This Smoked Bacon Jerky is spicy, sweet, and absolutely impossible to stop eating. Oh, you don’t believe me? I dare you to make some. Do yourself a favor and buy a few packs of thick-cut bacon, you’re going to need them.
There’s no question that I really love bacon. I’ve certainly created a few recipes celebrating bacon such as wrapping pickles and little smokies, but the smoked bacon jerky might be the best. Or worst, if you have a problem with bacon restraint. I’ve definitely shown my weakness during the process of recipe development here.
Smoked bacon jerky is different than candied bacon. Let’s quickly address how they are different, and how bacon jerky is made:
Candied Bacon vs. Bacon Jerky
Bacon jerky is a cousin of candied bacon, same family, but they have very individual personalities.
Candied bacon is cooked in the same way as traditional bacon, but with the addition of brown sugar. One of the most popular recipes on the web from Food & Wine shows you can simply make it in the oven at 400°F. You’ll have nice, crisp bacon you can chop up for pretty much any topping you’d like. It will be crisp, sugary, and greasy.
Bacon jerky takes that theory and amplifies it. The concept of jerky is to dehydrate cured meat, preventing bacteria growth and allowing the meat to have a longer shelf life. Drying out the bacon in the smoker or oven will do just that. You’ll have a snack that can definitely last for days, stored in a cool, dark place until you’re ready to enjoy. Which will be all the time.
The texture of bacon jerky is what you’d expect: slight crisp, perfect chew, not stringy. Candied bacon tends to be stickier, and tends to shatter due to the crispiness. Each of them has its place in the kitchen, but today we’re focused on the longer-lasting snack.
Ingredients for Smoked Bacon Jerky
Thick-cut bacon gives the best results. It’s an ideal thickness for jerky, but it’s also much more consistent when smoking. You can pull it off with traditional bacon, but times will definitely vary, and you’ll need to be watching it much more closely.
Skip the premade BBQ rubs. Bacon is cured already, so it’s loaded with sodium. If you’re looking to add another layer of heat or spice, feel free to add some of the ground spices into the mix. I’ve had success with chipotle powder and fresh ground black pepper.
The glaze below is super key for creating that shiny, sugary coating encapsulating the delicious smoked bacon. BBQ rubs will likely have a form of sugar as well, so read the ingredients carefully if you choose to use one.
Smoked Bacon Jerky Glaze
- 2 tbsp Sriracha, or other thick hot sauce
- 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
Mixing the 3 ingredients will create just enough of a glaze for a very thin coat. Trust me that’s all you need. There’s plenty of spice and sugar in each bite, and you won’t have a sticky mess at the end.
If you feel that this is too spicy, adjust the ratio of Dijon to Sriracha accordingly. The Dijon is not overpowering and gives the smoked bacon jerky this honey mustard profile, which is crazy delicious.
How to make Smoked Bacon Jerky
- STEP 1: Fire up the smoker. This is a situation where a pellet grill will do the job very well, keeping it simple with a constant stream of very low-temperature smoke. You’re going to want to smoke the bacon at 180-200°F. This will slow the cooking process, drawing out the moisture from the bacon without crisping it first. The key for jerky.
- STEP 2: Lay out the bacon. Keep the bacon separated, making sure it’s not touching. This is tough when you want to load up your smoker or oven with pounds upon pounds, but it’s very crucial when making jerky. You need the airflow to dry out the meat properly. Overlapping bacon will create spots of still-moist areas, improperly dried. While this would be a tasty bite regardless, it will spoil much quicker due to the potential for rancid fat. Be safe, spread it out.
- STEP 3: Glaze the bacon. Mix the bacon glaze ingredients together and paint both sides of the bacon with a thin layer. Make sure the sugar has mostly dissolved when whisking the glaze together.
- STEP 4: Smoke and flip. Blot the grease, and flip halfway through. As the bacon dries out, it will squeeze out some of the greases. Far less than you think too, due to the extremely low cooking temperature. Just take a paper towel and blot it lightly, flipping as well to cover both sides. (See below image).
