13 Types Of Bacon Not Made From Pigs

There's meat, and then there's bacon. Bacon is almost mythical in its status as the meat product that nearly everyone loves. In the U.S., over 268 million people consumed bacon in 2020, according to Statista. When you consider that the country's population that year was approximately 331 million people according to U.N. data (via Worldometer), you're looking at the vast majority of folks tasting the salty, somewhat sweet flavor. That's a lot of slices of pig, y'all.

We can see why, though. Bacon is almost unparalleled in its ability to deliver a hit of umami and smokiness in a single mouthful. Whether enjoyed on its own or cooked into other dishes like soups or stews, bacon is a surefire way to lift flavor and make food sing. But, while we all know pork bacon, the fact is that it's not the only type out there. Bacon-style servings of meat and vegetarian or vegan products have boomed in recent years, with more and more manufacturers seeking to offer a twist on the classic food. So what's available out there, and how do they stack up to regular bacon? We've got all the information you need right here. Let's take a look at some of the bacon out there that isn't made from pigs.

1. Turkey bacon

Of all the non-pork bacon out there, turkey bacon might be the most popular. Turkey bacon is a common alternative for folks who would like their bacon to be a little lower in fat. Made by reconstituting turkey meat into bacon-shaped pieces, it has a similar flavor palette to pork bacon and can be delicious in a sandwich, a quiche, or on its own. Manufacturers often attempt to mimic bacon's smokiness and saltiness in turkey bacon, while cutting down on its calories and fat content.

Turkey bacon is a particularly good choice for individuals who don't eat pork, either for religious observance or because they've been advised not to by a doctor. It can also contain slightly higher levels of vitamin B12, which is a nutrient vital for healthy blood function, according to the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. However, while turkey bacon may on the surface seem healthier than pork bacon, it may not be all it appears. To mimic the taste of bacon, turkey bacon is often laden with salt and additional flavorings. Turkey bacon may contain more sodium per serving than regular bacon.

Producers of this poultry-based product may also add sugar into the mix, again to amp up the flavor stakes. While this is also a common practice with pork bacon and the carbs it adds to the food are minimal, it's important to bear in mind if you're buying turkey bacon as part of a zero-carb or keto diet plan. Turkey bacon also generally contains lower protein levels than regular bacon.

2. Duck bacon

Duck meat is commonly consumed in breast or leg form, but it doesn't stop there. Duck is a pretty versatile food, and cuts of its meat can be made into wild and wonderful things — including duck bacon. Manufacturers like D'Artagnan produce duck bacon from breast meat, yielding a natural product that's created in much the same way as regular bacon. D'Artagnan's duck bacon is sliced and then smoked, delivering that layered bacon flavor you know and love.

While on the surface it may seem odd, duck is pretty well-suited to being made into a bacon-like product. Duck is a naturally fatty meat, and this is utilized to create a natural fat rind on the bacon. As with regular bacon, this means that duck bacon is fairly high in fat and saturated fat. Although duck bacon seeks to mimic the taste of pork bacon, it also has its own flavor notes, thanks to its fairly robust taste. This is good news for bacon lovers, though, as while duck is poultry, its flavor can actually lean more toward red meat.

3. Tempeh bacon

If you've switched to a plant-based diet recently, you might be missing certain products like bacon. Or, maybe you're simply trying to switch things up and not consume as much meat. Whatever your reasons for avoiding regular bacon, there's some good news: Tempeh bacon is coming to the rescue.

Created from processed soybeans, tempeh is a versatile plant-based protein that has a hearty, meat-like texture that lends itself well to mimicking meat products. Some food manufacturers have taken this fact and run with it, with companies like Tofurky pressing and flavoring tempeh strips to make vegan bacon. This bacon is lower in fat than regular bacon, and packs a large punch of protein, as well as providing a healthy dose of fiber. It's also cholesterol-free and is as easy to prepare as regular bacon is — just toss it in a pan for a few minutes, and you're good to go.

However, while tempeh bacon may have certain health advantages over regular bacon, it's not all rosy. To create the taste of bacon in a meat-free product, a fairly hefty amount of sodium needs to be added to the tempeh. Given that bacon is naturally pretty high in sodium anyway, this may not make an enormous difference, but it's important to account for this in your diet. Tempeh bacon is also unsuitable for anyone who has a soy or wheat intolerance.

4. Beef bacon

Beef is one of those meats that you can use in a lot of different ways, from dried beef jerky to juicy burgers. But have you ever thought of using beef to make bacon? As it turns out, it's pretty good for that, too. Schmacon produces a beef bacon product, created from premium beef cuts, that at first glance looks pretty similar to regular pork bacon. Upon biting into it, though, you'll find that beef bacon has, as you might expect, more of a beefy edge to its flavor.

