Pork Belly vs. Bacon: One Location, Two Very Different Types Of Meat

Pork Belly vs Bacon

Pork Belly vs. Bacon: One Location, Two Very Different Types Of Meat

Waking up to a hot breakfast of eggs and bacon can make your mouth water and your taste buds tingle. If you are a parent, chances are your child asks, “Where exactly does bacon come from?” or it's even possible you have thought this yourself! You may have wondered what the difference between pork belly and bacon is. We know they come from a pig, but what part and how? 

Bacon can come from many different places on the pig or other animals. However, the most popular streaky white bacon we enjoy in America derives from pork belly. 

We will cover the differences between pork belly and bacon later in this post, but the most important difference is that pork belly comes from the underpart of the pig. Pork belly cannot come from any other part of the pig. Therefore, it is large and not smoked or cured. On the other hand, the white streak fatty bacon we know and love comes from the pork belly. Bacon undergoes a curing process, and many love to eat it alongside eggs, sausage, and even biscuits and gravy! 

When it comes to pork belly and bacon, there are a handful of differences. In this post, we will cover:

  • What exactly is the difference between the two is
  • Cooking methods
  • Nutritional value
  • What each one is 
  • Substitution for both

Let's start and look below at the differences between pork belly and bacon. 

Pork Belly vs. Bacon: What are the Differences?

It can be confusing when you are talking about pork belly and bacon. After all, one comes from the other. Bacon can come from pork belly. However, there are other places to get bacon; you do not always have to eat bacon from a pig! Pork belly, on the other hand, is always the same. It comes from the same place, the underside of the pig.

Pork belly is rich and juicy; it contains plenty of fat, meaning that however you cook it, the result will be a savory, melt-in-your-mouth piece of meat. It is a large piece of meat. On the other hand, bacon comes from the pork belly or another part of the animal. 

Pork belly also doesn't undergo any curing or smoking. Since pork belly doesn't undergo any processing, slow-cooking methods will produce a delectable and rich flavor. This is because the fat will melt slowly and become very delicate.

Bacon, however, undergoes plenty of processing. It is cut from the slab of meat, smoked, salted, cured, and preserved, not necessarily in that order! 

Pork belly and bacon that comes from a pig taste similar. After all, they are both from the same animal! However, bacon tends to have a more robust flavor than pork belly, most likely due to the processing it undergoes. 

poster of butcher's cutting in black and white
This handy illustration displays the areas on the pig from which we get our different cuts of meat.

©Lamai Prasitsuwan/Shutterstock.com

Where Else Does Bacon Come From? 

A pork belly can only come from a pig. On the flip side, bacon can come from different animals and places. The goal with bacon is to cut from places with high-fat content. Hence, bacon is often from the back, sides, and belly when it comes to a pig. It can also come from the shoulder or jowl. 

Bacon can also come from different animals, including:

  • Turkey
  • Cow
  • Duck
  • Venison
  • Salmon
  • Lamb
  • Bison
  • Chicken

There are alternatives to imitate bacon out of non-meat products; these are:

  • Coconut
  • Seitan
  • Soy
  • Tempeh

Alternative animal and nonanimal products are typically a replacement for bacon from a pig because they do not have as much fat and can be a healthy alternative. 

Another difference between pork belly and bacon is the cooking and preparation methods. Read below for the best ways to cook both! 

Cooking Methods

A pork belly is best when the cooking process is slow. This allows the fat to melt and become very tender. In addition, the moisture trapped during the slow-cooking process creates a succulent flavor that melts in your mouth. Roasting the pork belly in the oven or even crockpot makes excellent and delicious meat; reaching the perfect texture and flavor can take several hours. 

Bacon, however, is cooked best when fried over low to medium heat on the stove. First, the fat grease will start to be released, adding to the rich flavor. Next, the bacon will begin curving up; this is when you know it's about done. 

