Actually, I learned how to make bacon jerky after a cool, funny story with my son.
While I was cleaning out some pictures from my parents’ house, I came across a few from my scout days.
My son asked what was in my hand, “bacon jerky of course”. My son looked at me as if I were covered in diamonds. “Seriously?” I needed to fess up. It was merely bacon cooked very crispy. I put it in a baggie for our hike with the scouts. I called it jerky just because it sounded good. That didn’t stop him from continuing, “Dad, we have try this.”
So, we did some investigating online and tried to create a recipe that we could call our own.
Since then, It is one of my son's favorite foods and we actually cook it very often on our house.
Today, I decided to share with you all the steps I follow when I decide to make bacon jerky at home.
Bacon Jerky Recipe
As with anything that is made with bacon, even if it is bad, it will be great.
But, there are some things to consider before start making this recipe.
The first thing to note as we get started, are the temperatures.
This recipe involves using a smoker. If you don't have one, you can consider buying a smoker/grill combo. I choose to use smoker because it is my favorite technique, but you could very well do this entirely with your oven and/or a dehydrator.
If you follow the temperatures regardless of your heat source, the outcome should be the same regardless.
After you have decided which cooking method you will follow, it is time to collect the required ingredients.
- Two Pounds of Regular Cut Bacon. (Your gut tells you thick cut will be better, but it’s not.)
- Dry Rub, Brown Sugar, Coarse Black Pepper, Garlic Powder.
- Two Cookie Sheets, 2 Cooling Racks.
- Offset Smoker and Oven or Dehydrator.
- Zipper Lock Style Bags.
- Hickory Wood.
Also, the whole preparation time for this recipe will be 20 minutes and the cooking time will take you about 5 hours, if you are using the smoker.
How to Prepare Your Meat and Fire
In order to start making your bacon jerky, first start by placing the cooling racks into the cookie sheets.
This should allow the smoke to surround your meat for the initial cooking process.
Note: You should find that you can work one pound of meat per cookie sheet, cooling rack setup.
But, if you are using more than 2 pounds of meat or just could not manage to fit 1 pound of meat per sheet, then feel free to get some extra cookie sheets.
After you place your meat on cookie sheets, make sure you leave some space between so there is a little room between the slices.
Now, it is time to apply your rub ingredients.
As opposed to smoking other meats where you mix your rub and liberally apply your concoction, with this recipe, lightly sprinkle these dry ingredients to taste.
We’re lightly dusting the garlic powder, a little heavier pinch of the black pepper, and a little less brown sugar compared to the pepper.
This is going to give us the sweet and savory flavor combination we’re desiring. When you’re done, flip the meat and apply your seasoning rubs to the other side.
Quick Cooking Tip: For making any jerky, do not limit your seasoning. You might enjoy a favorite marinade, salad dressing, hot sauce, srirarcha, hot dry peppers or a stronger dose of sugar or honey. Your potential is open, but, you may want to limit the amounts you put on so that you don’t overpower your jerked meats.
Now, after you finish seasoning your meat, take your racks of potential jerky and put them into the refrigerator for about one hour.
While they are on the refrigerator, you can go and start your fire and get your smoker ready.
Once your fire is going good, and the coals are turning gray, put your first piece of hickory wood on.
Monitor your fire to around 190°F. When you have a good steady temperature of 190°F, which should be monitored as close to the cooking surface as possible, bring out your bacon meat.
In order to properly make bacon jerky, you have to follow a two step cooking process. The first part of the process is to use a smoker and then, to remove your meat from the smoker and to place it into the oven.
Making Your Bacon Jerky
So, first let's begin with the smoking process.
After you place your prepared meat on the fire, you are wanting to smoke this for about two hours.
The main sign that your meat is turning into a bacon jerky is the beginning of a color change.
Also, one thing to keep in mind is that you definitely want to build your fire on the far side of your smoke box, and keep your bacon far enough away so that it isn’t close to the fire. This is a delicate meat, and it could quickly burn up if the conditions aren’t proper.
As any other meat smoking technique, the key to make a perfect bacon jerky is a consistent temperature.
If your temperatures are consistent, you shouldn’t have too much of a problem and the only thing to worry about is the grease. You will want to check them after one hour to see what your grease status is.
Your cookie sheet will hold any grease drippings but if your bacon has a larger fat content than normal, you will want to dump the excess grease off into an old coffee can for disposal. Be sure to close your smoker while you’re doing this to maintain the temperature and smoke levels.
You may flip a few pieces to see if it’s cooking to quickly on one side. But, it should be all good if your temperatures are steady.
After two hours of smoking it at a consistent temperature, your jerky is about half done and is time for the second part of the cooking.
Second Step of Making
Enough of the smoke now. A lot have been smoked in their curing process, so 1 ½ to 2 hours should be enough to affect your bacon jerky.
Bring the smoked meat inside and set it aside while you preheat your oven to 190°F.
While your oven is heating up, drain any grease that has accumulated since you last checked. At this time you may want to blot for any residual grease on the meat.
Once your oven is ready, slide it in the already smoked jerky.
Now, your cooking time should be three more hours in the oven.
With something this delicate you will want to check on after one hour.
This is a thin meat, and differs greatly by brand. It shouldn’t take very long. You want to see the color and texture change. It should be somewhat pliable. If it is crunchy you may have gone too far.
Check every hour, and as you get closer to the color and texture you’re looking for, you may start checking every 30 minutes or 15 minutes.
Serving the Bacon Jerky
After it is ready, take it out of the oven and let it rest covered on a plate with a paper towel on it to remove any excess grease. Dump off all the accumulated grease into your coffee can.
Now, let it rests and cools down for a bit and once the jerky cools down enough, you can begin enjoying it.
Once you’ve eaten all that you can, you can choose to set some aside for next week, or for gifts for friends.
Storing Bacon Jerky for Later
If you want, you can make this snack once in a while and save it for later, so you don't have to spend 3-4 hours cooking every time you want it.
Using a reliable brand of zipper lock bags, put about four ounces of bacon jerky into each bag and seal.
You have to make sure that all the grease is removed before storing the cooked meat into the zipper bags.
Also, If you have a vacuum food sealer machine, then lock the goodness in.
Ideally you should store these bags in your pantry or a cool dark place until you’re ready to eat them.
I hope you learned how to make bacon jerky with this simple step-by-step recipe.
Your bacon jerky will be enjoyed during your next hike, tailgate party or as homemade gift to be shared with family and friends, along with a cool glass of water, or the beverage of your choice.