Everyone loves bacon, and what if I told you that you can take it to the next level by making some mouth-watering bacon jerky? This easy and versatile recipe allows you to make your own bacon jerky in a smoker or oven, giving you a portable and tasty snack that you can enjoy all day long. So, let’s dive into the wonderful world of bacon jerky!
- What Makes Bacon Jerky Special?
- Choosing the Right Bacon
- The Marinade: Simplicity at Its Best
- Strain and Prep
- Drying Options: Oven or Smoker
- Testing for Doneness
- Storing Your Bacon Jerky
- Get Creative with Flavors
- Pro Tips for Bacon Jerky Perfection
What Makes Bacon Jerky Special?
Bacon jerky combines the amazing flavor of cooked bacon with a unique twist. It retains the deliciousness we all love, but with a chewier texture and increased shelf life. By slowly smoking or drying the bacon with a few additional ingredients, we achieve a whole new level of greatness.
Don’t confuse bacon jerky with candied bacon, though. While candied bacon is cooked bacon with an added sugar rub, bacon jerky is perfect for snacking on long hikes or as a delicious treat to tide you over until dinner. In other words, every occasion is a good occasion for jerky!
Choosing the Right Bacon
When it comes to making bacon jerky, any bacon will do the trick. However, if you want the absolute best results, go for thick-cut bacon. Wright’s thick-cut bacon, in particular, is highly recommended. It comes in hickory or applewood flavors and is easily available at most grocery stores or warehouse clubs like Sam’s Club or Costco.
The Marinade: Simplicity at Its Best
Bacon is already bursting with flavor, so there’s no need to go overboard with additional ingredients. For the marinade, you’ll need a little liquid smoke, brown sugar, cold water, and of course, the star of the show—half a pound of bacon.
Mix the liquid smoke, water, and brown sugar in a bowl, then pour it over the bacon strips in a gallon-sized ziplock bag. Let the bacon marinate for a couple of hours. You’ll be amazed by how quickly the flavors infuse into the meat, so there’s no need to marinate overnight.
Strain and Prep
After marinating for 4-8 hours, strain the bacon in a colander to remove any excess marinade. Place a cooling rack on top of a baking tray and arrange the bacon strips on the rack without overlapping them. This allows air to circulate evenly and ensures that the bacon dries properly.
Now, it’s time to dry the jerky!
Drying Options: Oven or Smoker
The best results for making bacon jerky can be achieved using either an oven or a smoker. The goal is to achieve a chewy texture, rather than the crispy bacon we’re used to.
If you prefer using your oven, there’s no need to invest in any additional equipment. Simply place the marinated bacon strips on a cooling rack placed on a baking sheet. Prop the oven door open with a wooden spoon to allow moisture to escape. Bake at 200°F for 4-6 hours, and get ready for your house to smell amazing!
For those who love the smoky flavor, using a smoker is the way to go. Whether you have a pellet smoker or a traditional stick burner (offset smoker), both options work great. Load your smoker with hickory wood chips or pellets for the best results.
Place the bacon directly on the smoker’s rack or on a cookie sheet and let it smoke for 4-6 hours. You can skip the liquid smoke in the marinade if you’re using a smoker. During the drying process, you may notice small amounts of grease on the bacon’s surface. Simply pat it off with a paper towel to speed up the drying process.
Dehydrator Method (Not Recommended for Bacon Jerky)
While dehydrators are fantastic for making beef jerky, they’re not the best choice for bacon jerky. The higher cooking temperature required for bacon jerky gives it a dark and appetizing color. Unfortunately, dehydrators typically don’t reach this temperature, resulting in a translucent appearance that isn’t as visually appealing.
Testing for Doneness
Around the 3-4 hour mark, start testing the bacon jerky to see if it’s finished. Take a piece out of the oven or smoker and let it cool for 5 minutes. Bend the jerky in half; it should bend and crack but not break. Bacon jerky will be slightly moist and chewy due to its higher fat content compared to traditional beef jerky.
Storing Your Bacon Jerky
Due to the high fat content, bacon jerky doesn’t have the same shelf life as beef jerky. However, you can prolong its freshness by storing it properly. Place it in a ziplock bag and keep it in a cool, dark place like a cabinet. Bacon jerky stored this way will last around 4-7 days.
For even longer storage, vacuum seal your bacon jerky to remove all the oxygen from the packaging. This will prevent bacterial growth and extend the shelf life to 2-4 weeks. If you plan to store it in the fridge, you can keep it for 1-2 months. Remember to keep the vacuum-sealed jerky in the refrigerator or freezer if you won’t be consuming it right away.
Get Creative with Flavors
Bacon is an incredibly versatile ingredient, and you can experiment with various flavors to take your bacon jerky to new heights. Try adding spices, sauces, or syrups to both sides of the bacon before drying it for an extra burst of flavor. Some popular options include Sriracha, BBQ sauce, maple syrup, honey, and Sriracha honey.
Pro Tips for Bacon Jerky Perfection
- Opt for thick-cut bacon to achieve the perfect-sized jerky.
- If using a smoker, skip the liquid smoke in the marinade.
- Hickory wood chips or pellets work great for bacon jerky.
Now that you have all the knowledge you need, it’s time to embark on your bacon jerky adventure. Have fun experimenting with flavors and techniques, and enjoy the delightful result of your culinary endeavors!
If you want to explore more delicious recipes, visit Rowdy Hog Smokin BBQ for an unforgettable culinary experience.