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Home Cured Bacon Without Nitrates

Let’s not kill anyone, shall we? Always a fine goal when making any tasty treat. The risk with this recipe is higher than most, (primarily because of botulism) so keep that in mind, along with the fact that I’m not a professional, and basically don’t know what the hell I’m talking about. There. If that didn’t scare you off, then you must be my kind of people. Now let’s make some delicious bacon, without the (allegedly) terrifyingly unhealthy nitrates and nitrites!

UPDATE: Nitrates and Nitrites probably not bad for you. I’ve left the recipe as is, but noted how you could add nitrite if you wish. For what it is worth, I usually do use nitrates these days.

UPDATE 2: People! I’m getting a lot of push-back in the comments about the safety of this no-nitrates recipe. People talking about botulism and other terrors. If you follow my recipe, you don’t need to worry about food safety.  Here is how I convince myself that it is safe: Is there anything in this recipe that someone wouldn’t happily do when smoking a pork shoulder or bbq ribs? Holding a piece of meat in a properly cool fridge for 5-7 days is no problem. Smoking a piece of meat for 2-3 hours is no problem. Just because it is “cured” and we call it bacon, doesn’t make it magically dangerous. Critics, if it makes you feel better, don’t call it bacon. Call it “salty-smoked pork belly”. Feel better?

Tastes like bacon, but more so

My bacon is different than bacon you can buy at the store, and not just because it doesn’t have nitrates. (BTW, that “uncured” bacon you’ve been buying at the grocery store? Packed with nitrates.) Since we are using salt, sugar, and smoke as actual preservatives, rather than just flavorings, this bacon is much more intensely flavored that modern bacon. Since we are dry curing, the bacon loses water in the process, which concentrates and intensifies flavors compared to store bacon, which often has brine added to it to make it heavier! The upshot is that this bacon tastes more salty, more smoky, more intense, more “bacony”, and since it has less water in it, doesn’t spatter, pop, and curl as much during cooking either! Let’s cure some bacon!

Our cure: salt, sugar, pepper, hold the nitrates

But first, some debunking. Most people think of  nitrates and nitrites as modern preservatives of today’s unhealthy processed food. In fact, nitrates have been added to bacon and ham as part of the curing process since at least the 16th century. Back then, it was added in the form of “saltpeter” which is potassium nitrate that has been sweated out by rocks, and crystalized on the surface. Saltpeter is mostly potassium nitrate, but some of it is transformed during the cure to nitrite, which is the real preservative agent. On top of that, nitrates and nitrites preserve the pink color of the meat, and slow oxidation of fats, which prevents the meat from becoming rancid. So why not use this amazing stuff that improves shelf life, reduces the risk of botulism, preserves color, and slows oxidation (rancidity)? Well, a lot of people think they are completely horrible for our health, and some people think they taste bad. Simple as that. Personally, I’m not scared of a few nitrates, nitrates occur naturally in some leafy greens, in celery, and in our saliva, and they. But you still don’t want nitrates!  Luckily there is an established tradition of curing meat with salt and smoke which uses no nitrates, and that is what we shall do.

Trimming Bacon

Gnarly, Dude

So. What the hell is a preservative? A preservative is basically anything that makes your food less tasty and hospitable to microbes. Nitrates and nitrates basically poison bacteria that would otherwise grow on the meat. Another method is to smoke the meat, which deposits a layer of compounds on the meat which inhibit bacterial growth, and incidentally, taste yummy. Another, very important method is to reduce the moisture in the meat, since bacteria need moisture to grow. This can be done by dehydration, as in jerky. Or we can draw moisture out of the meat by creating an osmotic gradient using  salt and/or sugar. We will use salt, sugar, smoke, and time to cure our bacon.

This is not the time to skimp on salt

Let me take a moment to bitch about modern “bacon”. They inject a brine of salt, sugar, nitrates, nitrites, some smoke flavor, and who knows what else into pork bellies with hundreds of tiny needles. They let it “cure” for a couple of hours, and then package it up. That is that, enough said.

Do not be alarmed if you find a nipple on your bacon

Sadly, this kind of smoking isn’t good for you either

Dry Cured Bacon

With Advice from Uncle Hall and the great book Charcuterie by Ruhlman & Polcyn

Cut a pork belly into manageable chunks of around 3-5 lb, trimmed of loose bits, and squared it off. Make a mixture of (by weight) of 2.5 parts salt (kosher adheres very nicely), 1 part sugar, then add a generous grind of black pepper. If you are using pink salt (aka curing salt which is 6.25% nitrite), add 7 tsp per lb of your cure mixture. Rub the mixture thoroughly all over the belly, working it firmly onto every surface and crevice. You really want to coat every surface very thickly, or else the salt may not draw enough moisture from the meat.

Put the proto-bacon on a rack, into the fridge. A quick safety note; you must keep your bacon under 38º the entire cure! It will release a lot of juice, which is good, this type of curing depends on reducing the moisture of the meat. After a couple of days (at most), it will stop releasing juices, and for convenience, you can throw it in a ziploc bag, with a sprinkling of additional cure mixture, and leave it in the fridge for another 5-7days. At the end of the week, give it a thorough rub down in fresh water, even letting it soak for a few minutes in fresh water, then pat it dry. Let it sit uncovered in the fridge one more night to let the surface dry a bit, which will help it form a pellicle. A pellicle is simply a coating of protein that comes to the surface and dries out a bit. Allegedly, this helps smoke adhere better, and improves shelf life by keeping oxygen away from the fat. YMMV.

I do my smoking, grilling and BBQ in my beloved Primo ceramic grill, but honestly, any grill or smoker skillfully handled will work fine.  Get a small fire going in your grill/BBQ, far to one side of the grill. Get the temperature of the grill stabilized around 200º. Sprinkle some soaked hickory chips over the coals, and then also put a foil packet of soaked chips (with a few holes poked in the top) on top of the coals. On the extreme opposite side of the grill lay out your pork belly, then put the lid on the BBQ, positioning the holes in the lid over the belly. Keep monitoring the temp of the grill, and let it smoke for 2-3 hours, removing it when the temperature of the meat reaches 155-165º. You may have to adjust the fire, add a few more coals, more chips, another foil packet, etc. Do what you have to do to keep it producing smoke, and the temperature around 200º.

Once smoked, remove the bacon, and optionally, remove the skin before letting it cool on a rack. The skin cooks up a little tougher and crunchier than the rest of the bacon, some people like it, some don’t. I leave it on. If you don’t want the skin, it pulls off reasonably well while the bacon is still warm, or you can use a thin bladed knife to carve the skin off the slab. Refrigerate, or freeze if you want to keep it for more than a few days. Technically, it is cured, and should keep very well, but freezing doesn’t hurt the bacon, and it is better to be safe than sorry.

To cook the bacon, slice the bacon very, very thinly, which is necessary because this bacon is saltier and more intense than what you are likely used to. Cook it it a pan, appreciating how readily it browns, and without all the popping, curling, and carrying on that wet-cured factory bacon does. Enjoy!



  1. Roger wrote:

    Gotta say that picture of your bacon after it’s smoked looks beautiful.

    Thursday, March 24, 2011 at 9:27 pm | Permalink
  2. cedar wrote:

    Thanks, Roger! Tastes pretty good too.

    Thursday, March 24, 2011 at 10:24 pm | Permalink
  3. Joe wrote:

    I’ve been thinking about trying to make my own bacon for a while; I think you just convinced me to do it!

