Curing and smoking meat has been around for centuries. It provides long-term preservation, delicious flavors, and many more advantages. If you get all of your meat from stores, including bacon, you might be wondering if you can smoke them to achieve these undeniable benefits.
You can smoke store-bought bacon by heating the smoker to 300 degrees Fahrenheit (149 Celsius), placing thin bacon strips on the grate, and letting them smoke for 20 to 30 minutes. Use a meat thermometer to ensure the bacon reaches an internal temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit (63 Celsius).
In this article, we’ll cover the step-by-step process of smoking your store-bought bacon, whether or not it should be cured, and several reasons why you should try it. Smoked bacon is a delicious treat, so let’s get started!
How to Smoke Store-Bought Bacon
You can smoke store-bought bacon with a long, cold-smoked process that keeps the smoker around 86 degrees F ( 30 C) for several hours, but it doesn’t provide the crispy texture most people love. If you want crispy, campfire-flavored bacon, nothing beats the quick, hot smoking process you’ll find below.
- Add hickory or applewood for the best smoked pork flavor. The wood you choose will directly impact your smoked bacon’s taste. Applewood is great for those who love sweet aftertastes, whereas hickory gives it more of a savory, smokey flavor. It’s up to you to decide which is best for your tastebuds.
- Preheat the smoker to 300 degrees to accelerate the smoking process. According to Kitchen Divas, a 300-degree smoker will let you smoke the bacon much quicker since you don’t have to wait for the internal temperature to reach the desired level over the course of several hours or days.
- Coat the grate with cooking spray to prevent the bacon fat from sticking to the smoker. It might seem silly to use cooking spray on a smoker, but the bacon’s fat will drip and stick to it. You’ll pull the bacon, and it’ll crumble apart. Fortunately, spraying the grate keeps your bacon in good condition.
- Lay thin bacon strips on the grate for even smoking. Thick bacon strips take longer to smoke, so they’re not the best if you’re in a hurry. Those who want thick bacon can add about 15 minutes to the times found in the following section. Spread the strips evenly to give them enough room to cook from end to end.
- Let the bacon smoke for 20 to 30 minutes, depending on the core temperature and doneness. Most store-bought bacon can be smoked in less than half an hour with the previously mentioned 300-degree setting. If you want to cold-smoke the bacon, it should stay at about 86 degrees for up to six hours. Hot-smoked bacon should be 145 to 150 degrees.
When smoking store-bought bacon, it’s important to reach your desired level of doneness. Some people prefer bacon that’s fresh and has that soft pork texture, whereas others can’t get enough of the crispy flavor. If you buy and smoke uncured bacon, the next section is a must-read.
Does Bacon Have to Be Cured Before Smoking?
Curing meat makes it more flavorful, easier to cook evenly, better for slicing, and more. Eat Cured Meat shows curing meat is an absolute must if you want to smoke it. Since almost all store-bought bacon is cured, you’re in luck.
Interestingly enough, store-bought bacon labeled ‘uncured’ isn’t always truly uncured. Rather than using nitrates to preserve the meat, companies use loads of salt. Salt was used as a preservative before cooking and smoking meat many years ago.
The curing process usually involves various additives, which is why companies label bacon as uncured. However, it’s incredibly rare to find bacon that’s not cured because curing is a major part of the process that changes pork slices to bacon.
In short, you should cure your bacon before smoking it, but almost all store-bought bacon comes cured.
Why Should You Smoke Your Bacon?
If you’ve never smoked bacon at home, you might be wondering why countless people are making the switch. People have smoked pork for hundreds or thousands of years, but store-bought bacon is relatively new. Below, we’ll cover a list of reasons you should smoke the bacon you buy from your local supermarket.
- Smoking store-bought bacon adds a unique flavor. All Recipes explains you can add much more depth of flavor and texture to your bacon by smoking it. Everything from the wood to the grate, time spent smoking, and temperature can improve the taste of your bacon.
- The smoking process makes bacon easier to slice. If you prefer cold-smoked bacon, you can slice it with a knife as if it were gliding through butter. Cold-smoked bacon (86 degrees for 6 hours, as mentioned above) is loaded with flavor and a unique, meaty texture. Heat the knife to make it even easier to cut.
- It can preserve the bacon’s texture and color. There’s no doubt that the texture of bacon is a significant part of the eating experience. Nobody wants to eat soggy, dull bacon! Whether you prefer cold-smoked or hot-smoked bacon, you can choose your texture and enjoy the unparalleled flavor.
- Smoking meat makes it last much longer. People started smoking meat a long time ago to preserve it. Smoking is an excellent alternative if you want to preserve your bacon without loading it with salt healthily. It’ll last up to a weak or longer, especially if you cold-smoke it.
There are many other reasons people smoke bacon, including the nostalgic experience and delicious aromas. We suggest trying both methods: Cold-smoked and hot-smoked. Once you know which route you prefer, you can try different wood, cooking spray, and other ingredients to alter the flavor profile.
Now that you know how to smoke your bacon from the store, you can add it to sandwiches, burgers, breakfast meals, and more. It only takes a little bit longer than cooking it on the stove or in the oven, so why not give it a try? You never know how good it can be until you eat the first slice of crispy, smoked bacon!