Curing Bacon at Home: How Much Pink Salt Do You Really Need?

If bacon had its own Twitter account, it would have more fans than Barack Obama, Katy Perry, and Justin Bieber put together. Everyone loves those slabs of salty goodness. Even those forbidden to eat it have been known to long for it. The photos below show that I lost more than 20 pounds. I ate all of that food before I finished my first draft a week later (with the help of family and friends, of course; I’m not that greedy).

The many good things about bacon are so important to me that it was hard for me to write about them because the words never seemed good enough. Then I remembered: Bacon is great, and you’re not here to read my bad writing; you’re here because you love it too, so let’s get it started!

There is so much to say about bacon, I’ve divided the process into two parts: curing and smoking. In this post I’ll cover two methods of curing. I’ll cover smoking in part 2.

Bacon was the first meat I cured myself, and it’s the best cut for someone who has never done it before. It’s very simple and doesn’t need any special tools to make a great product that beats everything in your local grocery store. All that’s needed is access to a refrigerator, a smoker, and a handful of ingredients.

Nothing beats the flavor of homemade bacon. But when venturing into curing your own an important question arises – just how much pink salt should you use? Pink salt, or sodium nitrite keeps bacon safe and gives it that distinctive color and flavor. But too much can be risky. In this article, we’ll break down exactly how much pink salt per pound of pork belly is needed to cure bacon properly and safely at home.

Why Use Pink Salt for Bacon?

First, let’s look at why pink salt is an essential part of curing bacon. Pink salt is sodium nitrite mixed with regular table salt. It serves two key functions:

  • Safety – Sodium nitrite prevents the growth of harmful botulism bacteria and other microbes. This is especially important when smoking bacon at the low temperatures required for proper smoke penetration.

  • Color and Flavor – Sodium nitrite gives bacon its iconic pink color and rich meaty flavor through a chemical reaction. Without it bacon would be unappealing gray and lack the robust taste we expect.

While vegetables contain nitrates naturally sodium nitrite provides more reliable results for curing. Plus it requires much smaller quantities to be effective and safe.

But how much should you use when making bacon at home? Let’s break it down.

Recommended Pink Salt for Home Bacon Curing

The recommended concentration of pink salt for dry curing bacon is 0.25% of the weight of the pork belly.

This level provides the necessary preservative action and flavor development, while staying within safe parameters.

To calculate exactly how much pink salt to use:

  1. Weigh your pork belly – Be sure to weigh the belly after removing the skin and bones.

  2. Multiply the weight by 0.0025 – This converts to 0.25% ratio.

  3. The result is the amount of pink salt needed – Measure this carefully for safety and proper curing.

For example, for a 5 lb pork belly, 0.25% of 5000g is 12.5g pink salt.

Use a digital kitchen scale for the most accurate measurement. Volume measurements like teaspoons can vary in density and aren’t as precise.

Tips for Safely Using Pink Salt

Follow these tips for safely incorporating the right amount of pink salt when making your own bacon:

  • Always weigh ingredients rather than using volume
  • Stick to recommended maximum concentrations – more is NOT better
  • Mix pink salt thoroughly and evenly into other cure ingredients
  • Apply cure mixture evenly over all surfaces of the meat
  • Use dedicated equipment and clean thoroughly after curing

And of course, follow proper cooking temperatures for safety once cured.

Signs of Too Much Pink Salt

While the small quantities used for curing pose little risk, excessive amounts of sodium nitrite can be dangerous. Signs you may have used too much include:

  • Unnatural bright pink color
  • Extremely salty taste
  • Tingling or burning sensation in mouth
  • Upset stomach or other gastric issues

If you experience any of these, discard the meat and start over with proper pink salt concentrations. Don’t take chances with sodium nitrite toxicity.

Using Pink Salt in Dry Cure Bacon Recipes

Many bacon dry cure recipes call for:

  • 2.5% salt
  • 0.25% pink salt
  • 1.5% sugar
  • Spices

This combines the right amount of pink salt with complementary salts and flavors.

When using a premixed cure in place of single ingredients, follow instructions carefully to achieve correct concentrations.

With the right balance, pink salt enables making deliciously safe homemade bacon. Just use proper guidelines and don’t take safety shortcuts.

The Takeaway on Pink Salt for Bacon

How much pink salt do you need for curing bacon? The recommended concentration is 0.25% of the weight of the pork belly. This provides the minimum needed for safety and quality. Carefully weigh and mix pink salt for the most reliable results. While essential for great homemade bacon, too much pink salt can be dangerous – so follow recommendations and enjoy your own cured bacon creations safely.

how much pink salt to cure bacon

Two methods to choose from

There are two curing methods to choose from: Dry and wet. Both have their pros and cons. A dry cure is just like it sounds – dry. Salt, sugar, pepper, and Insta-cure are rubbed all over every surface of the belly. It’s then wrapped up and set in a refrigerator for 6-7 days to cure. With a wet cure, the belly is put in a solution that is mostly water and then put in the fridge for 10 to 14 days.