    Tuesday, March 29, 2011 at 10:57 pm | Permalink
  4. Bunny wrote:

    I found you by googling “curing bacon without sugar recipe” As a new diabetic and an avid home bacon maker I’m determined! I’m pleased you don’t use nitrates or nitrites, but am wondering if there’s a way to skip the sugar?

    Before I was cursed with this diabetes thing I’d often add maple sugar for flavor – do you think it will do what sugar does on its own?

    I bought a gorgeous pasture raised pork belly at the farmer’s market this morning. I’m going to try using coconut sugar which is really law on the glycemic index chart. Do you have any thoughts about this Cedar?

    Lastly, what do you think of the stove top smoker made by Cameron’s ? I have one, I love it, but have never learned about controlling the heat when using it.

    Thank you so much!

    Sunday, June 26, 2011 at 10:35 am | Permalink
  5. cedar wrote:

    Absolutely, skip the sugar. Both sugar and salt draw water out of the meat, yours will simply be a bit saltier and not as sweet. Your final product may be quite salty (which is fine, and rather traditional) but make sure you slice it very thin, and eat it in smaller servings than commercial bacon.

    Thursday, June 30, 2011 at 9:32 am | Permalink
  6. Rebecca wrote:

    You can totally skip the sugar. We generally just use salt and herbs.

    Thursday, June 30, 2011 at 9:20 am | Permalink
  7. Aussie wrote:

    Thank you very much for sharing your insights into bacon making. The internet community is richer for having your contribution 🙂

    Having already made a couple of attempts at bacon making, with the second attempt showing promising results, I can well appreciate your advice and look forward to my next batch being great.

    Thursday, July 28, 2011 at 4:21 am | Permalink
  8. John wrote:

    This sounds like the perfect recipe! I wanna try it very soon since where i live buying pork belly is quite common, for a grilled or as we call it litson(litchon) liempo or large slices of pork belly. But can i skimp on the smoking? because i don’t own a smoker, and it’s way too expensive here, and i don’t have the time to build one for myself. Can’t i just when it is done curing can i just cut and freeze? And how long will it last frozen?

    Sunday, September 25, 2011 at 4:20 am | Permalink
  9. cedar wrote:

    John, give it a shot, even without smoking, just be sure you freeze it right away. Frozen, and well wrapped, it should keep for months, or even a year. You might even try a little liquid smoke in the salt mix. Liquid smoke is a natural flavor, and is basically just very smokey water.

    Sunday, September 25, 2011 at 10:10 pm | Permalink
  10. John wrote:

    thanks Cedar! liquid smoke huh? well i could try that, because i love bacon, and i am trying to find better alternatives to some foodstuffs around the house and i think that this will do great with some of my homemade sourdough bread!

    Thursday, September 29, 2011 at 1:09 am | Permalink
  11. John wrote:

    hey cedar, john again sorry if this seems a bit like spa,m but i re-read your article and i think i wanna try and experiment. 2 bellies 2 cure mixes one with and another without nitrites/nitrates. if i find any real gigantic differences i’ll post them here.(just “the botulism worry bug” also does cooking remove the toxin? this is just to settle my nerves.)

    Thursday, September 29, 2011 at 4:48 am | Permalink
  12. cedar wrote:

    Cooking does not remove the toxin!

    Wednesday, December 21, 2011 at 11:57 am | Permalink
  13. Anon wrote:

    Your bacon does have nitrates in it. The particulate matter from the smoke has naturally occurring nitrates. It’s what gives BBQ that smoke ring (which is simply cured meat).

    And if you’re worried about nitrates better check your “nitrate-free bacon” from the store. Usually producers will use celery powder which has a lot of nitrates in it. But they can claim to be nitrate free simply because they added a precursor.

    I’m just writing this for honestly. I found this website because I’m trying to make bacon without nitrates (for flavor not to avoid cancer*). Problem is, you’ll always get some with the smoke.

    *-nitrites (N-nitroso compounds), at the level acceptable in food, haven’t shown to have much affect. I’ve put a link to such a study from the IJC as “my website.”

    Saturday, November 26, 2011 at 9:23 am | Permalink
  14. Anon wrote:

    Sorry, link didn’t work, here’s the byline info:

    Risk of colorectal and other gastro-intestinal cancers after exposure to nitrate, nitrite and N-nitroso compounds: a follow-up study
    Paul Knekt,1,2,*, Ritva Järvinen3, Jan Dich4, Timo Hakulinen5,6

    It’s the International Journal of Cancer, V. 80, Issue 6, pp. 852-56. 15 March 1999.

    Again, not trying to say nitrates are great for you and everyone should eat them, but just that this idea that they are “horribly unhealthy” has never been shown other than by anecdote. I’m not telling you to love ’em, but you can relax a little.

    Saturday, November 26, 2011 at 9:26 am | Permalink
  15. peg wrote:

    Can this be done without the sugar? I have a client who is allergic to everything…
    Thanks, feel free to reply to my email. BTW your site is fabulous.

    Saturday, January 21, 2012 at 6:34 am | Permalink
  16. cedar wrote:

    Yes, it will work fine without sugar, though home cured bacon (particularly without any sugar) is a lot saltier than store-bacon.

    Tuesday, January 24, 2012 at 4:34 pm | Permalink
  17. Marijke wrote:

    Can I skip the smoking part at all? I live in the city…

    Friday, January 27, 2012 at 12:47 pm | Permalink
  18. cedar wrote:

    I’m sure it will work without smoke, but it might not taste exactly like bacon! That would be more like pancetta. You might try a little liquid smoke in the salt mix. Liquid smoke is a natural flavor, and is basically just very smokey water.

    Friday, January 27, 2012 at 1:08 pm | Permalink
  19. Dirk wrote:

    Dude, you worry too much. If you’re refrigerating the whole time what’s the botulism risk? My wife mocked me, saying, “Yeah, cause we can’t just buy bacon.” Then she tasted it. First try, killer. And waaaaayyyy better than the commercial stuff. Making a 10 pound piece this weekend. Big ups. You’re on speed dial.

    Sunday, February 26, 2012 at 8:02 pm | Permalink
  20. ZIADA wrote:

    I live in Kenya and tried to make bacon at home but i seem to have put too much salt. What can i do to reduce the salt in it.

    Saturday, March 10, 2012 at 7:57 am | Permalink
  21. Lynn wrote:

    have you used pork loin in place of the belly?

    Wednesday, April 11, 2012 at 2:01 pm | Permalink
  22. cedar wrote:

    I wouldn’t. Pork loin isn’t fatty enough.

    Thursday, May 3, 2012 at 9:28 am | Permalink
  23. Selwyn wrote:

    You may not be an expert but your method is almost the same as my fathers which he used in the 50s.
    Your method is the best for both smoking and curing.keep up the good work.

    Tuesday, May 22, 2012 at 5:07 pm | Permalink
  24. Jesse wrote:

    So, I’m confused, I’m sure this is tasty… but I’m learning about nitrates/nitrites, and they seem to be naturally occurring.

    I’m sure home-made is better, and glorious, but are you certain there are no “nitrates” or “nitrites” if those things are derivatives of salt & common curing methods?

    Wednesday, May 23, 2012 at 8:35 pm | Permalink
  25. cedar wrote:

    There are certainly no added nitrates.

    Friday, June 29, 2012 at 12:02 pm | Permalink
  26. Kevin wrote:

    Hi cedar,

    Thanks for this post! I have some pork belly that’s been sitting curing for a touch over a week. Before I slow-roast it, are the temperature references in fahrenheit or centigrade?



