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What is Back Bacon?

By G. Wiesen
Updated May 16, 2024
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Back bacon is a type of bacon found throughout the United States (US) that is cut from pork loins found at the back of a pig, rather than traditional US bacon that is made from cuts of meat from the belly or underside of the pig. The region along the back of the pig is less fatty, and the bacon from that area does not usually have the fat content that regular bacon has. Otherwise, they are quite similar and are both usually cured and smoked during preparation to give a strong, smoky flavor that enhances the natural taste of the meat.

One of the most attractive aspects of back bacon is that it is typically lower in fat that even low-fat cuts of belly bacon. Bacon from the underside of the pig is sometimes called American bacon or streaky bacon, due to the prominent streaks of fat running throughout the cuts. While this fat content can lend some flavor to the bacon, back bacon retains much of its flavor and smokiness while providing a significantly reduced amount of fat.

In the US, back bacon is sometimes also referred to as Canadian bacon or Irish bacon, because of the frequent use of this cut of bacon in those regions. Canadian bacon can alternatively refer to a round cut of ham steak that is popular throughout the US and is available in most commercial supermarkets and grocery stores. In Canada, however, back bacon can sometimes be referred to as "peameal bacon," due to the traditional practice of rolling such bacon in meal made from ground peas. This practice is seldom seen today, and when it is prepared in this way, the peameal has typically been replaced by more common cornmeal.

Cooks should be careful not to confuse back bacon with fat back, which is a long strip of fat found running along the back of a pig. This is often used in hot pans to render down to add flavor and fat content to other foods, or wrapped around other cuts of meat to enhance the flavors of the final product. Salt pork is a similar piece of fatty pork that comes from the belly of the pig and is often rendered down to provide grease to cook onions and other vegetables in to add flavor, especially in soup bases. Prosciutto is similar to bacon and back bacon, but is not smoked after curing and so has a meatier flavor and lacks the traditional smokiness of other types of bacon.

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Discussion Comments
By Perdido — On Feb 16, 2012

@orangey03 – I don't know about using just the grease, but if you crumble up some cooked back bacon in your bowl of green beans, you will definitely get some good flavor.

I think that back bacon holds onto its flavor more than regular bacon, so you might have trouble coaxing it out into the grease. However, since it still has a strong, smoky taste, it will mix in with the green beans in your son's mouth as he chews, making him think that the beans taste that good.

I also like adding bacon to my lima beans. Those just seem to need a flavor enhancement, and the back bacon gives me a little bit of healthy protein at the same time.

By orangey03 — On Feb 15, 2012

I use bacon grease to flavor vegetables sometimes, and it is from the regular, fatty kind of bacon. I know it increases the fat content and calories of things that otherwise would be healthy, like green beans.

Does anyone know if you can use back bacon to flavor vegetables? Does it have the same ability to impart flavor to things that lack it, or does the lack of fat in it mean that it doesn't have the power to do this?

That would be awesome if I could use back bacon instead. So far, adding bacon grease to green beans is the only way I have been able to get my son to eat his veggies. I would feel much better about feeding a lower fat version to him.

By seag47 — On Feb 15, 2012

I try to eat a healthy diet, but it's hard to stay excited about the same foods over and over. I no longer want to eat deli meat for lunch, and you can only eat tuna now and then or you risk mercury poisoning. Back bacon has offered me a delicious option for lunch meat that won't clog my arteries.

Sometimes, I eat it on a whole wheat bun with diced tomatoes and onions. Other times, I will crumble it up and put it in a spinach salad with strawberries and croutons. The possibilities are endless.

I eat lunch with a coworker at a nearby park, and she asked me the other day how I eat so much bacon and stay so slim. I let her in on the secret, and now, she has begun to bring back bacon for lunch. To me, it tastes so great that I don't understand why everyone doesn't make the switch.

By wavy58 — On Feb 14, 2012

I had never heard of back bacon before reading this article, and I'm excited about it! I often add bacon to other dishes for flavor, but I hate that it contains so much fat. I will definitely be shopping for some back bacon next week!

I like to make bacon spaghetti, which has four pieces of crumbled up bacon in it. That's quite a bit of fat, when you are cooking with regular bacon.

Also, my husband often requests it for breakfast, and he eats four or five pieces of it. He has packed on quite a few pounds since we married, and I have no doubt that bacon has been responsible for some of it. I am going to try making back bacon and see if he notices a difference.

By ceilingcat — On Feb 14, 2012

@Monika - Peameal back bacon sounds gross, but the cornmeal covered bacon actually sounds pretty delicious. I've never seen it served anywhere in the United States, but I guess this doesn't mean I couldn't make it at home.

Also, I don't see that much Canadian bacon served in the United States either. I don't think I've ever seen it offered at a restaurant as a breakfast food. Interestingly enough, I have seen it offered as a pizza topping though.

Just out of curiosity, I'm going to check and see if my local grocery store carries this. Usually I just grab my regular brand of bacon without looking at anything else, so I have no idea if I can even get Canadian bacon where I live!

By Monika — On Feb 13, 2012

@KaBoom - I actually think that smoked back bacon tastes pretty much the same as the regular fatty bacon does. I personally prefer back bacon because I like to eat bacon a lot, so the lower fat content makes me feel much better about it.

I will say though, that I'm a little grossed out by the peameal bacon described in the article. I'm all for being healthy, but I will take my bacon without a layer of ground peas. I don't even like peas, so why would I want to ruin my bacon with them?

By KaBoom — On Feb 13, 2012

I'm sorry, but when it comes to applewood bacon, I say bring on the fat! I don't eat bacon often, so when I do, I want to enjoy it, not worry about the fat content. I don't see myself purchasing back bacon any day soon.

In my opinion, lower fat options of a lot of things tend to taste not as good, and I'm sure it's probably the same in this instance. I think it's better to just eat a smaller portion of the fatty food, rather than eat a bunch of the less flavorful low fat option!

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