What’s The Difference Between Ham and Bacon?

Ham and bacon are both delicious cuts of meat that come from pigs. Despite their similar salty goodness, the difference between ham and bacon is apparent from the very beginning of the process each is made with. From their texture to their storage to their cooking requirements, ham and bacon are unique in their ways.

The biggest difference between ham and bacon is that bacon is cut from a very specific area of the pig. Whereas, ham is harvested from a more generalized area. A cut of ham is taken from the hind leg or the pig or other unused areas of the carcass, while bacon is taken from the back, leg, or belly. Bacon is sold raw, which means it must be cooked before consumption. Yet, ham is precooked and can be eaten immediately.

You may also notice a difference in the way ham is consumed in comparison to bacon. While ham can be eaten hot or cold, bacon is generally eaten warm. There are some exceptions to these preparation methods, but generally speaking, these are societal norms.

Where They Come From

As we touched on, ham and bacon come from different parts of the pig. The leg of the pig is where ham comes from, and in some cases, you can tell this is true. As you may note, your Christmas ham may resemble a ham hock. This cut of meat specifically comes from a pig’s thigh area.

Bacon comes from various locations on a pig, mainly from the belly or back. It is cut in strips, which allows it to cook quickly. Bacon also has quite a bit more fat mixed throughout, which aids in its flavor development.

Various Sizes and Shapes of Ham and Bacon

The location from which each of these cuts of pork comes from determines how it appears to the average consumer. Ham can be butchered and packaged in a variety of ways, including:

  • Ham Steaks
  • Sliced Ham
  • Ham Legs
  • Deli Ham
  • Cubed Ham
  • Whole Hams

In comparison, bacon is mainly available in just two varieties. It can be normal cut or thick cut, which may be preferred for certain preparation methods. For example, those wanting a BLT may prefer a thicker cut of bacon.

Variations in Preparation

Since bacon must be served hot, there are a limited number of ways it may be prepared. It can be cooked in a skillet or the oven. The main thing is that bacon gets cooked thoroughly, but some prefer it crispy while others don’t mind it a bit soft.

However, ham can be cooked in a variety of ways, since it is already cooked or cured. Slow cookers, pan frying, and oven baking are great ways to cook ham, but it can also be served cold.

Are Ham and Bacon Both Cured?

Yes, both ham and bacon are cured, which is one of the major similarities. However, their cooking requirements do vary.