The famous advertisement “Everything Tastes Better with Bacon” isn’t just a sales pitch. It’s the truth for any meat lover.
Bacon is one of the most beloved cuts of meat in the pork-eating world. It is a salt-cured cut of pork with the perfect marbling that epitomizes the savory taste.
Bacon is one of the most popular meats in Canada and the U.S., with Europe a close second. Curing and flavoring methods for bacon have diversified as its popularity continues to rise.
Read on to discover the different types of bacon you can find worldwide or at your local grocery store.
An Italian type of bacon, pancetta is pork belly that’s been salted and cured in brine for up to two weeks with different herbs and spices.
The result is thin, almost silky, and fine meat cut into super thin slices or rolls with a large fat marble.
There are likewise different types of pancetta. My favorite is the capicola pancetta, rolled into meat flowers atop a Neapolitan pizza.
Canadian bacon is a uniformly pink cut of meat from the pig’s loin that’s cured, smoked, and cooked.
Ironically, this type of bacon in Canada is called “back bacon.”
Speck is a European bacon tradition that encompasses various types of cuts.
They all use salt and air curing before being lightly smoked. Speck is sold uncooked and eaten as is.
It has a very thick layer of fat at the bottom. Speck is most popular in Germany, Austria, Italy, and Eastern Europe.
In taste and texture, it reminds me of prosciutto.
Uncured bacon may be a misleading title, as all bacon is cured.
However, uncured bacon doesn’t use synthetic or added nitrites to cure the bacon.
Instead, it uses natural ingredients like salt and celery that produce a lower nitrate count.
Many brands market uncured bacon as healthier, but that topic is controversial.
Slab bacon is a much thicker cut of cured and smoked pork belly that you usually find at a butcher shop and not in the packaged meat section of a grocery store.
Slab bacon gives the cook free range to cut a slice as thick or thin as they need it.
You can use it as a thick cut of meat for the main dish or cut smaller chunks to flavor a soup, sauce, or gravy.
Smoked bacon has become one of the most popular types of bacon.
You’ll see applewood smoked bacon and mesquite smoked bacon, to name a few.
Each type of wood infuses a different smokey flavor in salt-cured bacon.
The combination of smokey and savory is a delicious flavor profile to add to any meal, whether it’s a breakfast side dish, a backyard barbecue dinner, or a cobb salad.
Another Italian cured meat tradition, Guanciale, is a type of bacon that comes from the pig’s cheeks.
It is salted and cured for a minimum of three weeks, with a much stronger flavor than pancetta and a softer texture.
The most famous Guanciale dishes are spaghetti carbonara or pasta alla amatriciana.
A French bacon tradition, Lardons are cubes or strips of ultra-fatty bacon that are usually used as a flavoring agent in salads, salty dishes, and even for other meats.
Lardon can come from any part of the pig, whether it’s the belly, back, jowls, or loin. It is a little sweeter than American bacon and much fattier.
Referring to the thicker stripes of fat inherent in this bacon cut, Streaky bacon is the tastiest and most decadent form.
It comes strictly from the sides of the pork belly with the most considerable fat portions.
It’s the bacon you imagine sizzling on the stove at breakfast or the kind you put on your BLT.
Cured bacon is a blanket statement that encompasses all types of bacon as it’s defined as cured pork meat.
In conventional terms, cured bacon uses added nitrites in addition to the natural nitrites released by salt alone.
Cured bacon has a longer shelf life and a richer flavor than uncured bacon.
For populations that don’t eat pork like Jewish and Muslim communities, turkey bacon is a delicious alternative that you might confuse with pork.
It is also a healthier and leaner cut of meat with a lower fat-to-muscle ratio.
Turkey bacon is cured in the same way pork bacon is. I invite you to take the Pepsi challenge to see if you can taste the difference!
A true “Canadian bacon,” peameal bacon originated in Ontario and uses wet cured, unsmoked bacon from the back of the pig.
The defining characteristic is the cornmeal crust that creates a perfect textural complement to the chewy, almost ham-like texture of the bacon.
A popular way to eat peameal bacon is grilled to a crisp and placed on a kaiser roll sandwich with honey mustard.
Just as Bacon Mania has overtaken the nation, so has the vegan movement.
Vegan meat alternatives continue to diversify, and one of the first “fake meats” to appear on the market is vegan bacon.
Depending on the recipe or brand, vegan bacon can be made from coconut flakes, tempeh, tofu, or even shitake mushrooms.
An ingredient they all share is liquid smoke for that smokey flavor.
True to its name, collar bacon comes from the pork shoulder, which is the same cut as a ribeye steak.
It has a distinct fat line running straight down the middle. It’s also a darker cut of meat, which means more flavor.
You can enjoy Collar Bacon as the main course meat as it even looks like a steak.
What’s Your Favorite Bacon?
Tell us your favorite type of bacon and how you like to cook with it in the comments!