What is the Difference Between Gammon and Bacon? A Complete Guide

Bacon and gammon – two classic pork products that are staples in many cuisines But what exactly is the difference between gammon and bacon?

As a meat enthusiast, I used to find this confusing myself. Gammon and bacon can appear quite similar at first glance when buying them raw at the grocery store or butcher shop. However, they come from different cuts of pork and undergo distinct curing and cooking processes that set them apart.

In this article I’ll provide a complete guide to gammon and bacon to clear up the differences once and for all! We’ll cover

  • Definitions of gammon and bacon
  • What cuts of pork they come from
  • How they are cured and cooked
  • How they taste different
  • Popular ways to eat gammon and bacon
  • Other bacon basics

So let’s get cooking and discover how gammon and bacon end up on your plate!

Definitions: What are Gammon and Bacon?

First, a quick definition of each

Gammon – Gammon is pork from the hind leg of a pig that has been cured, but not cooked. After cooking, it is referred to as ham.

Bacon – Bacon is pork belly meat or pork loin meat that has been cured and may be smoked as part of the curing process. It can be eaten cooked or uncooked.

So in short:

  • Gammon is raw cured leg meat
  • Bacon is cured and often smoked belly or loin meat

This begins to hint at some of the key differences. Now let’s look at the specifics of how they are made starting from the original pork cuts.

Pork Cuts: Where Gammon and Bacon Come From

Gammon and bacon originate from very different cuts of pork:

Gammon comes from the hind leg of the pig. This is the same cut of meat that after curing and cooking becomes ham.

Bacon most often comes from the pork belly. It can also come from the loin section. Bacon from the belly has streaks of fat running through it and is known as streaky bacon. Bacon from the loin is leaner and called back bacon or Canadian bacon.

So gammon begins its journey as a fresh pork leg, while bacon starts off as fresh belly or loin meat.

Curing and Cooking

After the initial cut, gammon and bacon go through very different curing and cooking processes:

Gammon Curing

To make gammon, the fresh leg is cured, but not cooked. Some of the main ways gammon is cured include:

  • Dry curing – rubbing the leg with a dry salt mixture. This can take anywhere from 3 days to 2 weeks.

  • Wet curing/brining – submerging the leg in a saltwater brine solution. The pork cures in the solution over 1-2 weeks usually.

  • Injecting – quickly injecting a brine cure directly into the meat. Takes only 1-2 days.

The leg is not smoked or cooked at this stage. It emerges from the curing process as raw gammon.

Bacon Curing

Bacon undergoes a different curing process. The fresh pork belly or loin is cured by:

  • Dry curing – packing the meat in dry salt, spices, and sometimes sugars. Takes 1-2 weeks.

  • Wet curing/brining – immersing the pork in a brine solution for 4-5 days typically.

  • Injecting brine – injecting pork with brine can cure it in just 1-2 days.

Bacon is also traditionally cold smoked as part of the process. This adds flavor without actually cooking the meat.

The bacon is now ready to be cooked and eaten.


The main difference comes next in the cooking stage:

  • Gammon is sold raw and needs to be cooked before eating. The cooking step turns it into ham.

  • Bacon can be eaten uncooked as it comes from the curing process. It is often fried or baked before eating, but does not require cooking.

So gammon takes an extra step – it must be cooked before consuming.

How Do They Taste?

The different cuts, curing and cooking impart distinct flavors:

  • Gammon has a rich, meaty pork flavor similar to ham. When cooked, it is tender and juicy.

  • Bacon is more salty and smoky tasting from the curing and smoking. It has a crisp meaty texture. Streaky bacon has a soft layer of fatty flavor.

Gammon tends to taste like a fresh roasted or fried pork cut. Bacon has a more pronounced cured and smoked taste.

