Bacon is pretty much every American's favorite food, but where does it come from? Who made bacon and eggs the American breakfast go-to? Who can we thank for the bacon cheeseburger? And, really, how bad is bacon for you? Well, it's not a health food that's for sure, but keep reading to answer all of these questions and more as we explore everything you need to know about bacon and 11 recipes that will blow your bacony mind!
Bacon and eggs are the quintessential American breakfast, they're as classic as peanut butter and jelly, but when and where did this American tradition begin?
As we all know, bacon is having quite a moment and in recent years has grown in popularity, and has pretty much become America's favorite food, but we can all thank Edward Bernays for making bacon and eggs the American breakfast.
Bernays was the nephew of Sigmund Freud, who was born in Austria, and who used his talents in psychology to convince the American people to add fluoride to their water. He did this on behalf of the Aluminum Company of America and the American Dental Association, but this is not where his talent for marketing ends.
In the 1920s, the Beech-Nut Packing Company, a pork, food, and candy production company, asked Bernays for his help in convincing the American public that a heavier breakfast filled with meat products, specifically bacon, was healthier than the typical breakfast of fruit, toast, and porridge that the American public was accustomed to eating every morning.
Bernays convinced one of his staff doctors that a meatier breakfast was healthier, then he asked that same doctor to get 5,000 doctors on board with this new breakfast trend, and presto, bacon and eggs spread like wildfire across the States and quickly became the new American breakfast that we know and love today.
Well, we can thank the A&W fast food franchise for this incredible food creation. In 1963, A&W noticed that the majority of its customers were requesting bacon as an add-on topping on their cheeseburgers, so A&W took this information and ran with it, creating the first ever bacon cheeseburger on their menu, and it has been an American classic ever since. The bacon cheeseburger has spread across the United States and now everywhere that you can buy a cheeseburger, you can buy a bacon cheeseburger. Thank you, A&W!
Side bacon or streaky bacon is also referred to as American bacon because it is the type of bacon that individuals in the United States are most familiar with. This particular bacon comes from the belly of the pig and is known for its high fat count which makes it desirable and highly flavorful. This is also the most popular type of bacon in the United States and this is the type of bacon we will be referring to in the recipes in this article. This type of bacon is usually cured in a seasoned salty brine and then smoked to ensure that perfect bacony flavor. Bacon gets its salty flavor from the seasoned salt brine that it is marinated in before smoking. American bacon must be cooked prior to consuming.
Canadian bacon is a leaner cut of bacon that comes from the pork loin and most people are familiar with this type of bacon because of the most delicious of brunch treats, eggs benedict. Canadian bacon still does have a thin layer of fat surrounding it and it is highly regarded for its savory flavors and overall ham-like appeal. Canadian bacon can be either smoked or unsmoked depending on the overall taste that the producer and consumer enjoy. In Canada, Canadian bacon is referred to as back bacon while American bacon is simply referred to as bacon. Canadian bacon can be eaten without cooking because it comes pre-cooked.
Prosciutto is not bacon but has a similar, more vivid taste and texture, and it comes from the pig's or wild boar's hind legs, but it can be made from any animal from cows to lamb. Proscuitto is the Italian delicacy of thinly sliced dry-cured ham slices that can be crisped in a frying pan or eaten right out of the package. The most common uses for Proscuitto are in carbonara, antipasti platters, and in recipes for prosciutto-wrapped veggies, dried fruits, and breadsticks. Prosciutto is cured and you are able to eat it as is, while most types of bacon, especially the American bacon we are used to, you have to cook.
Pancetta is Italian salt-cured pork belly which often includes a variety of spices and seasonings. Pancetta can be found sliced thin or cubed, and it must be cooked prior to eating. Pancetta is most similar to its counterpart, American bacon, and it is often fried in a pan and used as a base to sauces, soups, or as a crispy garnish to any meal.
Turkey bacon is the well-known, healthier alternative to bacon that is also used as a pork bacon alternative for those with religious dietary restrictions or really anyone who does not consume pork products. Turkey bacon can be made from dark or white turkey meat, is often formed into a bacon-like shape, and it is salt-cured and smoked to replicate that yummy bacon flavor. Turkey bacon is about 90% fat-free and can be a great alternative to bacon for anyone watching what they eat or for anyone who does not consume pork products. Turkey bacon must be cooked prior to eating.
