Whether it’s a salty side to your sweet pancakes or that perfect crunch on a burger, there are few meals that won’t benefit from that little extra “something” bacon can bring.
However, the last time you were grocery shopping, you might have noticed that not all bacon is created the same. This delicious food can come in many shapes and sizes.
Let’s introduce what might just become your new favorite product: uncured bacon. Whether you’ve seen uncured bacon in the store before and weren’t sure what it was or you’re looking for some new cooking inspiration, you’ve come to the right place.
What does it mean when we say uncured bacon?
At its most basic, uncured bacon is bacon that hasn’t been cured with synthetically sourced nitrates and nitrites. Instead, the bacon has been cured with natural nitrates, found in celery, beets and other veggies. It’s this natural combination of ingredients that come together to create a delicious, smoky flavor.
If those last sentences left you with a few questions, we understand. Although uncured bacon is known as such, it is still cured. The curing process just involves natural ingredients in place of those used in other bacon products. When you’re shopping for uncured bacon at the grocery store, keep an eye out for labels such as “sodium nitrate-free.”
On the other hand, cured bacon is preserved with a combination of salt and sodium nitrites, giving the raw product that extra pink color we’ve all come to know. The added nitrates and nitrite found in cured bacon help preserve the product a little longer. However, over time it’s been found that the natural nitrates and Vitamin C in vegetables like celery can achieve the same effect.
Overall, the taste of the bacon really comes down to the way you decide to prepare it. However, uncured bacon will have more of that pork-like flavor that you’d expect at your local smokehouse.
Cooking instructions and other helpful tips
Like any other raw meat product, uncured bacon should always be cooked all the way through before consumption. The exact time it will take to reach this point depends on the thickness of your bacon as well as how you decide to prep it. With this in mind, let’s go over the most common methods for cooking:
Skillet Pan fry
Cooking bacon on a frying pan is a go-to for many chefs at home. It’s fast, and you have the ultimate control over how crispy your bacon gets. When you’re cooking for your family or friends, this can be especially helpful if everyone has different preferences. To fry your bacon on the stove, follow these steps:
Put the bacon in a non-stick frying pan or skillet and then set the stove to medium heat. This will give the bacon more time to melt away, leaving you with crunchier slices.
When the fat starts to run out from the bacon, increase the heat and cook for one to three minutes on each side.
Keep the bacon on until it has reached your desired crispness. Remove it carefully from the pan and place on a separate paper towel to cool.
Unlike other meats, bacon can keep some of its pink color even when it’s cooked all the way through. However, as long as you stick to the one to three minute guidelines, your meat will reach a safe temperature and be ready to eat.
Baking in the oven
If you don’t have a skillet in your kitchen, rest assured that delicious, crispy bacon is still possible. Baking your bacon not only eliminates some of the mess of frying, but it also can be helpful if you’re cooking several servings at once. All you’ll need to do is set your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit, line up your desired amount of slices on a baking sheet and cook for 12-15 minutes or to your desired crispness… Voila! During that time, you can get to work prepping the remainder of your meal.
You can also microwave your bacon by wrapping it in paper towels and placing it on a plate. Although you may not get the exact level of crispness you’re looking for, this can be a helpful alternative if you’re short on time.
What does the shelf life look like for uncured bacon?
Always be sure to read the product label of any product you purchase in case it has specific handling instructions. Generally speaking, however, the best storage method is to place your bacon in the fridge as soon as you get home or use it within seven days. Once you’ve already cooked your bacon, it will last up to four or five days in the refrigerator.
It’s important to remember that an opened, unused package of bacon should be carefully wrapped before being placed back in the fridge. We recommend using a resealable plastic bag, aluminum foil or plastic wrap. If you don’t use your cooked or uncooked bacon within these timeframes, you always have the option of freezing it in an airtight container.
How to dethaw your bacon
The USDA has outlined three different ways to safely thaw bacon that has been stored in the freezer: in the fridge, cold water or the microwave. When you’re ready to thaw out your frozen bacon and serve it up, follow these guidelines:
- Refrigerator: Take your bacon out the day before you plan to use it and leave it in your fridge to slowly dethaw.
- Cold water: Place your food in a leak-proof package and submerge it in cold tap water, changing the water every 30 minutes. A one-pound package of bacon may thaw in an hour or less.
- Microwave: When using the microwave, plan to cook bacon immediately because some areas of the food may become warm and begin to cook.
Just remember: Never defrost bacon on the kitchen counter or at room temperature. Instead, aim to plan ahead and use one of the three methods above.
Different ways to use your cooked bacon
When you think bacon, a sizzling pan and a side of eggs are likely some of the first things to come to mind. However, bacon doesn’t just have to be a breakfast food — although it is just as delicious in the morning as it is with lunch or dinner.
Just some of our favorite bacon-inspired dishes include:
- A classic BLT: Let your bacon serve as the star of the show with a California BLT on a delicious ciabatta roll.
- Not-your-classic stir fry: Put a spin on take-out night with an Asian noodle stir fry featuring bacon and shrimp.
- Bacon-wrapped everything: Elevate any appetizer you can think of with a layer of bacon. We recommend spicing things up with bacon-wrapped jalapeños.
If you sneak a piece of bacon for the chef while you’re cooking, we promise that your secret is safe with us.
Start your at-home cooking adventure
Uncured bacon is just as delicious as its cured counterpart thanks to the combination of natural ingredients used to prepare it. And now, with these tips in hand, you’ll be a bacon cooking pro in no time.
Looking for the perfect uncured bacon to use in your next dish? Use our store locator to find your favorite products in a supermarket or grocery store near you.