So, you now know there are different types of bacon, but you can’t tell what exactly distinguishes them- you are going to get clear on it all in just a few minutes. Being a meal across numerous cultures, bacon is known by different names and prepared in various methods. This variance has led to the rise of so many types of bacon, but we shall explore the top 10 varieties in this article.
What is Bacon?
Bacon is a type of pork that’s cured in salt and consumed along with other dishes or on its own. Although bacon is predominantly extracted from pork, it can also be made from beef, chicken, turkey, elk, or non-pork bacon.
Bacon is commonly consumed with salads, sandwiches, or even pasta dishes.
How Many Types of Bacon Are There?
Based on all the classifications we are about to cover, there are well over 23 types of bacon. It all depends on how you choose to classify.
There are four significant ways to classify bacon, which give us the top 10 types today.
- How to store cooked bacon
Top 10 Types of Bacon
Bacon can be classified in the following criteria:
- By mode of preparation
- By location (across the world)
- Based on the cut where the bacon is sliced from
- From the meat used (pork and non-pork)
a) By Mode of Preparations
Depending on how the bacon is prepared, we can have a variety to choose from. The most prominent variants are:
The name suggests this is Italian bacon. It is made by cutting thin spiral slices of belly pork. It blends meat and fat in almost equal proportions. This bacon is not smoked but is often cured with salt and spices like rosemary and cloves.
Some people consume pancetta raw (after smoking), while others add it in sandwiches and salad to emphasize that delicate bacon flavor in main dishes.
Pancetta can also be cut into cubes to make pasta, sauces, and soups.
It’s also relatively common for pancetta to wrap the pancetta slices around meat (usually beef) or even vegetables before cooking.
Deriving its name from the unusual large slabs, slab bacon has the rind left on, mainly. The larger chunks are then cured in various ways, ranging from salting, smoking all the way to aging.
These slabs are cut from the belly and sides of a swine.
A slab can be eaten like a slice of streaky bacon or form part of other meals like soups and stews.
Lardon is also known as lardons and refers to a particular type of cubed or thinly stripped fatty bacon. Lardons may also refer to pork fat, depending on the context.
Lardons are common in French dishes like beef bourguignon to add to the tasty flavor. You may also use lardons in salads, or any other meal that you think can benefit from the rich, salty bacon flavor.
Lardons are prepared from various cuts- the most common being the belly and the fatback.
One more thing about lardons is that they must not be smoked to retain their authenticity. Instead, lardons need salt curing to give them a taste profile close to that of rich ham!
b) By Location (Around the World)
Different cultures prepare their bacon differently, giving us many kinds of bacon. Here are the most popular styles from around the world:
4. Streaky Bacon
This is the American-style bacon, also known as side bacon. If you travel around the US, this is the type of bacon you’re likely to find in every store.
The name streaky bacon comes from the structure of the bacon, which consists of approximately 25% meat and 75% fat. The fat runs in alternating streaks, parallel to the rind, and hence the name.
Streaky bacon is cured in different ways. The most common and the easiest of all is injecting it with sodium nitrate and salt solution. Other common curing techniques include dry curing and marinating in a curing solution. The bacon is then smoked (if necessary) and then cut into thin strips.
Streaky bacon is ideal for sandwiches and most other dishes, all thanks to the rigid texture and prominent flavor.
5. Canadian Bacon
Canadian bacon is famous in the US, but the residents refer to this type of bacon as simply back bacon in Canada.
Back bacon is first properly cured and then fully cooked before slicing into thick slices. The back bacon is cut from leaner parts of the pig, making it look and taste almost like ham.
In some southern parts of Canada, the Peameal bacon is simply back bacon wrapped in crushed peas or cornmeal. Peameal is first cured in a brine solution before rolling in cornmeal.
Also known as British bacon, this type is very similar to both Canadian and Irish bacon. Cut from the loin and the pork belly, rashers are significantly leaner than the back bacon. This bacon is famous in the UK, being a part of the typical English breakfast.
Rashers are wet-cured in a brine solution and can be consumed with many other foods such as eggs, buttered toast, and grilled mushrooms. Beans and grilled tomatoes make up an important part of the English breakfast, which means they can also be paired with rashers.
c) Based on The Cut Where The Bacon is Sliced From
Bacon can also be classified depending on the part of the pig you cut it from. Below are the most common types on this classification:
Jowl bacon is cut from the cheeks of a pig. This makes the bacon so rare and expensive.
Jowls bacon is an ideal option for soul food since it is rich in flavor and texture. The pig cheeks have enough fat to make jowl bacon as tasty as it needs to be, while the muscular tissue gives the bacon a firm texture.
Jowl bacon can be prepared either cured or uncured by frying it for breakfast. When fried, jowls can give your sandwiches a rich bacon-y flavor.
Another way of serving jowls bacon is with green veggies or in a pork liver sausage as a binder. In the latter case, the bacon needs to be first chopped and garnished.
8. Collar Bacon
Collar bacon is relatively rare nowadays, though this wasn’t the case a few decades ago.