Bacon, like most types of cured meats, has a high-fat content that makes it spoil quickly, because fat tends to absorb and enhance rancid flavors and bacteria. Bacon should always be refrigerated, and can be kept in your refrigerator and used for up to seven to ten days after the sell-by date. Once opened, bacon can be kept in its original packaging but it is advised to wrap the bacon and its packaging in an additional layer of plastic wrap. Opened bacon should be used about five days after it has been opened. Bacon should not be kept at room temperature, but can stay out for short periods of time or up to one and a half hours.
Unopened packages of bacon can be frozen for up to one month, but it is not advised to freeze opened packages of bacon. The best way to freeze unopened packages of bacon is to double wrap the package with plastic wrap, foil, or any type of freezer wrap. The goal here is to keep as much air out of the package of bacon as possible because air is the enemy to all food freshness. Air aides in the growth of bacteria and rancid flavors in any type of food. It is not advised to refreeze already frozen and thawed bacon because this will promote bacteria growth and increase the chances that someone who eats this bacon will get sick. Once frozen and thawed, bacon can be stored in your refrigerator for up to two days, but it does need to be eaten within two days after it has been thawed.
Cooked bacon can be stored in a ziptop bag in your refrigerator for up to three to four days or it can be wrapped in plastic wrap then placed in a ziptop bag in your freezer for up to four months. Bacon that has been stored in your refrigerator can be reheated in the microwave for about fifteen seconds per piece of bacon. Frozen, cooked bacon can be defrosted and reheated in the microwave for about twenty to thirty seconds per slice. Both refrigerated and frozen bacon can be reheated in a skillet with a splash of oil to rejuvenate its crispy texture. Reheated bacon will lose its crispy texture and the only way guarantee this crispy texture is by frying your bacon right before you use it or eat it.
Bacon has gone bad when it has an off-putting smell, it has become slimy in texture, and has turned grey or dull in color. The best way to tell if your bacon has gone bad is by smelling it and touching it. If it even has the slightest of sour smells and a slimy texture, throw it out. It is never advised to store raw or cooked bacon at room temperature for long periods of time or for over thirty minutes.
Bacon grease is the super scrumptious fat that can be used to replace oil or butter in pretty much any recipe. Bacon grease adds a rich, savory bacon-y flavor to any dish that is it used in. From pouring it over popped popcorn to scrambling eggs or veggies in it to using it in pie crusts and other dough recipes, which always yields a very flaky crust or super soft bread insides, bacon grease is the versatile fat that always brings flavor to the party. Consider using bacon grease the next time you're roasting vegetables, meats, or even when you're whipping up a vinegarette. Experiment with bacon grease and see what flavor combinations you love!
The best way to store bacon grease is by frying your bacon in a deeper-set skillet then removing the bacon, and while you are enjoying your bacon allow the bacon grease to sit in the pan and come to room temperature so that you can handle it easily. Once your bacon grease comes to room temperature you can either strain out the little bacon pieces with a sieve or a cheesecloth-lined sieve or you can leave the small bacon pieces in your bacon grease. Either way, you can then pour your bacon grease into a clean glass jar with a lid. Using a glass jar is the best way to store bacon grease because other containers, like plastic, absorb odors and promote bacteria growth and we only advise that you use glass to store your bacon grease.
Bacon grease with the small bacon pieces strained out can be stored in a darker colored, opaque glass jar at room temperature for up to three months. Bacon grease that has either been strained or not can be stored in any type of jar and kept in the refrigerator for up to six months. Bacon grease can be kept frozen in a well-sealed glass jar that is then sealed in a large zip-top bag for up to nine months. The best way to tell if your bacon grease has gone bad is by smelling it, if it smells rancid or off-putting discard it immediately.
Everyone already knows that bacon is not the healthiest of foods, but when eaten in moderation, there is nothing wrong with indulging in bacon.
Bacon is high in sodium which increases and accelerates high blood pressure which can eventually lead to a stroke. Bacon is also high in saturated fats or the bad fats that contribute to high cholesterol and heart disease. Processed meats like packaged lunch meat, bacon, sausage, and a variety of other processed meats are usually treated with nitrates to help preserve them, keep them fresh, and enhance their color, but these nitrates have been linked to increases in cancer, migraines, kidney disease, heart failure, and asthma. It is advised to check the package of whatever meat you are buying and it is advised to avoid buying meats that have been treated with nitrates. Try to buy foods and meats that are minimally processed or have not been processed at all because these are the healthiest foods for your body.
