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The Best Homemade Bacon Ever

Once you make this homemade bacon recipe, you’ll never look back. With a flavor like no bacon you’ve ever had before, you’ll be amazed at what bacon SHOULD taste like. It’s also sugar free, nitrate free, and Whole30 compliant.

pile of bacon on a white plate on a white and blue striped towel with tongs in the background

I’m going to be straight with you from the start: making homemade bacon is not a quick process. It’s going to require a few steps, and a bit of waiting in between. But believe me when I tell you: it is SO worth it.

(If you’re short on time and need a Whole30 or paleo bacon option, Whole Kitchen Sink has a list of all storebought approved ones here.)

Why should you make your own bacon?

Close up of pork belly cuts

I get it. There’s plenty of variety of bacon at the store, and you can’t see a reason to make your own. Why go through this whole process when you can just go to the store and get some in a package?

Beware the ingredient list

It can be easy to just grab products off the shelves and never look at what’s in them. Unfortunately for us, the companies that make these products load them up with sugar, salt, chemicals and preservatives.

Bacon is one of the biggest culprits of this. By making our own, we’re going to steer clear of all of these, and know exactly what is in our bacon.

ALL the flavor

What you’ll find, when you make your own bacon, is that bacon isn’t actually just supposed to taste like salt.

The flavor in homemade bacon is incredible, and it’s like no bacon you’ve ever had before. Promise.

Sugar free bacon

When we first started making our bacon, we set out to do it because we were on Whole30. We were looking for Whole30 compliant bacon, and at the time, no companies were making it.

Nowadays, you can find bacon in the store with a Whole30 approved stamp on it from brands such as Pedersons and Applegate. But a few years ago, these didn’t exist.

We experimented with a lot of different combinations for our bacon cure. A dry rub couldn’t include sugar, even coconut sugar, on Whole30, so that ended up being way too salty.

We started thinking about liquids, and turned to apple juice and apple cider. Those ended up being too sweet, and the volume of salt needed was way too high.

Our ending secret ingredient? Applesauce.

pork belly cut and stacked on cutting board with curing solution in a bowl in front of it

How to cure homemade bacon

To create the cure for your homemade bacon, you’re going to grind up your spices, combine them with your salt, and then stir them into your applesauce.

The end product is a really salty, spicy applesauce that we don’t recommend eating on its own.

Using this as a cure, you’ll put each slab of pork belly that you want to turn into bacon into it’s own enclosed container with the applesauce mixture. We like to use large ziplocks, because we can mush it around and make sure we get the whole slab nice and coated.

You can also use a baking dish, lay it flat, and cover the slab with the cure, flipping it over during the curing process (I would recommend daily).

What you’re looking for is maximum exposure of the outside of the pork belly slab to the curing mixture, however you can make that best happen in your fridge!

pork belly slabs marinating to make homemade bacon

How long to cure homemade bacon

Oh, the waiting. So much waiting.

You’ll need to give your pork belly around 4 days in the cure. It will need to be kept in the fridge for this whole time, so make sure you have the space for that before getting started!

Anything less than 4 days simply doesn’t result in the best flavor. If you need to go a day or two longer, you can, but it’s not necessary. You don’t gain a whole lot in terms of flavor by pushing to day 5 and 6.

How to cook homemade bacon

Remember, at this point, we’ve only just cured our raw meat. We still need to cook it.

What you want to go for is low and slow. We’re looking to get the internal temperature of the pork to at least 165° – this is the safe place to kill of anything that might be harmful to you.

To do this, we’re going to bake it in the oven at a low temperature, for a long time: 225° for 3 hours.

Take your pork belly slabs out of the bag, rinse any excess cure off of them, and pat them dry with a paper towel or clean dish cloth. (Then put that towel in the wash, because you just put it on raw meat!)

Place them on a baking sheet with a wire rack inside it, like this:

Close up of pork belly on a baking sheet

The wire rack will allow the heat to get on all sides of the meat, as well as allow a place for the fat to drip down as it cooks.

Place your pan with the pork belly on it into the preheated oven.

Man putting pan of pork belly into oven

Allow it to cook for three hours without opening the oven. (Doing so will release heat, which will mean you just need to cook it for longer.)

After three hours, open the oven and use a meat thermometer to test the internal temperature of the pork belly. You’re looking for it to get to an internal temp of 165°. If it’s not there yet, put it back in and check it again in 15 minutes.

Repeat this process until you’ve reached that 165°.