    Sunday, May 27, 2012 at 9:25 pm | Permalink
  27. cedar wrote:


    Friday, June 29, 2012 at 12:01 pm | Permalink
  28. michelle wrote:

    hey, trying this for the first time, something i’ve always wanted to do, wish i lived on a farm, i wondered if i can cure the bacon without the skin to start with, or do i need to wait to remove it after it is smoked, i don’t see the need for leaving it on, but like i said this is the first time, thanks

    Thursday, July 26, 2012 at 12:41 pm | Permalink
  29. tim wrote:

    I vaccum packed mine and also added maple syrup.

    I had to cure for 2 weeks as I didnt have time to smoke it..

    Upon opening the package it doesnt smell very good, is this normal?

    Saturday, September 15, 2012 at 8:10 am | Permalink
  30. cedar wrote:

    Two weeks sounds a bit long, and if it smelled funky, I’d pass. Next time, try it for 7 days, and don’t skimp on the salt! If you don’t put enough salt on, then you seal it up so juices can’t drain away, you might be making a bacteria factory. Bummer

    Thursday, September 20, 2012 at 5:34 pm | Permalink
  31. Mark wrote:

    I noticed your bacon in the photo was very pink. I thought that was only achieved by using pink salt or nitrates or nitrites.
    You can achieve the typical pink color by using only kosher salt?

    Thursday, September 20, 2012 at 4:19 pm | Permalink
  32. cedar wrote:

    I was a little surprised at how pink it turned out too, but it isn’t quite grocery store pink. Some other batches haven’t turned out quite so pink. Some nitrite compounds are naturally formed through curing and smoking, so maybe that is why.

    Thursday, September 20, 2012 at 5:36 pm | Permalink
  33. Kim wrote:

    Thanks for your website, we kill our own pigs and if this works we will be self sufficient in bacon too. We are going to use our BBQ to smoke. It is gas, i was going to put the hickory chip packets on the plate then put the pork on a higher rack, will this work? Do you have any tips?

    Monday, September 24, 2012 at 3:30 am | Permalink
  34. cedar wrote:

    I don’t have much experience with smoking with gas, but it sounds like a good plan!

    Monday, September 24, 2012 at 12:31 pm | Permalink
  35. Kim wrote:

    OK that doesn’t fill me with confidence should I try a wood burning pizza over? which means I will have to share my bacon with my brother!I just read not to use a metal container is this correct? at present my pork belly is in the fridge in a covered baking dish on a metal rack.

    Monday, September 24, 2012 at 11:18 pm | Permalink
  36. Renee wrote:

    This looks great! I have some fresh cut sides from a half a pig we got last winter and I’m finally going to try curing it. Had a safety question, however…I took some of the meat out of our deep freeze a little over a week ago expecting to cure it last week, but I’m finally getting around to it now. Would it still be safe to cure and eat? It is a pig from organic farming methods, if that makes any difference. Thanks for any help!

    Monday, October 8, 2012 at 7:43 pm | Permalink
  37. Renee wrote:

    As per previous comment…Should have thought to mention that it has been in the refrigerator that whole time, not out at room temp!

    Monday, October 8, 2012 at 7:45 pm | Permalink
  38. Pati wrote:

    I’m glad I stumbled on this website. I have been successful at making beef bacon, I cannot eat pork, for a couple years now. Our local meat market sells a powder cure with the sodium nitrate added and I have been looking for an alternative. I use a brisket, coat it and leave it in our shed (in colder temps) for 10 days and smoke in our smoker. I have also smoked on a charcoal grill (hard to control temp though) and read about smoking on a gas grill. It has turned out very well, less fat than the pork alternative, not as card-boardy as the turkey version. Everyone that has tried it has liked it. I will try your recipe and let you know how it turns out, I’m hoping it doesn’t make it too dry (since there is less fat). Thanks for the recipe!

    Wednesday, November 21, 2012 at 11:49 am | Permalink
  39. Mike wrote:

    Your image of a smoker has the caption “Sadly, this kind of smoking isn’t good for you either”. What did you mean by that? We love our smoked meats and are anxious to give your bacon technique a shot.

    Thursday, December 20, 2012 at 3:52 am | Permalink
  40. cedar wrote:

    Mike, some people think that smoked food is linked to stomach cancer. Even if it is true, some things are just worth it.

    Tuesday, December 25, 2012 at 8:11 pm | Permalink
  41. Allison from Oz wrote:

    Hi Cedar, just love your bacon, thanks so much for sharing that, you need to write a Natural Preserving Cookbook! Do you have a safe recipe for Hams?

    Wednesday, December 26, 2012 at 12:36 am | Permalink
  42. Shirley wrote:

    Hi, I’ve had a go at curing two belly joints. One larger than the other, both at the same time.

    I used salt, sugar and black treacle/molasses stuff. I left them 7 days in separate bags, turning once each day. Undid the bags today, drained the liquid away, and had a smell at all…which I know to be a good thing ( I raw feed my dog and cat so I know bad meat when I smell it). However, I didn’t use nitrites, my whole reason for self-curing, I don’t want to eat that stuff, but I did see something that claimed risk of bot’ism if not used, so I decided to play safe whilst risking it and rubbed both joints all over with a couple of drops of Oregano Oil and a dash of water to make it spread out. Then I decided to boil the big joint, just in case. But with the small joint, to continue my first attempt at bacon, I have added another layer of salt/sugar, no molasses this time, set it on a rack over a drip tray and put it back in the fridge (which is set at 3 degrees/37.4 degrees) and keep an eye on it to see how it goes. Both joints still felt wet-ish today, so I am hoping the small joint will start to feel dry in a day or two in the fridge.

    Any comments on this?

    Thursday, January 10, 2013 at 8:04 am | Permalink
  43. Shirley wrote:

    Well, I haven’t seen any responses to my earlier posting, but I went ahead with my plans…the boiled ‘bacon’ joint was used to my a kind of asian style stir-fried pork dish and the meat was lovely.

    The small joint went back to drip-dry on a rack in the fridge, with extra salt/sugar added, and I just took it out today, and rinsed, then soaked it for a while in a bowl of cold water. Dried it off, sliced it and fried it…it looks like bacon, smells like bacon, tastes like bacon. Beautiful.


    BTW, I used Sea Salt.

    Saturday, January 12, 2013 at 3:52 am | Permalink
  44. Koty Russell wrote:

    I use dogs to catch hog to eat, i got a big fat sow and am going to try your method. Sounds like you know the best method.

    Sunday, January 13, 2013 at 6:18 pm | Permalink
  45. Brent wrote:

    @ Shirley, glad it turned out. I just found the thread looking for and answer to what to do with my presliced pork belly. The butcher made a mistake and sent my pork belly presliced but uncured. I am going to try a quick cure on the slices I like the 2.5 parts salt to one part sugar. I think I will use brown so I can get a little of that molases flavor,and then cold smoke it with apple wood.

    Monday, January 14, 2013 at 8:04 pm | Permalink
  46. Will wrote:

    This recipe is absolutely NOT safe. You do NOT want to screw around with botulism.

    You CAN make bacon without nitrates, but it’s not safe to smoke it. You should instead roast it in an oven at low temp to ~155F internal temperature. There’s still a risk of botulism with this method, but less so.

    Also, if you don’t use nitrates then it’s not real bacon, it’s more of a ham-like product.

    Finally, as has been mentioned above, there’s absolutely no evidence that nitrates from cured meats is bad for human health. In fact, our salivary glands produce tons of nitrates, and there’s more of them in leafy greens like spinach than in bacon.