Beef bacon is naturally lower in fat than regular bacon, thanks to the composition of the meat and the cuts used to create it. Schmacon's product also avoids using nitrates, a preservative traditionally used in pork bacon, which may prompt health complications if consumed in high quantities, according to WebMD. Some styles of beef bacon may be particularly useful for individuals who are following a halal diet. It's important to remember, though, that you should always check the packaging of any bacon products you buy, and indeed any food products at all, to make sure they adhere to your dietary requirements.

5. Venison bacon

Venison is a particularly underrated meat choice. Traditionally referring to deer meat (although it can come from a range of game animals), venison usually has a deep, meaty, somewhat dense flavor and texture. This intense meatiness makes it a logical choice to produce bacon out of — and it has more going for it than just flavor.

Venison bacon is generally low in fat, thanks to the leanness of venison as a meat. This means that opting for venison bacon can bring down your saturated fat and cholesterol intake. It also means that venison bacon is almost all protein. This, however, can result in venison bacon tasting a little drier than regular pork bacon, as fat is what provides so much of bacon's juiciness. It's for this reason that while venison bacon can be used to replace pork bacon as a side to your eggs and hash browns, it's probably better used in applications where you can get moisture from other sources. Venison bacon, for example, could be a great choice to use in sandwiches or burgers, where moisture can come from sauces or other food items.

6. Smoked salmon bacon

If you thought that bacon always had to come from land, you're mistaken. A slightly left-field alternative, bacon made from smoked salmon is a must-try for folks looking to mix up their breakfast meat. Smoked salmon bacon mimics the saltiness of pork bacon and, as you might expect, is pretty smoky, too. It's also pleasingly fatty, thanks to salmon's natural abundance of heart-healthy (per Healthline) omega-3 fatty acids.

As a fish-derived alternative to pork bacon, smoked salmon bacon is a great choice if you're following a pescatarian diet. However, there's no denying that while smoked salmon bacon has a robust taste, it's unmistakably fishy, and there's no getting around the salmon flavor. As a result, smoked salmon bacon is probably most enjoyable if you're not expecting it to emulate bacon's taste exactly. It's also naturally suited to pairing with lighter-tasting food items or things that cut through the saltiness. Piling smoked salmon into a sandwich with cream cheese and some fresh herbs is a great way to enjoy this unique bacon product.

7. Elk bacon

Some non-pork bacon products, like turkey or soy bacon, are pretty widespread. Others are slightly less common — and elk bacon's one of them. Elk bacon is derived from elk belly meat, which is then cured and smoked using fragrant wood, much like regular bacon is. The result is a meat product that's dark pink, lightly marbled with fat, and totally unique tasting.

Although elk is game meat, its flavor is slightly weaker than other meats like deer. Instead, elk tastes pretty similar to beef, with a light sweetness to the meat on occasion. This natural sweetness lends itself well to being used as bacon, which relies on that salty-sweet combo to get taste buds going. Bear in mind that the eventual flavor of your elk bacon depends heavily on whether the meat you use is farm-raised or wild-caught. Wild-caught elk tend to be much gamier and have a natural smokiness to their taste (which, again, could be pretty useful for bacon).

Elk bacon is also a good choice for folks who are looking for a bacon product that's lower in fat and higher in protein. Elk is naturally pretty lean and is usually lower in fat than similar beef products. While elk belly may be fattier than other cuts of meat, it's a good bet that it'll still be leaner than pork belly and pork bacon.

8. Soy bacon

Why should meat eaters have all the fun? The range of soy-based meat imitation products out there is pretty dizzying, and soy bacon is arguably the crown jewel in the collection. Manufacturers like MorningStar Farms have cornered the market with soy bacon, a meat imitation item that looks and tastes similar to the real thing. MorningStar flavors its bacon product with natural and artificial flavors, with the protein content coming from both corn and soy protein.

This delivers soy bacon that's pretty low in fat and calories, and with zero cholesterol. Making bacon with soy is also a pretty healthy choice as soybeans are naturally abundant in minerals and vitamins, with MorningStar's soy bacon being especially high in vitamin B12. It's worth pointing out, however, that as soy bacon has to generate its taste from external sources, the sodium content of these rashers can be pretty high. Additionally, while soy in and of itself is pretty nutritious, soy bacon is still a highly processed product, which could strip away some of its nutritional value. Individuals who are looking to reduce additives in their food should also probably steer clear, too. This bacon product has literally dozens of ingredients in it.

9. Seitan bacon

While soy is potentially the most well-known food product used to imitate meat, spare a thought for seitan. This meat substitute, made by isolating gluten protein from wheat flour, is a versatile food that can be made to imitate meat in loads of different ways. And naturally, as it's the 21st century, folks have figured out how to make it into bacon, too.

