a curing mixture of 93.75% table salt and 6.25% sodium nitrate.
  • Salt acts as a preservative and through the process of osmosis, it not only pulls the water out of the cells of the meat it also pulls out any bacteria and kills it.
  • Sodium nitrate prevents the growth of bacteria, so this double whammy will keep this traditional St. Patrick’s Day treat, a safe meal to enjoy.
  • Prague powder {affiliate link} is also known as curing salt, pink salt, tinted curing mixture, TCM or tint cure.
  • The pink coloring is added so that it won’t be confused with table salt, but that color is also responsible for giving our corned beef it’s distinctive hue.
curing bacon

How To Cure Pork Belly:

  1. Mix the ingredients for the cure.
  2. Massage it into the pork belly until it’s completely coated.
  3. Put the belly into a large zip-top storage bag, pressing out as much air as possible.
  4. Seal the bag.
  5. Refrigerate for a week, flipping it once every day.
bacon in a plastic bag to cure
bacon after 1 week of curing

After hanging out for a week in the fridge, rinse the pork belly with fresh water to remove all the cure and use paper towels to dry it completely.   Set a rack over a sheet pan and place the pork belly on the rack, uncovered in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours and up to 24.  Then get ready to smoke!

smoking bacon

This is where Scott really took charge…  He’s got a pretty good handle on how to keep the smoker going low and slow and that’s key.

checking temperature

How To Smoke Bacon:

Set up your charcoal grill or smoker.

  1. Light the charcoal in a chimney starter.
  2. Place a drip pan in the center of the grill and divide the hot coals on either side of it.
  3. Place drained wood chips on each mound of coals.
  4. Place the grilling rack over the coals and drip pan.
  5. Place pork belly on the rack over the drip pan.
  6. Cover the grill.
  7. Keep the temperature of the grill between 160°-180° and no more than 200°.
  8. You may need to add a few more coals after about an hour to maintain temperature.
  9. Cook the pork belly to an internal temperature of 150°. (About 3 hours total).
  10. Let the bacon cool, then wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate it until ready to use.
a smoked pork belly for bacon.

Scott tended to this bacon for the better part of 3 hours –  and it was a dark mahogany when he finally pulled it from the smoker.  But it was beautiful.  And it smelled so good.  For that matter, Scott smelled like bacon too — which isn’t a bad thing.  We wrapped it up for slicing the following morning.

slicing the smoked bacon.

To slice the bacon, you either need your own industrial Hobart slicer – or a long, thin, sharp knife.  We cut enough to feed our brunch guests and cooked it my favorite way – in the oven, to avoid the spurts, spatters and the perils of hot grease.

frying applewood bacon on a rack in the oven.

One thing you’ll notice, is how flat the strips are — that’s due to the smoking temperature — the bacon is actually completely cooked when you pull it from the smoker, therefore, it doesn’t get that crinkly look you’re used to from supermarket bacon which is cold-smoked and not fully cooked.

fried applewood smoked bacon on paper towels.

In any case, this bacon is outrageously good!  It’s smoky and meaty and exactly what you want next to your eggs in the morning – or on your BLT!  So clear out some space in the fridge and hop to it!  YOU WANT THIS!

If you want to dive deeper into curing, smoking and salting meats, I recommend Charcuterie by Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn (affiliate link) They break it down the “how” and the “why” behind all the mysteries of of meat.

More homemade smoked favorites: 

bacon on a board

What to serve with applewood smoked bacon:

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4.08 from 27 votes

Homemade Bacon

Ever Cured and Smoked your own BACON? Get the easy step-by-step instructions and wow your family and friends! You’re on your way to porky nirvana!
Author: Lisa Lotts
Course Breakfast
Cuisine American
Keyword bacon, pork belly, smoking
Prep Time 3 hours
Cook Time 4 hours
Total Time 7 hours
Servings 30


  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • ¼ cup kosher salt
  • ¼ cup honey
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 tablespoons smoked paprika
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons curing salt Prague powder or Insta Cure
  • 5-7 pounds pork belly

