Different Types of Bacon

Bacon is a staple in American cuisine, and you can find it as a side dish with breakfast foods or as an ingredient in all sorts of recipes. While this delicious dish is very popular in foodservice establishments and residential kitchens alike, most customers don't know how bacon is cured and smoked, where it comes from, and that there are actually many different types of smoked meats that fall under the term "bacon." We created a handy chart that explains the differences between the various types of bacon, and we compiled a list of useful ways that you can use any leftover bacon fat to create delicious savory dishes.

What Is Bacon?

Bacon is a type of salt-cured pork that is typically eaten on its own as a side dish or used as an ingredient in sandwiches, salads, pasta dishes, and more. Bacon comes from a pig, but different types of bacon are made from various cuts of pork.

How Is Bacon Made?

Bacon is prepared differently depending on the type of bacon and the region you're in, but it is commonly brined and cold smoked or hot smoked to impart a smoky flavor in the meat. Then, the meat is typically sliced, and you can get it sliced in various thicknesses. After the bacon is sliced, it can be cooked many ways, such as cooked on the griddle with a bacon press, fried in a cast iron skillet, or baked in an oven.

How Thick Are Bacon Slices?

  • Restaurant bacon is the thinnest option you can find, and it's usually cut into 1/32" slices. Because it's thin, this type of bacon crisps up quickly, and it's commonly found in diners, restaurants, and hotels.
  • Regular slices are typically sliced into 1/16" pieces, and they are the type of bacon you'll find in grocery stores or residential kitchens, normally.
  • Thick slices are 1/8" thick. Due to the thickness of the slices, this type of bacon is good for making sandwiches or for adding to pasta dishes. But, it also won't have the same crunchiness as thinner options.

What Is Uncured Bacon?

Uncured bacon is a type of meat that is cured differently than standard bacon. Typically, bacon is cured in a brine of salt, water, and synthetic sodium nitrite, which acts as a preservative. Some studies have found that these nitrites can mix with compounds found naturally in the meat under high heat, creating carcinogens that are harmful to humans. Uncured bacon, on the other hand, is brined with natural ingredients, like celery powder, sea salt, and juice, which prevents any carcinogens or harmful compounds from forming.

Uncured vs Cured Bacon

Due to the differences in the brining and curing process, uncured bacon is healthier than cured bacon. But, do the two have differences in taste? Uncured and cured bacon taste very similar, but there are a few differences.

For example, uncured bacon can sometimes taste saltier than cured bacon because it has to be brined for a longer period of time to give it the same level of preservation as cured options. Additionally, because uncured bacon does not contain artificial ingredients, it tastes more like the pork belly itself. But, these differences in taste can be negligible depending on where you get your bacon, which makes uncured bacon an excellent alternative for your restaurant.

Organic and Hormone-Free Bacon

Customers that are looking for healthy and ethical alternatives to traditional, cured bacon may also be interested in organic and hormone-free varieties of this delicious dish. Organic bacon refers to bacon made from pigs that are raised organically, meaning that they are free of antibiotics and preservatives and they were fed a diet of organic feed. Hormone-free bacon comes from pigs that were raised without the addition of growth hormones, resulting in a clean and natural meat product. Because organic and hormone-free bacon is free from any potentially harmful chemicals, it's a great option for health-conscious establishments.

Different Types of Bacon

Different regions across the world have various ways to prepare and serve this delicious dish. Here are some of the most popular types of bacon, which part of the pig they're from, their flavor profiles, and a few characteristics.

American style bacon

American-Style Bacon

  • Characteristics: American-style bacon is fatty, and it creates a lot of grease when it's cooked.
  • Part of the Pig: American-style bacon comes from the belly and sides of the pig, which have high fat contents.
  • Flavor Profile: Due to the high fat content, this type of bacon crisps up well, resulting in a crunchy texture and a salty and smoky flavor.
canadian bacon

Canadian Bacon

  • Characteristics: Canadian bacon is leaner than American-style bacon, so it's a healthier option.
  • Part of the Pig: Canadian bacon comes from the back and loin area of the pig.
  • Flavor Profile: This type of bacon tastes similar to ham, which is from the same part of the pig.
slab bacon

Slab Bacon

  • Characteristics: Rather than sliced into individual pieces, this type of bacon comes in a smoked slab with a large rind.
  • Part of the Pig: Slab bacon comes from the belly and sides of the pig, which is the same area as American-style.
  • Flavor Profile: Slab bacon is hot smoked, so it has a heavy smoky flavor.


  • Characteristics: Pancetta is a type of Italian bacon that has a high fat content and is typically eaten raw after smoking.
  • Part of the Pig: Pancetta also comes from pork belly.
  • Flavor Profile: It has a fatty and smoky flavor that is perfect for sandwiches and charcuterie boards.


  • Characteristics: Rashers are very popular in the United Kingdom, and they're an essential part of a traditional English breakfast.
  • Part of the Pig: This type of bacon is a mixture of Canadian and American styles, resulting in a cut of bacon that has lean loin meat and fatty belly meat.
  • Flavor Profile: Rashers combine the salty and fatty belly meat with the savory meat from the pork loin section.
Irish bacon

Irish Bacon

  • Characteristics: Irish bacon, also called back bacon, is lean and looks similar to pork loin roasts. You can find thin slices as well as thick cuts of this type of bacon.
  • Part of the Pig: Back bacon is from the back of the pig, specifically the pork loin area.
  • Flavor Profile: Because this is a leaner cut of meat, it's less fatty and has a savory, hearty flavor.

What Can You Do with Bacon Fat?

skillet cornbread

When bacon is fried or baked, there is always residual grease that is left behind. While you should never dispose of your bacon grease down the drain, most people end up jarring it and disposing of it later. But, that bacon grease is packed full of flavor, and you can use it to add a savory and smoky flavor to your ingredients. Here's a short list of how you can use bacon grease in your recipes:

  • Use it in your cornbread recipe. Add a few tablespoons of bacon fat to your cast iron skillet before adding your cornbread batter to ensure you get a delicious crust.
  • Saute vegetables in it. Bacon grease gives vegetables a savory and smoky flavor, and it's an easy way to give your side dishes depth of flavor.
  • Cook your pancakes or waffles in delicious bacon fat to complement sweetness of the batter and the syrup.
  • Create a delicious aioli by adding oil, egg yolk, and other seasonings. Bacon fat aioli makes a great spread for sandwiches and BLTs.

Bacon is a very popular ingredient in our culture, and featuring it in your recipes is a great way to make a dish more popular. Plus, because there are many different types of bacon, each with their own characteristics and flavor profiles, you can feature several styles of bacon on your menu. And make sure that when you fry up bacon in a pan or on your griddle you save the bacon grease, because you can use it in a variety of other dishes.

Posted in: Kitchen & Cooking Tips|By Richard Traylor
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