Igniting charcoal briquettes with a blow torch for outdoor grilling.

How to Smoke Bacon With a Pellet Tube Smoker

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Writer / Enthusiast / Meat Curer / Forager / Harvester | About Tom

For decades, immersed in studying, working, learning, and teaching in the craft of meat curing, now sharing his passion with you through eat cured meat online resource.

Using a pellet grill for smoking bacon is pretty straightforward when using a pellet tube smoker.

However, there are some key points that I’ve learned over the years that can help make things easier and more straightforward. Of course, like most things, experience and going through the learning curve is part of the process.

The bacon we normally eat at home is cold smoked, it’s likely to be most of the bacon you buy at the supermarkets across the Western world. The majority of the bacon that I make is with a pellet tube smoker and it’s often cold-smoked too, but more recently I type of smoke generator for more control.

I’ve made smoked/cooked bacon also (hot smoked bacon), but prefer cold smoked and dry cured.

There are a few variations depending on how you use the pellet tube and what cure you going to use. I’ll cover all of this in detail.

Pellet tube smoking fish
Pellet tube smoker performing some cold smoke in one of the smokers I use (basically a steel-insulated box).

First off summary:

How to Smoke Bacon With a Pellet Tube

  1. Dry Cure or Wet Brine the Pork
  2. Dry the Outside to Form a Pellicle
  3. Light the Pellet Tube Smoker and Maintain the Smoke
  4. Smoke the Pork
  5. Put Bacon in a Container for 24 hours to develop smoke flavor

How to Smoke Bacon With a Pellet Tube in Detail

All the guys in the bacon-making and meat-curing community who visit this blog ‘eatcuredmeat.com’ – The majority are hot smoking or cooking the bacon with smoke until the internal temperature is safe.

It’s a personal preference – but for me – dry cured cold smoked is the way I like it.

There has been a big increase in the interest in using pellet tube smokers for pellet grills, whether it’s boosting the amount of smoke it creates, or just running a pellet tube smoker without any heat to do the cold smoking.

2 Ways of Smoking Bacon with a Pellet Tube

So these are really the options you have at hand. It’s purely a personal preference of how you like your bacon, either more hammy or more dry cured.

Cold Smoking does allow you to put more smoke flavor into your bacon, but I’ve found under 8 hours is more than enough for our taste buds.

Cold Smoking Bacon with a Pellet Tube

Thinly sliced cold smoked dry cured bacon
A good batch of thinly sliced dry cured bacon

Cold smoking is done under 30°C or 86°F. I like to cold smoke with a lower temperature so there’s less chance for unwanted bacteria to find their way in.

At about 60°F or 15°C is where I like to be, often nighttime with higher humidity ie. over 70%.

I’ve gone a bit crazy and tried five days cold smoking my bacon once; not my cup of tea. Now, I do about 6 to 8 hours of cold smoking to get the desired amount of smokiness.

You can taste the smokiness, but it’s not overpowering. Of course, there are subtleties like how much smoke flow you have, controlling the vents (if you have some, and also how much combustion and smoldering goes through the pellet tube,

These are the types of areas that you just need to experiment with and learn, I’ve found.

With any type of smoking hot or cold, I believe less smoke is better than more. But remember also, just because you can’t see smoke doesn’t mean it’s not there! (It’s actually the vapor that carries the flavor too).

Cold smoked vs hot smoked bacon large

Hot Smoking Bacon with a Pellet Tube

The heat is on to do hot smoked bacon since you’ll be cooking and smoking at a low temperature until you reach that internal cooking temperature of 150°F or 66°C.

If you prefer a ham type of flavor, then hot smoking bacon is a better way to go.

Step-by-Step Details

Let me remind you of each of the steps if you’re unfamiliar with the process.

1. Dry Cure or Wet Brine the Pork

Dry Curing Bacon

Dry curing involves salt, spices, and if you want nitrates as well.

The two main methods used are either the saturation- or salt box method. The salt box method is covering the meat with salt for one day per 2 pounds or 1 kg. It’s a little bit hit-and-miss. Most guys in the community nowadays are using the equilibrium curing method.

Equilibrium curing is using an accurate digital scale to work out a percentage of salt and amount of spices based on the weight of the meat.

ie. 2% salt = 2g for 1000 grams of meat

I have written a large amount of content on equilibrium curing; here is a link to an introduction if you haven’t come across it.

Wet Brining Bacon
Curing in the fridge
Curing In The Fridge Bottom Is Dry Curing, Middle Is Tupperware Wet Brining (A Challenge Getting Meat/Brine To The Perfect Size), Top Is A 3D Metal Point Impression Sculptor Aka A Weight For The Dry-Cured Bag

Most of the time, I’m dry curing – but for wet brine curing, I also use equilibrium brining, which means you can choose that level of saltiness in the cure.

I find a wet brine more suited for hot smoked bacon. Spices are often more subtle in flavor when brining.

I’ve tried whiskey bacon, whisky bacon (depends on your whiskey/whisky), maple bacon and using a whole lot of different types of herbs for dry curing.

My favorite recipe is just garlic and juniper with a small amount of sugar.

2. Dry the Outside to Form a Pellicle

How to Dry the Outside of Pork Before Smoking

  • Place skin side down on the tray in the fridge for 4-8 hours
  • Under 60°F/15°C, and place in front of a fan for 2 hours
  • Hang in curing chamber for 4-8 hours
Pork loin pellicle cured meat large
Tacky, Sticky outside = pellicle

Sometimes it’s neglected how important it is to form the pellicle on the outside of the meat.

It is a key step to get more smoke flavor on the surface of the cured pork belly. However, if you use a longer period of time like multiple days, you may dry out the outside of the meat surface to a certain degree.

I did this with some chicken breasts, and they looked like this:

Pellicle formed ready smoked chicken large
Pellicle and drying out the meat too much in the fridge – like 24 hour+

Humidity is another aspect of cold smoking that might not get enough attention.

See my Cold Smoking Guide, It it’s about a high level of humidity.

3. Light the Pellet Tube Smoker and Maintain the Smoke

The first couple of times I used a pellet tube, I had to work out how long to let it burn before I blew it out to get it smoldering and smoking.

Pellet tube cold smoking starting with torch large
Using a basic flame torch to get things started.

I have a general rule now to let the flame up to 4 to 5 inches high before I blow it out.

There are other options like using a Brulée Torch or something simpler.

It can take 10 or 20 seconds to get a flame burning and if you want half a dozen pellets glowing orange, this can take a little bit of time (up to 5 minutes I find).

I’ve also used a more industrial type of flamethrower which only takes about five or six seconds to get the embers glowing on about half a dozen pellets.

But basically, it’s combusted the pellets very quickly. So you don’t have to wait 5 -7 minutes.

Pellet tube cold smoking large
A nice little bit of smoldering smoke.

4. Smoke the Pork

The factors of temperature, humidity, airflow, and the type of wood you use all affect the smoking and product.

This is one part of the craft that I enjoy because it’s the experience of getting familiar with how it burns and how much smoke you want infusing and working with the abovementioned factors. Then there is the meat, the cure, spices etc…variables, I like variables!

I currently have a preference currently with apple wood, maple wood, and hickory wood is quite amazing for bacon, too.

5. Put Bacon in Container for 24 hours to Develop Smoke Flavor

Another step that sometimes gets neglected is to place the smoked bacon inside a container that is sealed for a minimum of overnight, but ideally 24 hours. The smoke permeates inside the meat and you can taste this mild flavor a lot more once this is completed.

For next-level control, a smokai smoke generator is about as good as it gets for control of smoke.

Here are some tips about pellet tube smokers also I did.


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