Special equipment

  • 2 gallon zip top storage or freezer bag


  • In a medium bowl combine the brown sugar, kosher salt, honey, cayenne, paprika, cumin, and curing salt, stirring until well mixed.
  • Rinse the pork belly with cool water and pat dry with paper towels. Place the belly in the plastic bag and add half of the curing mixture to the top of the belly. Use your hands to rub it into the flesh, evenly coating. Flip over and rub the remaining curing mix onto the other side of the pork belly. Seal the bag, removing as much air as possible. Place the pork into a shallow baking dish, to catch any leaks and refrigerate. Flip the belly once a day for the next 7-10 days.
  • Remove the pork belly from the cure and thoroughly rinse the pork. Use several paper towels to COMPLETELY dry the pork belly on all sides. Place a rack over a baking sheet and rest the pork belly on the rack. Refrigerate uncovered for a minimum of 6 hours or overnight.
  • Now at this point, the bacon has cured. It can be sliced and cooked and will be absolutely delicious, but it won’t have that smoky flavor that we all associate with bacon. To achieve that flavor, you have to smoke your pork belly.
  • Add 3 cups of wood chips (apple, cherry, hickory) to a large bowl and fill with water. Submerge them in the water by placing a plate or some other weighted surface on top of the chips — pressing them into the water. Soak for an hour.
  • Meanwhile prepare the smoker according to your manufacturer’s instructions. Preheat the smoker to 170°. Add wood chips according to the manufacturer’s directions.
  • Place the pork belly directly on the grate and smoke until the internal temperature reaches 155° – this will take 3-4 hours depending on how large of a pork belly you have. Steve Raichlen recommends using an instant read thermometer and inserting it into the side of the pork belly to take the temperature reading.
  • When the bacon is cooked, transfer to a wire rack and cool to room temperature. Wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
  • To cook, preheat the oven to 400°. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and place a wire rack on top of it. Set aside.
  • Use a long, thin, sharp knife to slice the bacon. Lay the slices on the wire rack next to each other, but not touching. Bake for 15-20 minutes (maybe longer depending on how thick your slices are) or until crisp.
  • Transfer to a platter lined with paper towels. Serve.



Calories: 408kcal | Carbohydrates: 4g | Protein: 7g | Fat: 40g | Saturated Fat: 14g | Cholesterol: 54mg | Sodium: 968mg | Potassium: 155mg | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 265IU | Vitamin C: 0.2mg | Calcium: 7mg | Iron: 0.5mg

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Looking for a good smoked bacon recipe? My Homemade Applewood Smoked Bacon is it! Learn "What is pink salt" "How to cure pork belly" and How to smoke bacon" with step by step photos. #homemadebacon #bacon #applewoodsmokedbacon #smokedbacon #curedporkbelly #porkbelly #pinksalt #curingsalt #smoker #applewoodchips #woodchips #weber #baconfromscratch

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  1. Amy Jameson says:

    5 stars
    I’ve made this bacon twice now. Its fantastic! One piece of advice, when you put the paste on it, it’s nearly impossible to evenly spread it evenly. After a day or two once the moisture starts releasing from the pork, you can get it to spread evenly. Thanks for the recipe!

  2. You mentioned the temperature of the grill should not exceed 200F. The problem is, I can only get wood smoking at temps greater than 225F in our green egg. We smoked several pork bellies this Christmas, and those who were at a temp greater than 225 for a portion of the time had a gorgeous dark brown colour and smoky flavour, whereas those that remained at/below 200F came out very light coloured and relatively bland. How can one achieve BOTH a low temp and a good deal of smoke?

    1. We used a water kettle smoker for this, which allowed us to smoke at a lower temperature. If you can keep the temperature in your Green Egg between 200° to 225°, the bacon will still smoke fine, but it may have a bit darker exterior.

  3. I just made a double batch of the cure is seems super thick with the honey and does not see to spread well on the meat.. Did i do something wrong it more less in patches on the meat when applied. I am attempting to do 9 pounds and with double batch thought be plenty but may need to make more cure can I add to the bags once started?

    1. You didn’t do anything wrong. It’s a thick cure and it may take a little work to spread it onto the belly. However, the cure starts pulling the moisture out of the meat within the first day or so, and continues to cure the rest of the time. I don’t think you’ll need more than a double batch of the cure.

