Making bacon jerky at home is a delicious way to enjoy the rich and smoky flavor of bacon in a more preserved form. This treat combines the savory taste of bacon with the chewy texture that jerky lovers appreciate. It’s a snack that’s both keto-friendly and low carb, making it a popular choice for those watching their carbohydrate intake.
A good bacon jerky recipe starts with thick-sliced bacon and can be customized with a variety of flavors. Whether one prefers the spicy kick of sriracha or the sweetness of brown sugar, the options to tweak the recipe are abundant. It’s also simple to make, requiring very little prep time and basic kitchen equipment.
For those who enjoy crafting their own snacks, homemade bacon jerky presents an opportunity to experiment with different seasonings and cooking techniques. It can be made in an oven or a smoker, depending on one’s preference and available tools. This snack not only tastes great but can also make a unique and thoughtful homemade gift for friends and family.Jump to Recipe
Table of Contents
Choosing the Right Bacon
When making bacon jerky, the type of bacon used greatly affects the final taste and texture. It’s important to know the difference between thick cut and regular cut bacon.
- Pros: Thick slices are ideal for jerky because they hold up better during the drying process. They result in a chewier, more substantial snack.
- Cons: It takes longer to dry due to the increased thickness.
Regular Cut Bacon
- Pros: It dries faster because it’s thinner. The texture is slightly less chewy, which some people may prefer.
- Cons: Can become too dry or brittle if not watched closely.
Regarding fat content, high-quality bacon with a good balance of meat and fat is key. Fat adds flavor and helps keep the jerky moist. However, too much fat can make the jerky overly greasy. Look for bacon that has visible streaks of meat alongside the fat. This type of bacon will offer a nice texture and flavor after being dried.
Consider trying a few different types of bacon to find which one you prefer. The journey to making the perfect bacon jerky is personal and should be enjoyable. Remember, quality ingredients yield quality results.
|Type of Bacon
|Sturdy, chewy texture
|Longer drying time
|Quicker to dry
|May become too dry
Choose your bacon wisely as it’s the foundation of making delicious bacon jerky.
To make bacon jerky, one must have the right tools. Depending on the method chosen, the equipment varies, but certain items are staples in the jerky-making process.
Using an Oven
For those who prefer the oven method, a baking sheet lined with either foil or a silicone mat is crucial to catch drippings and prevent sticking. It’s also helpful to use a cooling rack placed on top of the baking sheet; this allows the bacon to cook evenly and the hot air to circulate. Don’t forget paper towels to blot excess grease.
Using a Dehydrator
When using a food dehydrator, ensure it comes with sufficient racks or trays to lay out the bacon strips flat. Some dehydrators come with non-stick sheets or mesh screens which are very useful. The key is to allow air to flow around each piece for consistent drying.
Using a Smoker
Smoker enthusiasts will need a reliable smoker that can maintain a low, steady temperature. Along with wood chips for flavor, a cooling rack can be used in the smoker to place the bacon on, ensuring it gets an all-around exposure to smoke. Be ready to use foil to wrap the jerky if needed to prevent it from over-drying.
Remember, the tools can make or break your bacon jerky experience. Each method requires specific equipment, but the dedication to following through with the right setup can lead to delicious homemade bacon jerky.
Preparing the Marinade
When making bacon jerky, creating the perfect marinade is crucial. It infuses the bacon with flavors that can range from sweet and savory to spicy.
For a sweet twist to bacon jerky, one can incorporate ingredients like brown sugar, honey, or maple syrup into the mix. Brown sugar and honey can create a caramelized texture when baked, while maple syrup adds a distinct autumnal warmth.
- Ingredients for Sweet Marinade:
- 1/4 cup brown sugar or honey
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
Marinate for at least 2 hours, or overnight for a deeper flavor.
A savory marinade involves soy sauce as a base, with garlic and onion powder for aromatic earthiness, and a touch of black pepper for heat.
- Savory Marinade Components:
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
Mix these together well before soaking the bacon for several hours, letting the flavors meld.
Those preferring a kick to their bacon jerky might opt for Sriracha or a generic hot sauce. These spicy elements should be used judiciously to not overpower the meat’s flavor.
