How Long to Smoke Pork Belly to Make Perfect Homemade Bacon

Smoking your own pork belly to make homemade bacon may seem intimidating, but it’s easier than you think! With the right technique, you’ll have irresistible artisanal-quality bacon from the comfort of your own kitchen. But how long do you actually need to smoke pork belly to transform it into crispy, smoky bacon perfection?

When making homemade bacon, getting the smoking time right is key to getting optimal texture and flavor Under-smoke it and your bacon won’t have that distinctive smokiness Smoke it too long and you risk drying it out or giving it an overly intense smoky taste. Follow this guide to learn exactly how long you need to smoke pork belly at varying temperatures to achieve mouthwatering homemade bacon.

Why Make Your Own Bacon?

Before jumping into the smoking process, let’s look at why you should even bother making DIY bacon in the first place when you can easily grab a pack at the grocery store:

  • Better taste – Homemade bacon boasts a richer pork flavor and you control the smokiness. Store-bought can seem bland in comparison

  • No added preservatives – Commercial bacons contain preservatives for shelf life. Homemade is just pork, salt, and smoke.

  • Customizable – Craft your own bacon with preferred wood smoke, spices, sweeteners, etc. Tailor it to your taste.

  • Satisfaction – Turning pork belly into homemade bacon is extremely rewarding and makes awesome gifts.

  • Cost savings – Making your own can cost less per pound compared to buying artisanal bacon.

Step 1: Cure the Pork Belly

Before smoking, the pork belly needs to cure. This chemically cooks the meat while infusing flavor and preserving it. You can make a wet brine or dry cure recipe, but make sure to use curing salt which contains nitrites for safety.

Cure times vary, but figure 7 days per inch of thickness as a guide. Curing also firms up the texture. Rub the cure mix into the pork, bag or vacuum seal it, and flip daily during curing.

Step 2: Rinse and Dry the Pork Belly

Once cured, rinse off the pork belly and pat dry. Some slimy cure buildup on the surface is normal. Drying it well helps form the “pellicle” coating that makes smoke stick.

Place the pork belly on a baking rack set in a sheet pan, uncovered, in the fridge for 12-24 hours. Air flow and chilling firms the pellicle.

Step 3: Smoke the Pork Belly

Now comes the smoking – the length of time here determines whether you achieve bacon glory or failure. Things to consider:

  • Temperature – Lower temperature smoking (under 180°F) prevents fat rendering and overcooking. Aim for 150-165°F.

  • Wood choice – Apple, hickory, maple all work great. Go milder like apple if concerned about over-smoking.

  • Time – The magic number for getting perfect texture and smoke flavor tends to be 5-6 hours of actual smoking time.

  • Internal temp – Smoke until the pork belly reaches an internal temp of ~150°F. This ensures it’s fully cooked.

  • Patience – Resist cutting into the bacon too soon. Slow smoking over several hours is crucial for allowing the smoke to permeate into the meat.

The general rule of thumb is around 6 hours of smoking time at 150-165°F, until the internal temperature of the pork hits around 150°F. This gives you bacon with great smoke flavor that’s cooked but not overcooked.

If smoking at higher temperatures (up to 225°F), reduce the smoking time to 4-5 hours, checking internal temp frequently. The bacon may finish quicker.

Step 4: Cool, Slice, and Cook the Bacon

After smoking, let the pork belly chill completely before slicing – it’s much easier to cut when cold. Use a sharp knife or meat slicer to cut the bacon to your desired thickness.

To enjoy your homemade bacon, fry up a few slices in a skillet until crispy! The wait is worth it when you bite into the smoky, porky flavor. Freeze any leftovers in portions to enjoy later.

Troubleshooting Homemade Bacon

Bacon too smoky? Shorten the smoke time or use milder wood like apple or maple.

Bacon too dry? Try reducing smoking time and temp. Internal temp no higher than 150°F.

Fat not crispy? Smoke at lower temp (150°F) to avoid fat rendering. Slice thinner.

Bacon burns? Cook lower and slower in skillet. Pat off excess rendered fat after smoking.

No smoke ring? Make sure meat chilled overnight to form pellicle first. Smoke ring can be subtle in belly bacon.

More Handy Homemade Bacon Tips

  • Choose thicker pork belly for easier peeling/slicing. About 2 inches thick works great.

  • Use a digital probe thermometer to monitor internal temp precisely while smoking.

  • Add spices, sweeteners, etc. to the cure mix for flavored bacon like brown sugar bourbon.

  • Let bacon rest overnight after smoking before slicing for better texture.

  • Try hot smoking at higher heat (200-225°F) but reduce time to 3-4 hours. Monitor closely.

  • If no smoker, use a charcoal or gas grill with indirect heat and hardwood chips to smoke.

Enjoy Your Fruits of Labor

With perfect pork belly, a little patience, and following the tips above on how long to smoke, you’ll be rewarded with unbelievable homemade bacon that your friends and family will be begging for. Getting the smoking time just right is the key to bacon that looks, smells, tastes, and textures like the ultimate artisanal bacon.

Easy Homemade Bacon | How to Cure Your Own Bacon at Home


How long should you smoke pork belly for bacon?

Smoke the now cured belly using the apple or cherry wood for three hours at 200f, or until internal temperature reaches 150f. Store bacon in an airtight plastic bag or container in refrigerator for up to a week, cutting and cooking as required (if you don’t eat it all at once!).

How long does it take to smoke bacon at 225?

Smoke the pork belly at 225°F with the fat-side up. Smoking is more about temperature than time, but this should take about 2 hours. Once the pork belly reaches 150°F internally, remove it from the smoker and let it rest on a cutting board for 30 minutes.

How long to smoke pork belly at 225?

The thicker the cut, the longer it will take for the pork belly internal temp to reach 160°F during the first round of smoking. Generally speaking, though, it will take about 4 hours for the preliminary smoking and another hour of smoking in the apple juice. This is with the smoker preheated to 225°F.

Does bacon need to be smoked to 150?

The pork belly must be gently cooked to finish your preprataion. This means either smoking for a traditional flavor or, if no smoker is available, you can slow cook it in a traditional oven. Either way, the cured belly should be cooked at 200°F (93°C) until it reaches an internal temperature of 150°F (66°C).

How long do you smoke a pork belly to make bacon?

To make bacon at home you need to smoke your pork belly for around 2 – 3 hours depending on the thickness of the cut. The internal temperature needs to be around 150°F and the skin has a beautiful bronze color. Using a pellet smoker? See how to smoke bacon with a pellet smoker here. What Temperature Do You Need to Smoke Pork Belly At To Make Bacon?

How long does it take to smoke a 5lb pork belly?

At 165°F, a 5lb piece of pork belly will take about 5 hours to smoke. The internal temperature of the meat should be around 150°F when you take it out. Homemade smoked bacon from scratch.

How do you smoke a pork belly on a grill?

Smoke the bacon. Preheat your smoker to 160-170 degrees F using your favorite hardwood. Apple, maple, and hickory are all popular for smoked bacon. Place the pork belly directly on the grill grates, close the lid, and smoke for approximately 6 hours, or until the internal temperature of the pork belly reads 155 degrees F.

How long do you smoke Bacon in a smoker?

Close the lid of the smoker and let the bacon smoke for about 6 hours, making sure to keep the temperature of the smoker between 80°F and 100°F. Check the temperature inside the smoker with a meat thermometer. The bacon is done when it reaches an internal temperature of 150-155 degrees Fahrenheit.

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