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 supermarket 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 your gonna use. I’ll cover all of this in detail.
First off summary:
How to Smoke Bacon With a Pellet Tube
- Dry Cure or Wet Brine the Pork
- Dry the Outside to Form a Pellicle
- Light the Pellet Tube Smoker and Maintain Smoke
- Smoke the Pork
- Put Bacon in 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’s created, or just to run 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 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 then enough for our taste buds.
Cold Smoking Bacon with a Pellet Tube
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 its way in.
At about 60°F or 15°C is where I like to be at, 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 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 then 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).
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 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
Most of the time I’m dry curing – but for wet brine curing, I also use the 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 tray in 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
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 end up of drying out the outside of the meat surface to a certain degree.
I did this with some chicken breasts and they looked like this:
Humidity is another aspect about 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 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.
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 you want half a dozen pellet glowing orange, this can take a little bit of time (up to 5 mins 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.
4. Smoke the Pork
The factors of temperature, humidity, airflow and the type of wood you use all have some effect on the smoking and product.
This is one part of the craft which I enjoy because it’s the experience to get familiar with how it burns and how much smoke you want infusing and working with all these factors mentioned above. Then there is the meat, the cure, spices etc….variables, I like variables!
I 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.
Trust me it works!
If you haven’t got one, here are some pellet tube smokers I recommend.
For next level control, a smokai smoke generator is about as good as it gets for control of smoke.
Thanks for dropping by, I’ve been passionate about meat curing for around 20 years now. Having been lucky enough to learn inside fine dining kitchens through to backyard smoking sessions. From doing courses, trial & error and reading extensively – finally, I thought it was time to share my passion online.
My insatiable appetite and passion toward classic Italian dry-cured salumi and all forms of curing and smoking are what drives this website engine. All the best, Tom