How Long to Smoke Venison Bacon for Maximum Flavor

Venison bacon has become increasingly popular among hunters and foodies alike in recent years. This smoky savory treat is made by curing and smoking ground venison mixed with pork fat. While delicious venison bacon requires special considerations when smoking to achieve the perfect texture and flavor. In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about how long to smoke venison bacon.

Venison bacon is quite different from traditional pork bacon in that it uses ground meat formed into slabs rather than whole pork belly. The general process of making venison bacon involves:

  • Grinding venison trimmings and pork fat into a sausage-like mixture. A 80/20 venison to fat ratio is commonly used

  • Mixing the meat with a cure, seasonings, and powdered milk as a binder.

  • Pressing the seasoned meat into pans and refrigerating overnight.

  • Cold smoking the bacon slabs low and slow until fully cooked.

  • Slicing and cooking the smoked venison bacon like you would traditional bacon.

The result is a sweet, smoky, salty venison bacon with a pleasant chew. While it doesn’t taste exactly like pork bacon, venison bacon has an incredible depth of flavor.

Why Smoking Time Matters

Getting the right amount of smoke time is crucial for venison bacon. Under-smoked bacon won’t have enough smoky flavor penetrated through the meat. Over-smoked bacon can end up dry, bitter, and overly smoky.

The goal is to keep the venison bacon in the smoke long enough to develop a pronounced smoky taste and tempting mahogany color on the outside. But not so long that it dries out the interior.

Recommended Smoking Guidelines

Most venison bacon recipes call for smoking times ranging from 4-8 hours. However, smoking time can vary substantially based on factors like:

  • Smoker temperature
  • Meat thickness
  • Personal taste preferences

Here are some general guidelines for achieving great smoked venison bacon:

Use a low and slow smoking method. Keep your smoker temp between 150-180°F and avoid going over 180°F. The low heat allows the smoke to permeate the meat fully without starting to cook it.

Smoke for at least 4 hours. Four hours is the minimum to get a distinctly smoky flavor. For 1-2 inch thick bacon slabs, 4-6 hours is ideal.

Monitor internal temp, not just time. Pull the bacon when the thickest part of the slab reaches at least 150°F, but preferably closer to 160°F. This ensures it is fully cooked.

Adjust time for thickness. Thinner bacon slabs will smoke faster than thick-cut slabs. Slice your bacon accordingly and add or reduce time.

Watch the outside color. Ideal venison bacon is mahogany red with some dark, caramelized spots but not completely blackened.

Use milder wood flavors. Fruit woods like apple and cherry work well and avoid over-smoking the venison.

Consider personal preferences. If you like intense smoke flavor, go longer. For milder smoke, reduce the time.

Starting with these guidelines, you can perfect the ideal smoking time for your setup and tastes. It may take a few test batches to dial in. Taking notes each time helps identify when your venison bacon hits that ideal mark.

Step-by-Step Smoking Process

Here is a step-by-step guide to smoking venison bacon using a low and slow electric smoker method:

1. Prepare Venison Bacon

  • Mix ground venison, pork fat, cure, seasonings, and powdered milk.
  • Press mixture into foil lined pans in 1-2 inch thick slabs.
  • Refrigerate overnight to set up.

2. Preheat Smoker

  • Soak wood chips in water for 30 minutes.
  • Set up smoker and preheat to 130-150°F.
  • Add soaked wood chips – apple, cherry, or other mild wood recommended.

3. Smoke the Bacon

  • Place venison bacon directly on smoker racks.
  • Smoke for 4-6 hours, keeping temp between 150-180°F.
  • Check internal temp after 4 hours. Pull at 150-160°F.
  • Add more soaked wood chips if needed to keep smoke going.

4. Finish and Store

  • Remove venison bacon from smoker when done.
  • Cool completely and thinly slice.
  • Refrigerate in sealed container for 2-4 weeks.
  • Fry, bake, or cook as needed.

