Three Little Pigs


It’s no secret that we here at Endless Simmer consider ourselves bacon aficionados. We eat bacon, we drink bacon and even make bacon. But do we really know what it is? Over the years I’ve proclaimed my love of English bacon and boasted its superiority over your traditional American bacon, but we’ve never looked at why that is. I’m no butcher but I’ve eaten enough bacon to have a fair understanding of the different types on offer.

From clockwise left, we have Canadian, standard American and English bacon, cooked in a little oil in a non-stick frying pan. Here’s a quick lesson.


Canadian Bacon as we know it is usually meat cut from the back of the boneless loin, often lean with little fat and pre-cooked when store-bought.

Standard American Bacon is what is more commonly found in the store, identified by the USDA as “the cured belly of the swine,” which basically means it’s the combination of meat and fat from the belly of the pig, which gives it the streaky look that you see.

English Bacon is cut from the loin back of the pig, similar to that of Canadian but with the added fat surrounding the meat. English bacon is often smoked or cured, again similar to that of Canadian, but to a greater extent. Bacon in the UK also comes in a form similar to American, but is actually referred to as “streaky bacon” and is less common.

What are your thoughts on the different types of bacon? Let us know in the comments.

More Bacon: Recipes, raves and other bacon bits in Endless Bacon.

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  • Brooke November 10, 2010  

    My thoughts on bacon are three:
    One. I just fell in love with English bacon.
    Two. Must get English bacon.
    Three. EB4EVER
    The end.

  • Cathal November 10, 2010  

    I love english bacon (although we prefer to call it Irish bacon :P). Fry 3 slices, put it in between two slices of buttered white bread with ketchup then put the bread in the pan the bacon was fried in a couple of minutes on each side.

    Completely unhealthy but the ultimate bacon sarnie!

    American bacon has its merits, but without the big medallion of meat there’s something a little unsatisfying about it with breakfast.

  • harleytexas November 29, 2010  

    Canadian bacon is an American invention that no one in Canada buys because we have peameal/back bacon which is way better.

  • marla March 2, 2011  

    Love this post & all those kinds of bacon :)

  • Megan March 8, 2011  

    I’ll take bacon anyway I can get it! 😉

  • Pam January 19, 2012  

    I Love Bacon..thanks for explaining the different types.Any idea of online stores to order the English style bacon?

  • Charles September 28, 2012  

    In fact, back and streaky bacon are pretty much equally common, and it’s more a matter of individual taste. Personally I’d make a sandwich with back but wrap foods in streaky. Other less common English trends in bacon are sweet curing and smoking with heritage woods like oak.

    On the other hand, Canadian bacon is a totally alien concept.

  • Matej January 8, 2013  

    You should definitely try bacon that is made in central/eastern/southeastern europe. It’s best eaten raw (only salt-cured and smoked), not fried. Something like this beauty here

  • charlie April 7, 2013  

    you so called bacon aficionados dont even know how to cook it the best way. bacon under the grill is a MUST, and judging by the picture it is undercooked, the fat needs to be nrown and crispy not white and slimy 😉

  • awol April 11, 2013  

    Actually you’re wrong, although it’s eaten in the UK it’s not british bacon it’s danish bacon lol.

  • are you crazy? August 8, 2013  

    harleytexas!! thank god someone is paying attention!! This image shocked me and is totally misleading.

  • Debbie Churchill October 8, 2013  

    In the UK, we don’t observe the terms English or British bacon. We have 3 cuts — back (cured loin), streaky (cured belly) and middle (a cut comprising the two). Back and streaky are equally common and available. Middle has fallen out of fashion somewhat.

  • Dee October 16, 2013  

    Absolutely fell in love with English Bacon -apparently known as back- on a cruise ship from Hawaii to Australia. Been trying to find it locally since or a source that is reasonably priced for ordering…..

    Love me some English back bacon. American bacon pales in the comparison.

  • Bob October 17, 2013  

    I’m not sure that’s Canadian bacon. It looks like some sort of over-processed lunch meat. Ick. Canadians eat pemeal bacon/back bacon…which is good, although I agree that English bacon is best.

