Introduction: Makin' Buckboard Bacon!

Picture of Makin' Buckboard Bacon!

Do you like bacon? Yeah, me too.

Ever wondered how to make your own bacon? I didn't have the urge to make my own bacon until I tasted some buckboard bacon a friend of mine had cured and smoked himself. It tasted amazing, I was hooked!

OK, but what's this "buckboard bacon?" Buckboard bacon is bacon made from pork shoulder instead of pork belly.

Why would you disgrace the great pork belly bacon? Well, I didn't plan to at first. But then I saw what a pork belly costs per pound! Pork butt is about 1/3 the cost for me. And it made sense to try a test batch of bacon before spending more $ in case I screwed something up.

Is it hard? Does it take a long time? Turns out makin' your own bacon is pretty easy and not really that time consuming. Plus, the end result tastes awesome.

Read on to learn more about how to make buckboard bacon or skip to the end to find out how I managed to combine bacon and 3D printing!

Step 1: Ingredients and Materials

Picture of Ingredients and Materials

1. Bacon Cure.

  • Here's the Amazon link to the product I used BACON CURE

2. Pork butt.

  • Cash and Carry or Costco usually have good deals and decent meat.

3. Non metallic container

  • This is very important. The cure will react with metal and potentially ruin your bacon.

4. Measuring cups

  • Measuring accurately is also very important. Not using enough cure could potentially make you really sick.

Step 2: The Cure

Picture of The Cure

Interesting we use a cure to make bacon. I'm going to take that as proof that bacon is good for you...

First - Wash your hands.

I bought my pork butt de-boned. If yours has the bone in it, remove it before you move on.

(BTW, yes, it was really hard to write that sentence without making a dirty joke...)

Measure out the cure per the instructions for the amount of meat you have. I had 14 lbs of meat which per the high mountain instructions translated to 1.25 cups cure.

Rub the cure evenly on all sides of the meat. I don't have a picture of this, but I have provided a helpful technical drawing.

Cover pork, place in fridge.

Don't touch.

Flip it after 5 days. If there's liquid in the bottom of the pan you can leave it or drain it. I drained out about half to make it easier to move the container without spilling.

Wait more...

After 10 days in the fridge, it's go time!


(14 lbs of meat x1 tablespoon) + (14x1.25 teaspoon) = 14 tablespoons + 17.5 teaspoons

3 teaspoons = 1 tablespoon

17.5 teaspoons / 3 = 5.83 tablespoons (I rounded up to 6 tablespoons)

14 + 6 = 20 tablespoons

16 tablespoons = 1 cup

20/16 = 1.25 cups

Step 3: Soak Your Meat

Picture of Soak Your Meat

10 days already?! That went quick.

First, pull the pork butts out of the container and rinse them off. Be sure to rinse out the bone cavity too.

Next, soak the butts in cold water. This helps pull out some of the salt. I don't think ice in the water is really necessary... but it made me feel better about leaving it in the sink for a couple hours.

Change the water after 45 minutes or so.

After soaking for 1.5 hours, I cut a small piece off and fried it up to check how salty it was. It was still too salty for my taste.

More soaking if desired. 2.5 hours was the sweet spot for this batch.

Pat your meat dry with a paper towel.

Let your meat air dry. I put it in the oven and cracked the door. I learned this trick while letting smoked salmon dry after rinsing off the cure. Using the oven keeps it out of the way, somewhat sheltered and still lets air circulate around it. (Do not turn the oven on)

More waiting... Let it dry for about 2 hours.

Step 4: Smokin'

Picture of Smokin'

This is now (un)officially the instructable with the most apostrophe g's.

Ri'ht. movin' on now...

Time to smoke those butts! Fire up your smoker to about 200 degrees Fahrenheit.

If you don't have a smoker, you can do this step in your oven too. LIGHTLY drizzle the pork with liquid smoke.

Once your smoker (or oven) is up to temp, wash your hands and put the butts on. I put in digital temp probes, you can also use a digital instant read thermometer. Use a bi-metal analog thermometer if that's all you have.

Add your favorite smoking wood, I used hickory. Don't over do the smoke, 3-4 chunks of wood is probably plenty.

Close up the smoker and crack a beverage.

Once you're finished with your beverage, check the pork. I didn't flip the butts, you can if you want.

Add a chunk of wood if needed, then close the lid and cook until the internal temp of the pork hits 140-145 degrees Fahrenheit.

Once you're at 140-145 degrees Fahrenheit pull the butts off and let them sit for 45 minutes or so to cool off before putting them in the fridge.