You are the judge, so check it after 3-4 hours to make sure it’s cooked to your preference. After much testing, I’ve found that 4 hours is the sweet spot for me. The bacon is firm, yet fairly pliable. It stands up on its own with a slight bend before it snaps. Look for those features, and if nothing else, take a bite and test it out.
- STEP 5: Remove and cool. Every slice could be slightly different, depending on the hotspots of your smoker, the glaze you put on, or the variance in thickness. Pull pieces off if you see they are done.
Tips for Smoked Bacon Jerky
- You’ll likely find that the best results will be purchasing thick-cut bacon at the butcher counter. Yes, you can also use your own homemade bacon for this recipe.
- Flavored bacon works really well. My favorite is choosing thick-cut peppered bacon at the butcher.
- Some bacon is already heavily smoked. Pay attention to your choices to make sure you’re not going to overwhelm the tastebuds with a second, very long smoke.
- Play with wood flavor combinations. Hickory is classic, but mesquite and apple add a nice sharp sweet heat.
- Smoking jerky is always best done on a wire rack or a mesh mat. I’ve linked my personal favorites right below:
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, but if you’re using a liquid sweetener such as honey, maple syrup, or molasses I would use a little less than 1/4 cup of brown sugar from the recipe. The key is the thickness of the glaze, so try out different combinations and see what works for you. 1/4 cup of molasses is incredibly strong and sweet, where 1/4 cup honey is much milder.
Probably. I have not tested this out, but if I were going to I’d likely smoke the bacon for 2 hours, blot it, and then add it into a dehydrator. It would take much longer to dry out in a dehydrator, closer to 4-6 hours overall.
Absolutely. Try a thin glaze of your favorite sweet BBQ sauce. Whatever you choose to use, make sure to pay attention to the added salt.
Yes, you absolutely can make bacon jerky in the oven. Make sure you set the oven to 200 °F for the entire cook. Use a wire rack with a baking sheet underneath to catch all of the grease coming off. The baking pan from USA Pan is a perfect example, also large enough for quite a bit of bacon.
I’ve tested that it stays fresh and crispy for at least 10 days. Good luck keeping it past that point, everyone will likely consume it all much quicker.
Looking for more smoked snacks?
- Smoked Bacon-Wrapped Little Smokies – These might be the perfect dipping utensil.
- Bacon-Wrapped Pickles – Or are these? Might need a side-by-side comparison.
- Jalapeno Pimento Cheese – Smoked pickled jalapenos elevate this classic.
- The BEST Buffalo Wings – Buffalo and cheese dips are meant to be partners.
- 10 slices thick cut bacon (10-12oz package)
- 2 tbsp Sriracha
- 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- Preheat your smoker for low heat, 180-200°F.
- Lay out the bacon on a wire rack, giving space between each slice.
- Mix the glaze ingredients together with a whisk, making sure to get rid of any lumps of brown sugar. As the sugar dissolves it will be a much thinner liquid. Taste and adjust. Using a pastry brush, apply a thin layer of glaze on both sides of the bacon, flipping as needed.
- Place the bacon on the smoker for 2 hours, undisturbed.
- After 2 hours, blot the bacon gently with a paper towel. Flip each piece over carefully, and blot the other side. Leave the bacon to smoke for at least another 60-90 minutes.
- Check the bacon jerky for preferred doneness. It should not be completely crispy and black. There should still be a slight bend before it breaks.
You can use an oven at 200°F as an alternative. Make sure you use a wire rack with a baking sheet underneath to catch the grease.
- Prep Time: 5
- Cook Time: 4 hours
- Category: Pork
- Method: Smoking
- Cuisine: Jerky
Keywords: Bacon, bacon jerky, jerky, pork, pork jerky, smoked pork, smoked jerky, candied bacon