Once it’s done, remove it from the oven and allow it to cool a bit. It should look something like this:

slab of homemade bacon that has been cured and smoked

How to cut homemade bacon

Cutting the slab when it’s hot is not recommended. Give it a little bit of time to cool, then refrigerate it for a few hours, or overnight if you can. You want it to be firm when you cut it.

If you can, popping it in the freezer for about 15-20 minutes before slicing will help tremendously. This will firm up the meat enough to help it keep its structure when slicing.

We have the Chef’s Choice 609 Meat Slicer, which we use to cut our bacon slabs. The slices pictured below were sliced off the slab using this particular slicer:

uncooked homemade bacon sliced on a cutting board

If you don’t have a meat slicer, that’s ok! A very sharp chef’s knife will also work. A nice one is definitely an investment – we have the Shun Chef’s Knife, which we purchased 10 years ago and is still our best kitchen knife.

Whatever you use to slice, just make sure that it’s the sharpest tool you have available to you. Any knife or slicer that is dull will tear up the meat and will not allow you to slice very thinly.

How to fry homemade bacon

There are two ways to fry up your bacon. The first is the traditional way – slices in a pan. Keep in mind that this will get greasy, and there will be splatter!

The other option is my preferred way – by baking your bacon slices in the oven on a baking sheet. It keeps the grease mess to a minimum, and makes clean up easy. We like to pour the excess grease from the pan into a mason jar and save it in the fridge to use as cooking grease later!

homemade bacon slices on a plate with tongs in the background
Homemade Bacon

Homemade Bacon

Yield: 1.5 pounds
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours
Additional Time: 4 days
Total Time: 4 days 2 hours 20 minutes

Once you make this homemade bacon recipe, you'll never look back. With a flavor like no bacon you've ever had before, you'll be amazed at what bacon SHOULD taste like. It's also sugar free, nitrate free, and Whole30 compliant. 

Ingredients

  • 2.5 lb pork belly slab
  • 24 oz unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/4 cup salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp allspice
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp juniper berries

Instructions

  1. Combine all dry ingredients except the salt in a spice grinder and grind.
  2. Combine ground spices with applesauce. Add salt and stir until well mixed.
  3. Place pork belly in a glass pan or plastic bag, then add curing mixture and coat thoroughly.
  4. Place pan or bags in the refrigerator for 4 days, flipping daily to ensure even curing.
  5. When ready to smoke, remove from fridge. Rinse, pat dry, and then let stand at room temperature for 1 hour.
  6. While resting, preheat your oven to 225°.
  7. Place pork belly on a rack on sheet pan and cook for 2 hours.
  8. After 2 hours, begin checking internal temperature every 15 minutes. Remove when internal temperature exceeds 165.
  9. Refrigerate slab overnight, then slice and fry in a skillet on the stove or bake in the oven on a baking sheet.

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 15 Serving Size: 2 slices
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 241Total Fat: 16gSaturated Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 10gCholesterol: 64mgSodium: 1958mgCarbohydrates: 5gFiber: 1gSugar: 4gProtein: 18g

Number of servings (and nutrition information) will be dependent on the thickness of slices cut.

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David Wagner

Monday 4th of January 2021

No curing salt?

Jessica

Tuesday 5th of January 2021

Hi David - no curing salt! Curing salt mostly acts as a preservative. This is the freshest bacon you'll ever have. There's lots of salt in the mixture and you'll find the flavor second to none. You'll want to fry it up and eat it within a week or so in the fridge, or freeze it for later use.

Steve Spaulding

Monday 7th of December 2020

How can it be sugar-free, when you add applesauce… Doesn’t applesauce have natural sugar in it? From the Apple?

Jessica

Wednesday 9th of December 2020

Hi Steve - it is free from any added sugars. Naturally occurring sugars are not traditionally counted as added sugars in recipes. Hope that helps!

Adrian Malaryk

Saturday 5th of December 2020

Made this at the beginning of the week and finally got to taste it this morning - incredible. Thank you for sharing, I’m working through Whole30 and wasn’t able to find a suitable option at the grocery stores. Safe to say I’ll be making this for years to come!

Jessica

Saturday 5th of December 2020

Hi Adrian - I'm so glad you love it! We are spoiled and can't eat conventional bacon anymore because of it, haha! Enjoy!

Mariya

Saturday 11th of July 2020

Thank you for the recipe. What kind of salt are you using?

Jessica

Saturday 11th of July 2020

We use Morton's kosher salt!

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