Basically Everything You Need to Know About Buying, Cooking, and Loving Bacon

published Oct 20, 2014
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(Image credit: Lisovskaya Natalia)

We know that bacon probably pops up in too many places now — it truly doesn’t need to be on every dessert menu — but it’s also too tempting and delicious to ever be passé in my book. Bacon will always a staple in my kitchen, so let’s delve into this crispy, salty, fatty, and meaty pork classic!

(Image credit: Faith Durand)

Types of Bacon

The most common form of bacon, and what the rest of the post refers to, is American bacon. However, there are many other types of bacon around the world, and here’s a list so you know their differences:

  • American – Cured and cold-smoked pork belly that is trimmed of rind; usually sold in long thin or thick slices that must be cooked first.
  • Slab – A large slab of American bacon with the rind still attached that is uncut so that you can can choose how you want to cut it up.
  • Pancetta – Italian cured and sometimes spiced pork belly that is unsmoked; sold in chunks or thinly sliced rounds that must be cooked first.
  • Canadian – Similar to ham, Canadian bacon, also known as peameal bacon, is made from pork loin that is trimmed of fat and cured and sometimes smoked. It is much leaner than American bacon, has a tender texture, and is a bit sweet. It is generally sold precooked.
  • Irish or English – This is a bit of a hybrid of American and Canadian bacon. This is made from curing and usually smoking the pork loin with the fat left on and the pork belly attached. The loin portion is known as rashers, the belly part streaky, and both need to be cooked first.

Learn More About Bacon

(Image credit: Emma Christensen)

Cooking Bacon

Is there no better smell than bacon cooking? Cooking American bacon, while not difficult, can involve some dangerous bacon grease splattering if not done properly. Luckily it has versatility going for it – it can be cooked on the stovetop, in the microwave, or in big batches in the oven. Low, even heat will render out the fat slowly and minimize splattering, crisp it up before it burns, and keep the bacon from curling up.

(Image credit: Emma Christensen)

Freezing Bacon

Frozen bacon is a wonderful product to keep in the freezer to make a quick pasta carbonara for dinner. If you freeze bacon in single slices, you can pull out just what you need and it’ll thaw in minutes. In fact, half-thawed bacon is the easiest to dice and chop up since the fat hasn’t softened yet to make the process sticky and slippery!

Cooked bacon also freezes well and can be rewarmed in the oven or microwave quickly.

(Image credit: Elizabeth Passarella)

Bacon Fat

Don’t forget that the fat in bacon absorbs just as much delicious smoky flavor as the meaty part. Save the grease and use it to fry eggs, flavor popcorn, baste a turkey, or generally use in place of butter or oil when you want a boost of porky, salty, and smoky flavor! Just like bacon itself, bacon fat can be stored in the fridge or freezer for months.

(Image credit: Emma Christensen)

Bacon Recipes