Making smoked bacon at home seems impossible if you don’t have a smoker and an outdoor space, but after many trials, the CHOW test kitchen has come up with this method that works in your kitchen oven. All you need is a roasting pan, a roasting rack, aluminum foil, and wood chips. We like the deep, smoky flavor that traditional hickory chips add to the bacon, but apple wood is also good if you want a lighter, sweeter option. Try this flavorful, smoky bacon in our Bacon-Maple Sticky Buns, a Triple-Pork Club Sandwich, or a fancy pasta dish.
Special equipment: You will need a roasting pan fitted with a roasting rack that sits at least 1 1/2 inches above the bottom of the pan. You can try flipping the roasting rack over (like we did) if it sits too close to the bottom in its traditional orientation. Or use a wire cooling or steaming rack.
Giant resealable storage bags, like these jumbo 2-gallon bags, were the perfect size to use for the curing process. If you can’t find these bags, you can cure the bacon in a roasting pan covered with foil.
To smoke the bacon, you will need at least 3 yards of 18-inch-wide heavy-duty aluminum foil.
What to buy:Pork belly is the same as fresh bacon. You can order it from a reputable butcher. A whole fresh pork belly with the skin on weighs around 11 pounds, of which you’ll need half (a 5-1/2-pound slab).
Curing salt, also known as pink salt or saltpeter, contains 6.25 percent sodium nitrite. It is colored pink so as not to be confused with regular salt. Curing salt is available at Butcher & Packer.
It’s especially important to use kosher salt here to ensure that your quantity is correct. We prefer the Diamond Crystal brand, available in most grocery stores. If you use Morton kosher salt, you will need 1/4 cup. If you have another brand, weigh out 43 grams.
You should buy pure, resin-free, bark-free wood chips. For this recipe, we recommend apple wood or hickory chips, which can be purchased at most hardware stores and grocery stores during the summer months, or online.
Game plan: The entire curing, smoking, and chilling process takes at least 9 days, so plan accordingly.
1Combine the kosher salt, sugar, and curing salt in a small bowl.
2Trim off any uneven edges on the pork belly. Place the belly skin-side down on a work surface. Sprinkle it evenly with half of the curing mixture and rub the mixture into the meat until it’s absorbed. Flip the belly over and sprinkle it evenly with the remaining curing mixture. Let it sit until the curing mixture is absorbed and moisture has beaded on top, about 5 minutes.
3Place the belly in an extra-large (2- to 2-1/2-gallon) resealable plastic bag. (Alternatively, you can place it in a roasting pan and cover it tightly with aluminum foil.) Refrigerate for 7 days, flipping the belly every other day.
4When the belly is ready, fit a wire rack over a baking sheet. Remove the belly from the bag, rinse it under cool water, and pat it very dry with paper towels. Place it on the rack skin-side up and refrigerate uncovered overnight.
For the smoking:
1Let the pork belly sit at room temperature for 1 hour. Meanwhile, remove all of the racks from the oven except one arranged in the lowest position. Heat the oven to 200°F.
2Line the inside of a roasting pan crosswise with the foil, overlapping it in the center of the pan by about 1 inch. Make sure that the bottom and sides of the pan are completely covered and that the excess foil extends over the long sides and slightly up and over the short sides of the pan.
3Scatter the wood chips in an even layer over the foil in the bottom of the pan. Fit a roasting rack over the chips. (The roasting rack should sit at least 1 1/2 inches above the bottom of the pan. You can try flipping it over if needed. If your roasting rack still sits too low, use a wire steaming or cooling rack that sits at least 1 1/2 inches above the bottom of the pan.) Place the belly on the rack skin-side up. Bring the long edges of the foil up to meet in the middle. Fold the foil down twice and crimp it to close tightly, making sure it is not touching the belly so that the smoke can circulate around it. Bring up the foil on the sides to meet the top seam and crimp, making sure the entire rack and belly are completely surrounded with foil.
4Place the roasting pan across two burners over medium-high heat until a steady stream of smoke pours out of the top seam of the foil bundle, about 5 minutes. (This step doesn’t produce a ton of smoke, but you still may want to open a window or turn on the fan above your range.)
5Place the pan in the oven and smoke until the pork belly reaches 150°F on an instant-read thermometer, about 4 to 6 hours.
6Remove the pan to a wire rack. Carefully open the top seam of the foil and let the bacon cool to room temperature. Cut off and discard the skin. Wrap the bacon tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate it overnight before slicing and cooking. It can be kept tightly wrapped for up to 2 weeks in the refrigerator or up to 3 months in the freezer, but before freezing, be sure to wrap the bacon in plastic wrap and then foil to prevent freezer burn.