What Gives Bacon Its Traditional Smoky Flavor?

Posted on: January 16, 2023

With the growing popularity of smoked meat, bacon is among the most popular foods for smoking. Pork bacon is loved by food lovers for its tasty smoky flavor.

Many food brands are selling labeled bacon in smoky flavor but that comes nowhere near to the traditional flavors imparted by a food smoker. Companies usually add a smoky flavor after curing bacon. This is nowhere close to the traditional smoky flavor through food smoking.

If you love to enjoy the traditional smoky flavor of the bacon, here’s a quick guide on how to get the authentic traditional flavor.

Choosing the Bacon

Try to purchase bacon cut from organic or farm-bred hogs. Industry-bred hogs don’t have a distinct flavor like organic ones and require more seasoning to get a decent flavor. Generally, a pork belly weighs 10 to 12 pounds and that should be just the right quantity. Get the cut that has more fat in it for added tenderness after smoking.

Preparing the Bacon

Prepare the meat by removing the rind that is the hard skin on the belly of pork. Use a sharp and slender knife to separate it from the meat. You can smoke it directly to make crisp golden brownies that go well with tender succulent smoked bacon.

Making the Rub

If you relish the natural flavor of the bacon then a simple mix of salt and sugar will be perfect to get the original smoky flavor. For those who love to add a little twist to their bacon, a mix of brown sugar, curing salt with black pepper or hot pepper flakes can do well.

You can check out more expert information on What is a Rub, Why and How to Do It?

Curing the Bacon

Smear the rub uniformly on all sides of the bacon. This will flavor the meat evenly. Now place it in a Ziploc bag and let it sit inside the refrigerator for at least 5 days. Don’t forget to flip the bag every day. Curing will dry the meat releasing all the moisture from it. The moisture in the form of juice will be collected in the Ziploc bag. Let it stay there, it will act as a natural brine to the bacon. Check out our entire catalog of articles on brining and curing your meat here: What’s the Difference Between Pickling, Brining, Marinating, and Curing?; Curing and Smoking Meats for Home Food Preservation; Directions On Brining And Curing Your Meat For Food Smoking.

Rinsing the Bacon

Take out the bacon from the refrigerator and rinse it under running water to remove all excess salt. Let it rest on a baking sheet to dry for some time. Then put it again inside the refrigerator for at least 4 hours or overnight to dry up. Remember to flip it once or twice in between. This will form a crisp layer on top that will make it appear irresistibly tasty after smoking.

Smoking the Bacon

Take out the bacon from the refrigerator a few hours before smoking. Now preheat the food smoker to about 100 degrees Fahrenheit (37.8 C). If you are using an advanced electric smoker like Bradley smoker, you can easily pre-set the pre-heat temperature using the digital console.

Now place the bacon on the heated rack and set the cooking temperature to less than 100 degrees Fahrenheit (37.8 C) for 6 hours. This will get you a tender reddish interior with the outer portion slightly charred. However, if you prefer your bacon to be golden brown and crisp on the outer, set the temperature at 140 degrees Fahrenheit (60C). The temperature and time to cook entirely depend on the thickness of the bacon.

Using the Right Wood

One of the secrets to perfect food smoking is choosing the right wood. Bradley Bisquettes are a perfect solution here. These Bisquettes are compressed to an even thickness that generates a deliciously clean and taste-enhancing smoke for your food. Bradley Bisquettes come in a range of flavors like apple, hickory, cherry, maple, alder, oak, pecan, etc. For smoking bacon, the best ones are oak, hickory, cherry, or other hardwood flavors like apple.

Rest the Bacon

After the bacon is smoked according to your preferences, wrap it well using plastic wrap or aluminum foil. Now let it rest in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours or overnight. It will help the meat to soak in all the flavors and regain its tenderness. You can slice the bacon and heat it just before serving.

Besides the classic smoky taste, home-smoked bacon has an added advantage too. You can slice it up to your desired thickness. You can smoke it to get a crisp outer layer or have it slightly charred with all the natural tenderness. We hope these simple Bradley tips & tricks will help you to smoke perfectly tender and succulent bacon at home. For more great ideas on how to get the most of your Bradley Smoker, check out the awesome articles on our Bradley Smoker Food Smoking Blog for more tips & tricks.