  • Shorter cure duration
  • Easier to store in smaller refrigerators
  • Exotic flavor profiles are easier to achieve
  • Can be a bit messier
  • Sometimes bacon gets hot or cold spots because it has too much or too little cure.
  • Not as messy
  • Cure is distributed more evenly
  • Large enough to take up a lot of room in the fridge
  • It can take up to twice as long to dry than a dry cure method.
  • Exotic flavor profiles are hard to achieve

Since I purchased a giant belly I used both methods. For the dry cure I prefer to use honey and brown sugar to punch up the sweetness. Start by combining ½ cup of salt ½ cup of brown sugar, 1 TBS of black pepper, and 1 tsp of Insta-Cure #1. This amount of Insta-Cure is specific to a five-pound belly. Please be sure and use the correct amounts for the size you have.

After the dry rub is mixed set it aside. Pour the honey over the belly and coat evenly. Then sprinkle the cure over all parts of the meat front and back. After it is completely coated using all the cure and honey, wrap up the soon-to-be bacon. Plastic wrap is perfectly acceptable to use. I found jumbo 2. It’s much easier to fit a thick piece of bacon inside a bunch of 5 gallon Ziplock bags than the other way around. Want to turn up the heat? Substitute this Hot Honey.

Buzzwords are bad M’kay

Nitrite and nitrate nutritional safety has been debated back and forth. Both are naturally occurring in vegetables like celery and beets. Some of the best ham and sausage makers I know use nitrites and nitrates. After consulting local experts and doing my own research I have no problem eating food containing either.

I usually purchase my Insta-Cure #1 from The Sausage Maker. A five-pound tub will last you a long time. Be sure to get Insta-Cure #1 and not Insta-Cure #2. #2 is for long-duration cures like salumi. Any cure lasting less than 30 days would need #1 and anything more would need #2.

Anthony’s Pink Curing Salt No 1


What is the ratio of curing salt to bacon?

Add more if you like a saltier taste, and slightly less for a milder flavour, but generally you’ll want a salt/cure to meat ratio of between 5-10%.

How much pink curing salt to use?

1 pink salt is used to cure all meats that require cooking, brining, smoking, or canning. This includes poultry, fish, ham, bacon, luncheon meats, corned beef, pates, and other products. It is 93.75 percent table salt and 6.25 percent sodium nitrite. It is used at a rate of 1 teaspoon per 5 pounds of ground meat.

Can you use too much pink curing salt?

If, for example, a mistake is made and too much curing salt is added the consumer is alerted because the product will be too salty. It must be kept in mind that preblended curing mixes may have different concentrations of nitrite.

Do you need pink salt to cure bacon?

It is absolutely possible to cure bacon without nitrates; but be aware that the end product will be more the color of cooked pork and that the flavor will be akin to that of a pork roast. With or without the pink salt, homemade bacon is worth the effort.

Can you use pink curing salt for Bacon?

Using pink curing salt no. 1, otherwise known as instant cure no. 1, Prague powder No.1 it has many other names. It helps the curing process in many ways, but I prefer always to use it for bacon. What Pink Curing Salt does for Bacon: But the biggest reason is that it helps keep the meat safe from harmful bacteria.

How much salt do you need for cured bacon?

A minimum of 2% is Needed for Curing the Bacon. Skin Can be Left On or Removed. Curing in this way will create consistent results and allow you to choose the saltiness of your cured meats. So this calculator for curing bacon can work out whether you want a dry or wet brining curing result!

How do you calculate cured bacon?

Wet Brine Bacon Curing = % of Sea Salt + 0.25% Pink Curing Salt to the Total Weight of the Meat in addition 1L=1Kg weight, so 40% water is calculated for the total meat weight If you want a full post on making bacon, check out here. If you are new to cold smoking, this is also a guide to that!

Do you add pink curing salt to meat curing?

For either Pink Curing Salt No.1 or No.2 (same percentages of pink curing salt anyway). Rather than using a hit-and-miss method. This calculation can be done manually, and I used to do it that way for many years. It’s up to you whether you include this additive in meat curing.

How do you get the best home cured bacon?

There is no secret recipe for the best home-cured bacon. It’s all about the meat. Go buy the best, the freshest pork belly, sprinkle some salt and seasonings on it, vacuum seal and refrigerate. Two-three weeks later, you will have the best bacon you’ve ever had. There are three methods of curing bacon: pumping, dry curing, and immersion curing.

Do you put nitrate in cured bacon?

Bacon is cured in the refrigerator, then slow roasted, and finally cooked again before serving. It is not being consumed as a raw, cured meat, so the use of a nitrate is a personal decision. A small amount of pink salt in your cure provides that familiar pink color and bacon-y flavor, or what we have come to know as bacon-y.

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