A Guide to Curing Bacon at Home Without Sugar

As a bacon lover, I’m always looking for ways to customize and control the ingredients when curing my own pork belly into bacon. Many traditional bacon cure recipes call for sugar, but is it possible to make great tasting bacon without it?

In this article, I’ll share tips on curing and cooking sugar-free bacon at home. You’ll learn why sugar is commonly used, alternatives to provide flavor and texture, and my process for crafting delicious no-sugar-added bacon. Let’s get started!

Why Use Sugar in Bacon Cures?

Sugar is added to bacon cures for a few main reasons:

  • Balances the saltiness and improves overall flavor
  • Helps retain moisture for texture
  • Provides some preservative effects through binding water
  • Caramelizes and browns when cooked for color and crisping

So while not mandatory the sugar does play a role in taste texture, and appearance. This is why it’s part of most bacon brines and dry rubs.

Alternatives for Curing Without Sugar

When omitting sugar, you’ll need to focus on other ingredients to enhance flavor and retain moisture Here are some good options

  • Extra herbs and spices – Garlic, onion, pepper, paprika, etc. can provide flavor.

  • Fruit juices – Small amounts of unsweetened juice from apple or cherry work well.

  • Vinegar – Balsamic, wine, or cider vinegars will tenderize and marinate

  • Soy sauce or coconut aminos – For salty, savory umami taste.

  • Liquid smoke – Just a few drops gives that smoky bacon essence.

  • Maple extract – A few drops provide sweetness without the sugar.

My Process for Sugar-Free Bacon

Here is how I cure bacon without any sugar in the recipe:

  1. Start with a 2-3 lb slab of good quality pork belly.

  2. Create a dry rub of 1 cup sea salt, 1 tbsp garlic powder, 2 tsp black pepper, and 1 tsp maple extract.

  3. Massage the rub all over the pork belly until fully coated. Refrigerate for 8-10 days, rubbing more on exposed areas halfway through.

  4. Rinse off dry brine and pat dry. Let air dry uncovered in the fridge overnight.

  5. Hot smoke the belly at 180°F for 2 hours adding apple wood for flavor.

  6. Chill completely then slice into 1/4 inch strips.

  7. Fry or bake until crispy to enjoy!

The salt draws moisture from the pork while the spices add lots of flavor. No sugar needed for delicious bacon!

Helpful Tips for Sugar-Free Bacon Success

Follow these tips for the best results when making bacon without sugar:

  • Start with the highest quality thick-cut pork belly you can find.

  • Precisely weigh cure ingredients for proper flavor and safety.

  • Add extra spices, juices, or vinegar to provide a balanced taste.

  • Cure for the full duration until the pork is completely firm.

  • Rinse and pat very dry after curing and before smoking.

  • Use fruit woods like apple or cherry for naturally sweet, mild smoke flavor.

  • Fry over medium-low heat to crisp up without burning.

  • Blot with paper towels during cooking to soak up excess grease.

  • Cook to at least 145°F internal temperature for food safety.

Common Questions about Sugar-Free Bacon

If you’re new to sugar-free bacon, here are answers to some frequently asked questions:

Is sugar mandatory for curing bacon safely?

No, sugar is added for flavor, moisture, and color but is not mandatory for safety when proper curing methods are followed.

How will the taste compare to regular bacon?

It will have a more pronounced salty, savory taste without the sweetness. Adding spices and juices helps balance the flavor.

What’s the best way to get crispy sugar-free bacon?

Frying over medium-low heat helps render the fat slowly. Oven baking on a wire rack set over a baking sheet also crisps up the bacon nicely.

Can I use a sugar substitute instead of plain sugar?

Yes, you can use a small amount of erythritol, monk fruit sweetener, or other low-carb sugar substitute in place of regular sugar.

Will the bacon still get crispy and brown without sugar?

It may brown slightly less without the caramelization effect from sugar. But using fruit wood smoke and cooking slowly still produces crispy, browned bacon.

How long does sugar-free bacon last after curing?

It will keep refrigerated for 7-10 days. For longer storage, freeze the cured pork belly up to 2 months before smoking and slicing.

Satisfy Your Bacon Cravings Sugar-Free

With some creativity and care in your cure recipe, you can absolutely craft amazing sugar-free bacon at home. The key is using plenty of spices, extracts, juices or vinegars to provide lots of flavor. And taking the full curing time ensures the pork gets perfectly preserved.

MAKIN’ #BACON: EASY, Homemade, NO SUGAR, and BETTER Than Store Brand #Keto #Carnivore


Is sugar necessary for curing bacon?

In a normal curing process, a packet of nitrite is added to the brine, which is then injected into the meat. Sugar is often in this mix to “add” flavor; however, some say it can also aid in acting as an additional preservative. Sugar is also used to counter the salt, which tends to dry out the meat.

Can you cure without sugar?

Meat can be cured in entire safety without the use of any sugar, and large quan¬ tities are so cured. SUBSTITUTES FOR SUGAR. The sugar generally used in curing meats is sucrose in the form of granulated, clarified, or plantation-raw sugar.

Can you cure bacon with just salt?

Cured bacon that’s cured with only salt will taste different than the cured meats you’re accustomed to from the grocery store. Nitrates and nitrites are not always the carcinogen that we’ve all been led to believe they are.

How to cure bacon without nitrates and nitrites?

Cut your pork belly down to about 5 pound chunks. Rub the maple syrup all over the belly. Add chunky real salt or chunky Celtic salt to the entire piece of meat. Place in a Ziploc bag and place in your refrigerator for 5 days.

Is sugar needed to cure Bacon?

Sugar is NOT needed in any way to cure bacon. It is only used to offset the saltiness, of which the salt IS needed as part of the cure. There are probably a ton of options out there to negate the saltiness. You may just want to take a minute and visit my best friend.Google and see if there are alternatives.

Can one eat bacon with diverticulosis?

You can eat bacon with diverticulosis, but it is not the most recommended. In a person with diverticulosis, it is recommended to consume foods with soluble fiber such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and legumes.

Can you eat cured bacon without cooking?

But eating cured bacon is not safe without cooking. For curing bacon that will be later cooked you need to use Insta Cure #1 (Prague Powder 1). When making dry-cured bacon, you need to use Insta Cure #2 (Prague Powder 2). Hope this helps.

What is the best way to cure Bacon?

Gone but not forgotten. RIP If you were planning on Brine Curing your Bacon, use Pop’s Brine, No Sugar, with 1 Tablesoon of Cure #1 and no more than 1/4 to 1/2Cup Kosher Salt per Gallon. For Dry Rub Cured Bacon, use 0.25% Cure #1 and 1.5 to 2% Salt.

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