Salt Pork vs Bacon: What’s The Difference?

Shopping for pork cuts is a rather perplexing experience. In some instances, the similarities are so glaring that its difficult to distinguish one pork cut from another. While some pieces of meat and deli meat are noticeably different from one another, salt pork and bacon are rather similar.

For many years, sailors and soldiers on long voyages have enjoyed salt pork as their main source of protein because of how well it keeps.

Bacon, on the other hand, has managed to become one of the most popular breakfast protein options, and for a good reason its smokey taste and crispy texture are sublime.

Undoubtedly, bacon and salt pork have some similarities. However, there are a few significant differences as well. For example, one is saltier than the other. But are they interchangeable? Is one healthier than the other? Lets see what makes them different in more detail.

Difference Between Salt Pork and Bacon

The main difference between these two pork cuts is that salt pork is a salty and savory meat thats cured with salt, whereas bacon is a salty and smoky meat that is both cured and smoked.

Bacon and cured salt pork are both made from pork belly. But throughout the production process and during cooking time, salt pork and bacon become radically different. Here is a detailed summary of every distinction between bacon and salt pork.


Originally, it was the Chinese who discovered a method of preserving meat by salt-curing it. So, we can say that salt pork has a long history that dates back to early China, around 1500 B.C.

Bacon first appeared between the 11th and 14th centuries. The first bacon processing facility in the world was created by John Harris in 1770, and by the 1940s, bacon was a staple breakfast ingredient in Britain.

When salt pork became popular in the culinary world is unknown. However, we do know that throughout the 17 century, it evolved into a regular protein lunch for military and navy men in many regions of the world.


Bacon and salt pork have very different amounts of fat. Salt pork is fattier than bacon, despite the fact that the two are the same meat when unprocessed.

Compared to salt pork, bacon has less fat, and cooking it makes it drier and crispier. Thats why frying it in super thin slices is bacon us crazy!

Salt pork is often the go-to choice in recipes that call for fatty meat and a velvety texture.

Curing & Salt

The curing process for salt pork and bacon is comparable, but the smoking procedure is that extra step that distinguishes salt pork from bacon.

Salt pork needs to be completely covered in either salt or brine and kept cold for two days to finish the curing process.

While bacon is also rubbed with a salt or brine solution, nitrate is added to hasten the curing process. Following that, the bacon is hung and smoked to give it its recognizable flavor.

Moreover, bacon has a lower salt content than salt pork. Bacon can also include sweet elements like brown sugar during the curing process, whereas salt pork is only treated with salt.

Since salt pork is saltier than bacon, its always preferable to rinse it before cooking. Bacon, on the other hand, doesnt need to be rinsed and may be prepared right away.


Many people believe that bacon and salt pork both have a salty flavor. This is accurate given that the main component of these meals is salt.

Bacon has a smoky flavor, and its this particular feature that makes it so distinct. But what makes this smokiness so irresistible? Most often, its the wood used during smoking, Hickory wood being the most popular. Bacon may also have a sweet aftertaste thanks to the brown sugar used during curing.

Salt pork doesnt have the unique smoky flavor its simply salty. If youre looking for a closer substitute, salt pork mostly resembles pancetta, but more on that later.


The most important thing regarding the preparation of salt pork and bacon is that you should never eat them raw. Raw meat may cause food poisoning due to harmful bacteria, which are eliminated by cooking.

Bacon is prepared in three ways: fried, roasted, and boiled, with boiling being the healthiest. As we said, salt pork has to be washed to remove extra salt, but after that, you can bake, stir-fry, or boil it.

Additionally, salt pork is often used in soups, fried rice, stews, and roasted vegetables. On the other hand, bacon is commonly served as a side dish, complementing eggs, vegetables, or sausages, for instance. It also goes well in burgers, salads, and mashed potatoes.

Shelf Life

Salt pork has a way longer shelf-life than bacon. When kept in a refrigerator, salt pork may maintain high quality for around four to five months. Salt pork can last even longer if it is frozen.

Bacon can be kept until the expiration date printed on the wrapper. However, if the packaging has already been opened, bacon will be good to eat for around 7 days. Unopened bacon may be kept in the freezer for approximately a month.

Salt Pork vs. Bacon Comparison Table

Category Salt Pork Bacon
Origin 17th century 11th/14th century
Fat More fatty Less fatty
Preparation Curing Curing & smoking
Curing ingredients Salt or brine Salt or brine, nitrate, brown sugar
Level of salt Very salty Mildly salty
Flavor Savory & salty Smoky & salty
Texture Velvety Crunchy
Cooking Rinsed & boiled, stir-fried, roasted Boiled, fried, and roasted
Uses Flavor enhancer Side dish
Shelf life 2 weeks unrefrigerated4 to 5 months in the fridgeMore than 5 months in the freezer 7 days opened in the fridge1 month in the freezer

Nutritional Content Breakdown: Which One Is Healthier?

