Do You Need to Marinate Bacon Before Making It into Jerky?

Do You Need to Marinate Bacon Before Making It into Jerky?

Posted on: January 18, 2023

If you are looking for the perfect low-calorie, protein-packed, flavorful snack, consider making bacon jerky. Though not as popular as its cousin beef jerky, this snack is easy and fun to make. Since the bacon is already sliced and partly cured for you, you only need time and a few more steps to make it. Let’s explore how to make what will soon become your favorite snack.

Choose the Right Cut

The first step to yumminess is choosing bacon that will give you the best results. Go for thick-cut bacon if this is your first time making bacon jerky. You could still use regular-cut bacon, but it will lose moisture quickly, and you risk it becoming brittle. We are aiming for crunchy yet a little chewy, so thick-cut bacon will work best.

How to Make Bacon Jerky


Bacon doesn’t need external flavors to be delicious. Its natural taste is enough on its own. While marinades may slightly improve the taste of your jerky, it is not important. In any case, the bacon’s high-fat content may actually prevent any flavor absorption from the marinade. The better approach is to use a simple rub, and even then, don’t do it at the beginning of the cooking process.

If you must use a marinade, use the simplest of ingredients. You can use water and brown sugar to make a simple marinade. The brown sugar will give the jerky a nice glaze if it is absorbed properly. Put the bacon strips into a zip-top bag and pour the marinade over them. You can also sprinkle a few garlic cloves on top of the bacon strips. Stick the bag in the fridge and let the bacon marinade for at least two hours.

After 2 hours, take the bacon strips out of the fridge. Wipe off the excess marinade and dry the strips thoroughly. If you don’t, they’re going to taste like jerky and not bacon.

Prepare the smoker

There are various ways to make bacon jerky. You can do it in the oven, dehydrator, or smoker. The goal is to dry the bacon, and the best place to do that is in the smoker. We also know a little smoke tastes great on everything so, let’s fire up the smoker. Preheat your smoker to 225 °F (107 °C).

Remember to leave some space between the strips. If you’re cooking a lot of bacon, you may need to use two racks. The fat in the bacon will drip throughout the smoking process, so you need to be prepared with a drip pan(s).

The next step is selecting your wood. Since bacon is naturally savory, woods like hickory, pecan, apple, cherry, and maple will complement it perfectly.

Dry the Jerky

Place your bacon strips on the rack and close the door. The drying process will take 4–6hours. If you didn’t use a marinade, you could take the bacon out of the smoker after 2 hours to add a simple rub. Some of the ingredients that would be good include brown sugar, sea salt, onion or garlic powder, and black pepper. Apply a light coat on both sides of the bacon and return it to the smoker.

When Is Bacon Jerky Done?

The jerky should be ready after around 4 hours if you maintain the temperature. To confirm, take one strip from the smoker and let it rest for 5 minutes. If it bends in half perfectly, it is almost ready. Remember, this is bacon, so it will retain some moisture. Don’t overdo it, or it will become brittle, and that’s not what we are aiming for.

Confirm that the bacon is not stretching like it would if it was uncooked. If it feels firm to the touch, is cracking without breaking, and you like how it looks, you can take it out of the smoker. If you think it can benefit from more smoke, give it an extra 15 minutes and check again.

Place the ready bacon jerky on cooling racks. Use a paper towel to remove excess grease and let it rest a bit before serving.

How Do You Store Bacon Jerky?

Because smoking is a low-heat drying method, your bacon jerky will likely retain some fat and grease. Therefore, there is a high likelihood of the fats going rancid if you keep the bacon jerky for too long. However, you can prolong the jerky’s shelf life through proper storage.

Use ziplock bags and store your bacon jerky in the fridge. They should be good for 1–2 weeks. Vacuum sealing your bacon jerky will give it longer shelf life. You can store it in the fridge for at least a month.

Final Thoughts

  1. You don’t really need to marinate your bacon before making it into jerky. Its natural taste is enough.
  2. For best results, use a smoker to prepare your bacon jerky.
  3. Thick-cut bacon is best for making bacon jerky. It will give you just the right level of chewiness.

Check out a few more articles about smoked jerky:
How to Make Beef Jerky: Tips, Tricks & 2 Recipes for your Bradley
Jerky Preparation and Creating Your Own Blend
How to Make Good Beef Jerky in an Electric Smoker

For more great ideas on how to get the most out of your Bradley Smoker, check out the awesome articles on our Bradley Smoker Food Smoking Blog for more tips & tricks.