The Ultimate Guide to Making Perfect Lemon Pepper Bacon at Home

Bacon is already delicious on its own but when you add the bright, citrusy flavor of lemon and the bite of black pepper you take it to the next level. Lemon pepper bacon is the ultimate burger, salad, or sandwich topping that adds a gourmet flair with little effort.

In this detailed guide I’ll walk you through step-by-step how to make tender and crispy lemon pepper bacon right in your own kitchen. Whether you are a novice cook or bacon aficionado you’ll learn pro tips and tricks for infusing flavor and achieving bacon bliss. From choosing the right cut of pork belly to seasoning techniques, read on to become a lemon pepper bacon master!

Why Make Your Own Lemon Pepper Bacon?

Store-bought bacon can be hit or miss in terms of quality, thickness, and flavor. Making your own allows you to control every aspect so you get exactly what you want. Here are some of the benefits of homemade lemon pepper bacon:

  • Customize ingredients: Play around with different types of peppercorns, lemon zests, or other aromatics to tweak the flavor.

  • Perfect thickness: Cut the pork belly to your desired thickness for the ideal crispy-to-chewy ratio.

  • Avoid preservatives: Commercial bacons often contain nitrates for shelf stability. Homemade allows you to skip questionable additives.

  • Quality control You choose high-end ethically raised pork for the best tasting end result.

  • Cost savings: Buying pork belly in bulk and preparing your own bacon is cheaper per pound than packaged bacon.

  • Shelf life: Properly frozen homemade bacon lasts 6 months or longer, so you can stock up.

Once you discover how easy it is to DIY, you may never go back to the grocery store bacon again!

Ingredients Needed

Lemon pepper bacon only requires a few simple ingredients:

  • Pork belly – Choose fresh, high-quality pork belly that is evenly thick. Skinless is easiest to work with.

  • Kosher salt – Kosher salt is used in curing to season the meat and draw out moisture. Table salt is too fine.

  • Sugar – A small amount of white sugar balances the saltiness and helps achieve crispy bacon.

  • Lemons – Fresh lemon zest provides bright, citrusy flavor. Use untreated lemons only.

  • Black pepper – Coarsely ground pepper adds just the right amount of spicy bite.

  • Cure #1 (optional) – This sodium nitrite product prevents bacteria growth and locks in color (use gluten-free version for food allergies).

That’s it! Now let’s get into the nitty gritty details of making lemon pepper bacon like a pro.

Step 1: Choose the Right Pork

Not all pork bellies are created equal when it comes to making great bacon. Here are tips for selecting the best:

  • Get thick-cut bellies – 1/2 inch thick or more results in the best texture. Thinner bellies can over-crisp and dry out.

  • Check for consistency – Look for evenly distributed fat and meat throughout the slab. Inconsistent sizing leads to uneven cooking.

  • Seek out heritage breeds – Heritage hog breeds like Berkshire, Tamworth, and Red Wattle have enhanced marbling for flavor.

  • Find skinless bellies – It’s easier to season and slice skinless pork belly. Skin toughens when cooked.

  • Freshness is key – Choose fresh, bright pink bellies without dry or dull spots. Don’t use thawed frozen pork.

  • Buy in bulk – Purchase a 10-15 lb belly slab to slice into manageable 1 lb packages for multiple bacon batches.

Finding high-quality pork belly may take some effort, but it makes all the difference in bacon excellence. Check local butcher shops, specialty online retailers, or Asian markets.

Step 2: Prepare the Pork Belly

Before seasoning your pork belly, you need to get it ready for curing by:


  • Trim off any skin or irregular pieces using a sharp boning knife. Leave the fat cap intact.

  • Square up the edges so you have nice straight lines for even slicing later.


  • Lightly score the fat cap by making shallow diagonal cuts in a diamond pattern spaced 1 inch apart.

  • Don’t cut deeper than the fat cap to avoid exposed meat drying out.

  • Scoring allows the seasoning to penetrate and fat to render evenly.