  • Craig October 19, 2013  

    I get to eat bacon every day from many different smoke houses but by far the best is East Conway beef & Pork. East Conway NH 603 939 2813 call

  • John Kitchen March 16, 2014  

    English bacon works well fried or grilled. But in England, bacon can be back bacon, middle bacon or, if you are short of money, streaky. It is also smoked or unsmoked. How much you cook it depends upon personal preference, but overcooking back or middle bacon is considered burning it. In the USA, it’s basically all streaky bacon, overcooked so that it turns into crispy slices of bacon flavoured salt that can be eaten by hand (as the one-handed fork users can’t cut the bacon with the side of the fork!). Succulent bacon is almost impossible to buy in most of the USA The good news – a visit to Britain or Ireland is a bacon-lover’s treat!

  • Susan Swift April 21, 2014  

    Middle bacon is a combination of back and streaky,i love it and is cheaper than back bacon.I only use streaky at Christmas to put over the breast of the turkey to help keep it moist

  • Ian Cunliffe June 21, 2014  

    this needs serious amendment, English or more properly British bacon is not just back , but streaky , what you have called here American, smoked or unsmoked, dry cure, smoked over different woods, as in Dutch & Danish bacon PLEASE AMEND YOR SITE . I am informing the British Food Standards Agency too in the hope they wil make you put this right .

  • Doug Tews August 9, 2014  

    I’m an American living in the UK for nearly 10 years. My initial impression of British bacon was fabulous, especially because it was so meaty. However, my perception in recent years has been changing.

    After occasional visits back to the States, I now realize that American “streaky bacon” generally has a much more pronounced “bacony” flavor than the typical British bacons. This is especially noticeable when mixed with other foods as in a BLT, in beans and ESPECIALLY on pizza.

    In the States, if you bite into a pizza with a piece of bacon on it, you notice a very pronounced bacon flavor on top of the other flavors. However, British bacons, when mixed with other foods tends to get lost…you hardly know it’s there. I always order bacon on pizza but am invariably disappointed as it’s almost undetectable. It has only marginally more flavor than plan ham in that environment.

    On the breakfast plate, British bacon is definitely great and I still enjoy it. However, when used for flavoring in baked beans, on a pizza, or even in a BLT, the American bacons win hands-down.

  • Jack September 14, 2014  

    I’m British and you just can’t beat English bacon! ;P x

  • cecily porter October 7, 2014  

    so glad to see some folks know the pic #1 is not Canadian bacon :) When I first saw the pic, wondered why there was processed ham in the photo. That stuff looks awful. Peameal (no unfortunately cornmeal) bacon is wonderful. I think you’d have to go to the US to get “Canadian bacon” like the round stuff LOL!

  • Mabel November 2, 2014  

    I came back from a three-week trip to the UK recently and I’ve been DYING for a proper bacon butty. I may actually be dead already.

  • David November 21, 2014  

    Streaky, aka “american” bacon for the win. It’s all about the fat. The more, the better!

  • Sassy December 4, 2014  

    As an American who has lived in the UK for the last 20 years, the type of smoke used for creating the bacon is also different,not just the cut. Here in the UK, hickory is not inexpensively available and quite honestly, the type of tree used to smoke the bacon does affect its flavor. Unfortunately much of the bacon sold in the supermarkets over here are injected with so much water that the bacon tends to boil as it fries, which prevents it from going crisp without being overlooked and dry.
    I also agree with Doug Tews, for a proper full English breakfast, the British bacon is meaty and wonderful, but if you want to use bacon to flavor something you are cooking, it gets lost, which is why here in the UK you find most good cooks and chefs use pancetta when cooking something they wish to have a pronounced bacon flavor in what they are cooking.

  • Claire February 12, 2015  

    We eat middle rashers in Australia. So delicious. Moist, with a little crisp around the edges, rendered fat…. Sigh

  • Ron February 18, 2015  

    You people are crazy if you even think that English stuff is real bacon. It’s not even close to real bacon. It’s fatty ham. It doesn’t even compare with the exceptional taste of “real” American bacon.

  • David March 20, 2015  

    Streaky/American bacon is best. No comparison. English bacon is good for a bacon butty, but eaten with eggs, you need the streaky pork belly. Loads of it. Indulgent and delicious.

  • Madd March 21, 2015  

    You mean “real” American store bought bacon. Growing up in farm country, we had fresh bacon from the loin. I didn’t taste the belly bacon until I was an adult. I like it, but it’s fattier.

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