Mmmmmm.... bacon butts!


I'd highly recommend getting a digital thermometer if you don't have one. The bi-metal analog thermometers are notoriously inaccurate. I now use a Heatermeter and this digital instant read thermometer

This combo makes it easy for me to look like a BBQ'ing hero, I can't tell you enough how much better my BBQ meats taste now that I have precise and accurate temp control. This article from amazing ribs is a good read if you want more info

Step 5: Slice and Enjoy!

Picture of Slice and Enjoy!

OMG, just let me eat bacon already! It looks and smells sooooo good!

OK. The bacon is smoked and cooled off. We can slice it now. Finally.

You can certainly use a sharp knife. Using a slicer makes things easier and more consistent.

I have a hand cranked slicer so I needed help for this step. I cranked and my wife sliced.

This step is pretty straightforward. The only tip I have is to put the meat in the freezer for 10-20 minutes to firm it up if it doesn't slice cleanly.

Once the bacon is sliced, fry it up and enjoy!

Step 6: Bonus Track

Picture of Bonus Track

Bacon and 3D printing?! No way... Yes way! 14 pounds of bacon is a lot. My arm got tired of cranking the slicer. So somewhere around halfway we took a break and I fired up Fusion 360. I made simple 3D printed cordless drill to meat slicer adapter. This simple little adapter made the rest of the meat slicing much easier! 3D printing FTW!

The adapter is designed to fit 3/8" coarse thread and a normal drill chuck. I used PETG and printed at 100% infill. ABS would probably work, PLA might be too brittle. There are no threads modeled, the screw on the meat slicer cut threads into the plastic just fine. I was after something quick and dirty so we could finish slicing and get onto eating!

I had constant QA input from my furry little adviser. Our dog highly approved of this project.

The high mountain cure is great. But I'd bet most of us here on instructables like to tweak things. You can make your own cure and custom tailor the flavor you want. The most important ingredient that I had trouble finding in the grocery store is pink curing salt. I ordered this from Amazon and will try making my own cure once I run out of the high mountain cure.

*Side pork Tangent - I've never understood why it's called a pork butt. It's not the pigs butt, it's the shoulder! Anyone know why we call it a butt? Wiki and google haven't given me a clear answer.

If you read this far, hopefully you got somthin' useful out of this instructable. Makin' Bacon isn't that hard, if you've been thinking about trying it do it! But first - Vote Buckboard Bacon!


ajarrell1 (author)2017-08-17

In pre-revolutionary New England and into the American Revolutionary War, New England butchers tended to take less prized cuts of pork like hams and shoulders and pack them into barrels for storage and transport, known as a butt. This particular shoulder cut became known around the country as a Boston specialty, and hence it became the "Boston butt."[2] In the UK it is known as "pork hand and spring", or simply "pork hand," or, as noted above, "pork shoulder on the bone."

This comes from Wikipedia by the way.

TamaraBerg (author)2017-06-18

Extra points for the technical drawing for placement of cure. Made me LOL. Thank you for that. And bacon. ;-)

Dandeman321 (author)2017-05-05

Where do you buy pork belly?? Mine are $1.99/lb. Pork Shoulder sometimes goes on sale for cheaper but not usually. Great instructable. Been meaning to give buckboard bacon a try.

Nate5b (author)Dandeman3212017-05-07

You're lucky, that's a great price! Costco for $3.99 / lb. is the cheapest I've seen pork belly in my town. Pork shoulder is usually in the $1.75 ballpark per pound and it's easier to find.

CPUDOCTHE1. (author)2017-04-11

The most plausible explanation of pork butt that I have come across is that in old England, a barrel was called a butt and the pork butt looks like a barrel, so it is called a butt. May not be correct, but close enough and even believable for me.

Nate5b (author)CPUDOCTHE1.2017-04-12

Thanks for the info. I wonder if a barrel being called a butt is related to the slang word buttload? Like, "That full barrel of pork you got there is a buttload of butts!"

gmrad (author)Nate5b2017-04-30

Very well thought and funny, too.

Jobar007 (author)2017-04-10

I'm a big fan of pork jowl bacon. If you haven't had that, I would recommend it.

Nate5b (author)Jobar0072017-04-10

Thanks for the tip, I haven't tried it. I'll have to try to find some now!

Nate5b (author)Nate5b2017-04-19

I have a lead on some jowl bacon, it should show up next week. From the pictures I've seen of it, it looks really tasty!

harley573 (author)Jobar0072017-04-13

Agreed! Jowl bacon is the pinnacle of all bacon! Ticks me off that I was an adult before I found out about it! This should be covered in pre-school at minimum.