- Making a Spicy Marinade:
- 1/4 cup Sriracha or hot sauce
- 1/4 cup maple syrup or honey
Balance the heat with some sweetness by adding honey or maple, then let the bacon soak to absorb the spicy notes.
Flavoring and Seasoning
The journey to creating delicious bacon jerky blends a variety of flavorings and seasonings to achieve different taste profiles. Carefully selected spices, sugars, and sauces are key to crafting the perfect snack.
Classic Bacon Jerky
Classic bacon jerky relies on a simple combination of salt and ground black pepper to enhance the meat’s natural flavors. This basic approach respects the traditional smoky and savory notes of bacon, allowing the quality of the meat to shine through, making for an enjoyable, unadulterated snack.
Sweet and Savory Variations
In contrast to the classic version, sweet and savory variations like Candied Bacon and Maple Bacon Jerky include a mix of brown sugar or maple syrup for a touch of sweetness that complements the bacon’s saltiness. These recipes often entail a glaze, which not only adds layers of flavor but also imparts an irresistible glisten to the finished product. Here’s an example of a simple glaze:
- 2 tbsp of maple syrup
- 1 tbsp of brown sugar
- A pinch of black pepper
Mixing these ingredients and applying them to the bacon strips before drying will result in a jerky with complex, sweet-and-savory notes.
Spicy Jerky Variations
Spicy versions, such as Sriracha Bacon Jerky, turn up the heat by incorporating sauces with chili peppers like Sriracha, or dry spices such as cayenne pepper. These ingredients not only add a kick to the jerky but also contribute an element of umami, enhancing the bacon’s inherent savory qualities. Careful balance is key; a spicy dry rub may look like this:
- 1 tsp of Sriracha sauce
- 1/2 tsp of cayenne pepper
- 1 tsp of brown sugar
Rubbing the above mix onto bacon strips before they are dried will cater to those who prefer their snacks with a fiery touch.
Preparing the Bacon for Drying
Before turning bacon into jerky, one must prepare it carefully to ensure the best texture and flavor. The preparation process involves reducing moisture, balancing fat content, and adding flavors through a marinade.
Selecting Bacon: Choose thick-sliced bacon as it holds up better during the drying process. It should have a balance of fat and meat; the fat adds flavor while too much can cause the jerky to be greasy.
Texture Consideration: Blotting the bacon with a paper towel removes excess fat and moisture, ensuring the final product is chewy, not soggy.
- Prepare your marinade, which can range from savory to sweet. If you are using sugar in your marinade, remember that it not only enhances flavor but also helps with the drying process.
- Lay the bacon strips in a tray and coat them effectively using a basting brush.
- Cover the tray with aluminum foil and let the bacon marinate. This usually takes a few hours but can be left overnight for deeper flavor infusion.
After the bacon has marinated and before it goes into the dehydrator or oven, make sure to dab it once more with paper towels to remove any excess marinade. This helps in achieving that perfect jerky consistency. Begin the drying process immediately after this step to prevent bacterial growth and to lock in the flavors absorbed during marination.
Drying and Cooking Techniques
Crafting bacon jerky involves precise drying and cooking methods to achieve the desired texture and flavor. Each technique offers its unique touch to the finished product.
One can make bacon jerky in a conventional oven by laying the bacon strips on a wire rack over a baking sheet. The oven should be preheated to a low temperature to ensure a slow drying process, usually between 175°F to 200°F. The key is to allow consistent airflow and avoid overcooking.
- Preheat oven to 175°F – 200°F.
- Arrange bacon on wire rack.
- Bake for 2-3 hours, flipping halfway.
A dehydrator efficiently removes moisture from the bacon, enhancing its shelf life and intensifying the flavors. The process takes several hours at a low heat setting, typically around 160°F. Users should refer to their dehydrator’s manual for specific settings.
- Set dehydrator to 160°F.
- Place bacon on dehydrator trays.
- Dehydrate for 6-8 hours, until desired consistency.