Popular Ways to Eat Gammon and Bacon

Now let’s look at some of the most popular ways gammon and bacon are prepared and served:

Gammon Dishes

  • Roast gammon joint
  • Gammon steaks pan fried or grilled
  • Gammon steak topped with pineapple
  • Dices gammon for kebabs and skewers

Bacon Dishes

  • Bacon slices pan fried or baked
  • BLT sandwich
  • Cobb salad
  • Bacon wrapped scallops
  • Bacon jam
  • Carbonara pasta

As you can see, gammon is most often enjoyed in simple roasted and grilled preparations to highlight the fresh pork flavor. Bacon shines in myriad dishes from breakfasts to salads to appetizers that allow its cured tastes to come through.

Other Bacon Basics

To round out your bacon knowledge, here are some other key facts:

  • Back bacon comes from the pork loin. It is leaner than belly bacon.

  • Pancetta is Italian bacon, not smoked, used in cooking.

  • Guanciale is an Italian bacon made from pork jowl.

  • Turkey, beef, and other meats can be cured into “bacon” too.

  • Canadian bacon is made from pork loin and is more ham-like.

So those cover some of the bacon details to know.

In the world of pork, gammon and bacon emerge as two distinct products:

Gammon is uncured and unsmoked leg meat that needs cooking. Bacon is cured, smoked belly or loin meat that can be eaten raw or cooked.

Understanding the differences in the raw pork cuts, curing processes, and cooking methods helps appreciate how gammon and bacon end up on your plate with their signature flavors and textures.

Now that you have the complete guide, you can impress your friends with your gammon and bacon knowledge. And better yet, enjoy the savory pleasures of both in your cooking! From bacon jam to gammon steaks and beyond, these two pork treats have earned their place in the culinary world.

Ham ,bacon , gammon their uses varieties and difference


Is gammon joint the same as bacon?

Strictly speaking, a gammon is the bottom end of a whole side of bacon (which includes the back leg); ham is just the back leg cured on its own. Like bacon it must be cooked before it can be eaten; in that sense gammon is comparable to fresh pork meat, and different from dry-cured ham like jamón serrano or prosciutto.

What is gammon called in America?

Gammon or Ham England’s gammon evolved from the French word jambon while the United States derived the term ham from the same word in Dutch and the German hamme. Both refer to the same preparation of pork, which you’ll find in sandwiches and holiday centerpieces in the U.S. and pie in England.

Are bacon chops the same as gammon?

In America ‘bacon’ comes from the belly of the pig. Whereas, according to Wikipedia bacon in the UK typically comes from the back of the pig (we call this canadian bacon). Either way these are usually dry-cured. Gammon cuts come from the hind legs of the pig.

What is the difference between gammon and ham?

Both of these delicious and versatile cuts are taken from the pig’s hind legs. Gammon is meat that has been cured (by being salted, brined or smoked) and sold raw, whereas Ham is meat that has been dry-cured or cooked, and is sold ready to eat. In a nutshell; when you’ve cooked your Gammon, it becomes Ham.

What’s the difference between Ham and Gammon?

My understanding is: Ham and gammon both come from hind legs and are cured meat, but gammon is the raw state. Bacon is cured meat from the back and belly. In the US, bacon is “pork belly”, cured, smoked, and optionally sliced. Not really part of the “ham”. Not sure I’ve ever heard “gammon”. @WS2 – It’s known as “Canadian bacon”.

What’s the difference between Gammon and bacon?

I did my internship for culinary school in London, and if I recall correctly from what I saw in the markets there, what you call Gammon would be equivalent to our Ham – both coming from the pig’s rear leg. What we call bacon is what you’d call “streaky” or “streaky bacon” which is made from the pork belly.

What is the difference between bacon rashers and Gammon?

Bacon is named according to the part where it was derived. For example, back bacon rashers come from the back of the pig, while streaky bacon comes from the belly part. Middle bacon rashers can be derived from the belly or loin of the pig. Gammon as a dish, on the other hand, was recognized later, in 1486.

What is the difference between Ayrshire Bacon and Gammon?

In Scotland, Ayrshire bacon is excellent and the rasher is rolled so the bacon rasher has a round appearance. Good bacon and gammon does not ooze white stuff, nor does it shrink much when it is fried. Gammon is always cut thicker and is composed mostly of meat like a ham slice. It also tastes different.

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