Fishbum Frank (author)2017-04-08

They call it the butt because the real butt is the ham.

gahooten (author)Fishbum Frank2017-04-11

Pigs have very small shoulders. This makes their shoulders the butt of many jokes. Thus pork butts.

Fishbum Frank (author)gahooten2017-04-12

ba dump bump! He'll be here all week ladies and gentlemen! LOL

Nate5b (author)Fishbum Frank2017-04-08

I hand't heard that reason before. That's an interesting point of view on the naming, thank you for sharing.

But then why is the butt a ham? I guess I'd still like to believe someone didn't just decide to rename parts of the pig one day and that's what we're stuck with now. I'll try the google again and see if I can finally dig up more info.

KenH139 (author)Nate5b2017-04-08

Oh boy. The butt refers to the end or extremity of anything, especially the thicker, larger, or blunt end considered as a bottom, base, or support. Your assuming butt means an ass, but it does not except in slang. No one renamed anything, you are taking modern terms and and replacing them yourself. Don't "butt" your head on that shelf" where the dictionary is :)

BernSh (author)KenH1392017-04-11


Nate5b (author)KenH1392017-04-09

Oh, ok. That makes more sense. Thanks for clarifying.

Yes, I was expecting the butt to refer to anatomy in this case.

miamitreasure (author)2017-04-12

Wow, as a BBQ guy, this one truly interests me. I smoke pork shouder/butts and it is amazing meats for sure, never thought about making bacon.

Great Article ! Thanks for sharing !

DIY Hacks and How Tos (author)2017-04-08

Bacon and 3D printing? BRILLIANT!!! Just one more reason why I need a 3D printer.

Now, if we could just 3D print the bacon!

Cliffystones (author)2017-04-11

Your instructable has to be the best one since 'How to slice bread" :). One of my favorite meals is Bacon and Eggs at breakfast while camping. I'd even love to be able to buy bacon scented aroma therapy oil!

Nate5b (author)Cliffystones2017-04-11

Glad you liked it!

SciFiJim (author)2017-04-11

I have some buckboard bacon curing in the fridge right now.

Try this for an adaptation for curing in the fridge. After rubbing the cure into the pork, place pork in a ziplock bag before placing in the pan. It keeps the cure and juices closer to the pork and makes it much easier and less messy to flip. I don't have to worry about it reacting with the pan. I flip mine once a day.

Nate5b (author)SciFiJim2017-04-11

Good tip on using a bag instead of a container. That would make it a bit easier to store and handle.

What kind of bags do you use? It seems I always end up with a leak or two when I use the gallon size zip lock bags.

SciFiJim (author)Nate5b2017-04-11

I just use off brand gallon bags. I keep the bagged bacon in a pan incase it leaks. Freezer bags are thicker and less likely to leak.

bearbbit (author)2017-04-11

I voted for you! The reason is: I wanted to make my own pastrami and, long story short, it was too involved so I gave up the idea. Your version of 'makin' bacon' involves a lot of time, but little effort, so next time I'm at the store... Thank goodness for ibles and Amazon!!

Nate5b (author)bearbbit2017-04-11

Thanks for the vote!

Pastrami sounds good, I'm ready for lunch now... Pastrami is another one of those things I hadn't thought to try making on my own.

If a chunk of pork does follow you home, I'd be curious to hear how your buckboard bacon turns out.

Bonzadog (author)2017-04-11

I already wrote a comment but it seems to have disappeared.

I want to try this after converting to metric, but a couple of questions:

1) What is Pork Butt?

2) Why do the deboneing references cause humour?

Many thank

Nate5b (author)Bonzadog2017-04-11

1. I pork butt can also be called pork shoulder roast. Is that available where you are?

2. It's funny to me because... Well, it could be read as slang for certain body parts in the bathing suit region. Maybe I'll grow up someday, but not yet.

caitlinsdad (author)2017-04-08

That looks delicious! Do you find after cooking that you end up with a more "jerky" like product? I guess the fatter pork belly cooks up like bacon that I expect but I do get annoyed that a pound of bacon renders out to a few shards of crispy meat.

Nate5b (author)caitlinsdad2017-04-08

It is delicious, give it a try!

It does not end up tasting like jerky, it gets crispy like normal bacon but still has enough fat that it doesn't dry out.

It does cook faster than normal bacon, so it's easier to overcook and burn it.

EcoExpatMike (author)2017-04-08

Sweet sweet bacon.

Lisa48frog made it! (author)2017-04-07

freezers full and I am in heaven!!

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