    Tuesday, January 22, 2013 at 10:06 am | Permalink
  47. cedar wrote:

    Will, I’m afraid I simply don’t agree. First of all, I specify the cure should be at or below 38º for the entire time, so no danger there. Second, it only smokes for a couple of hours, and at a temperature higher than is friendly for botulism growth. Even if a few bacteria grow (which I doubt) toxins will not have time to accumulate. The meat does transition through the “danger zone” temperatures of course, but so does ribs or smoked pork shoulder. Finally even if a few spores develop (doubtful), once finished and sliced, bacon is cooked to very high temperatures before being consumed, so spores will be heat killed.

    Now, of course there are no guarantees, and certainly using nitrites is safer than not using nitrites when it comes to botulism. But I don’t agree at all that this is reckless recipe from a food-safety standpoint. I’d be worried if it was a bigger piece of meat that spent lots and lots of time smoking at lower temps. Why would you imagine this recipe is more dangerous than smoking a pork shoulder?

    Wednesday, January 23, 2013 at 3:12 pm | Permalink
  48. Will wrote:

    Perhaps my comment was a little alarmist, but consider a few things:

    1) Botulism is very dangerous. Why would you ever put yourself at risk of it, even if that risk is very low?
    2) Since nitrites & nitrates are absolutely not unhealthy, what is the point of excluding nitrites when it can eliminate that risk (even it is very small)? Further discussions on the safety of nitrites and nitrates:
    3) Your bellies might have taken 2 hours to smoke, but if you’re doing very thick bellies it could easily take longer. The bellies in the photos are not very thick.
    4) Without nitrites it’s not really bacon, although it can still be tasty

    Anyhow, I feel that this should at least be mentioned/warned since I’m sure there are many people Google’ing how to cure bacon without nitrites (because they’re misinformed that they’re unhealthy)

    Wednesday, January 23, 2013 at 3:30 pm | Permalink
  49. cedar wrote:
    1. People who think nitrites are bad for you may think the very low risk of botulism is worth it.
    2. I don’t think nitrites are likely bad either, but lots of people do. Personal choice and all that.
    3. Even at 4-5 hours, I can’t imagine anything going wrong. It is very common to smoke a shoulder for 20 hours, and nobody freaks about that.
    4. I was surprised at how pink and bacony this was, even compared to when I do use nitrites. I expected it to be more like a smoked roast, but the bacony part came through. I wonder if the nitrogen dioxide from the smoke caused some sort of nitrite-like compounds to form?

    As for the disclaimer, I’ll add those links that you suggested, and people can make up their own minds.

    Wednesday, January 23, 2013 at 4:22 pm | Permalink
  50. Will Glennon wrote:

    Needless to say I love your site and thought I would share this with you. I have wondered like you for many years why people continue to put up with commercial bought bacon and a little while back got it into my head to try to do something about it. Bottom line as you know curing your own bacon and smoking it is actually just plain simple. So I concluded that what is keeping people bound in tasteless ignorance is 1. lack of information, 2. lack of confidence, 3. lack of the proper tools and a big part of number three is someway to separate the pork rind from the belly and then make nice clean slices without mutilating your slab of bacon and without buying an $800 meat slicer.
    The result of all that thinking was a lot of playing around with different designs until I can up with something I think both works well and is beautiful as well. I have launched it on Kickstarter where I am trying to raise some funds to start cranking out these “Making Bacon at Home” kits. You can take a look at: I did get a very nice Tweet from Michael Rhulman which as you can imagine was very encouraging.
    The whole idea is to try to reach those who are interested but either uninformed or just too busy to do all the leg work themselves and then hook them with the taste of their first homemade bacon at which point they hopefully will get serious about exploding the world of real food.
    In the meantime any help you can provide letting people know about this effort would of course be appreciated.

    Wednesday, February 6, 2013 at 3:55 pm | Permalink
  51. cedar wrote:

    Will, to me, cutting off the rind (or easier, pulling it off while it is still warm after the smoker) and slicing are pretty easy, but I’m all for a device if it will help people gain the confidence they need to dive in! Looks like a cool invention you have! Best of luck!

    Wednesday, February 6, 2013 at 10:44 pm | Permalink
  52. Aircastles wrote:

    I’ve read many recipes for making bacon at home and most all use more pink salt than the label recommends on my pink salt (Instacure #1) which says 1 level tsp per 5 lbs pork belly. Is it ok to use the recommended amount of pink salt instead of what’s called for in the recipe?

    Tuesday, March 5, 2013 at 5:53 am | Permalink
  53. C Schroeder wrote:

    @ Aircastle
    You should use the amount listed with your instacure #1. The reason is because bacon tends to reach higher temps while cooking so the legal limit is 200 ppm for bacon as compared to 600 ppm for other cured foods such as ham. (Sodium Nitrite, Instacure #1 only forms carcinogens at very high temps.)

    Friday, March 8, 2013 at 7:24 am | Permalink
  54. C Schroeder wrote:

    As for making bacon without using Instacure #1 aka Prague Powder (which only contains nitrites and no nitrates)…

    Any one visiting this site needs to read (Making Quality Meats and Sausages at Home) or one of the other quality books on the subject. This book is nearly 700 in depth pages and You will understand why you must use the proper cure (#1 or #2) to safely make quality cured bacon or other cured foods and the safety concerns and studies done on nitrites and nitrates.

    The information below is from reading books by experts (who don’t like nitrates any more then the rest of us but realize it is NECESSARY for the safe curing process. According to experts who have studied the history of curing and the health affects of nitrites and nitrates in our diet. It is NOT JUST BOTULISM you are preventing and killing by using nitrites, it is the other aerobic Pathogenic Bacteria common in food prep areas such as E. Coli, Staph, Listeria, Salmonella, and the naturally occurring food spoilage bacteria found in all meats. It is not just the time in the smoker going through the danger zone, it is the extended stay in the fridge and the care of the meat before it came into your possession that you need to be concerned about. In fact many food spoilage bacteria grow well at fridge temps, (if you don’t believe me, leave a pound of meat in your fridge and see how long it lasts). While salt slows the growth of bacteria, it doesn’t stop it or kill it.

    As far eating nitrates, According to the aforementioned book, if you buy your vegetables in a grocery store, and you have a 1/4 # spinach salad and a 1/4# potato with your cured meat main course (such as a brat or other sausage) you are getting close to the same amount OR MORE nitrates from the spinach and potatoes than from the cured meat. If that meat is properly cured bacon you are getting way more from the veggies. If you are concerned about the amount of nitrates which can form nitrosamines (which are carcinogenic), again stats from the aforementioned book, (it is more dangerous to eat vegetables on a regular basis than sausage (another food cured with nitrites)

    As for the carcinogen (nitrosamine) formed by nitrites when cooked it requires a temp of around 600 degrees.

    An added benefit of proper curing of bacon is that you can then PROPERLY cold smoke it (temps below 80 degrees with thinner smoke (less nitrites going into your food) off and on over a day or two) which I believe creates a much tastier and consistent product. And you don’t need as much investment for cold smoking, it can even be done in a cardboard box!!

    I hope I haven’t been rude, but as someone who worked in a poultry slaughterhouse and has read alot on the subject of safe food prep and making your own meat products at home, I feel your advocating a very unsafe practice and might as well tell people to quit using child safety seats.

    After all what are the chances, right?

