What Brands of Bacon are Nitrate Free? Your Guide to Healthier Bacon

Bacon is a beloved breakfast staple for many, adding a savory, smoky flavor to everything from eggs to sandwiches. But traditional bacon often contains nitrates and nitrites to preserve color and extend shelf life. These additives have been linked to health risks like cancer when eaten in high amounts. Thankfully, more and more brands now offer nitrate- and nitrite-free bacon options, making it easier to enjoy your bacon without the health worries.

In this article, we’ll cover:

  • What are nitrates and nitrites in bacon?
  • Are nitrates and nitrites bad for you?
  • Benefits of nitrate/nitrite free bacon
  • How to spot bacon with no nitrates or nitrites
  • Top nitrate-free bacon brands
  • Other healthier bacon options
  • Tips for cooking nitrate-free bacon

So read on to learn all about the healthiest nitrate- and nitrite-free bacon options!

What Are Nitrates and Nitrites in Bacon?

Traditional bacon contains sodium nitrate or sodium nitrite curing agents. These are added for several reasons:

  • Preserve color – Nitrates/nitrites prevent bacon from turning gray and keep it pink

  • Inhibit bacteria – They inhibit growth of harmful bacteria like botulism. This extends shelf life

  • Add flavor – They influence development of bacon’s characteristic smoky, salty flavor.

However, there are potential health risks to these additives which we’ll cover next.

Are Nitrates and Nitrites Bad for You?

There are a few health concerns with nitrates/nitrites:

  • May increase cancer risk – When exposed to high heat, nitrates/nitrites can turn into carcinogenic compounds called nitrosamines. Studies link high processed meat consumption with increased colon cancer risk.

  • Can cause inflammation – Nitrites may cause inflammation in blood vessels which can contribute to heart disease. They may also worsen inflammatory conditions like arthritis.

  • Linked to insulin resistance – Frequent processed meat consumption is associated with insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes risk. Nitrites may play a role.

  • Can cause migraines – Nitrates have been shown to trigger migraines in susceptible individuals.

However, the cancer risk may not apply for nitrates from vegetables. More research is still needed on nitrate/nitrite risks. But minimizing consumption of processed meats with these additives is encouraged.

Benefits of Nitrate/Nitrite Free Bacon

Choosing nitrate- and nitrite-free bacon has several benefits:

  • Avoids cancer-linked compounds – Without nitrates/nitrites that convert to nitrosamines, cancer risk may be lower.

  • Reduces inflammation – You avoid nitrites that may cause inflammatory damage.

  • Supports healthy blood flow – Your blood vessels will be less exposed to nitrite-induced inflammation.

  • Prevents migraines – Those sensitive to nitrates won’t get migraine triggers.

  • Still tasty – You still get delicious smoky, salty bacon flavor without the additives.

So while nitrate-cured bacon lasts longer, nitrate-free is a healthier choice overall.

How to Spot Bacon with No Nitrates or Nitrites

Reading labels is key to finding nitrate- and nitrite-free bacon. Here’s what to look for:

  • No sodium nitrate or sodium nitrite in ingredients list – These are the main curing agents to avoid.

  • Uncured or no nitrates/nitrites added on label – This indicates no artificial nitrate/nitrite additives.

  • Nitrate/nitrite free claims – Key phrases like “no nitrates or nitrites” make it clear.

  • Nitrite from natural sources – Ingredients like celery juice concentrate naturally contain nitrites.

  • Alternative cures – Nitrate substitutes like celery powder or sea salt may be used.

  • Shorter shelf life – Nitrate-free bacon lasts weeks instead of months due to no artificial preservatives.

When in doubt, contact the manufacturer to confirm their bacon contains no nitrates/nitrites.

Top Nitrate-Free Bacon Brands

Many top bacon producers now offer nitrate- and nitrite-free options. Here are some of the most popular:

1. Applegate

  • Nitrate-free Sunday Bacon – Cured with celery juice powder instead of sodium nitrite. Gluten-free.

  • Organic No Nitrates Uncured Bacon – Cured with celery juice and sea salt. Non-GMO, antibiotic-free.