Smoking bacon jerky adds a deep, robust flavor that’s hard to replicate with other methods. One can use different types of wood chips, such as hickory, pecan, or apple wood, to infuse unique aromas. For those without a smoker, liquid smoke can be added during the marination stage for a smoky taste.
- Preheat smoker to 175°F – 200°F.
- Add wood chips of choice (hickory, pecan, or apple wood).
- Smoke bacon for 2-4 hours, monitoring for preferred doneness.
Testing for Doneness
When making bacon jerky, it’s important to know when it has reached the perfect level of doneness. Jerky should be chewy, not crispy, and should contain very little moisture. To ensure the bacon has dried out enough, one should perform certain tests.
Look at the bacon. It should appear drier and darker in color compared to when it was raw. There shouldn’t be any visible moisture.
Gently bend a piece of bacon jerky. It should bend slightly but should not break apart. If it snaps easily, it’s too crispy and has been overdone.
Carefully press the surface of the bacon jerky. It should feel firm and not sticky. Any stickiness is a sign that there is still moisture present.
Finally, taste a small piece. The jerky should be chewy and flavorful, but not tough or brittle. If the bacon has a leathery feel but still allows for an easy chew, it’s done.
Sometimes, bacon jerky can feel more flexible when it’s hot. Allow it to cool completely before making a final judgment on its texture.
If these tests indicate that the bacon jerky still contains moisture or isn’t chewy, it may need more time to dehydrate. Finding the right balance is key; jerky requires patience and attention to detail to reach the desired chewy texture while ensuring all moisture that could lead to spoilage has been removed.
Storage and Preservation
Storing bacon jerky correctly is crucial for maintaining its flavor and preventing spoilage. Proper storage ensures a longer shelf life and keeps the jerky safe from bacteria.
Refrigerating bacon jerky can significantly extend its shelf life. If one places the jerky in an airtight container or ziplock bags, it can last for 1-2 months in the refrigerator. The cool environment slows down the growth of bacteria, which helps preserve the jerky’s quality. It is important to seal the jerky well to prevent moisture and other contaminants from affecting it.
For those who need to store bacon jerky for extended periods, freezing is a dependable option. By freezing bacon jerky, one can extend its shelf life to up to 6 months. Again, using an airtight container or a freezer-safe ziplock bag is key. To freeze, one should lay the pieces flat, without overlapping, and remove as much air as possible before sealing. Freezing can preserve the jerky’s taste and texture, although some differences may be noted once thawed compared to when it’s fresh.
Bacon Jerky Nutrition
Bacon jerky is a high-protein, low-carbohydrate snack, making it appealing for those looking after their carb intake. However, it’s important to consider the fat content, as bacon is known for its richness in fats.
- Calories: Homemade bacon jerky’s calorie content mostly comes from fat and protein.
- Protein: It’s an excellent source of protein, which is vital for muscle repair and growth.
Typically, a single serving of bacon jerky could contain:
It’s worth noting the bacon quality affects the nutrition of the jerky. Homemade bacon cut from high-quality meat, with less preservatives and additives, can be a healthier choice than store-bought options.
When making bacon jerky at home, one has control over the thickness of the slices and the addition of ingredients. Thicker slices will retain more meat’s original nutritional value.
The fat in bacon jerky isn’t all bad – the body needs fat for energy. But it’s saturated fat one should watch out for, as consuming too much can lead to health issues.
Finally, while bacon jerky is nutritious, it should be enjoyed in moderation due to its salt content and fat. It contains sodium which, when consumed in high amounts, can lead to health problems.
Serving Suggestions and Pairings
Bacon jerky is a versatile snack that can be enjoyed on its own or paired with various foods to enhance its flavor. One can think of this homemade jerky as a savory treat that complements a wide range of dishes.
Cheese: A sharp cheddar or a smoked gouda brings out the richness of the bacon.
Crackers: They provide a pleasant crunch that contrasts the chewy texture of jerky.
Fruits: Fresh fruits like apples or grapes cut through the saltiness, creating a balanced bite.
