Bacon – the ultimate breakfast food, the perfect addition to any sandwich, and a beloved ingredient in countless recipes.
But with so many brands and types of bacon available at the supermarket, how do you know which one to choose?
Fear not, dear reader, for we have done the taste-testing for you.
After sampling eight different brands of bacon, our Test Kitchen has determined the top picks for your breakfast and beyond.
From classic cut to applewood smoked, we’ve got you covered.
So sit back, relax, and let us guide you through the world of bacon to find out who truly makes the best.
Who Makes The Best Bacon?
After careful consideration and taste-testing, our Test Kitchen has determined that the best bacon comes from a variety of brands.
North Country smokehouse bacon stood out with its complex smoky flavors, just the right amount of salt, and a little bit of crust. It’s made from antibiotic-free pork and is one of the least caloric options in the group.
Trader Joe’s bacon impressed with its fruity-but-mild applewood smoke and turbinado sugar sweetness. It has a rich, developed flavor that most found just right. Those who prefer thicker, chewy slices will appreciate this bacon.
Wellshire is a good alternative for those who prefer their bacon on the thin side, with a less smoke-forward flavor. It’s sweet and porky, making it a great option for those who don’t want an overpowering smoky taste.
Hormel is another brand that offers a variety of bacon options, from uncured to cherrywood smoked to fully cooked. The Natural Choice line is a bit pricier at $7 for a 12 oz pack, but it’s worth it for the quality.
Ultimately, the best bacon comes down to personal preference. Some may prefer a smokier flavor while others may want something sweeter. It’s important to experiment with different brands and types to find the perfect bacon for you.
The Criteria For Judging Bacon
When it comes to judging bacon, there are several criteria that experts use to determine the quality of the product. One of the most important factors is the appearance of the bacon. Judges look for firm, dry slices that are well-trimmed and have a nice smoky color. Wet, oily slices or those with excess purge or exudate are not desirable and suggest lower quality meat.
Texture is another crucial factor in judging bacon. Judges look for slices that are not too fatty or too lean, but have a good fat to meat ratio. They also consider the shrinkage of the bacon from raw to cooked, with minimal shrinkage being preferred.
Saltiness is also an important factor, with judges looking for bacon that has just the right amount of salt. Disproportionately salty bacon is not desirable and will score lower marks.
Finally, judges evaluate the aroma and flavor of the bacon. They heat up the product in a microwave and taste it to determine if it has an acceptable or desirable flavor. Robust flavors are preferred over bland ones, and judges look for bacon with a rich, developed taste.
The Contenders: A List Of Brands Tested
Our Test Kitchen tasted eight different brands of bacon side by side to determine the best picks. The following brands were included in the taste test:
1. North Country smokehouse bacon: Made from antibiotic-free pork, this bacon stood out with its complex smoky flavors, just the right amount of salt, and a little bit of crust. It’s one of the least caloric options in the group.
2. Vande Rose Farms bacon: This Iowa-based group sources heritage Duroc breed pork, known for its flavorful meat and natural marbling, from several farms. The bacon is dry-cured for six days and smoked for 12 hours over applewood chips. While it’s not the best nutrition profile when it comes to calories and fat, it has received dozens of #
The Classic Cut: Which Brand Reigns Supreme?
When it comes to classic cut bacon, North Country smokehouse reigns supreme. This brand’s bacon stood out during our taste-testing with its complex smoky flavors, just the right amount of salt, and a little bit of crust. Made from antibiotic-free pork, it’s also one of the least caloric options in the group, making it a great choice for those looking for a healthier option. However, it is also the most expensive option per packet. If you’re willing to splurge a little for the best classic cut bacon, North Country smokehouse is definitely worth the investment.
Going Smoked: Which Applewood Bacon Is The Best?
If you’re a fan of applewood-smoked bacon, there are a few brands that stood out in our taste tests.
Vande Rose Farms Artisan Dry Cured Applewood Smoked bacon was the top pick for its rich, smoky flavor and perfect balance of saltiness and sweetness. It’s also made with all-natural pork and has no added nitrates or nitrites.
Trader Joe’s applewood-smoked bacon also impressed with its fruity and mild smoke flavor, but it may not be for everyone due to its sweetness. It’s a great option for those who like to pair their bacon with syrup or other sweet breakfast foods.
Benton’s hand-rubbed applewood-smoked bacon is another standout, with its complex and intense smoky flavor. It’s cured for weeks before undergoing 48 hours of smoke on each side, resulting in a deep and flavorful bacon.
The Thick Cut: Which Brand Delivers The Most Flavor?
When it comes to thick-cut bacon, there are a few brands that stand out in terms of flavor and texture. Benton’s Hickory Smoked Country Bacon is a family-owned business that specializes in slow-cured hams and smokey bacon. Our Test Kitchen found that this bacon delivers big-time on flavor, with a pronounced hickory flavor along with a rich savory taste and a great chew. Cloverdale Naturally Applewood Slow Smoked Bacon is another great option, with a rich flavor experience that packs 3 grams of protein per slice.
Hormel has also made its mark in the thick-cut bacon game with their Black Label line, which includes Ranch Thick Cut Bacon and Classic Country Style Thick Cut Bacon. The Ranch flavor is hand-rubbed with ranch seasoning and naturally hardwood smoked, while the Classic Country Style is handcrafted using time-honored smokehouse processes dating back to the days of the American settlers. Both flavors are available in 12-ounce packages and can be found at select Walmart and Spartan Nash stores.
Finally, Best Seller! offers a hardwood smoked and naturally cured thick-cut bacon that is available in three mouthwatering flavors: original, sugar-free, and pepper. All varieties are synthetic nitrate and nitrite-free, making it a healthier option for those who are conscious about their food choices.
In the end, the best thick-cut bacon brand comes down to personal preference. Whether you prefer a smokier or sweeter flavor profile, there are plenty of options available to satisfy your bacon cravings.
The Budget Bacon: Which Brand Offers The Best Value?
For those on a budget, finding the best value bacon is crucial. Costco Wholesale’s Kirkland Signature bacon is a great option, priced at $12 for four one-pound packages. It was the top contender in a consumer magazine’s test of 15 different brands of regular and thick-sliced uncooked bacon, precooked bacon, and turkey bacon.
If you’re looking for something even more affordable, Walmart’s Great Value bacon is priced at $4.50 for a 16-ounce package and has a lower sodium content. While it may not have the same complex flavors as some of the other options, it’s a great choice for those looking to save some money.
When it comes to budget bacon, it’s important to keep in mind that cheaper options may not be as high quality as some of the more expensive brands. However, with some careful consideration and taste-testing, it’s possible to find a budget-friendly bacon that still tastes great.