Bacon is a low-carb food, but it is not advised to eat bacon every day. Bacon should be treated as a treat and indulged in occasionally. It is not advised to include bacon as a regular source of protein or fat, because of the serious medical issues that can come from eating bacon too regularly.
Candied Brown Sugar Bacon is the sweet and savory treat that you can keep on hand for a rich and delicious snack or make a big batch of these finger-licking-good munchies for your next party or game day celebration. Courtesy of A Feast for the Eyes blog, this recipe is sure to become your new favorite way to indulge in sweet, sweet bacon.
Carbs, cheddar cheese, crisp bacon, and Ranch? This recipe has all of your devilish desires rolled into one super scrumptious appetizer. Melty cheddar-goodness and savory bacon is accentuated with a bright pop of Ranch dressing mix to make this recipe a show-stopper at your next party, game day celebration, or just when you need to veg-out on the couch with some of your favorite people on a movie night in.
Made with a dairy-free cream cheese alternative and a butter alternative, this sweet and savory cheesecake can be served as an appetizer with crackers or as a dessert for those with a savory tooth. The sweetness from the rich maple syrup brings out the richness of the bacon, which blends well with the creamy, dairy-free flavors of this cheesecake recipe.
This Bacon Manhattan is made from bourbon infused with the rich and savory flavor of pure bacony-goodness. The flavor of the bacon brings out the subtly sweet, deep flavors of the bourbon and the best part of this recipe is that you get to garnish this cocktail with a strip or two of crisped bacon--yum!
Bacon Sushi is the fun, fully-cooked sushi recipe that combines healthy assorted vegetables with crispy, luscious bacon. This recipe is perfect for the appetizer table at your next festive celebration, dinner party, BBQ, or game day spread. Everyone will enjoy the light and refreshing flavors of the veggies in contrast with the rich and crispy flavors of pure bacon.
You know we couldn't make an article all about bacon without a breakfast recipe, but this recipe isn't your typical breakfast fare, this recipe comes together in about thirty minutes and is easy-peasy to make. A Feast for the Eyes' recipe combines crispy hash browns, runny egg yolks, and sweet and savory candied bacon bits all baked together in individual serving sizes to make the perfect breakfast.
These slightly savory sweet-treats are the perfect cupcakes for your next birthday celebration, summer BBQ, or festive dinner party. This recipe would also make an interesting addition to any bake sale or school party and is sure to get people's attention. Make a batch of these cupcakes to celebrate the bacon-lover in your life and treat them on their birthday or any special day!
This is one of our most viewed recipes and for good reason, this recipe combines all the flavors, sweet, spicy, and savory, to make the perfect chicken dish for any occasion. Chicken breast strips are drenched in a variety of zesty spices, brown sugar, and then they are wrapped in scrumptious bacon to make a true winner, winner chicken dinner!
Filled with the flavors of good quality bourbon, brown sugar, zesty cayenne, apple juice, and decadent bacon, these Jell-O shots are pure perfection and are sure to be a hit at your next celebration! Make this recipe for the bacon-lover in your life or for your next casual backyard BBQ or game day feast, these Jell-O shots are sure to become a new crowd favorite.
Bacon Cheeseburger Puffs are the poppable morsels that are perfect for any party's appetizer spread because everyone will love that these bite-sized appetizers taste just like real bacon cheeseburgers! Serve these on the side of French fries, tater tots, or curly fries to enhance the burger-effect, but whatever you do be sure to make enough of these savory treats because they will go fast.
Creamy, dreamy Maple-Bacon Ice Cream is the perfect way to beat the heat on any scorching summer day or even as a cool treat to combat those sweet and savory cravings any time of the year! Keep this recipe on hand in your freezer for a devilish delight you can enjoy and unwind with before bed or to treat yourself with after surviving another long Monday.
Still craving some crispy bacon? Be sure to check out our complete collection of bacon recipes here. What are some of your favorite bacon recipes? Share with us on our Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest!
A Feast for the Eyes blog is the brainchild of Debby who lives in California and prepares recipes for her husband and son, who are her built-in family food critics. She has a long and loving history with food through recipes that have been passed down to her by her mother. She enjoys sharing her love of cooking, her heirloom recipes, and new dishes with her followers.