    Friday, March 8, 2013 at 8:43 am | Permalink
  55. cedar wrote:

    C Schroeder,
    I appreciate your concerns, and if you read the recipe I give, I discuss nitrites, pink salt, etc, and I recommend their use. However, lots of people are dead set against using pink salt. This recipe can help those folks out. As long as you are extremely fastidious about cleanliness and temperatures it can be done safely. If you follow my temperatures and times, this is not much different from a food safety standpoint from smoking some ribs.

    Wednesday, April 10, 2013 at 4:39 pm | Permalink
  56. Grant Arthur wrote:


    Has anyone tried curing bacon with malt and salt. I have been curing bacon with brown sugar and salt (50/50) for some time, but was thinking about replacing the brown sugar with malt powder.

    I don’t use nitrates/nitrites and find that I need a bit of sugar with the salt to get the flavour I want.

    I have used malt in home brewing and wondered if it could replace the sugar for something different.

    Any commnents welcome.



    Monday, March 11, 2013 at 2:50 am | Permalink
  57. Aircastles wrote:

    Thanks for the info. I had already started my bacon when I found the discrepancy between the recipe I was using and the instructions on the pink salt. I decided to use the amount recommended on the label of Instacure. Bacon is going into the smoker this morning. My sample before smoking tasted good so here’s hoping I don’t mess it up now!!!

    Wednesday, March 13, 2013 at 7:21 am | Permalink
  58. cedar wrote:

    AIRCASTLES, my directions don’t specify how much pink salt to use by the weight of the pork. Instead I specify how much pink salt to use per pound of cure. The cure is then rubbed thickly on the pork belly. There may well be (and usually is) plenty of cure left over for next time, so all the pink salt that goes into the cure doesn’t end up on the pork.

    Wednesday, April 10, 2013 at 4:34 pm | Permalink
  59. cedar wrote:

    GRANT ARTHUR, no idea!

    Wednesday, April 10, 2013 at 4:39 pm | Permalink
  60. Grant Arthur wrote:

    Hi CEDAR

    Thanks for responding.

    I did try one batch with pure glucose and one batch with light malt. Both came out really well. I also added some celery salt to the mixture.

    The malt added a bit of flavour but, more importantly, stopped the bacon tasting too salty.

    I will keep trying new things.




    Sunday, April 14, 2013 at 12:39 am | Permalink
  61. hweathers wrote:

    my daughter gets migrains from the nitrites in bacon. I’m hoping she can eat this cause we all love it just don’t cook it much because of the severe headaches. Thanks.

    Tuesday, May 7, 2013 at 2:18 pm | Permalink
  62. Anonymous wrote:

    Just finished my first batch of homemade nitrate free bacon after comparing your site and others, and I have to say that it is the best bacon we have ever had! Thanks for the tips!

    Sunday, August 4, 2013 at 3:58 pm | Permalink
  63. Kris wrote:

    I’ve been smoking salt/sugar cured bacon for 4 years with no problems. If I was making something that wanted to hang for 3 months at cellar temperature, yeah, I’d want some nitrite. But I feel perfectly comfortable with 5 days salt/sugar in the fridge. Just cured an experimental piece of pork belly in Vietnamese caramel sauce, fish sauce, black pepper & garlic. There will be more such experiments; it is DELICIOUS.

    Saturday, August 17, 2013 at 12:30 pm | Permalink
  64. Jim wrote:


    Could this be used to make Ham too? and could you skip the smoking part as I have put my BBQ away for the winter?


    Monday, October 7, 2013 at 4:43 am | Permalink
  65. zootalaws wrote:

    Your comment about not using pork loin because it isn’t fatty enough is confusing. The brine doesn’t penetrate the fat hardly at all. And British/Canadian back bacon is basically pork loin with a bit of belly attached – but mostly loin.

    I make bacon using a similar process to yours using pork loin all the time – half the price of belly here (Chinese country – they want the bellies and not the loin, so the price of belly is much greater) and it is great. Just last week I put down a half-belly, half loin batch and they are progressing very similarly.

    I smoke sometimes – but sometimes want the ‘pancetta’ style for cooking with, without the smoke. Haven’t noticed any difference in keepability – it never lasts long enough round here 🙂

    A tip for the no-sugar cure, soak your bacon in fresh water for four hours, change the water and soak for another hour – it will get rid of a lot of the saltiness.

    Thanks for your article, very informative.

    Tuesday, November 12, 2013 at 5:11 am | Permalink
  66. cedar wrote:

    I didn’t mean to imply that it wouldn’t work without the fat. I meant that I wouldn’t recommend it because fattier cuts are a a more delicious choice.

    Tuesday, December 31, 2013 at 11:25 am | Permalink
  67. Ron wrote:

    Hi. Wonderful site and great ideas. I understand all except you did not mention how you store it in the fridge. You you put it in a zip lock plastic bag and massage and flip every day or do you put it on a rack over a drain pan? Covered or uncovered? Could you please go into detail on this part? Thanks.

    Wednesday, November 20, 2013 at 11:01 am | Permalink
  68. cedar wrote:

    I understand all except you did not mention how you store it in the fridge. You you put it in a zip lock plastic bag and massage and flip every day or do you put it on a rack over a drain pan? Covered or uncovered? Could you please go into detail on this part? Thanks.

    I put it on a rack so it can drain for a couple of days, then I transfer it to a ziploc. Turn every day or two after that.

    Tuesday, December 31, 2013 at 11:27 am | Permalink
  69. Jeff wrote:

    I’ve read this article and post and I’m unsure how you can talk about using Nitrates in curing bacon. It is illegal in Canada and the USA to make bacon with nitrates. You use nitrites, which after a period of 4 to 7 days of curing dissipates to a point where they are almost un-measurable since they are destroyed by the natural bacteria in the meat.during the curing process.

    Saturday, January 4, 2014 at 5:57 pm | Permalink
  70. Merry wrote:

    I am excited to try this. We will butcher our two pigs this weekend. I must say about the nitrate/ nitrite issue, I believe it is like sodium laureth sulfate in our shampoos, tooth paste, soaps, & other products…in small doses, it does little harm, but it is unfortunately in everything! In fact we eat some nitrate/nitrite in everyday foods, however in our consumer nation we ingest so very much of the stuff, that it become a harmful amount. Therefore it is advisable to find alternatives, so that we maybe healthy and have our bacon too 🙂

    Wednesday, January 8, 2014 at 11:34 am | Permalink
  71. Bruce and Cody Lane wrote:

    WOW! We have read your site and am excited to try it, but we have a smoker my dad made (electric and thermostatically controlled) about the size of a frig. and was wondering if it was a safe way to smoke our bacon.?? All the remarks were read, as well, and we will copy your recipe, simple and easy and sounds wonderful! Just want to make sure we do it correctly and safely and you have given that reassurance. Thank you for sharing your recipe.

    Sunday, January 26, 2014 at 2:57 pm | Permalink
  72. Anonymous wrote:

    for salt and sugar what is equal to parts is
    in ounces

    Saturday, April 5, 2014 at 11:15 am | Permalink
  73. Riverwood wrote:

    Just finished the cure and smoke and eating. Not dead yet! For 6 1/2 lb. of pork belly, used 1/2 cup of kosher salt, 1/4 cup dark brown sugar packed, 3/4 cup pure maple syrup and two Tbs of coarse ground black pepper. A little too salty but overall great flavor. I may cut back a tad on salt or try two 20 min. Soakings, changing water between soaking. Used Applewood chips.

