German Bacon

4.86 from 7 votes
Jump to Recipe

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Slices of german bacon on a cutting board
Photo by Holly A. Heyser

German and Scandinavian food are not necessarily heavy, brown and boring. Tons of lighter, brighter dishes abound in those cuisines. But they do rely heavily on smoked meats, like bacon.

I looked around for an “authentic” German bacon recipe, but came up short. While I suspect that most bacon in Germany and thereabouts is simply cured with salt and smoked, I was looking for something with a little more regional character. And since I did not find one, I went about creating one.

I started with some pork belly. No reason this would not work with a fat wild boar, but it’d need to be a fat one. Then I tossed in a bunch of Germanic-Northern European flavors: German brandy, mustard, celery seed, caraway, garlic, marjoram and black pepper. Cured it 3 days in the fridge, turning it over each day, then off to the smoker.

Now I suppose you could smoke this over any wood you wanted, but to me, if it’s going to be German it needs to be smoked over beech, alder, birch or oak. I chose oak.

The result is perfect with German food. You mostly pick up the black pepper, celery seed, mustard and caraway, but you actually do get a hint of the brandy and the marjoram. The garlic is pretty subdued. I’ve sliced this and eaten it like regular bacon, but I mostly use it in stews and braises.

German bacon plays a starring role in my recipe for chanterelles and pumpkin spätzle; it is worth making this bacon solely for this dish. It ‘s so good it will make you want to don a dirndl or lederhosen and drink beer. Or maybe just drink beer…

german bacon recipe
4.86 from 7 votes

German Bacon

This recipe is based on a 3-pound slab of pork belly, and it can be scaled up or down accordingly. You will want to get your hands on some curing salt, which you can get in most butcher shops or buy online. Everything else you can find in a supermarket. I smoke the bacon over oak. If you can't find oak, go with -- in order of preference -- alder, birch, apple, maple or hickory. Once cured and smoked, this bacon will a month in the fridge or longer in the freezer.
Course: Cured Meat
Cuisine: German
Servings: 15
Author: Hank Shaw
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 4 hours
Total Time: 4 hours 30 minutes


  • 3 pound slab of pork belly
  • 2 tablespoons brandy, preferably German brandy
  • 27 grams kosher salt, about 3 level tablespoons
  • 4 grams curing salt (Instacure No. 1), about a heaping 1/4 teaspoon
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon celery seed
  • 1 teaspoon dried marjoram
  • 1 teaspoon mustard powder
  • 1 teaspoon caraway seeds, ground
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons black pepper


  • Find a container that will just about hold the pork belly, or use a heavy duty, sealable plastic bag. Massage the pork belly with the brandy over a bowl. If you have any extra brandy, pour it into the container or plastic bag.
  • Mix all the dry ingredients for the cure together, then massage that into the meat. Put the pork and any remaining cure into the plastic bag or container, seal it and set it into the fridge for 3 to 5 days. Every 12 hours or thereabouts, turn over the pork. This helps distribute the cure evenly.
  • Take the pork belly out and quickly rinse off the cure under cold water. Some cure will stick to the meat -- leave it, as it adds flavor. Pat the meat dry with paper towels and set on a cooling rack. Put the rack under a ceiling fan or in another cool, breezy place and let it dry for at least 2 hours, preferably 4. Or, you can put the meat on a cooling rack set in the refrigerator uncovered and leave it overnight.
  • When you are ready to smoke, smoke the bacon at about 225°F for 4 to 6 hours. I never check internal temperature on the bacon, but if you are looking for a temperature, between 140°F and 165°F is fine. This is a pretty well-cured bacon so you don't need to cook the hell out of it. Allow to cool before using.


This recipe makes about 3 pounds. 


Calories: 492kcal | Carbohydrates: 4g | Protein: 9g | Fat: 48g | Saturated Fat: 18g | Cholesterol: 65mg | Sodium: 728mg | Potassium: 181mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 9IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 11mg | Iron: 1mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe? Tag me today!Mention @huntgathercook or tag #hankshaw!

You May Also Like

Panzanella di Mare

Panzanella di mare is an Italian bread salad with tinned fish. This is a winter panzanella with black kale, squash and sage. It’s versatile, too.

Cranberry Sausage Stuffing

A simple recipe for cranberry sausage stuffing with lots of variations depending on what you have on hand. Sausage, stale bread, nuts and dried berries are the stars.

Caldo de Queso

How to make classic Sonoran caldo de queso, a cheese soup with a rich broth, roasted chiles, potatoes and chunks of cheese.

Golumpki, Polish Cabbage Rolls

Polish cabbage rolls, also known as golumpki, are, like many “thing wrapped in other things,” comforting, easy, versatile and delicious.

About Hank Shaw

Hey there. Welcome to Hunter Angler Gardener Cook, the internet’s largest source of recipes and know-how for wild foods. I am a chef, author, and yes, hunter, angler, gardener, forager and cook. Follow me on Instagram and on Facebook.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating


  1. Just get yourselves a copy of the Time-Life book on German Cuisine and Jane Grigsons book on Charcuterie. Then you’ll be there.


