What is Smoked Bacon?

What is Smoked Bacon?

With the popularity of smoked bacon and backyard meat smokers on the rise these past few months, join us as we discuss how we create our delicious smoked bacon. Our Tender Belly bacon is smoked to perfection over Hickory and Cherrywood to achieve an unparalleled smoky flavor that may inspire you to start incorporating the staple ingredient into various meals other than breakfast. Not only does bacon go well with a plate of scrambled eggs first thing in the morning, but it can also be used to enhance the flavor of various vegetables in ways such as bacon wrapped asparagus or brussels sprouts with baconcrumble on top. To add the finishing touches to a lunch or dinner meal, maybe consider placing a few slicedcrispy bacon strips on a juicy hamburger patty or even incorporate a small amount into your carbonara pasta for that extra oomph! There are so many ways to get creative when adding this type of bacon to your everyday meals! But, as you know by now, not all bacon is preserved the same. Before we get carried away, let’s find out what is bacon and how it gets its smoky flavor.


Bacon is a type of pork used as a side dish or ingredient in other dishes. It is cut from the fatty portion of a pig’s belly or back, cured to preserve the meat and add flavor, and then sliced thinly for using. Tender Belly’s bacon uses a natural cure that is free of artificial nitrates and compliments the marbled, juicy pork perfectly.


Once a pork belly has been cured, it’s typically smoked and heated to about 130 degrees. This process adds the distinctive smoky taste that we have all come to love. It also helps to hold the red, cured color, and sure makes it easier for the bacon to be cleanly sliced. But today, big industrial bacon manufacturers seem to cut corners in the smoking stage of the step by step process by adding a concentrated smoke liquid before they heat it. The pork belly is never put in an actual smoker.


How do you know if the type of bacon you’re buying was put in a smoker? Unfortunately, the number of calories, grams of protein, or fat content won't give you many clues to detect whether the bacon is hardwood smoked or naturally smoked. However, when shopping for bacon at the grocery store or online (hey, Tender Belly!),  if you come across a package that is labeled “hardwood smoked” or “naturally smoked,” it means it was put into a smoker, not just injected with liquid smoke. Another critical label to look out for when shopping for bacon at the grocery store or online is a "sodium nitrate-free or sodium nitrite-free label." Products that contain sodium nitrate or nitrite can potentially put your health at risk,  so it's best to be aware of what chemical compounds serve as  ingredients in such food items, as you are eating them.

You can smoke bacon using different types of wood chips or sawdust to acquire different flavors — our Hickory and Cherrywood give our bacon a full-bodied and balanced smoke.


Most bacon labels specify the kind of wood used to generate the smoke. Whether it’s cherrywood for fruit notes or mesquite for a bold, bitter flavor, there can be a significant difference in taste.

Most experts say the difference in bacon “smoke flavor” is like wine — there may be subtle flavors or notes between each option. And, for some people, they may not even be able to tell the difference in the brine used. Traditionally, apple and mesquite are especially prized by experts who care about such “smoky” things.


That really depends on you. We’d like to think our Tender Bellysignature bacon is the best money can buy. But, we’ll let you be the judge. Let’s get eating, shall we?!

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