Can You Eat Smoked Bacon Raw? A Complete Guide

Bacon – the crispy, salty, and oh-so-delicious breakfast staple that we all know and love. But can you eat it raw?

Specifically, can you eat smoked bacon raw? While smoking meat is a way of preserving it without chemicals or preservatives, it’s important to know whether or not it’s safe to consume without cooking.

In this article, we’ll explore the risks associated with eating raw smoked bacon and provide you with all the information you need to make an informed decision.

So sit back, grab a slice of cooked bacon (for safety’s sake), and let’s dive in!

Can You Eat Smoked Bacon Raw?

The short answer is no, you should not eat smoked bacon raw. While smoking meat at a low temperature is a way of preserving it without chemicals or preservatives, it does not make the meat safe for consumption without cooking.

Smoking bacon only partially cooks it, and eating any raw bacon increases the risk of contracting a bacterial disease. The curing and smoking process of the bacon only partially cooks it, and eating any raw bacon increases the risk of contracting a bacterial disease.

While bacon spoils less easily than other raw meats due to its additives, such as salt and nitrites, eating raw bacon can still increase your risk of food poisoning. Common foodborne illnesses linked to undercooked or raw pork include toxoplasmosis, trichinosis, and tapeworms.

Therefore, it’s unsafe to eat raw smoked bacon. The best way to know if bacon is fully cooked is to use a meat thermometer. Bacon should be cooked to an internal temperature of 160 degrees F (71 degrees C).

What Is Smoked Bacon?

Smoked bacon is a popular type of bacon that is cured and then smoked using different types of wood chips or sawdust to achieve a unique flavor. The smoking process involves exposing the pork belly to smoke at temperatures ranging from 68oF to 86oF, which purely exists for flavoring purposes.

Smoked bacon is different from unsmoked bacon in terms of taste and cooking process. It is flavored, browned, cooked, and preserved using smoke from smoldering or burning material, usually wood. Different types of wood chips or sawdust can be used to achieve various flavors, such as applewood for a mild, fruity flavor, and hickory for a stronger, heartier flavor.

While smoked bacon is more flavorful than unsmoked bacon, it’s important to note that not all smoked bacon is necessarily smoked naturally. Some big industrial manufacturers may cut corners by adding a concentrated smoke liquid before heating the pork belly, instead of actually putting it in an actual smoker. This method may result in bacon that is higher in moisture and generally lower in flavor intensity.

Is Raw Bacon Safe To Eat?

No, raw bacon is not safe to eat. While bacon is a cured meat that has been treated with salt, smoke, and other preservatives to extend its shelf life and prevent spoilage, it still poses a risk of food poisoning if consumed raw.

Raw bacon may contain harmful bacteria such as Salmonella and E. coli, which can cause symptoms like diarrhea, vomiting, and nausea. In severe cases, food poisoning can even lead to death. Additionally, uncooked bacon may contain parasites that can cause gastrointestinal symptoms and other serious illnesses.

While the curing process makes bacon less perishable than other forms of raw meat, it does not make it safe to consume without cooking. Therefore, it’s important to cook bacon thoroughly before eating it. The USDA recommends cooking bacon to an internal temperature of 160 degrees F (71 degrees C) to ensure that all harmful bacteria and parasites are killed.

Risks Associated With Eating Raw Smoked Bacon

There are several risks associated with eating raw smoked bacon. Firstly, consuming raw meat of any kind increases the risk of contracting a bacterial disease. Smoking bacon only partially cooks it, and the curing process doesn’t eliminate all bacteria. Eating raw bacon can expose you to harmful bacteria such as Salmonella, Listeria, and E. coli, which can cause food poisoning. Symptoms of food poisoning from eating raw bacon can include fever, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal cramps. In severe cases, food poisoning can lead to hospitalization or even death.

In addition to bacterial infections, eating raw smoked bacon can also increase your risk of parasitic infections such as toxoplasmosis, trichinosis, and tapeworms. These parasites can cause a range of symptoms including diarrhea, vomiting, weakness, eye swelling, abdominal pain, weight loss, and intestinal blockages. While smoking bacon with nitrites can help fight against botulism and salt can prevent the growth of certain bacteria, it does not eliminate the risk of parasitic infections.