Pork Belly vs. Bacon Nutritional Value

When it comes to nutritional value, is there much difference? Being cut from the same area of the animal, there's not a substantial nutritional value difference. Take a look below at the comparison chart between pork belly and bacon. 

Pork Belly vs Bacon Nutritional Facts


What Is Pork Belly?

A pork belly comes from the underside of a pig. So, unsurprisingly, this meat is filled with high-fat content; after all, it is the pig's belly! 

The high-fat content means that pork belly produces a rich and meaty flavor when cooked. Typically pork belly is kept in one large slab weighing upwards of ten pounds. Pork belly is also where the bacon streaked with high fat comes from. 

What is Bacon?

Bacon comes from pigs typically; however, many different animals or non-meat products can produce bacon as well. The bacon from a pig can be cut from several different areas, like the shoulder, back, and belly. The bacon, which contains a streaky white fat content, typically comes from the pig's underside or the pork belly. 

This type of bacon has a high-fat content that produces a rich, fleshy flavor and a crispy texture. 

Can You Substitute Pork Belly for Bacon?

It is not impossible to substitute pork belly for bacon. After all, they come from the same area as the pig. However, when you do make the substitution, it is essential to be mindful of the differences in cooking times and taste. 

Bacon has a more robust flavor than pork belly, mainly because of the processing that it has undergone. This processing means bacon is saltier and cured. Pork belly, on the other hand, is uncured and not seasoned or salted. Otherwise, it is entirely possible to substitute them. 

Hot fried bacon pieces in a cast iron skillet.top view
Bacon is a delicious breakfast food but is also great on top of salads, in wraps, or even wrapped around other meat.


What are Substitutes for Pork Belly or Bacon?

If you are looking for a healthier alternative or do not eat pork, there are many different substitutes. These are: 

  • Duck bacon
  • Turkey bacon
  • Soy bacon
  • Tofu
  • Beef bacon
  • Pork shoulder
  • Pork fatback

These are not the only substitutes. However, they can be a healthier alternative since pig bacon does have quite a bit of fat content! 

In Conclusion

Infographic comparing pork belly and bacon.
Pork belly has a distinctly different flavor compared to bacon.
  • Pork belly is lower in protein compared to bacon, although both have a high amount of protein.
  • Pork belly comes from a pig's underside, while bacon comes from multiple areas on the pig. Bacon can also come from different animals, like turkey.
  • Bacon is cured, salted, and sometimes seasoned, while pork belly is uncured, unsalted, and not seasoned.

It may seem as though pork belly and bacon are the same thing. They are significantly similar since they are typically cut from the same area as a pig. However, there are some fundamental differences. For starters, bacon has a distinctly strong, cured, and rich flavor than pork belly. Bacon can be cut from several areas of a pig or even another animal. On the other hand, pork belly stays the same in location. It is a considerable portion of meat explicitly cut from a pig! 

A pork belly is an excellent option if you want the same meaty, rich flavor that bacon offers for more people! It takes well to slow cooking methods because this allows the fat to have time to melt and creates a moist, tender, and juicy meat that can be hard to beat. Bacon is delicious for breakfast and pairs well with eggs, sausage, biscuits, and gravy. It can be wrapped in appetizers or tossed on salads. The versatility of bacon is something to behold!

Looking for a great way to use bacon? Check out this baked cheesy bacon breakfast:

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Turkey bacon cooked on a cast iron pan ready to eat

Baked Cheesy Bacon Breakfast

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  • Author: Moms Who Think



5 eggs
5 slices bacon, cooked and cut up
1/2 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
1/4 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1 dash black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt


1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
2. Mix eggs, milk, cheese, salt, pepper, and onion powder in a large bowl. Blend well.

3. Place cut up bacon in a shallow glass pie pan.
4. Pour egg mixture over the bacon.
5. Bake for 20 min, or until the egg mixture has puffed up and the center of the dish is set.
6. Grate as little or as much cheese over the top of the dish right after you take it out of the oven. Serve hot.

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