An illustrated guide to common cuts of bacon.
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Types of bacon cuts - picture of standard or streaky bacon on plate
Credit: serezniy/Getty Images

Bacon connoisseurs, how much do you know about your beloved crispy snack? It's certainly tasty in a BLT—or, better yet, a Halloumi BLT. You can cook it in the oven for delightfully crispy mess-free results that feed a crowd. You can even freeze it so it lasts for months or find creative (and tasty) uses for bacon grease.

But did you know that the U.S. Department of Agriculture has a very specific bacon definition? In the U.S., bacon is "the cured belly of a swine carcass." (Yum!)

Let's break that down: Curing is a technique that preserves pork, and pork belly is soaked in a salty solution called a brine. Although some bacon in the supermarket is labeled "uncured," technically it's cured, just without added artificial nitrates (preservatives) that speed up the process. It often tastes extra-salty because it has to sit in brine longer than traditionally cured bacon.

British bacon, cut from the back of the pig, the loin, can be hard to find in the U.S. because it doesn't fit into our definition. If you're partial to the meatier U.K. variety, look for a package labeled as "back bacon."

Clearly, the ins and outs of bacon are nuanced. We dug into the USDA's fine print and perused the aisles of the supermarket to scope out the different types of bacon available to you. Here's a concise guide to the different bacon cuts you'll likely encounter. Each cut is delicious in its own way and offers irresistible savory flavor. Read on for our favorite ways to use each: You can check our handy chart for types of bacon, or scroll down for more info, including suggestions for using each bacon cut.

Types of bacon: Key Bacon Cuts and How to Use Them chart with pictures
Credit: Illustrations by Kendyll Hillegas
Types of bacon cuts - Standard bacon
Credit: Kendyll Hillegas

1 Standard bacon

Most bacon in the U.S. is what manufacturers call streaky bacon: long, narrow slices that have been cut crosswise from pork belly and have veins of pink meat within white fat.

Try it in: Bean and Bacon Soup

RELATED: How to Cook Bacon in the Microwave

Types of bacon cuts - Thick-cut bacon
Credit: Kendyll Hillegas

2 Thick-cut bacon

Just like standard bacon, only thicker. Use this cut when you want to slice bacon into matchsticks (known as lardons). Cook until crisp for chewy bites that add flavor to salads, soups, and baked potatoes.

Try it in: Stovetop Bacon Lasagna

Types of bacon cuts - Canadian bacon
Credit: Kendyll Hillegas

3 Canadian bacon

These round slices come from the pork loin, which is leaner than the belly. Usually precooked and smoked, Canadian bacon tastes a bit like ham. Crisp it up in a skillet and serve with fried eggs or wilted greens.

Try it in: Your Favorite Easy Breakfast Dish

Types of bacon cuts - Pancetta
Credit: Kendyll Hillegas

4 Pancetta

It's the Italian version of streaky bacon. Pork belly gets tightly rolled up and sliced into paper-thin circles. For juicy flavor, wrap it around meat or vegetables before cooking.

Try it in: Spinach and Pancetta Tartines