  2. I am an American girl living in Bavaria now, and we eat speck regularly. I can get American style bacon in all the markets I have been to, but the speck is always in the butcher’s case and I can get a hunk and slice it however I want. We use it like I would use American bacon, except for frying slices to go with fried eggs. I love the smokiness I get from the speck, especially in cream based sauces over pasta of some sort. One thing… Brown sugar, as in the ‘wet’ variety is rare here. I would replace that with honey if you want German flavor realism.
    BTW I have just stumbled over your blog, through The Contrary Farmer, and am in love with all the recipes and the general idea. Well done!

  3. I’m with Gerlinde. Juniper berries are a very typical ingredient for “Speck”, they give the bacon a very nice taste. My ex-mother-in-law used about 10 dried and crushed berries per kilo of bacon. Give it a try 🙂

  4. Your bacon looks amazing! A few crushed juniper berries added to your seasonings might be interesting here. 🙂

  5. “Speck” is in few German dialects and on few German tables. My father’s side of the family are Scwhabian Germans who fled long ago to found a village in Hungary. Speck is in the dialect, and on the table. Lightly cured, unsmoked or lightly smoked, and no additional spices. It was US-style bacon (AKA streaky bacon) from the pork belly.

    My Aunt Suzi was overjoyed to find bacon when she visited us in the US. She had settled in West Germany after WW2, and her new neighbors didn’t know about bacon. In most dialects it only remains as slang for “fat” — generally OK when applied to small children, but derogatory when applied to adults.

    BTW, Hungarian bacon is excellent. Very thinly sliced, uncured, unsmoked (or rarely very lightly smoked), packed in tins that are filled with lard. A common way to eat it is raw with fresh bread & lots of sour cream. Delicious! Don’t try this with pork from the Americas. But raw fatty pork in slices or cubes, sometimes frozen, are common in Eastern & Northern Europe. try it if you get a chance.

  6. @Hank, semantics aside, I am really intrigued by this recipe. We will probably get a 1/4 pig again this fall, and I intend to get them to leave the side-belly-back fat whole for me so I can make bacon. I love the multi-culti fusion in this recipe, and my in-laws have a smoker. I actually find the authentic stuff pretty boring.

    I know what you mean about pancetta. I would argue, though, that a recipe for “Italian” bacon, would not be pancetta, although you could describe pancetta as a sort of Italian bacon. If you were looking for authentic recipes, you’d look for pancetta. So, to my ears, looking for “authentic” German bacon recipes is simply looking for something that doesn’t really exist.

    Minor commentary really on a very creative and interesting recipe.

  7. I guess you were trying to make “heissgeraeucherter Bauchspeck” – hot smoked belly bacon. There is also Speck from different cuts, like Schinken – prosciutto, or Ruecken (back).
    I recall that you explained that you have to hot smoke things, but if you really care about Nordic or German you may want to use the cold season to switch to cold smoking. I think it is worth it.

  8. Very true, not all terms/phrases can be translated effectively between languages but, even so, searching in a native language can quickly turn you down paths you might not have found in English. Google will allow you to automatically translate many pages, including user generated content such as this. You might not track down the exact translation, in fact there might not even be one, but for 15 minutes and a free search it is a pretty awesome way to glean some insight into other parts of the world 🙂

  9. Kelly: I reckoned as much. But to be clear, I am not trying to make some sort of authentic German charcuterie here – I knew I’d need to do more research for that. What I set out to do is make a bacon for my German cooking that would meld well with that cuisine’s flavors. This one does that really well.

    Oh, and pancetta is absolutely Italian bacon.

  10. The problem with translating is sometimes it just doesn’t. I have lived in Northern Germany for nearly four years, and “Bacon” in Germany is considered an English dish. When you want to buy bacon, you need to ask for Frühstucksspeck (breakfast pig-fat)–fried bacon slices would be a real novelty at a German breakfast, though. Geräuchert Speck (literally “smoked pig fat” is not bacon. It almost always has the skin on, rarely comes sliced, is differentiated by what part of the pig it comes from (lower belly, near the ribs, back) and is generally simply brined and smoked. I haven’t seen much in the way of fancy brines–which doesn’t mean there aren’t any, but the farmers around here who make their own Speck don’t seem to do much more than salt brine-and-smoke. So “German” bacon? Would you call Pancetta “Italian” bacon?

  11. For what it is worth, when I am trying to find an authentic recipe I find it helpful to search in the native language. For example German Bacon, I might try something like…

    Bacon Recipe = Speck Rezept
    how to make cured smoked pork belly recipe = wie man geheilt geräuchertem Schweinebauch Rezept

    etc…Google Translate is an incredible ally 🙂

    Hope this helps!

  12. I use the recipe from (German, what do those guys know about bacon we don’t?) chef Jonas Luster ( he had me at “Bacon Bikini”. I found that using younger pork belly made the bacon more tender and more flavorful in his recipe. Is that something that is overcome in yours?