  • Cut the pork belly slab into 1 lb portions. This makes curing and cooking easier to manage.

  • Divide it widthwise so the fatty to lean ratio stays consistent in each piece.

Now the pork belly is neatly trimmed, scored, and ready for seasoning.

Step 3: Make the Curing Rub

To infuse the pork belly with flavor, you’ll need to prepare a dry cure rub. Here is a basic lemon pepper cure recipe:

  • 1 cup kosher salt
  • 1⁄4 cup sugar
  • 1 tbsp. lemon zest
  • 2 tsp. coarsely ground black pepper

Mixing Tips:

  • Use pure ingredients – Avoid iodized salt, imitation lemon, pre-ground pepper.

  • Zest lemons before juicing to maximize flavor. Air-dry zest before using.

  • Grind whole peppercorns just before mixing the cure. Pre-ground pepper loses potency.

  • Combine thoroughly so flavors are distributed evenly.

For food safety, you can also add:

  • 1 tsp. Cure #1 (6.25% sodium nitrite) per 5 lbs. pork. This prevents bacteria growth.

Once your lemon pepper cure is blended, it’s time to coat the pork belly.

Step 4: Cure the Pork Belly

Curing infuses flavor and preserves the pork. Follow these steps for perfect results every time:

Curing Container

  • Use a non-reactive dish or resealable plastic bag for curing. Glass, stainless steel, or food-grade plastic are ideal options. Don’t use aluminum.

  • Make sure the container is large enough to lay pork belly flat and allow space for the cure.

Cure Coverage

  • Rub the mixed cure evenly over all surfaces of the pork belly – top, bottom, and sides.

  • Pack cure mix onto the meat and distribute into cuts and crevices. Full contact is needed.

  • Use approximately 3⁄4 cup per 1 lb. pork belly for complete coverage.

Curing Conditions

  • Cure pork in the refrigerator at 35-45°F. Temperature control prevents bacterial growth.

  • Cure for 5-7 days for full flavor penetration. Longer curing time is better.

  • Flip the bag or rub the cure daily to redistribute and avoid damp spots.

  • Rinse cure off with cold water. Pat pork dry before smoking or cooking.

Proper dry curing ensures your bacon is seasoned throughout while maintaining food safety. Now comes the best part – the flavor infusion!

Step 5: Infuse with Smoke (Optional)

Smoking is an optional but highly recommended step for amplifying the flavors of lemon pepper bacon.

Choosing Wood

  • Fruit woods like apple, cherry, peach provide sweet, delicate flavor that complements citrus and pepper.

  • Maple or hickory also pair

#Lemon Peppered Bacon

How long do you cook bacon with lemon juice?

Pull the bacon out and brush with about half the juice from the third lemon. Sprinkle with freshly ground pepper and the lemon zest. Roast for an additional 10-15 minutes until the bacon is crispy. Remove from the oven and gently brush with the remaining lemon juice.

Can you make lemon pepper seasoning yourself?

And just like most spice mixes, learning how to make lemon pepper seasoning yourself is definitely worth it, too. It tastes better and you don’t have to worry about additives. Lemon peel is the not-so-secret ingredient that makes this the best lemon pepper seasoning around — it’s full of bright, citrus flavor.

How do you cook bacon in a crock pot?

Lay your bacon out flat in a single layer on a wire rack on the baking sheet and generously pepper the bacon. Cook the bacon in the preheated oven for 15 minutes. Remove, and baste the bacon with the maple syrup. Return bacon to the oven, and cook a further 3-5 minutes. Cook a little longer if you prefer your bacon extra crispy! Remove from oven.

What is the best lemon pepper seasoning?

Lemon peel is the not-so-secret ingredient that makes this the best lemon pepper seasoning around — it’s full of bright, citrus flavor. Use my homemade lemon pepper seasoning recipe on lemon pepper chicken wings, baked chicken breast, baked asparagus, and your favorite seafood dishes, like lobster tails.

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