What is Economy Bacon? A Complete Guide

Bacon is one of the most beloved foods in America. From topping burgers to complementing breakfast, Americans can’t seem to get enough of this salty, smoky pork product But with endless types and brands of bacon lining store shelves, it can get confusing trying to decipher all the different options.

One type you may come across in grocery stores and restaurants is economy bacon. But what exactly is economy bacon? How is it different from other varieties? This complete guide will cover everything you need to know about economy bacon, from how it’s made to how it compares to other bacon types.

What is Economy Bacon?

Economy bacon refers to bacon made from the lower quality sections of pork belly. It comes from the same cut of meat as regular bacon, but it consists of pieces that are irregularly shaped or contain more fat.

To produce economy bacon, pork bellies are trimmed into more variable sizes and shapes, rather than being uniformly sliced This allows packers to recover as much of the belly as possible and reduce waste, which is where the “economy” term comes from

The low cost and high fat content of economy bacon makes it ideal for use as a cooking ingredient, rather than for serving on its own. It provides the signature smoky, salty bacon flavor at a more budget-friendly price point.

How is Economy Bacon Made?

Economy bacon undergoes the same basic curing and smoking process as regular sliced bacon. Here are the key steps:

  • Trimming: Pork bellies are trimmed into irregular chunks and ends rather than uniform slices. This maximizes use of the whole belly.

  • Curing: The pork chunks are cured by immersing them in a brine solution, often with nitrates for preservation and flavor.

  • Smoking: The cured pork pieces are cold-smoked to impart flavor without fully cooking them. This gives economy bacon its classic smoky taste.

  • Packaging: Once smoked, the economy bacon pieces are packaged into plastic bags or vacuum-sealed packs. The irregular shape makes uniform slicing impossible.

How Does Economy Bacon Compare to Regular Bacon?

There are a few noticeable ways that economy bacon differs from sliced bacon that you would cook and eat on its own:

  • Shape: Economy bacon consists of misshapen, chunky pieces rather than uniform slices. This gives it a less presentable appearance.

  • Fat content: Because it comes from the fattier ends and edges of the pork belly, economy bacon tends to have a higher fat-to-meat ratio.

  • Smoke flavor: Since smoking is primarily for preservation in economy bacon, the smoky taste is usually milder compared to sliced bacon.

  • Price: As the name implies, economy bacon costs less per pound compared to sliced bacon varieties. Savings range from $1-3 per pound on average.

  • Packaging: Rather than neat rows of slices, economy bacon is loosely packed into bags. Vacuum-sealing better preserves its freshness.

How is Economy Bacon Used?

The irregular shape and high fat content of economy bacon makes it unsuitable for dishes where plated presentation is important. But its low price point and intense porky flavor make it ideal for use as a cooking ingredient or flavor booster.

Here are some of the most popular ways restaurants and home cooks use economy bacon:

  • Soups and stews: Cut into small pieces, economy bacon infuses rich, smoky flavor into soups and stews. Beans, clam chowder, and sausage stew are just a few options.

  • Vegetables: Sauteing vegetables like Brussels sprouts in economy bacon fat brings out incredible flavor. The bacon bits can then be used as a tasty garnish.

  • Pasta dishes: Chopped or ground economy bacon is perfect for mixing into pasta sauces, mac and cheese, and carbonara.

  • Potatoes: Potatoes absorb flavor beautifully. Fry chunks of economy bacon and then cook potatoes in the rendered fat.

  • Baked beans: No baked bean recipe is complete without a few chunks of economy bacon simmered right in the sauce.

  • Seasoning: Add finely chopped economy bacon to your favorite rubs, seasonings, breading mixtures and more.

Is Economy Bacon Healthy?

Like most pork products, economy bacon is high in saturated fat and sodium. The fat content is even higher than regular sliced bacon. However, economy bacon can still be enjoyed in moderation as part of a balanced diet.

To make economy bacon a bit healthier, look for uncured or reduced sodium varieties without artificial nitrates or excess preservatives. Seek out brands that use natural ingredients like celery powder for curing.

In terms of cooking, try to limit additional fat by baking or broiling economy bacon instead of pan-frying. Cutting economy bacon into smaller pieces also allows you to use less while still infusing dishes with delicious smoky bacon flavor.