When choosing between bacon and salt pork, bacon is the healthier choice.

Salt pork has higher sodium and saturated fat content, so it should be avoided or consumed in moderation.

However, how healthy either is will also depend on how its cooked. Fried bacon might not necessarily be better for you than boiled salt pork. If you do want to choose a healthier option, boiling your bacon is the way to go.

Salt Pork vs Bacon: Nutritional Profile

Category (1oz) Salt Pork Bacon
Calories 212 118.2
Carbs 0g 0g
Fat 22.88 11.3g
Saturated fat 8.3g 3.8g
Monosaturated fat 10.8g 4.9g
Polyunsaturated fat 2.7g 1.8g
Cholesterol 24.4 mg 0g
Sodium 760.9 mg 187.7 mg
Potassium 18.7 mg 56.1 mg
Protein 1.4g 3.6g
Fiber 0g 0g
Sugars 0g 0.3g
Vitamins & Minerals
Vitamin A 0% 1%
Calcium 1% 1%
Thiamin 5% 6%
Vitamin B6 2% 6%
Niacin 3% 6%
Phosphorous 2% 5%
Copper 1% 1%
Vitamin C 0% 0%
Iron 2% 2%
Riboflavin 2% 2%
Vitamin B12 4% 6%
Magnesium 1% 1%
Zinc 2% 3%

Can I Substitute Salt Pork for Bacon & Vice Versa?

Bacon is often substituted for salt pork since they both go through the same curing process and are meat pieces derived from the stomach of the pig.

Its perfectly feasible to use bacon in place of salt pork. All you need to do is to choose plain, unsmoked bacon, but bear in mind that it might not have the same salty flavor as salt pork. Hence, you might want to consider seasoning it with extra salt.

To substitute bacon for salt pork, salt pork has to be spiced up to make it richer in taste. Think of using herbs, honey, and chili powder. Also, consider smoking the salt pork to give the meat a characteristic woody taste.


Thats all on the differences between salt pork and bacon, folks! Although they share a few similarities, there have quite a few differences that make them very distinct. Salt pork is saltier and fattier, whereas bacon is smokier and crunchier.

Salt pork is a flavor enhancer that gives meals a delicious, meaty flavor, while bacon is great as a side dish.

Now that you are a culinary expert in salted pork and bacon, you may choose whichever option best matches your taste. Have fun!


Is salted pork the same as bacon?

Salt pork and bacon are both made from pork belly, and both are salted to cure the meat. But bacon gets an added step and spends some time in the smoke house, where it takes on its signature “bacony” smoked flavor.

Is salt pork better than bacon?

Bacon contains less fat than salt pork, and frying it makes it drier and crispier. That’s why frying it in super thin slices is “bacon” us crazy! Salt pork is often used in dishes that demand for fatty meat with a velvety texture.

Can you use salt pork instead of bacon?

You can use salt pork and bacon interchangeably in some recipes. Most of the time, a recipe calling for bacon will require the smokiness and crispy crunch of bacon, which salt pork cannot provide.

Can salt pork be eaten raw?

No, not only will you need to remove the salt that is embedded into the salt pork during the curation process, but you will also need to cook the salt pork before consumption. While the meat is dry-cured, this does not mean that it is safe to eat raw.

What do you use salted pork for?

Salt pork belly can be easily cooked in three main ways. Rendering the fat for its flavor, adding cubes directly into a dish, and frying small crispy bits as an exterior garnish. You can use it in a variety of dishes including New England Clam Chowder, Boston Baked Beans, or your favorite vegetable.

What is another name for salt pork?

Salt pork that contains a significant amount of meat, resembling standard side bacon, is known as “streak o’ lean”. It is traditionally popular in the Southeastern United States.

Should you soak salt pork?

When it comes time to use your salt pork and you pull it out of the barrel, you need to soak it. You need to soak it sometimes overnight, but at least 2 hours. You want to soak it in fresh water, changing the water often so that you get as much salt out of that pork as possible.

How long will salt pork last?

Salt pork has a lengthy off-the-shelf life due to its curation process. Homemade salt pork- that is soaked in salt brine or dry-cured can last for 18 months. Certain commercial salt pork go bad after 1.5-2 weeks unrefrigerated, 2-3 months refrigerated, or 6 months frozen.

How does salt pork taste?

The taste of salt pork, once salt pork has been prepared by soaking out excessive salt. It is a intense pork flavor without the smoke aspect. Frying or stewing salt pork also leads to a different taste. Salt pork tastes a small amount like bacon.

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