  4. Chris Moore says:

    I am using this recipe for my first try at smoking bacon. Using this recipe, I only had enough curing mix to cover 1 side of a 6lb slab. Is that normal? Should I make another batch of cure to cover the ‘fat’ side?

    1. I would make another batch of cure for the other side.

  5. I was thinking of adding rosemary and garlic in slits in the bacon slab. When would you do that, during the curing or after the curing but before the smoking?

    1. I think that I would add garlic and rosemary to the cure, instead of making slits in the pork belly. Garlic and rosemary being such bold flavors, I’m not sure I’d slit the bacon — and were you planning on retrieving the bits after curing or cooking?

  6. 5 stars
    This was my first attempt at bacon from scratch, I followed the recipe to a “T” other than I split my pork belly in 2 piece in order to fit it in 2 one gallon zip locks. Because I read threw the early comments and seen someone who used a cold smoke method successfully, I decided to use the 2 bellies and compare cold smoke vs heat smoked. They each had very similar flavors both are delicious. The heat smoked bacon seem to have easier chew than the cold smoked bacon. I suspect simply because of the partial rendering it went threw while being smoked. Like said tho, both are delicious.

    1. So glad you enjoyed the bacon — it’s one of our favorites (how could it not be). After reading your comment, my husband is now inspired to try the cold smoke method.

  7. 5 stars
    This was my second attempt at making homemade bacon, absolutely the best I have made. I shared it with a close friend and apparently their children gave it a 100% passing grade. My wife and I truly enjoyed it, I made a bit over 9 lbs and have the remainder vacuum sealed and in the freezer. Great recipe, easy, smoked it for 3 and 1/2 hours with cherry, apple, and pecan….came out awesome. Thank you for the recipe. Cheers!

    1. So glad to hear that you and your family and friends are enjoying it! Nothing compares with homemade bacon, right?

  8. 5 stars
    A question: when curing the bacon in the fridge, the directions are to remove as much air from the ziptop bag and rotate daily. I have a vacuum sealer. Is it better to vacuum seal the bag before curing in the fridge, and if so, is there still a need to rotate the bag?

    1. Hi Tracy! If you have a vaccuum sealer that would work great as well — though it isn’t necessary. What I’ve noticed is that the moisture that is drawn out of the meat tends to pool under the meat, that’s why I flip it. If that’s not the case with the vacuum sealer, then don’t worry about it.

  9. Timothy Matthews says:

    I tried it, made 10 pounds. Shared it with several people to try. Everyone loved it.
    I am making 20 pounds of it now. It is in high demand lol.

    1. Way to go, Tim! Scott wants to make 20 pounds too, but I won’t give up that much refrigerator space!

  10. Brian Moga says:

    5 stars
    I followed the ingredients above but for a 3lb belly. I did add a bit more brown sugar.

    After 10 day dry brine I rinsed and soaked for 15 min then let dry on a rack for 24hrs in the refridgerator.

    I then pressed coarse black pepper into surface and cold smoked with Apple wood pellets in a pellet tube for 3hrs.

    This was my first time making bacon (I have made buck board bacon) and I am sold on the DIY flavor.


    1. That sounds fabulous, Brian! I’m intrigued by the cold smoking method. Sounds like I’m going to have to get a pellet tube.

  11. Brian Moga says:

    4 stars
    Cure #1 should be used at 1 gram per pound of meat on a dry cure like this.

    1. Oliver Sage says:

      4 stars
      Yes I was going to ask about this as the online cure calculator at
      gives 2.5 grams per kilo for American Cure 1 and 26 g per kilo for Polish Peklosol.
      I am not too sure what the difference is and I made it as per recipe. I guess as the cure is not actually mixed in (as in a sausage) it will probably be OK. Not all of the cure would penetrate the bacon?
      It was really hard to get the cure over to coat the belly so I got it in as best I could.
      Next time I think to cut back on the Curing powder and add a little hot water into the mix to get it coating better from the start?

    1. One time deal! Put it on and then just rotate the pork belly every day.

  12. If you guys are really planning on getting into smoking meats I recommend a Traeger smoker so much easier it’s a little more expensive actually it’s a lot more expensive but they smoke the best meat I’ve ever tasted I have one and I love it

    1. I’ve heard a lot about Traeger and you’re right — it sounds like a good investment for us!