As the name suggests, collar bacon is obtained from the shoulder cut. This cut has a robust flavor and a dark color. The cut is mostly flesh with little fat, but the resulting bacon is nowhere short of flavor and moisture.
Due to the rare nature of this bacon, the only way you can be sure to get it is by a mail-order meat company. Even so, it’s better to order a full collar and chop it up for the bacon.
Collar bacon makes an excellent addition to pasta dishes and sandwiches.
d) Based on the meat used
Bacon is not always made from pork. It can come from other meats or even non-meat products. Here are other options apart from pork:
9. Turkey Bacon
Turkey bacon is mainly known for its lower fat content than pork than it is known to come from a turkey.
Basically, turkey bacon comes from smoked turkey meat and serves bacon lovers whose religious affiliations bar them from consuming pork.
Duck bacon is very similar to turkey bacon, and both are often prepared the same way.
10. Vegan Bacon
You got it right, vegan bacon doesn’t include animal meat, but it’s still bacon! There are numerous options here, the most common being coconut bacon.
Coconut bacon is made from various ingredients, including maple syrup, unsweetened corn flakes, and soy sauce. Other optional ingredients can include paprika, tamari, and liquid smoke.
The base ingredient, corn flakes, can be replaced with others like breadcrumbs, shiitake mushroom, and tempeh, among others, to create a varied taste profile.
What Type of Bacon is Healthiest?
Bacon is truly tasty, and everyone who’s enjoyed it may find it hard to digest the bad news about bacon. Bacon is mainly fat (primarily saturated fat). It might shock you that as much as 68% of the calories in bacon come from these fats.
The second negative thing is the curing medium. Most of the bacon types wouldn’t taste as great as they taste without the sodium-based curing solutions. According to recent studies by AICR, the medium is rich in nitrates and nitrites that are linked to cancer.
The last thing I would want to remember before consuming bacon is that it is classified as red, processed (cured) meat. American Institute for Cancer Research recommends not to eat processed meats.
So, what would be the healthiest type of bacon? That sounds like uncured, low-fat bacon. If you insist on bacon from an animal, turkey bacon would be the safest option, while vegan bacon is even safer.
Different Bacon Flavors
Bacon can be spiced with any number of spices to achieve different flavors. As such, there are no standard flavors, just what other chefs and professionals come up with and/or what you may find the tastiest for you.
The most common bacon flavors include:
- Jalapeno-cured bacon
- Rosemary garlic
- Maple chili
- Chipotle lime
- Honey sesame
- Honey chipotle
- Tangy dill pickle
- Pepper brown sugar
Country Bacon vs. Regular bacon
Country bacon is obtained from a shoulder cut. This bacon is then sliced before curing for weeks. The curing medium may include brine and smoke, but there is generally no injecting the meat with sodium nitrate.
On the other hand, regular bacon is what we commonly know as American-style bacon. It is made from a side cut. The meat is then cured, which can be done in several ways, including injecting it with a brine solution.
The main difference between country bacon and regular bacon is the cut and the method of curing. Country bacon has a richer and smokey flavor than the regular bacon you find in stores.
Slab Bacon vs. Regular Bacon
Slab bacon is nothing more than unsliced regular bacon. In short, when you slice up the slab bacon (huge chunks), you get the regular bacon we all know of.
Regular bacon is made from slab bacon.
Streaky Bacon vs. Middle Bacon
Streaky bacon is referred to as American-style bacon outside the USA. This bacon is made from a side cut, often the fattest, hence the name. that fat streaks make up three-quarters of the bacon by size, explaining why it’s among the tastiest types of bacon.
Middle bacon is cut as long strips from the side down to the belly of the swine. By the look, it appears similar to streaky bacon on one side and shortcut bacon on the other. It can be bought with a rind still on.
Frequetnly Ask And Question (FAQs)
Q. What to eat with bacon for breakfast?
A. Bacon can be paired with innumerable foods to constitute a breakfast meal. The most common bacon accompaniment is eggs.
You can scramble the eggs together with bacon or sandwich bacon and eggs between slices of bread.
The prosciutto bacon goes well with egg pies in the morning.
If you like salads in the morning, there are countless of them whose taste profile works comes out nicely with bacon.
Q. Is bacon pork or beef?
A. Real bacon as we know it is made from pork. This is except for other meats used to make bacon, including elk, venison, beef, turkey, duck, and vegan bacon.
Q. What part of the pig does bacon come from?
A. Most bacon will come from three parts of a pig: the back, belly, and sides. Other types of bacon, like the collar bacon and jowls bacon, come from other specific parts of the pig.
Bacon has a long history across different cultures worldwide. This is what contributes to so many types of bacon. What we’ve discussed today are the significant types of bacon you will likely find in most pork-consuming communities. If you think we may have left out a prominent kind of bacon, share it with us below in the comments section.
Rita C. Donnell (Jennifer) has spent the last 26 years studying and practicing nutrition science. She has used a larger part of this time in improving people’s livelihoods. She has done so by coming up with unquestionable ideas on how to tackle food problems in her community. Readmore