The Part Of The Pig Bacon Comes From Is Different In The US And UK

As far as breakfast dishes go, there is perhaps no food more beloved than bacon. Across the globe, the salted, cured cut of pork has proven to be a crowd pleaser. But not all bacon is made the same. Depending on where you are in the world, the word bacon can actually refer to several different cuts of pork. If you order bacon in the United States, for example, you will be served a plate of fat streaked bacon. This bacon comes from the belly of the pig exclusively, and is also known as American bacon. Meanwhile, bacon in the United Kingdom lacks that distinct, fat streaked consistency, instead taking a more rounded, tear drop like shape. British bacon, unlike American bacon, comes from the back of the pig, and is much leaner than American bacon, with only a rim of fat around the edge.


This is not to say that you can't find pork belly bacon (not to be confused with pork belly) in the UK. However, it isn't a breakfast staple as it is in the United States. Rather, pork belly bacon is often reserved for hors d'oeuvres and other dishes that use the meat as a highlight rather than a staple. Conversely, you can find UK style back bacon in the U.S. as well, but you'd be hard pressed to find it if you're looking for it under the bacon label. Only bacon produced from the belly of the pig can be labeled as bacon in the U.S.

Bacon from the belly or the back

Both British and American bacon are prepared through curing and salting, and have a delicious, savory flavor that works well in many dishes. The biggest difference between British and American bacon is the part of the pig from which the meat originates. In the United Kingdom, bacon can come from multiple parts of the pig. It's simply that the most popular cut comes from the back and loin of the pig, similar to the medallion shaped Canadian bacon. Things in the United States are a bit more complicated, legally speaking. This is because the U.S. Department of Agriculture only allows bacon cut from the belly of the pig to be called "bacon". Therefore, other parts of the pig cannot legally take the name. 


Rather, these cuts are labelled according to the part of the pig from which they originate. Still, belly cut bacon is king in America, and if you were to ask an American what bacon is, they would probably limit their definitions to the fat striped, long cuts of bacon that adorn so many breakfasts plates. But maybe it's time to reassess our limited view of what bacon can be.

Bacons of the world

It isn't that Americans are unfamiliar with other cuts of bacon, however. After all, Canadian Bacon is a popular cut of meat in the U.S. It can be found in many dishes, including the iconic McDonald's Egg McMuffin. Canadian bacon is similar to English style bacon, as it comes from the pork loin, near the back of the pig. However, unlike English style bacon, Canadian bacon doesn't have the trim of fat on the outside.


In this way, English bacon is the perfect middle ground between American and Canadian bacon, bringing the fat of streaked, American bacon and the dense, meaty flavor of Canadian bacon into one delicious cut of pork. So, if you're feeling a mite peckish for something meaty, fatty, and bloody delicious you might want to go for English bacon, also known as "rashers" in the UK. To try in it the U.S., visit your local butcher and specify that you want "back bacon." This will ensure that you get the cut that you want.