    Saturday, April 5, 2014 at 5:38 pm | Permalink
  74. KEBAK wrote:

    Any suggestions on how to adapt your bacon recipe/techniques to work with uncured, but pre-sliced fresh side (which appears to also still have the skin on – came that way from butcher when ordered 1/2 pig from local farmer!?). I’m a curing/smoking newbie, but know that it’s customary to cure/smoke in slabs. Ideas on what to do with my 6# or so of pre-sliced, skin-on? Thanks much in advance for any advice/suggestions.

    Saturday, April 12, 2014 at 10:44 pm | Permalink
  75. Anonymous wrote:

    Nice Primo grill, I have one too!

    Sunday, April 27, 2014 at 4:30 pm | Permalink
  76. Heather wrote:

    I decided to try my hand at bacon and went to the butcher to ask for pink salt… he sold be a bag and off i went….. i get home and notice that the salt is in no way pink….. just yellowy salt color…. it is called PURE CURE…… has anyone heard of this or have i just wasted my time…… I used it anyway ….lol….

    Sunday, November 2, 2014 at 8:33 am | Permalink
  77. cedar wrote:

    Heather, I don’t know what “pure cure” or the yellow color is about, but you should be very careful. If you have pure sodium nitrate or nitrite, you could have added a dangerously high amount. Don’t just wing it, make sure you are using a curing salt with 6.25% sodium nitrite.

    Tuesday, November 11, 2014 at 4:55 pm | Permalink
  78. Anonymous wrote:

    “If you are using pink salt (aka curing salt which is 6.25% nitrite), add 7 tsp per lb of your cure mixture.” This level of cure could cause some serious damage! Idk if it was a typo, but 1 level tsp is recommended for 5 lbs of meat.

    Tuesday, February 3, 2015 at 1:42 pm | Permalink
  79. cedar wrote:

    It was not a typo. This technique is called the “salt box method” and does not require a measured amount of cure mixture.

    The key you are missing is that the entire batch of cure mixture is not used for one 5lb piece of bacon. One lb of cure mixture will make several batches of bacon. The recipe instructs you how to make 1 lb of cure, then instructs you to rub on a thick layer of that cure mixture. It never says to use the entire amount for 1 piece of bacon. In fact, it would be impossible to get that much cure to adhere to the outside of the belly slab. Not only do you not use it all to start with, but a lot ends up falling/dripping off during the process. Rest assured, you do not end up with 7tsp pink salt per slab of bacon, not by a long shot.

    The 1tsp pink salt per 5lb meat that you site is for times when the entire amount is added to the meat, such as injection or in sausage.

    Tuesday, February 3, 2015 at 2:26 pm | Permalink
  80. I just put my first batch down yesterday, will follow up here in 4-5 days when i move it from the pyrex to a zip top bag!!

    Saturday, April 18, 2015 at 7:59 am | Permalink
  81. Anonymous wrote:

    Yes. Please let us know. Have done one batch from start to frying pan and everyone loved it. Second batch stRts in a couple if weeks.

    Saturday, April 18, 2015 at 3:25 pm | Permalink
  82. Thank you, Cedar, for the recipe!! I thought my bacon & ham days were over. I’m severely allergic to nitrates!! 🙂 🙂

    Saturday, May 2, 2015 at 8:40 pm | Permalink
  83. Jon Johnson wrote:

    Great recipe! I used the scraps to make salt pork.

    Monday, May 25, 2015 at 12:51 pm | Permalink
  84. Pono. wrote:

    I just use the neck or scotch pork fillet as they call it over here. Usually lightly salt it and leave on rack for and hour or two as it releases quite a bit of water in that time and then rub more salt and brown sugar into it and then toss it in the fridge for a week. If your worried about how salty it gets then just cut a thin slice and cook it and if it’s too salty for you then soak in cold water for an hour and then try again but honestly once you have done it a few times you don’t even have to worry about that. Of course then I smoke it, the wife hates the smoke smell and I have to keep it outside in the fridge. If you wanted you could even hang it up like making coppa but just don’t leave it as long as coppa and then smoke it. As for smoking for three hours that does absolutely nothing in my opinion. I’d say after the first 20 minutes of smoking that all your doing is cooking it and nothing more unless of course your doing a cold smoke but that’s just my opinion of course (-:

    Thursday, June 11, 2015 at 7:28 am | Permalink
  85. Pono. wrote:

    Oh and if you wanted you could leave it for a few months hanging and it would turn into coppa and still no saltpetre/peter in it but who cares about all that botulism crap anyway, it’s not like we are in the 16th century. We got fridges now but even without fridges you can still safely make bacon and coppa and other hams with or without nitrates/trites as well as fish for that matter. People worry to much about all that crap then walk outside and jump in their damn cars and pollute the world or run someone over lmao or even go to MaDonalds…..just saying…

    Thursday, June 11, 2015 at 7:53 am | Permalink
  86. Kerrie wrote:

    I totally understand the need to use saltpeta before refrigeration was invented. How else could food have been preserved? But I don’t see how it is still necessary now. Is botulism or other food poisoning a real possibility still; even if modern safe food handling practices are adhered to? I’m a chef and was taught a method and recipe almost identical to yours and it tastes so much better than any product I’ve bought. But I’ve seen so many people’s comments; that are genuinely concerned about not using nitrates/nitrites. Make me wonder if what I’ve been taught is right or if people are just so used to seeing pink bacon and don’t want to change? Are they right to be concerned or is the fear stemming from ignorance?ke

    Sunday, July 12, 2015 at 4:25 am | Permalink
  87. I’ve made this style of bacon 4 or 5 times and I am convinced that no nitrates are needed in 2015. if you buy fresh pork belly from a good supplier, use a real fridge at 35-38 F, use an adequate amount of cure and let it cure long enough, you’re completely safe.

    Nitrates/saltpeter may have been needed in the days of iffy suppliers, poor refrigeration, and non standardized processes, but it 2015, Kosher salt, cracked pepper, light brown sugar, maple syrup and maybe some KEG steak spice, are all you need…

    Sunday, July 12, 2015 at 9:17 am | Permalink
  88. Jeff wrote:

    So then Mike, you’ve just made piece of smoked pork belly/porchetta, you’ve, not bacon. Nitrites are what gives bacon its basic flavour profile. Nitrites are not really needed for safety in this day and age, but if you want bacon you need nitrites!

    Sunday, July 12, 2015 at 10:55 am | Permalink
  89. I didn’t know there was a rule, but hey, what do i know compared to a guy who sells charcuterie for a living…

    All I know is that I when use 2, 1 KG slabs of fresh pork belly, my homemade cure, 7 days in the fridge, and then 3 hours on my Primo smoker at 225F, what it is that comes out looks, cooks, smells, tastes and eats like the best bacon ever, so hey, I ‘m good with it…

    Sunday, July 12, 2015 at 3:12 pm | Permalink
  90. Jeff wrote:

    Mike, think of it like this. If you wanted to buy chocolate Ice Cream, and I sold you Carob Frozen Yogurt, are you really getting chocolate Ice Cream? There are certain intrinsic components that make a product a “Product”. For instance, Country Ham made in the South is always made with salt only, rinsed and hung to dry in an environment that creates a unique product, just as Prosciutto is. So, to say Bacon is still bacon, even if we omit the unique ingredient (for whatever the reasons) that makes it bacon, is to accept Carob Frozen Yogurt as chocolate Ice Cream. We make a salt and pepper pork side that is then aged and smoked, but it ain’t bacon and we don’t sell it as bacon.

    Sunday, July 12, 2015 at 3:45 pm | Permalink
  91. I’m not selling it like you are, but I’ll tell you what, from now on, I will refer to it what I make as “cured and smoked pork belly” just to accurate, we wouldn’t want to annoy the bacon police, I’ve heard they can be nasty!!

