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What Is Turkey Bacon?

By Terrie Brockmann
Updated May 16, 2024
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Food manufacturers developed turkey bacon as a replacement for pork bacon, which is high in saturated fat. It has several advantages over pork bacon, such as being healthier and acceptable in households that do not allow pork products. When purchasing any poultry bacon, a consumer should read the label thoroughly because some products contain pork to enhance the flavor. In general, cooks can substitute poultry bacon for regular pork bacon when cooking.

In the United States, there are laws and regulations that govern the manufacture of bacon products, including pork and poultry bacon. All of the ingredients, such as pork, must be on the product label. Normally, a consumer should read the ingredients list because the name may not indicate whether it contains pork. In the United States, the name must accurately describe the product, such as turkey bacon, chicken bacon, or vegetarian bacon. Some American regulations limit the amounts of ingredients, such as sodium nitrate, that bacon may contain.

Turkey bacon allows people to enjoy a traditional Western breakfast, such as bacon and eggs, in regions or cultures that do not allow pork. For example, a person may be living in an Islamic country or in a Jewish household. For people who are allergic to pork, bacon made of poultry allows them to enjoy bacon-based dishes, such as a bacon, lettuce, and tomato (BLT) sandwich.

Although turkey bacon is a cooked product, manufacturers recommend cooking it thoroughly. Most food experts suggest that cooks use a small amount of oil when frying the bacon because it is very lean. Some food manufacturers claim that their product is 95 percent fat free, whereas others say theirs has up to 65 percent less fat than pork bacon. A consumer needs to read the nutritional information label to know how lean the bacon is.

Food experts say good poultry bacon should have an appealing appearance with a natural, bacon-like texture. Pork bacon has a complex taste and aroma that is slightly sweet, salty, and has a natural smoke aroma and taste. Poultry bacon should emulate this complexity. Experts judge poultry bacon by comparing it to pork bacon, but with the understanding that they are two different products. Inferior poultry bacon has an off flavor that lacks the subtle sweet and salty smokiness of true bacon and has an artificial appearance.

Some people believe that the best turkey bacon is made of smoked, chopped, and formed breast meat because it is the leanest part of the turkey. Often food processors use the fattier thigh and back meat to make bacon made of poultry, such as turkey or chicken. Traditional American pork bacon is cured, prepared pork belly, but in other regions of the world, it is usually made of other sections of the pig. Food processors who make bacon-like food, such as poultry or vegetarian bacon, try to form their product to resemble the American-style pork bacon. Some manufacturers use non-meat fillers to achieve the look of marbled fat.

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Discussion Comments

By AnswerMan — On Oct 24, 2014

To me, when you're talking about turkey bacon vs pork bacon, it's all about the texture. Turkey bacon is noticeably leaner than pork bacon, so it has more of a "chew" to it. I generally stick with a recognizable brand, like Oscar Mayer turkey bacon. Some of the cheaper store brands I've tried just didn't have much bacon flavor at all. They tasted more like turkey jerky. They're not necessarily bad, but they're not really bacon, either.

By Phaedrus — On Oct 23, 2014

When my doctor put me on a heart-healthy diet, I had to switch from pork bacon to turkey bacon. I have to admit there was a long period of adjustment, since I was a huge fan of "real" bacon for years. The turkey bacon wasn't bad, but it clearly didn't have the ribbons of fat running through it like pork bacon did.

I finally realized that turkey bacon and turkey sausage were never going to fool me, but I needed to make some serious dietary changes for my overall health. I now use turkey bacon in BLT sandwiches, breakfast biscuits and turkey burgers.

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