There are all sorts of different bacon options available on the market. Traditional bacon is pork, but did you know that beef bacon also exists?
Understanding the differences between beef bacon vs pork bacon allows you to get creative in the kitchen and deliver delicious meals and snacks.
What is Beef Bacon?
Beef bacon is made from a cut on the cow that is known as either the navel or beef belly. It is cut a bit further down on the body from where the brisket joins.
The cut that makes beef bacon is rippled with fat so that once it is rendered, it will look like ribbons of fat in between the meat.
In most instances, beef bacon is cured in sugar and salt prior to being smoked. Some butchers will also choose to dry-age the beef to deliver a more concentrated flavor.
What is Pork Bacon?
Pork bacon is made from a cut on the pig that is either the belly or the back. The belly cuts are going to be fattier, which can lend itself to more flavor.
Regardless of where the bacon has been cut, it is cured by soaking in saltwater and, then, smoked.
There are a few different types of pork bacon depending on where it has been cut, which also determines the level of fat as well as how it is going to be used.
Types of Pork Bacon
Understanding the different types of pork bacon will help you to choose the cut you want based on how you plan on using the cured meat.
Center Cut: This type of bacon is the traditional American bacon that is served in strips. It is cut from the belly of the pig so that it is fattier. The only difference with center-cut is that the fattier ends on either side of the strip have been cut off to create a slightly leaner piece of bacon.
Canadian: This type of bacon is also known as back bacon. It is cut from the pork loin, so it is considerably leaner than traditional bacon. In many instances, it is round in shape, which is why it lends well to being used on breakfast sandwiches.
Jowl: This bacon is also referred to by its Italian name of Guanciale. It is a cured meat that is produced from the jowl or cheeks of the pig. It has a similar composition to traditional bacon with the meat being layered within strips of fat. The jowl isn’t as uniform, however, and there’s a rind of skin found around the outside of it.
Beef Bacon vs. Pork Bacon: Differences
There are quite a few differences between beef bacon and pork bacon. Different dishes will require you to use different types of bacon based on the flavor you want to achieve as well as how you want to prepare it.
Beef bacon is going to be more expensive than pork bacon for a few reasons. The first and most obvious is that beef products are typically more expensive than pork products.
Beef bacon is considered to be healthier than pork bacon because it doesn’t have quite as much fat. If you find grass-fed beef bacon, it can be close to 90% lean. Additionally, you’re going to pay more for that beef being grass-fed.
Beef bacon is going to have a stronger, meatier flavor than traditional pork bacon. Much of this is going to be the difference between red meat vs. white meat. While beef bacon is healthier, it’s also going to take on the taste and texture of beef jerky.
Traditional American pork bacon, due to its fat composition, is going to provide more of a “crunch” when it is cooked over other types of bacon on the market.
The flavors are also going to vary depending on the curing and smoking process that is used. Some of the wood chips that are used include applewood for a mild and fruity flavor or hickory for a woody, heartier flavor.
The nutrition varies depending on the size of the bacon strip as well as how much salt it has been cured with. A slice of pork bacon is typically twice the size of a slice of beef bacon at 13 grams and 6.5 grams, respectively.
Generally speaking, beef bacon is healthier due to its lower fat content. The calories off of one strip of beef bacon are roughly 30. It will have approximately 2.3 grams of fat and 109 mg of sodium.
Pork bacon will have around 53 calories for one strip. It will have about 4 grams of fat and 194 mg of sodium.
The way in which you use beef bacon vs pork bacon can vary wildly.
Beef bacon is traditionally smoked and cooked to be enjoyed just as you would a piece of jerky. Larger pieces can also be smoked or pan-fried as a steak.
Since beef bacon is healthier, it is being used as a substitute for pork bacon. You can use it crumbled on a salad, placed on a burger, and more.
Pork bacon is more versatile, allowing you to fry it up to eat on its own, wrapped around another protein, or even placed across a sandwich.