2. Niman Ranch

  • Applewood Smoked Uncured Bacon – Cured with celery juice concentrate. Raised antibiotic-free.

  • Honey & Chipotle Uncured Bacon – Cured with celery powder. Certified humane raised.

3. Oscar Mayer

  • Oscar Mayer Naturally Hardwood Smoked Bacon – No nitrates/nitrites added. Newer product line.

  • Oscar Mayer Turkey Bacon – While not labeled nitrate-free, turkey bacon rarely contains added nitrates.

4. Wellshire

  • Sugar Free Uncured Bacon – Cured with celery juice. Contains no added sugar.

  • Hickory Smoked Short Cut Bacon – Cured with cultured celery extract.

5. Pederson’s

  • Natural Uncured Hickory Smoked Bacon – Cured with celery juice powder and vinegar. Gluten-free.

  • Natural Uncured Pepper Bacon – Celery juice cured with added black pepper.

6. Whole Foods 365 Everyday Value

  • No Nitrates Added Bacon – Cured with celery powder instead of sodium nitrite.

  • Organic No Nitrates Uncured Bacon – Cured with celery juice concentrate.

This is just a sample of major brands offering nitrate- and nitrite-free bacon. Check your local grocer or health food store for other options as well!

Other Healthier Bacon Options

If you can’t find nitrate-free, there are a few other healthier bacon options:

  • Organic – Organic operations have stricter processing standards. May limit nitrates/nitrites.

  • Uncured – While “uncured” still may contain some nitrites from natural sources like celery, levels are lower than traditional cured bacon.

  • Turkey bacon – Much lower in fat than pork bacon, though may still contain some nitrates.

  • Prosciutto – Dry-cured Italian ham has no added nitrates.

  • Beef or lamb bacon – Alternative to pork, though may contain nitrates.

  • Vegan bacon – Plant-based versions like coconut bacon eliminate nitrate/nitrite worries.

While not completely additive-free, these options limit nitrite/nitrate exposure.

Tips for Cooking Nitrate-Free Bacon

Nitrate-free bacon tastes and cooks slightly differently from traditional bacon. Follow these tips for best results:

  • Use medium heat – Cook over medium vs. high heat to avoid charring or burning which creates harmful compounds.

  • Limit crispy cooking – Light crisping leaves bacon pliable. Burnt crispy bacon has more potential hazards.

  • Blot fat – Blot cooked bacon with paper towels to remove excess grease for a healthier finish.

  • Don’t microwave – Microwaving can create nitrosamines from nitrites. Instead, bake or pan-fry.

  • Store properly – Keep cooked nitrate-free bacon refrigerated and use within 4-5 days before quality declines.

With these simple practices, you can safely enjoy all the savory bacon goodness without the concerning additives.

The Bottom Line

While bacon cured with nitrates and nitrites may last longer, limiting these processed meat additives is better for your health. Thankfully, more and more bacon brands now offer tasty nitrate- and nitrite-free alternatives without sacrificing flavor. By reading labels and following cooking best practices, you can still enjoy your morning bacon ritual as part of a healthy lifestyle.

Bacon Review – How To Buy The BEST Bacon At The Store…And What To Avoid!


Is there bacon that doesn’t have nitrates?

If bacon is labeled “no nitrate or nitrite added” or “uncured bacon” it’s considered nitrate-free bacon. Ironically, nitrate-free bacon is still cured, just using a non-synthetic curing agent like celery powder—which is naturally high in organic nitrate—or sea salt.

What is the healthiest bacon you can eat?

Turkey bacon is likely healthier for you than conventional bacon since it’s not red meat. Turkey bacon, however, is still processed meat. Stick to small portions, pair it with nutrient-rich foods, and choose nitrate-free versions if you enjoy turkey bacon and want to keep eating it. U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Do supermarkets sell nitrate-free bacon?

ASDA Delicious 6 Unsmoked Back Bacon Rashers Nitrate Free 240g – ASDA Groceries.

Is Aldi bacon nitrate free?

The new healthier bacon option from Aldi is labelled as such because it is free of Nitrite, preservatives and allergens – all of which are normally used to give bacon its classic flavour, colour and texture.

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