Confession time: I’ve always kind of had a “meh, same difference” attitude towards bacon  and pancetta. Don’t get me wrong, I love both, it’s just that that I’ve always tended to use the two interchangeably. I’ll use bacon in my carbonara if that’s what I have on hand, or pancetta in my BLTs.

But in the interest of wanting to maintain credibility as a food professional, I figured it would be wise to investigate what exactly distinguishes the two. The obvious answer is shape: Pancetta is curled into a tight roll and wrapped in a casing to hold its shape, whereas bacon is usually cut from the slab into long rectangular strips. Less obvious is that while both are made from pork belly sides, bacon is traditionally bribed and then smoked, while pancetta is cured and seasoned on one side with salt, pepper, and occasionally a blend of herbs and spices. And there you have it.

Hungry yet? Check out some of our favorite bacon and pancetta recipes below.

Bucatini all’Amatriciana

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Let’s just come out and say it, if your standard tomato sauce hasn’t been set up with savory, salty pancetta yet, you’re doing something wrong. In case it wasn’t obvious, this is how you do pasta night right. Get our Bucatini all’Amatriciana recipe.

Chestnut and Pancetta Stuffing

Chowhound

No time like the present to celebrate your love for pancetta, right? This holiday season, sub out the more traditional pork sausage in your stuffing for the peppery, herbaceous Italian-style bacon. Combined with toasty, meaty chestnuts…What can we say? It’s the stuff. Get our Chestnut and Pancetta Stuffing recipe.

Mushroom and Pancetta Soup

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Here to prove that pancetta isn’t married to pasta and can travel beyond Italian cuisine, this comforting soup stuns with a Japanese-inspired shiitake and sake broth. Get our Mushroom and Pancetta Soup recipe.

Harissa-Pancetta Breakfast Pizza

Chowhound

Because baking a traditional breakfast pizza with regular old bacon is too basic for you, obviously your only option is to dazzle everyone with this wake-you-up-delicious version which adds crispy pancetta and fiery harissa to the mix. Get our Harissa-Pancetta Breakfast Pizza recipe.

Pasta Carbonara with Peas

You can thank the Italians for first figuring out a way to incorporate breakfast’s dynamic duo—bacon and eggs—into a pasta. Peas add a nice bite of freshness and crunch to the rich, creamy combination. Get our Pasta Carbonara with Peas recipe.

Pumpkin Risotto with Pancetta and Sage

Live Well Travel Often

Pancetta stars as the oh-so-loveable salty sidekick to sweet, earthy pumpkin in this seasonally on-point risotto. Get the recipe.

Pancetta, White Bean, and Swiss Chard Pot Pies

Smitten Kitchen

All due respect to chicken, but let’s be honest, there are plenty of other proteins you can play pot pie with. Here, pancetta mixes with creamy white beans and hearty swiss chard for a seasonally-appropriate take on the classic savory pie. Get the recipe

Toasted Cashew and Bacon Brittle

Chowhound

Sure, we can all eat bacon like candy but what about using bacon in candy? This crunchy, caramelized sugar snack pairs nutty cashews with our salty starlet to addictive effect. Get our Toasted Cashew and Bacon Brittle recipe.

Braised Endive with Bacon and Mustard Sauce

If you must salad, salad with the bonus of bacon. Here, endives are braised first to mitigate their natural bitterness and then tossed with mustard vinaigrette for tang and bacon for crunch. Get our Braised Endive with Bacon and Mustard Sauce recipe.

Bacon Jam

Chowhound

I’m sorry, fruit. I know you’ve been at this game for a long time but I have to give it to bacon on this one. Smothering eggs in a biscuit breakfast sandwich, slathered over a cheeseburger, or used to dress a salad, this jam is the jam. (P.S. If you’re a fan of the bacon as condiment concept, you’ve also got to get into bacon mayo.) Get our Bacon Jam recipe.

Charred Brussels Sprouts with Bacon and Dates

Chowhound

Can we all agree that Brussels sprouts are pretty much indebted to bacon for life for its relatively newfound cool-kid status? In this rendition, the made-for-each-other pair introduces dates into the fold as a welcome touch of sweetness. Get our Charred Brussels Sprouts with Bacon and Dates recipe.

Warm German Potato Salad

Chowhound

Not to ruffle the feathers of you mayo purists, but this delectable style of potato salad, made with warm, cider vinegar-spiked crispy bacon vinaigrette, crushes the side dish competition. Get our Warm German Potato Salad recipe.

Bacon Black Bean Chili

Chowhound

‘Tis the season for craving warm, stick-to-your-ribs soups and stews, right? In this chili variation, a couple slabs of chopped bacon adds a winning touch of smokiness to the dish. Get our Bacon Black Bean Chili recipe.

Maple Bacon French Toast

Chowhound

Bacon is certainly no stranger to the breakfast or brunch table, but it makes an unexpected cameo in this delightfully gluttonous French toast variation. Instead of being served as a side dish afterthought, it’s mixed in with spiced sugar pecans dressed in maple syrup to create a sweet-salty crunchy French toast topping. Get our Maple Bacon French Toast recipe.

Bacon Fat Fries

Farm & Foodie

Because it’s not enough to simply top your loaded cheesy fries with crumbled bacon, you’ve got to fry your fries in bacon fat too. You know, just to really get the point across. Get the recipe.

Header images courtesy of Shutterstock.

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