    Sunday, July 12, 2015 at 3:56 pm | Permalink
  92. Anonymous wrote:

    Lol @ Mike Benninger call it what you like, if you want to call it bacon call it bacon coz I know I do and too bad what some know it all B#%%h thinks or tells me what I can or can’t call it or what it is or isn’t. In my house it’s bacon, anyone that enters my house and eats it is eating bacon hehe.

    Tuesday, July 14, 2015 at 1:49 am | Permalink
  93. Pono wrote:

    Oops forgot to put my name on the last post about know it alls telling you what you can call bacon.

    Tuesday, July 14, 2015 at 1:51 am | Permalink
  94. Pono wrote:

    Blast now i’m hungry for Carob Frozen Yogurt, the best chocolate ice cream you buy I reckon (-:

    Tuesday, July 14, 2015 at 9:05 am | Permalink
  95. @Pono….I did some checking, and according to the FDA, nitrates are part of the bacon making process. What it doesn’t say is that its not bacon UNLESS there are nitrates, so we’ll give Jeff a pass on this, he does sell bacon for a living…

    Wednesday, July 15, 2015 at 1:21 pm | Permalink
  96. Jeff wrote:

    Wow Pono, you are just too eloquent for me . . . “some know it all B#%%h thinks”. Your level of understanding and comprehension is phenomenal.

    There are actually laws that dictate what and where certain foods can be made?Do you know that you can’t call sparkling wine made outside of Champagne France, or Parmigiana if its cheese made in Wisconsin.

    This article is about “Home Cured Bacon Without Nitrates”. The FDA in the USA as well as Health Canada have outlawed/prohibited the use of NITRATES in the making/curing of bacon. You can only use NITRITES. They are not the same and cannot be used interchangeably when making bacon or any other product for sale.

    I make Salumi and Charcuterie. I sell it also. I follow the laws of land, hence the production requirements and naming conventions. My livelihood depends upon these parameters. The problems within this business are perpetuated by crackpots like yourself who can’t understand or who do not want to understand that safety and legality go hand in hand.

    Pono, you go ahead and make your “bacon” the way you want. Just don’t act all knowing and smug about it. I would send you the links to all the regulations and scientific knowledge but I think you are too smart for all that science and legal mumbo jumbo. Think before you start thread flaming. Some people are reading this for actual information.

    Wednesday, July 15, 2015 at 7:04 pm | Permalink
  97. Pono wrote:

    lmfao at jeff lmfao thought it was you being all smug and knowing trying to tell people what they make is not bacon because you make the stuff lmao I know shit loads of people that make it the same way as me and we all still call it bacon, ooops .By all means send the links know it all lmfao, you think because someone doesn’t agree with your shit they aren’t as educated as you lmao. That’s exactly why I don’t make it for a because i’m educated and can actually do other things than make it for a living and then come on here and tell others they are wrong. Wait come to think of it my father in law makes the same stuff as you lol him being italian of course and he only uses salt none of the crap you go on about. Oh and i’m not from the usa or canada so don’t give a damn what they say. Now about the frozen carob chocolate yogurt, where can I get some lmao, i’m sure your waiting patiently for my reply so you can reply back and go home and slap yourself on the back and say “see I told him so” lmao Was a bacon thread for as long as it took you to say it’s not bacon wanker.

    Thursday, July 16, 2015 at 8:23 am | Permalink
  98. Pono wrote:

    Gunna have me a drink of sparkling champagne outside of france now yea yea hmmm or is that wine

    Thursday, July 16, 2015 at 8:28 am | Permalink
  99. nancyB wrote:

    I want to buy curing salts to have on hand for curing meat from game we shoot.
    I’d like to find the pink curing salt BEFORE they add the pink food coloring to it.
    Any ideas?

    Monday, September 21, 2015 at 10:16 am | Permalink
  100. cedar wrote:

    I’ve never heard of Nitrite curing salt without the pink color. I think it might even be required by law to prevent people from confusing it with regular salt, and poisoning themselves. I understand wanting to eliminate food coloring, but keep in mind that very little curing salt goes a long way, so not very much food coloring ends up in your final product. Good luck!

    Monday, September 21, 2015 at 10:20 am | Permalink
  101. Anonymous wrote:

    I just had my first hog slaughtered and they sliced the side meat into bacon and vacuum packed it. so how can i cure it now?

    Saturday, September 26, 2015 at 6:24 am | Permalink
  102. cedar wrote:

    I’ve never cured sliced meat, I imagine it works better when it is a solid piece. If you try, let us know how it goes!

    Thursday, October 8, 2015 at 12:08 pm | Permalink
  103. Don’t even bother trying to do anything with a cure for the sliced stuff, it won’t work. I would go for a crockpot on low for 5 hours, then pour off the rendered fat, then add 2 cups of BBQ sauce, then pull the pork into the sauce.

    Its not ideal, but it will have to do….

    Thursday, October 8, 2015 at 2:40 pm | Permalink
  104. Julie wrote:

    Haha Mike love how you changed your name to Chef Mike now 😉 😉

    Saturday, November 21, 2015 at 7:12 pm | Permalink
  105. Very true, not why it’s changed, I’ve been the same knucklehead chef the whole time, but my homemade bacon is still awesome

    Saturday, December 12, 2015 at 12:33 pm | Permalink
  106. Anonymous wrote:

    What if i want my final product to be pancetta?

    Tuesday, January 5, 2016 at 8:53 am | Permalink
  107. herb wrote:

    For clarification…
    This USDA link says that bacon can be made without nitrite.
    Look for the header that asks:
    “Can bacon be made with-out the use of nitrite?”
    The answer can be seen to the right of the question:
    “Bacon can be manufactured without the use of nitrite but must be labeled “uncured bacon”…etc …”
    So, according to the USDA… bacon can be manufactured, or made for sale without the use of nitrite and… it is called bacon even though nitrites are not used.

    Wednesday, February 17, 2016 at 11:52 pm | Permalink
  108. Just have to say (a little late to the party) as a Chef (servsafe certified) and photographer (doesn’t apply) this recipe is not dangerous nor risky. Botulism is dangerous but you’re more likely to get it from a restaurant with employees who constantly push the time/temp control limits. Yes, it is in a time/temp control zone for all of maybe an hour while prepping it. Obviously letting just-bought pork sit in a fridge for 4 days is not a fear as it’s (hopefully) well below 42 degrees F. Smoking the meat has no danger as long as your smoker temp gauge is correct and you maintain proper temps while smoking. After that as long as you bring the pork back down to temp in a timely manner and don’t store it for more than 5-6 days in the fridge (I would slice it and freeze it) before consuming it there’s no difference in Famous Dave’s Pulled Pork and your bacon besides the salty cure…

    Wednesday, March 30, 2016 at 1:46 pm | Permalink
  109. Anonymous wrote:

    Does cooking kill Cl. botulinum and its toxin?
    Normal thorough cooking (pasteurisation: 70°C 2min or equivalent) will kill Cl.botulinum bacteria but not its spores. To kill the spores of Cl.botulinum a sterilisation process equivalent to 121°C for 3 min is required. The botulinum toxin itself is inactivated (denatured) rapidly at temperatures greater than 80°C .

    Saturday, April 2, 2016 at 4:18 am | Permalink
  110. Jason wrote:

    I like the methodology. I just started smoking and curing meat and will definitely be trying this.