Following this gradual low and slow method results in perfectly smoked venison bacon every time. The long, gentle smoking time allows the flavor to develop fully without overcooking.

Troubleshooting Smoking Issues

Smoking venison bacon does take some trial and error. Here are some common issues and how to fix them:

Problem: Bacon is under-smoked and doesn’t have much flavor.

Solution: Increase smoking time in 1 hour increments. Use more wood chips for more smoke.

Problem: Bacon is bitter, burnt, or over-smoked.

Solution: Reduce smoking time. Keep temp low, below 180°F. Use less wood next time.

Problem: Bacon is dry or tough.

Solution: Don’t over-smoke. Cook to just 150-160°F internal temp. Add more fat to the meat blend.

Problem: Bacon won’t take smoke flavor.

Solution: Make sure meat is cold before smoking. Preheat smoker properly before adding meat.

Tips for the Best Venison Bacon

Follow these tips and tricks for mouthwatering smoked venison bacon:

  • Play with different wood types like hickory, pecan, alder for variety.

  • Add spices like smoked paprika, chili powder, cayenne, garlic, or juniper.

  • Use 80/20 or 75/25 venison to fat ratios for balanced flavor.

  • Slice bacon thick for pan frying or thin for baking.

  • Let the bacon bloom for 1-2 weeks after smoking for the best flavor.

  • Store in the freezer for 6-12 months if properly vacuum sealed.

  • Make venison bacon burgers by grinding up bacon ends and scraps.

  • Crumble over salads, eggs, baked potatoes, soups, or casseroles.

  • Bake strips in the oven on a rack until browned and crispy.

Experience the Magic of Smoked Venison Bacon

One of the best parts of being a hunter is transforming your harvest into amazing homemade creations. Venison bacon is no doubt one of the tastiest ways to enjoy deer meat. Mastering the smoking process takes your venison from the woods to gourmet status.

Now that you know exactly how long to smoke that venison bacon, you can refine the process to produce the perfect batch tailored to your own preferences. Enjoy sharing the joy of this specialty bacon with lucky family and friends.

VENISON BACON – How to Make Deer Bacon


How to tell when venison bacon is done?

Once you reach 180 degrees do not increase the temperature anymore and allow the bacon to cook until it reaches an internal temperature of 155 degrees.

How long does it take to smoke bacon?

Smoke the bacon 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. Refrigerate the bacon.

Can you smoke bacon at 200?

The short story is smoke the bacon at 200°f until it hits an internal temp of 155°f. Here’s the long version. Smoking at 200°f can be a little tricky if you’re used to cooking at dome temps of 250°f but a few tips make it easier.

Is deer bacon healthy?

Venison is a good protein choice for people with cardiovascular disease. Venison differs from red meat in part because it is leaner and has less fat and fewer calories.

How long does it take to cook bacon in a smoker?

Cook the bacon in a smoker at 200 degrees F until the internal temperature reaches 150 degrees F (this took about 2 1/2 hours with my electric Masterbuilt smoker). Remove the bacon from the smoker and allow it to cool on a wire rack. Slice the bacon on a meat slicer or on a cutting board with a sharp knife.

How do you make smoked venison Bacon?

Upgrade your culinary skills with our easy-to-follow smoked venison bacon recipe. Impress your friends and family with this delicious and unique culinary creation. In a bowl, combine the brown sugar, kosher salt, black pepper, garlic powder, and cayenne pepper (if using).

How do you smoke venison in a smoker?

To smoke venison, place it on the opposite side of your smoker from the additional charcoal. This is vital as direct heat could cause the venison to seize up and become tough. Add a water pan either under the meat or above the coals, depending on the design of your smoker.

How do you make venison bacon tacky?

To make venison bacon tacky, stir the water, bacon cure and maple cure together and then pour over the meat. Mix the meat with your hands until the seasoning is well-incorporated and the meat becomes tacky. In two aluminum ½ pans, pack the meat down, starting in the middle and working it out toward the edges. This will help avoid air pockets. Smooth out the tops.

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