With soy sauce, natural smoke concentrate, and other flavorings giving it its taste, Upton's Naturals seitan bacon is notable for its ultra-low fat content. A serving of Upton's seitan bacon delivers just 0.5 grams of fat, with no saturated or trans fats. Additionally, this bacon product is high in protein and has a little bit of fiber in it.

Seitan bacon such as Upton's Naturals is also able to crisp up in the same manner that regular bacon does. Where it might not stack up, though, is in its visual appeal. Unlike the dynamic seams of fat that run through regular bacon, seitan bacon looks slightly more similar to solid brown doner kebab meat. As seitan is made from gluten, it has some carbohydrate content in each serving and is naturally best avoided by folks who are gluten intolerant. It's also important to note that, like pork bacon, seitan bacon can be pretty high in sodium.

10. Lamb bacon

Alongside chicken, beef, and pork, lamb is a staple on dinner tables worldwide. But while it's more commonly served up as a slow-roasted shoulder or in chop form, lamb can also be made into bacon. Lamb bacon is created in the same manner as pork bacon is, by taking lamb belly and then curing and smoking it. By doing so, you end up with a product that at first glance looks pretty similar to pork bacon.

Lamb is a good choice to make into bacon as it has a naturally higher fat content than other meats, which is, of course, essential to a good slice of bacon. Lamb also has a natural richness to its taste, which is perfect for when your bacon needs to make an impact. As red meat, lamb bacon will be high in certain minerals and vitamins, like iron, zinc, niacin, and vitamin B12.

Importantly, though, lamb's flavor is distinct from pork's, so you shouldn't expect the same experience from lamb bacon. What you might need to watch out for, too, is whether your lamb bacon has too much fat in its fat-to-meat ratio. This can leave you with a product that's difficult to eat.

11. Bison bacon

The mighty bison is way more than just an all-American symbol: It also has a culinary function. Bison meat is relatively lean and is particularly low in saturated fat, making it a worthy choice for people who want a high protein-to-fat ratio. That also makes it a great option for people who want to enjoy bacon without it being too fatty.

Cooked bison bacon looks at first glance pretty much like regular bacon. Bison meat has a notably sweeter flavor than other animal products, which pairs with a deep, meaty taste.

Be aware, though, that bison bacon needs to be cooked a little differently from regular bacon, especially if you want it crunchy. Because of bison bacon's lower fat levels, if you try and cook it at too high a heat, it'll become dense and tough. Instead, you need to cook your bacon slowly, which stops the fat from making the meat too gummy or chewy. Remember, too, that wild-caught bison can have indeterminate meat quality, and you're at higher risk of eating an animal infected with bacteria or a virus, according to WebMD.

12. Chicken bacon

On the surface of things, chicken might not seem like a natural choice to make bacon out of. After all, chicken meat is largely pretty lean, with a neutral taste. And to add to that, chickens are quite small — so how do you get adequately sized pieces for bacon?

Well, food makers have found a way, creating chicken bacon that appears quite similar visually to regular bacon. True to form, bacon made from chicken is less fatty than pork bacon, with just 4 grams per two slices and a single gram of saturated fat in the case of MapleLodge Farms' chicken bacon. Chicken bacon is also naturally rich in protein.

However, like pork bacon and bacon from other meat, all that flavor has to come from somewhere. Chicken bacon has a high sodium content, and MapleLodge Farms' is also imbued with smoke flavoring, in addition to being smoked. Also, chicken bacon can often be made of reconstituted chicken pieces, formed into rashers, unlike regular bacon, which is usually sliced directly from the belly. While this may not impact the quality of the food you're eating, it's useful to remember that this is a product that is potentially more processed than others.

13. Coconut bacon

Wait ... Huh? Bear with us, we'll explain. Sure, coconuts and bacon slices are as far apart from each other as planets. But with the wonders of modern food science, it's been found that unsweetened coconut flakes make a pretty darn good substitute for bacon.

There's a caveat, though. Unsweetened coconut flakes are less suited to making into bona fide rashers, thanks to their small size. Instead, they're best used to make a killer substitute for bacon bits. To make them, unsweetened coconut flakes are combined with a host of ingredients to create a bacon flavor. They're then baked in the oven until brown, crispy, and bacon-like.

Coconut bacon is a great choice for folks who want a vegan bacon substitute without having to buy pricey versions from the supermarket, as you can make it at home. Additionally, coconut bacon is fiber-rich and has a good potassium content, a mineral and electrolyte. Crucially, though, coconut bacon is high in fat, being primarily composed of the nutrient. Abundant in saturated fat in particular, coconut bacon should only be eaten in moderate quantities.