Furthermore, raw smoked bacon is high in sodium and fat which can be harmful to your health in large quantities. A study published in the NCBI reported that individuals who ate 2 oz (50 grams) or more per day of processed meat had an 18% higher risk of developing colorectal cancer than non-meat eaters.

How To Properly Cook Smoked Bacon

Cooking smoked bacon is easy and can be done in a variety of ways. Here are some methods to ensure your smoked bacon is cooked to perfection:

Method 1: Smoking Bacon on a Smoker

1. Preheat your smoker to 200°F.

2. Place the bacon either straight on the smoker rack or on a cooling rack atop a baking pan.

3. Smoke for 30 minutes to give it even more of a smoke flavor.

4. After 30 minutes, kick the temperature up to 400°F and cook until the bacon is finished and crispy.

5. Flip the bacon about halfway through the final 15 minutes to make sure it’s cooked evenly.

6. Once it’s finished, remove and enjoy!

Method 2: Smoking Bacon on a Pellet Grill

1. Preheat your pellet grill to 325°F.

2. Place bacon slices directly on grill grate and close lid.

3. Cook until the bacon is done to your desired level of crispy-ness and internal temperature.

4. Remove from grill and enjoy!

Method 3: Smoking Bacon on a Pellet Grill with BBQ Dry Rub

1. Preheat your pellet smoker for 350°F.

2. Keep the bacon cold in the fridge before smoking for best results.

3. Line a baking sheet with foil and place a cooling rack over the top.

4. Place the bacon slices in a single layer over the rack.

5. Add BBQ dry rub over top, flip and add to the other side if desired.

6. Smoke the bacon on the pellet grill for 40-45 minutes for rendered crispy bacon that still has a slight chewiness.

7. Remove the bacon from the smoker and place on a paper towel lined plate. Remove excess grease and serve.

Method 4: Making Smoked Bacon from Scratch

1. Prepare the cure by combining all ingredients for the bacon cure in a bowl.

2. Cure the pork belly by placing it in a plastic bag with the cure, making sure to coat all sides of the bacon.

3. Seal the bag tightly, removing as much air as possible, and place it in the refrigerator to cure for 7 days.

4. After 7 days, remove from bag, rinse, pat dry, season with pepper, and let it develop a pellicle in the fridge for at least 12-24 hours.

5. Preheat your smoker to 160-170°F using your favorite hardwood.

6. Place pork belly directly on grill grates, close lid, and smoke for approximately 6 hours or until internal temperature reaches 155°F.

7. Let chill completely in refrigerator before slicing and frying up in a cast iron skillet.

By following these methods, you can ensure that your smoked bacon is cooked properly and safe for consumption!

Other Ways To Enjoy Smoked Bacon

If you’re a fan of smoked bacon but want to try something new, there are plenty of ways to enjoy it beyond the classic crispy strips. Here are some ideas to get you started:

1. Creamy sauces: Smoked bacon pairs well with creamy sauces that can carry the smoky flavor. Try adding chopped smoked bacon to a creamy carbonara sauce or a cheesy Alfredo sauce.

2. Bacon-wrapped scallops: For a decadent appetizer or main course, wrap smoked bacon around scallops and grill or bake until crispy and cooked through.

3. Bacon-based sauces: Fry smoked bacon with onions and use it as the base for a hearty stew or pasta sauce. The smoky flavor will infuse the entire dish.

4. Bacon-flavored vegetarian dishes: If you’re a vegetarian or trying to cut back on meat, try using liquid smoke or other smoky seasonings to add a bacon-like flavor to dishes like shiitake mushroom burgers, tofu bacon BLTs, or tempeh breakfast sandwiches.

5. Smoked bacon bits: Make your own smoked bacon bits by cooking chopped bacon until crispy and then tossing it with your favorite seasonings. Use these bits to add crunch and flavor to salads, soups, or roasted vegetables.

No matter how you enjoy it, smoked bacon is a versatile ingredient that can add depth and richness to many dishes. Just make sure to cook it thoroughly before eating!