Where to Buy Economy Bacon

Economy bacon can easily be found at most major grocery stores and supermarkets. It is sometimes labeled as “ends and pieces” rather than specifically as “economy”. Here are some places you can typically find it:

  • Grocery store meat section: Look near the sliced bacons or with other pork products. It typically comes in 1-5 pound plastic bags.

  • Big box stores: Stores like Costco, Sam’s Club, and BJ’s often sell large bags of economy bacon at discount prices.

  • Butcher shops or meat markets: Many butcher shops sell economy bacon in custom portion sizes sliced fresh in-house.

  • Restaurant supply stores: Restaurants can often find economy bacon in larger bulk quantities from restaurant supply companies.

When buying economy bacon, look for pieces with plenty of meat and minimal fat. Try to find uncured varieties without excess chemicals or preservatives. Store economy bacon as you would regular bacon, tightly wrapped in the refrigerator for 1-2 weeks.

Popular Brands

The brands that produce economy bacon are typically the same major companies supplying grocery stores with sliced bacon. Here are a few top manufacturers:

  • Smithfield – One of the largest pork producers, Smithfield’s ends and pieces bacon is budget-friendly.

  • Oscar Mayer – Their applewood smoked bacon pieces provide intense smoky flavor on a budget.

  • Hormel – Known for Black Label and other bacons, they also make a hearty bacon bits variety.

  • Wright – Wright economy bacon chunks are reasonably priced and come fully cooked.

  • Farmland – Farmland offers flavorful lower-sodium economy bacon ideal for health-conscious diets.

Is Economy Bacon Right for You?

If you frequently cook dishes like soups, stews, and baked beans, keep economy bacon in stock in your pantry. A little bit infuses big bacon flavor for minimal cost. It’s ideal for restaurants, especially when used in dishes made in bulk.

At home, economy bacon enables you to get that sweet, smoky taste without breaking the bank. Just don’t expect it to offer the same visual appeal and snacking experience as uniformly sliced bacon. Embrace economy bacon for what it is—an inexpensive, versatile cooking ingredient.

So next time you come across economy bacon at the market, give it a try! You just may find that this budget-friendly bacon has a permanent place in your kitchen.

To Understand the Chinese Economy, Follow the Bacon | The New York Times


Why are bacon prices so high right now?

The price of bacon has been going up due to increased demand during summer, and because of a California animal welfare law.

What is the legal definition of bacon?

The term “bacon” is used to describe the cured belly of a swine (hog) carcass.

What cut is bacon?

Bacon can come from a pig’s belly, back or sides ⁠— essentially anywhere that has an exceptionally high fat content. In the United Kingdom, back bacon is most common, but Americans are more familiar with “streaky” bacon, also known as side bacon, which is cut from pork belly.

Is back bacon healthy?

Bacon has lots of sodium, cholesterol, and fat, all of which can increase your risk of heart disease. But bacon does have other nutrients, like protein, vitamins, and minerals. Just keep in mind that if you eat bacon, it’s best to do so occasionally and in small amounts.

What does American bacon taste like?

Characteristics: American-style bacon is fatty, and it creates a lot of grease when it’s cooked. Part of the Pig: American-style bacon comes from the belly and sides of the pig, which have high fat contents. Flavor Profile: Due to the high fat content, this type of bacon crisps up well, resulting in a crunchy texture and a salty and smoky flavor.

Is Bacon a pig?

Bacon is a type of salt-cured pork that is typically eaten on its own as a side dish or used as an ingredient in sandwiches, salads, pasta dishes, and more. Bacon comes from a pig, but different types of bacon are made from various cuts of pork. How Is Bacon Made?

What are the different types of bacon?

Turkey bacon and vegan bacon are common alternatives to pork bacon. Different cultures and regions salt-cure the fatty parts of a pig to make flavorful meat products with varying textures and tastes. However, all of these are extra-flavorful owing to their high fat and salt contents. Here is a breakdown of the many different bacon types: 1.

Where does Bacon come from?

The crispy and streaky bacon that we enjoy for breakfast (or just about any other time of day) comes from the belly of the pig. This area of the pig is layered with fat and meat, which gives the bacon the streaks of meat and fat.

Leave a Comment