Also known as “back” bacon, “Irish” bacon, “rasher” bacon, or just “bacon” (in the UK), what we have here is a cured, smoked, boneless pork loin. Much leaner than bacon from pork belly (American Bacon or “streaky bacon” in the UK), Canadian bacon is very tasty and pretty good for you. If you worry about the fat in bacon, Canadian bacon is a good choice. We eat both types of bacon, you just can’t have enough bacon in your life.
Most Americans are familiar with Canadian Bacon as a featured part of the Egg McMuffin, and while it does go well with eggs (and we do make a better McMuffin at home), Canadian bacon has other uses. We use our Canadian Bacon in grilled cheese sandwiches, diced in soups, and simply as a snack. The best way to serve it is sliced thin and lightly browned in a skillet. The flavor is like smoked ham, but with some of the piquant flavor of bacon. Good stuff and a fun project.
Making Canadian Bacon at home takes no special skills, just time and a key ingredient. The key ingredient is “pink salt” or curing salts. You can order them here. And if you want your bacon to taste like bacon, you need to use curing salts. Curing salts do contain sodium nitrites / nitrates and there have been some questions on their impact on health. We looked into it and any health risks seemed minimal. In fact, a little more research told us that fresh vegetables are very rich in nitrates (celery in particular) and there is no health risk associated with nitrates from veggies. So, as vegetable gardeners, we get plenty of nitrites and our health is fine. So we may as well enjoy some home-cured bacon. (Michael Ruhlman has a good, if somewhat heated, piece about overblown Nitrites / Nitrates risks here. It also includes some other scientific links on the subject. )
As for making Canadian Bacon you simply create a brine from salt, sugar, curing salt and herbs. You then brine / cure the pork loin for a few days, dry it for another day and then slowly smoke the loin to cook it. And then you have Canadian Bacon. It looks great, tastes better and you can even say you’re eating “healthy” bacon. Of course, if you want to “unhealthify” your Canadian Bacon and make Eggs Benedict…..we won’t tell anyone…
Home Cured Canadian Bacon:
(Adapted from Michael Ruhlman’s Charcuterie)
What You Get: Tasty, smoky and “healthier” bacon.
What You Need: Curing salts and a hot smoking setup. If you don’t have a smoker or grill you can use for smoking, you can finish the pork in a 200 degree oven, but you will miss out on some of the smoky flavor.
How Long? About 4 days. But only 30 minutes of active time. This is a project.
(makes about 3 and 1/2 pounds)
- 1 gallon / 4 liters water
- 1 and 1/2 cups / 350 grams kosher salt
- 1 cup / 225 grams sugar
- 1 and 1/2 oz. / 42 grams pink curing salt (8 teaspoons)
- 1 large bunch fresh sage
- 1 bunch fresh thyme
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled and lightly smashed
- 1, 4-pound boneless pork loin. Trimmed of fat and sinew.
- To make the brine, place all the ingredients except the pork into a large pot and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to a simmer and cook until the salt and sugar dissolve. Remove from the heat and allow to cool. Then, either in the pot or a container big enough to fit the pork loin, chill the brine in the fridge until cold.
- Once the brine is cold, add the pork loin to the brine and weight it down with a plate to keep it submerged. Keep in the fridge for 48 hours.
- After 48 hours, remove the pork from the brine (discard the brine), rinse with cold water and pat dry. Place the pork on a rack over a plate or baking sheet in the fridge to dry out for 12 to 24 hours.
- When ready, set up a smoker to hot-smoke at 200-225 degrees. Prepare fruitwood chips or chunks (we suggest apple and cherry wood). Smoke the pork until it reaches an internal temperature of 150 degrees, about 2 and 1/2 to 3 hours. Remove from the smoker. Cool, slice and serve. The Canadian bacon will keep, tightly wrapped in the fridge, for about 10 days.
This is the best thing I’ve seen all day. I need to get my hands on a grill and try this ASAP. This looks fantastic. I agree 100% that Canadian Bacon is a great way to save on fat, but still have some of that great cured flavor. Have you ever tried Wild Boar bacon? I saw it on a TV show the other day and supposedly it’s bacon x 10… at least that how it was described.
Thanks- it is worth doing. I would love to try a version with wold boar. I’ve had wild boar sausage and it’s great…
When can I come … for a BLT ??? The whole post is so inviting – I can feel the smell when looking at that last photo .. and that photo with the garlic and herbs in close up is so GOOD! Love Canadian bacon – our bacon in Sweden is just like Danish, far too thin sliced to get a true flavor out of it. We have great smoked and cured bacon too – but normally not used for breakfast or sandwiches.
We call the piece you have on the BBQ for ”kassler”, when smoked – we eat often sliced cold with nice potato salad.