When it comes to serving, bacon jerky can be included in a charcuterie board alongside an assortment of cheeses, fruits, nuts, and crackers for an impressive display. It’s also a satisfying topping. It can be chopped and sprinkled over salads or baked potatoes, adding a savory twist.
Here’s a simple table to help with pairings:
|Sharp cheddar, smoked gouda
|Saltines, butter crackers
|Apples, grapes, pear slices
In recipe-making, bacon jerky can be incorporated into various bacon recipes. They might use it in pasta dishes, quiches, or even as a protein boost in breakfast wraps. The key to an excellent pairing is balance – combining the saltiness of jerky with contrasting flavors or textures.
Whether one chooses to enjoy bacon jerky as a standalone snack or within a recipe, it’s sure to be a crowd-pleaser. Remember, when making homemade jerky, it’s about personal preference and creativity, so don’t hesitate to try new combinations!
Recipe Variations and Ideas
Experimenting with different flavors leads to an exciting range of bacon jerky that can be tailored to sweet, savory, or spicy tastes.
Sweet Jerky Ideas
For those with a sweet tooth, Candied Bacon Jerky is a fantastic option. Combining brown sugar or maple syrup with bacon strips results in a chewy, caramelized treat.
- Maple Bacon Jerky: Marinate the bacon in pure maple syrup for a classic sweet flavor.
Savory Jerky Ideas
Savory options offer a rich depth of flavor that complements the natural taste of bacon.
- BBQ Bacon Jerky: Use your favorite barbecue sauce for a smokey, tangy profile.
- Baroque Bacon Jerky: Incorporate a mixture of rich spices such as garlic powder, black pepper, and thyme for a complex taste.
Spicy Jerky Ideas
Spicy bacon jerky provides a kick for those who enjoy a bit of heat.
- Sriracha Bacon Jerky: A Sriracha sauce marinade gives this jerky a bold, spicy flavor.
- Spicy Peppered Bacon Jerky: Add crushed red pepper flakes to the marinade for an extra fiery bite.
These variations can transform regular bacon into delicious jerky that caters to different palates.
Safety Tips and Considerations
When making bacon jerky, it’s important to pay attention to food safety. Bacteria can grow on meat if it’s not handled and cooked properly.
Temperature Control: One must heat bacon to a safe temperature. The USDA advises heating meat to 160°F and poultry to 165°F before drying, ensuring bacteria like Salmonella or E. coli are destroyed.
Drying Process: After heating, drying happens at a low temperature over several hours. Consistent low heat removes moisture from the bacon, creating jerky. Make sure your oven or dehydrator can maintain the right temperature.
Moisture is a No-No: Jerky should be dry. If it feels soft or moist, it’s not done. Moisture means bacteria could grow.
- Keep it Clean: Always start with clean hands and utensils.
- Storage: After drying, refrigerate bacon jerky in an airtight container to keep it safe.
Here’s a simple checklist to follow:
- Clean and sanitize your workspace and tools.
- Preheat meat to USDA-recommended temperatures.
- Dehydrate at a consistent low temperature until completely dry.
- Store in a cool, dry place, and refrigerate when not being eaten.
Finally, always use your senses. If the jerky smells off or looks wrong, better to be safe and throw it out. Following these steps will help make sure your bacon jerky is delicious and safe to eat.
Bacon Jerky Recipe
- 1 lb thick-cut bacon
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper optional for heat
- Preparation: Preheat your oven to 200°F (93°C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and place a wire rack on top.
- Marinade: In a mixing bowl, combine brown sugar, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, garlic powder, onion powder, smoked paprika, black pepper, and cayenne pepper.
- Marinate Bacon: Slice the bacon into strips and coat each piece thoroughly with the marinade. Allow the bacon to marinate for at least 30 minutes, or for best results, overnight in the refrigerator.
- Arrange Bacon: Lay the marinated bacon strips on the wire rack, ensuring they don’t overlap.
- Slow Cook: Place the baking sheet in the oven and cook for 2 to 3 hours, or until the bacon reaches your desired level of chewiness.
- Cooling: Remove the bacon jerky from the oven and let it cool. The jerky will continue to firm up as it cools.
- Storage: Store the bacon jerky in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.