In the 1980s, pork bacon was given a run for its money when turkey bacon entered the scene. While some people swear by it, others can’t imagine giving up their salty, porky slabs of morning goodness anytime soon.
Some are so adamant about not eating turkey bacon that they’ve never even asked themselves: “What does turkey bacon taste like?”
Others, who might like to try it, due to health or religious reasons, have probably asked themselves the same question. In this guidepost, we’ll talk about how turkey bacon is made, what it tastes like, and how it stacks up against its porky counterpart.
How Do They Make Turkey Bacon?
Meat companies that make turkey bacon make it from bits of white and dark meat turkey that they chop up, flavor, and season.
This mixture then gets pressed into strips that look sort of like real bacon. In this case, the dark meat of the turkey sort of resembles the dark portions of the pork bacon and the white meat stands in for the fat.
How Would You Describe Turkey Bacon?
Turkey bacon tends to be a little dryer than regular bacon. It also sort of looks like bacon in the same way that siblings look like one another without being carbon copies of one another (barring identical twins, of course).
There are enough similarities between turkey bacon and real bacon to fool the eye and sort of fool the palate, but most bacon lovers wouldn’t trade their pork bacon for turkey bacon unless they had to.
Most believe it just doesn’t have the flavor, texture, or look that real bacon has.
What Does Turkey Bacon Taste Like? Is It Like Real Bacon?
Turkey bacon manufacturers employ several fool-the-palate tricks to make turkey bacon taste as much like the real deal as possible. Some of this has to do with how the turkey meat gets processed.
For example, a turkey bacon manufacturer may put the meat into the smoker to give it pork bacon’s smokey flavoring, according to Mashed.com.
Other companies don’t use actual smoke but liquid smoke flavoring. Liquid smoke smells a bit like a backyard barbecue when you open the bottle. This flavoring gets added to the meat to give it bacon’s smoked flavor.
Still other turkey bacon manufacturers go as far as putting some pork fat into the mix, according to Cooks.
This allows the turkey bacon to take on some of the flavoring of pork bacon, as well as combat some of the dryness that turkey bacon is known to have.
Why Eat Turkey Bacon Instead of Real Bacon?
So, the real question isn’t what does turkey bacon taste like? Rather, it should be, why eat turkey bacon instead of real bacon? The answers to this are many, actually.
First, some people believe that turkey bacon is better for you than real bacon. According to Heathline, there is something to this idea, given that a single slice of turkey bacon has 2.1g of fat, whereas pork bacon has 11g of fat.
However, it has slightly more sodium than regular bacon, coming in at 164 mg to bacon’s 162 mg. Finally, it has fewer calories. A serving of turkey bacon has 30 calories. A serving of pork bacon has 43 calories. Mostly, it’s better for you with some exceptions.
Second, some people, due to religious beliefs, do not want to eat pork products of any kind. The Guardian reminds us that Muslims and Jews do not eat pork.
Seventh Day Adventists don’t eat pork, either. In all fairness, most Seventh Day Adventists usually don’t eat meat of any kind, but pork and shellfish are particular no-nos for those that might eat meat.
It’s worth noting that SDAs follow a diet similar to those of the Jewish faith.
Third, some people just don’t like the idea of eating pork for whatever reason. It could be a matter of taste. It could be a nutrition thing.
What Are the Downsides of Eating Turkey Bacon Versus Real Bacon?
We have mentioned some of the issues already. First, it just doesn’t taste the same. While there are certain ingredients, like liquid smoke and pork fat, that are meant to replicate the bacon flavoring, there’s nothing like the real thing, particularly if you happen to be a bacon lover.
Second, although turkey bacon is lower in fat and calories, it also has less protein, which means that you may feel less satisfied after a breakfast featuring turkey bacon.
The fat and calories in bacon not only add to the flavor of the bacon, they also make bacon something that satisfies your hunger for longer.
Is Turkey Bacon Better for You Than Pork Bacon?
The short answer to this is, not necessarily, according to Eating Well. Like it’s pork counterpart, turkey bacon contains quite a number of additives, plenty of sodium, and some saturated fat.
If you’ve switched to turkey bacon to get away from some of the downsides of pork bacon, it’s best to be mindful of the fact that turkey bacon may not be as healthy as you’d like it to be.
That said, it’s still lower in fat than pork bacon, so it does have some nutritional merit where that’s concerned.
How Do I Cook Turkey Bacon so that It Tastes Better?
Cooks warns home gourmands to NOT follow the directions on the turkey bacon packages. This mostly has to do with how vague the instructions are, which can lead to disappointing results.
This is particularly true for those who aren’t creative in the kitchen. Trying to figure out the best way to cook the turkey bacon when you aren’t an experienced cook is an exercise in frustration.
Instead, try these suggestions.
First, if you want crispy turkey bacon, then you need to cook it in a bit of fat because turkey bacon doesn’t produce a lot of fat on its own.
Many home cooks will add a tablespoon of butter, olive oil, or other kind of animal fat to their skillet before they start cooking their turkey bacon.
Doing this adds more flavoring to the turkey bacon. It also produces the kind of crispy edges on the bacon that bacon lovers adore.
Second, you should avoid roasting the turkey bacon in the oven. Turkey bacon, in general, tends to be drier than pork bacon. Adding the dry heat from the oven makes it even drier still.
What About Vegan Bacon?
For those who truly love animals to the point of not wanting to eat any animal products at all, even turkey bacon won’t do as a substitute for pork bacon. That’s where vegan bacon comes in.
Take MorningStar, a popular brand of vegan bacon, for example, you’re looking at 60 calories per serving, which is about pieces of the vegan bacon and 2% saturated fat.
Remember the example above is comparing a single slice of turkey bacon with a single slice of pork bacon, whereas the numbers here are for two slices of vegan bacon.
Overall, vegan bacon has fewer calories, so if you’re watching your diet, it’s a good option.
That said, many vegan bacon brands do contain quite a bit of sodium, but can be good to eat in moderation.
FAQs about Turkey Bacon
Does turkey bacon smell like regular bacon?
The short answer is, it depends. There are a number of ways to make turkey bacon, some of which rely on adding a bit of pork fat to the turkey bacon to combat turkey bacon’s sometimes dry texture.
Additionally, many manufacturers will add liquid smoke to turkey bacon to give it bacon’s smokey flavor. As Science World points out, 80% of our sense of taste comes from our sense of smell, so in order for turkey bacon to taste like regular bacon, it kind of has to smell like it, too. So, in that respect, turkey bacon does smell a bit like regular bacon, but probably wouldn’t fool diehard bacon fans.
Is turkey bacon like ham?
In terms of the creation process, you might say that turkey bacon is a bit like pressed ham. As we mentioned, turkey bacon consists of a mixture of ground or chopped turkey that’s pressed into bacon-shaped strips. Pressed ham is made from different types of pork that are pressed together, cooked, and then later sliced into lunch meat.
Additionally, due to the seasoning in turkey bacon, it’s likely to taste a bit like smoked pork products, including ham. So, in these respects, turkey bacon is a bit like ham.