Do you love bacon? If your answer is yes, let's take your bacon adoration to the next level. The first time I tried bacon jerky, I was hooked. It was a profound revelation that this delicious snack could be made right in my home, with just a few simple ingredients and a smoker. In this post, I'm sharing my tried-and-true homemade bacon jerky recipe for the smoker. We’ll delve into the best cuts of bacon to use, the tools you'll need, and the cooking process involved. And of course, I’ll share insider tips for achieving the best flavors and texture for your jerky.
1 - Why You Will Love This Bacon Jerky Recipe in the Smoker
If you're a bacon lover like me, this recipe is your ticket to snack heaven. It's an upgrade from traditional bacon with an added twist of smoke and sweetness. Plus, it’s an exciting way to explore different flavors, as the basic recipe is easily customizable with the addition of brown sugar, hot sauce, maple syrup, or even sriracha sauce for an extra kick.
2 - The Best Cut of Meat For This Recipe
- Recommended Cut For This Recipe
The key to perfect bacon jerky is, of course, the bacon itself. For this recipe, I strongly recommend using thick cut bacon. It has a satisfyingly meaty texture that stands up well to the smoking process. You can find this cut of meat at local butcher shops or online from purveyors such as Snake River Farms.
When buying locally, look for slices that are consistent in thickness. This will help ensure that the pieces dry out evenly during the smoking process. Also, consider opting for maple bacon if you enjoy a hint of sweetness with your smoky flavor.
- Other Cuts You Can Use For This Recipe
If thick-cut bacon isn't available, you can use regular-cut bacon, which will yield a crisper result due to its thinner slice. For a more robust flavor profile, consider using beef instead for a beef jerky twist.
3 - Tools Needed For This Bacon Jerky Recipe in the Smoker
This recipe needs few essential tools:
- Smoker: A smoker is essential to this recipe, as it infuses the bacon with that distinct smoky flavor. Any type of smoker will work, including electric, charcoal, or wood pellet smokers.
- Wood Chips: These will provide the smoke for your smoker. Hickory or applewood chips pair exceptionally well with bacon.
- Food-Safe Plastic Bag: A large ziplock bag is perfect for marinating the bacon. It allows for easy coating and keeps the bacon immersed in the marinade.
- Mixing Bowl: You'll need a bowl for mixing the marinade ingredients.
- Measuring Cups and Spoons: These are necessary for accurately measuring the marinade ingredients.
- Smoker Racks: Smoker racks or grates are needed to hold the bacon slices while they're being smoked.
- Paper Towels: You will need these to blot off any excess fat after the bacon is smoked.
- Wire Cooling Rack: This will allow the bacon to dry and firm up after smoking.
6 - Cooking Tips
- Spacing: Be sure to leave space between the bacon slices on the cooling rack to ensure even air circulation and drying.
- Testing: Remember, the goal is for the jerky to be dry but still pliable. It should tear when pulled apart, not stretch like uncooked bacon.
- Extra Flavor: Use a basting brush to apply a simple marinade or other flavors to both sides of the bacon before smoking. This can elevate the taste to the next level.
7 - Storage Instructions
- In the Fridge
Allow your delicious snack to cool at room temperature for 1-2 hours before storing. Then, place the bacon jerky in an air-tight container or resealable bag and store in the fridge. It will last up to two weeks.
- In the Freezer
For long-term storage, place the cooled bacon jerky in a ziplock bag, making sure to remove as much air as possible, and store it in the freezer. It can last for several months. Be sure to defrost it in the fridge or at room temperature before enjoying.
Final Take Away For This Bacon Turkey Recipe in The Smoker
Making your own bacon jerky at home is a fun and rewarding process. It’s a great way to experiment with different flavors and to produce a delicious snack that’s sure to be a hit with family and friends. Trust me, they WILL ask for more!
- 1 Smoker
- 1 Cooling Rack
- 1 Basting Brush
- 1 lb thick-cut bacon
- ¼ cup maple syrup
- ¼ cup brown sugar
- 2 tablespoon soy sauce
- 2 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- ½ teaspoon chili powder
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional, for extra heat)
- Prepare the Marinade: In a bowl, combine brown sugar, maple syrup, soy sauce, apple cider vinegar, black pepper, smoked paprika, chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, and cayenne pepper. Stir until all the ingredients are well combined.
- Marinate the Bacon: Put the bacon in a large ziplock bag, then pour in the marinade. Press out the air and seal the bag. Massage the bag gently to ensure that all the bacon slices are coated in the marinade. Refrigerate for 6 to 24 hours.
- Preheat the Smoker: Preheat your smoker to 200°F. Make sure you have enough wood chips for about 3 hours of smoking. Applewood or hickory are great choices for bacon.
- Smoke the Bacon: Remove the bacon from the marinade and let any excess drip off. Arrange the slices on the smoker racks, making sure they don't overlap. Smoke the bacon for about 3 hours.
- Dry the Bacon: Once the bacon is smoked, remove it from the smoker and blot off any rendered fat with a paper towel. Let it cool on a wire rack to allow it to dry out and firm up. The bacon will still be slightly pliable when it's hot but will become more like jerky as it cools.
- Store the Jerky: Once cooled, you can eat the bacon jerky right away or store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week. If you want to keep it longer, you can vacuum seal it and store it in the freezer for up to a month.
- Beware of sharing your homemade bacon jerky with friends, they WILL ask for you to make it ALL the time.
- Feel free to experiment with different marinade ingredients and wood chips to discover your unique bacon jerky recipe. Remember, cooking is a great way to express your creativity.
Frequently Asked Questions
While homemade bacon jerky doesn't require immediate refrigeration, it should be stored in an air-tight container or a ziplock bag in a cool, dark place for best results. To extend its shelf life beyond 1-2 weeks, refrigerate or freeze it.
Bacon jerky is done when it's dried but still pliable, after about 4-6 hours of smoking at a low temperature. It should tear easily, and not stretch like uncooked bacon. The perfect bacon jerky feels firm and stands straight with a slight bend when held vertically.
While bacon jerky is a delicious snack, moderation is key due to its high sodium and fat content. Opt for thick-cut bacon or regular-cut bacon, and consider using less salt in your marinade for a healthier choice.
Bacon jerky tastes like a smoky, dried version of traditional bacon. The flavor can vary based on the wood chips used in the smoking process and the marinade ingredients. Maple bacon jerky, for instance, has a sweet touch.
You can buy bacon jerky in grocery stores, online marketplaces, and specialty food shops in the United States. However, making your own bacon jerky at home is a great way to customize the flavors to your liking.