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Types Of Bacon: A Glossary Of The Different Bacon Types

Page 1: Types Of Bacon Terms & Definitions A To L

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Different types of bacon are cut from different parts of the pig. While they have in common the salting and curing of the meat, the appearances, textures and flavors vary. Bacon can be cut into strips or rolled (to be cut during preparation).

International Bacon Day is celebrated on August 31st: a great opportunity to try bacon styles from different countries.


  Bacon and Pancakes
Bacon: One of America’s favorite foods, it’s enjoyed for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Photo courtesy Niman Ranch.

Below is a breakdown of pork minimal cuts for both premium cuts as well as economical cuts.

Pork Side Chart


See streaky bacon.


Since the beginning of bacon (see the history of bacon), the meat was smoked over whatever local wood was available. With the advent of national trade shows, people noticed that bacon smoked over mesquite, for example, tasted different from bacon smoked over apple, hickory and other woods. The flavors imparted by apple wood (as well as hickory) are very complimentary to bacon, and “applewood smoked” has come to have more consumer appeal than generic smoked bacon.


Back bacon is usually cut thicker than American “streaky” bacon. This cut comes from the loin of the pig which is located in the middle of its back; hence the term back bacon. The fat can be easily trimmed, making back bacon a very lean, meaty cut of bacon with a ham-like texture. However, Irish bacon maintains a layer of fat around the meat to enhance the flavor.


Back bacon. Photo courtesy
A cut of pork that is salted, then cured. The result, fresh bacon (also known as green bacon), may further be air-dried, boiled or smoked. There are many variations to please the consumer: sliced thick or thin, center-cut, precooked, microwaveable, and made from beef, salmon, turkey and other proteins. It can be further flavored with different wood smokes: applewood and hickory, for example. In the U.S., more than 70% of bacon is consumed at breakfast, although bacon is also very popular on hamburgers and sandwiches. The difference among bacon, ham and salt pork is in the brining. Bacon brines have added curing ingredients, ham brines often include a large amount of sugar. Sodium polyphosphate can be added to bacon to improve sliceability and reduce spattering in the pan.


Bacon jerky is made from smoked, dry cured bacon. As with other jerky, a slow heating process removes the moisture from the meat, to provide a long shelf life with no refrigeration required.


Back bacon. Photo courtesy Wild Bill’s Bacon Jerky.
Beef bacon is a product made from a steer’s belly meat, close to the flank area. It is smoked and flavored with spices to taste like bacon. It is generally made by producers of healthier, grass fed beef, who create a “leaner, healthier bacon” (beef bacon is up to 90% leaner than pork bacon). Beef bacon also contains the Omega 3’s and CLA of grass fed beef. It can be found at health food stores, special-ordered from butchers, and ordered online from producers such as

See maple cured bacon.


  Beef Bacon
Beef bacon. Photo courtesy
Canadian bacon, known as back bacon in Canada, is cut from the loin without including the surrounding fat, as English bacon does. It is thus very lean and lightly smoked, and cut from the loin. See back bacon.
Bacon made from meat cut from the back of the pig, near the head.


A meaty, lean meat from the pig’s shoulder that is cured and cut into thin, oval slices for baking or frying. It is a meatier bacon, often smoked with hickory flavor.

Popular in the South, this style is typically heavily smoked, saltier and thickly sliced.


Cottage bacon. Photo courtesy
Most supermarket bacon is cured, using preservatives such as sodium nitrite. In the 18th century, the British system for making bacon became widespread in Europe. For centuries, bacon was cured with saltpeter, a teaspoon for 100 pounds of meat, plus lots of salt. The salt was for flavor; saltpeter was the cure. However, in the late 20th century saltpeter was banned. with the discovery of harmful nitrates that developed in the curing process.

Dry cure is an old style method that uses salt, sugar, and smoke as the preservatives, and not nitrates. As a result, and because the bacon loses water in the dry curing process, it is much more concentrated and intensely flavored—saltier, smokier, and more “bacon-y.” It also doesn’t spatter and curl as much when cooked. The wet cure used commercially often has brine added to it to make it heavier.


English bacon is cut from the loin back of the pig, as is Canadian bacon. But English bacon includes the fat surrounding the meat. English bacon is often smoked or cured, as is Canadian bacon; but English bacon is smoked/cured to a greater extent. American bacon, called streaky bacon in the U.K., is cured pork belly—not loin, as with English and Canadian bacons. The alternating layers of meat and fat create the “streaky” look that Americans are used to.

Bacon cut from the hind leg of the pig. Also called Wiltshire-cured bacon.


Clockwise from top: Canadian bacon, slab bacon and English bacon. Photo courtesy
Italian bacon made from the cheeks (jowls, or guancia, pronounced gwon-CHA-lay) of the pig. The jowl is rubbed with salt, sugar, and spices and cured for three weeks. Its flavor is stronger than other pork products, such as pancetta, and its texture is more delicate. Smoked and then sliced or rolled, guanciale is traditionally used in dishes like pasta all’amatriciana and spaghetti alla carbonara. It is a delicacy of central Italy, particularly Umbria and Lazio. Pancetta can be substituted in recipes. In the U.S. it is sometimes called American jowl bacon.

Bacon smoked over hickory chips or otherwise infused with hickory flavor.


Guanciale. Photo by K.D. Weeks.

Bacon is also made from joint meat. The hock is the ankle joint of the pig, found between the ham and the foot

See szalonna.

The same thing as English bacon.

See guanciale, above.

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Lifestyle Direct, Inc. Some definitions were provided by the Cattlemen’s Beef Board  and are © Copyright 2005 Cattlemen’s Beef Board. All rights reserved. Images are the copyright of their respective owners.

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Last Updated  May 2018

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