    As for the fear mongers spouting the Botulism rhetoric, I just have a few questions to ask. Do you know where Botulism comes from? Do you know how meat gets contaminated? Do you I know how to eliminate it (besides curing)? Do you know how an animal’s health is affected by their living conditions? Do you know the level of susceptibility to disease an animal has based upon their diet? Do you know how slaughter environment affect contamination or cleanliness of meat? Have you ever wondered why grades of meat are even a thing? Have you researched anything about this topic? Or are you just regurgitating the standard narrative of those that pollute the earth by perpetuating the problems created by corporate farming and must actively make the problem seem systemic and not a product of their own actions?

    Use GOOD meat and treat it with respect and care, and Botulism will not be an issue.

    Monday, June 6, 2016 at 10:25 am | Permalink
  111. bob meyer wrote:

    OMG . . . this is amazing I honey rubbed the porkbelly before the cure . .. let it cure in the fridge for a week, smoked it in applewood on a Trager . . l65-225 chilled it and then cut 1/4 thick slices – I think I’ve gone to bacon heaven . . . I will be doing a different cure with a higher ration of 2.5 cups salt, 1+ cup of each sugar (both brown and white) than the recipe called for . . . just to see it it get even better . . . I can see experimenting with this for a long long time!

    Saturday, September 17, 2016 at 9:09 am | Permalink
  112. Don Gray wrote:

    I’ve been eating nitrite/nitrate free salt only brined and then smoked hams and bacon for over a decade and believe it is as safe if kept cold, froze to preserve and cooked well. I brine 24 hours, cold smoke 3 hours then freeze.

    I am allergic to sodium nitrites added to preserve meat and actually get a life threatening anaphylaxis reaction, yet I can eat a ton of spinich and other nitrate containing vegetables with no allergic reaction at all except celery juice which I am allergic to. Nitrites in pink curing salts is NOT the same as occurring naturally in fresh vegetables at all, and those who state it is obviously don’t have a sodium nitrate allergy or they’d know better. My body does NOT react to fresh vegetables yet meat cured with sodium nitrites lands me in a hospital emergency room gasping for life as my face, lips and throat swell up leaving me unrecognizable.

    Sunday, September 18, 2016 at 9:07 pm | Permalink
  113. Anonymous wrote:

    After curing for around 7 days then only smoke for two days. Never used sodium nitrate. I can keep my bacon in dry area for very long time after smoking.

    Monday, November 7, 2016 at 4:28 pm | Permalink
  114. Tree guy wrote:

    I cure and smoke my salmon and pork loins. I do a wet cure 7 days in fridge no nitrates. Always turns out great!!!

    Tuesday, November 15, 2016 at 4:30 pm | Permalink
  115. sue wrote:

    hi I like your article. Any idea of where i can purchase kosher salt in Kenya.

    Thursday, November 24, 2016 at 1:23 am | Permalink
  116. robert wrote:

    Been making bacon ( and a lot of other meats ) for over 35yrs. I have NEVER used cure (nitrites) for my bacon. Salt, brown sugar, maple, pepper, smoke! Best bacon is when you make it yourself! GREAT page on bacon, a little different but everyone has their own twist. GOOD JOB!

    Monday, December 19, 2016 at 4:02 pm | Permalink
  117. Corallie wrote:

    I would like to have a go at this BUT I don’t like the idea of burning the foil pack in the smoker. Suggestions pls

    Wednesday, February 15, 2017 at 7:04 am | Permalink
  118. cedar wrote:

    That’s really no problem. The foil is just to keep a good supply of smoke going. As an alternative, you can just monitor your smoker, and add a handful of wood chips whenever it stops smoking. You might try a few bigger chunks of wood too, they tend to smoke for longer than the chips.

    Wednesday, February 15, 2017 at 8:13 am | Permalink
  119. Edward wrote:

    HI, I cannot determine if your temperature are indicated in centigrade or Fahrenheit, can you let me know please.

    Sunday, April 2, 2017 at 4:58 pm | Permalink
  120. cedar wrote:


    Monday, April 3, 2017 at 7:45 am | Permalink
  121. Patrick Copen wrote:

    Does celery salt contain significant nitrates?

    Saturday, December 23, 2017 at 8:52 am | Permalink
  122. CC wrote:

    I can’t wait to make my own uncured bacon. though if I got a nipple I think I’d have to stop eating the stuff.
    Curiosity Question: Have you ever noticed that uncured bacon fat remains more solid after cooking and cooling than cured bacon fat which is somewhat fluid when cooled? Wondering if anyone knows why this is. Logically it seems like more solid fat would be worse for your arteries and yet uncured bacon is supposed to be so much better for us. Theories welcome!

    Thursday, March 1, 2018 at 7:10 pm | Permalink
  123. Anonymous wrote:

    Anyone who thinks carcinogenic bacon is safer than traditionally cured bacon needs to do some real research and not just read the lies from the meat lobbyists and the FDA. Here’s a start:

    Saturday, March 3, 2018 at 5:46 am | Permalink
  124. Joe wrote:

    I make Capicollo and Cacciatore Salumi like my father did and his father did, and his father before… I use two ingredients. Quality pork and pure, additive free Mediterranean sea salt… Nobody has ever died or ever been sick… I challenge anyone to find a death caused by botulism (or whatever) as a result of curing meats without nitrates…. I can easily cite many cancer-related studies proving how harmful nitrates are. As a matter of fact it’s part of my job to do so. It’s a matter of legal exposure and liability. You can lose a bundle by giving someone an upset tummy … but it’s allowed so when you give them cancer you’re not liable

    Don’t be fooled. If you do it yourself…. don’t add poison to your food. Check with the CDC

    In fact, botulism deaths have been caused by large scale commercial meat that DID have nitrates added… It’s all BS

    This is what I make….. Would you rather eat this or safe, chemically synthesized nitrate rich bologna?

    Tuesday, March 20, 2018 at 9:00 pm | Permalink
  125. djf wrote:

    I have a couple of questions:

    How much salt do you use per pound of pork belly?
    Do you use a water pan when smoking?

    Tuesday, May 8, 2018 at 9:21 pm | Permalink
  126. cedar wrote:

    I don’t do it by weight. I just use as much as I can get to adhere to the surface when I rub it in. It’s a think coating. Half way through I might sprinkle a little more on. I do use a water pan.

    Tuesday, May 8, 2018 at 10:02 pm | Permalink
  127. Ed K. wrote:

    Thank you so much for this recipe, health concerns aside, I have discovered added nitrites give me raging headaches for hours that no NSAID seems to touch. So I’m looking into making my own nitrite free versions of bacon, hot dogs, and some lunch meats. Keep up the great work!

    Sunday, July 22, 2018 at 6:44 am | Permalink
  128. Stan Quick wrote:

    I die happy. I have been home curing and smoking bacon and other pork products without adding anything extra for a number of years. I save money, know the product and where it came from. The flavor is so much better. Sometimes it is to salty so I briefly soak it in cold water prior to cooking. Also after curing you can soak in water to remove excess salt. It has already done it’s work. A couple of hours is all you need. Works for me.

    Saturday, August 18, 2018 at 9:13 am | Permalink
  129. Ethal Frida wrote:

    Nitrites and nitrates that are added are the bad ones. Those occuring naturally are good for us. There is all kinds of defense of adding chemicals to our foods. A great many people are so used to fast foods and processed foods so they either forget or don’t know that there was a time when we didn’t have to deal with this subject. Grocery shopping is such a chore now in trying to avoid all the chemicals.

    Wednesday, September 5, 2018 at 8:36 am | Permalink

5 Trackbacks/Pingbacks

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