Thanks! I like the name “kassler” and serving the bacon with potato salad.
One of the nice things about doing this at home is slicing the bacon different thickness for different uses…our kids eat this almost like a ham steak…pretty good…
Look for German potato salad .. where the dressing is vinaigrette based and warm. Maybe I should make a post about mine. It’s really a too nice piece of meat for bacon. One of my favorite piece of pork.
I’ve never understood what is so “Canadian” about this kind of bacon? Regardless, it looks fantastic! (I’m a wee bit jealous of your smoker/grill – is that a Big Green Egg?)
It is a green egg- we use it for almost all of our smoking and slow grilling…worth the investment.
I think it’s called “canadian” because regular “bacon” was already taken…
Internet search said it is called Canadian because they “made it first ” -). I’m on now searching how to make it.
Wow that must be really really amazing bacon!!
That cut of Canadian Bacon makes my mouth water! Time to make dinner… Ha!
Thanks! It was fun to make…worth a try..
I would love to try this! I’d have to consult with the husband about the smoking part, though. He’s the grill king.
Maybe we’ll do this as a winter project…
It’s fun, and most grills can be used as a smoker… and this is a good winter/fall project..
We have a smoker! So trying this…..
Cool- hope you enjoy it!
This sounds so good I’m wavering on my “no pork” fence!
Any kind of bacon would break a “no pork” stance around here… 😉
Interesting post and we do love our Canadian bacon!!
Thanks! Worth doing at home…
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I don’t have a smoker, would liquid smoke work in the brine? If so how much?
Liquid smoke in the brine (maybe a teaspoon- strong stuff) and then brushed on the loin while cooking in the oven are both considered “ok”. We would just brush it on the outside while in the oven.
We have played around with liquid smoke and oven-cooked pork and it works, as long as used sparingly…
This looks fabulous. From anything I’ve seen, Canadian bacon as sold in the U.S. is closer to ham. Cured pork loin is almost exclusively referred to as back bacon in Canada or peameal bacon if the loin is rolled in cornmeal. While smoked, cured loin is yummy, Canadian style back bacon is cured but generally not smoked if you want the real deal. Thanks for sharing this great recipe.
Thanks for the visit! We didn’t go for the cornmeal (we like smoking too much!)
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i have lem cure here and it says to use a scant 1/4 tsp. per pound
sorry, but you say to use 8 tsp, what is the difference in the curing salts?????
That is straight from Ruhlman’s recipe. Remember, it is going into a brine, not a direct cure/rub like bacon. And we have done this a number of times, 8 teaspoons in the brine is fine. But I would suggest going by weight, it is always better…
While nitrites and nitrates might occur naturally in foods, and the “cancer risk” might be incorrect, with the added chemical form in foods without fail (blind testing…as in not knowing the ingredients and at random times), causes a reaction for me which is always the same….SKIN RASHES.
Thanks for the recipe! I have made this before and it is great. Your on the money with everything. I use more garlic and skip the berries ( don’t have any right now). My young kids love the stuff. Way better then store bought at less then half the cost. I do smoke but only to 145 f then let it sit. I also put it in fresh water after curing to remove some of the salt. half hour then change water and half hour more. I need to keep my salt intake down. I have also used 1/2 cup salt instead of 1 or 1 1/2 cups. I find it is all good I love cure and smoked pork.
If we want to double the amount of pork, should we double the brine or can we just put the full loin in one batch?
As long as you cover the whole loin with brine, you Are good. No need to increase brine unless if wont cover the whole loin. Thx!
Canadian bacon is known as “Back Bacon” in the UK. It wouldn’t normally be just the trimmed oval pork loin, but would include some of the belly fat, like a pork chop and a similar shape.
Belly pork bacon is known as “Streaky Bacon” in the UK.
Both kinds are sold smoked and unsmoked, but I’ve never understood why you would want it unsmoked!
Anyone know if this cure could be used for slab bacon as well?
Hi- we have another cure on the blog for slab bacon. https://putneyfarm.com/2012/02/03/bacon/
I made this bacon and it was soooo salty you could hardly eat it. It says right on the container of pink salt to use 1teaspoon of cure to five pounds of meat. I just made another recipe were you use 1 teaspoon of pink salt and cure it for 2 weeks and it turned out unbelievably awesome.
Dio you realise you have international readers . When you say 200 degress do you mean centigrade or farenheight?
Sorry, that sounded rude when I read it back , the fact you have international subscribers is , of course, a compliment !!
I have made this bacon many times and love it. I use one teaspoon of curing salt and let it soak in the brine for two weeks. I also inject the brine into the meat with a meat injector. And smoke it with Applewood chips. It is fantastic.