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What Is Irish Bacon? The Origins of This Popular Rasher

Norah Clark
Irish bacon in packaging.

Norah Clark

Norah Clark, Editor of Boyd Hampers! Norah is a food writer with over a decade of experience in hospitality as a pastry chef, sous chef, and barista; former chef at the Savoy Hotel, Ritz Carlton, Four Seasons and Plaza Hotel.

Irish bacon, also known as back bacon or rashers, is a popular type of bacon commonly enjoyed in Ireland. Unlike the traditional American bacon, which is typically made from pork belly, Irish bacon is made from pork loin. This results in a leaner and less fatty cut of meat that is often considered healthier.

Read on to see the origins of Irish bacon, its preparation methods, and how it differs from American bacon.

I'll also give you suggestions on popular ways to serve Irish bacon.

Origins of Irish Bacon

Irish bacon has a long history in Ireland and is deeply rooted in Irish culture and cuisine.

It has been a staple in Irish households for generations and remains a popular choice for breakfast and brunch dishes.

The tradition of curing and smoking pork in Ireland dates back centuries, and Irish bacon has become renowned for its high quality and distinct flavor.

Cuts and Preparation

Irish bacon is typically made from the loin of the pig, which is located on the back of the animal.

The meat is cured using a combination of salt, sugar, and other seasonings, and then smoked to enhance its flavor.

The curing process helps to preserve the bacon and gives it a longer shelf life.

Once the bacon is cured and smoked, it can be sliced and cooked in various ways.

Some people prefer to pan-fry or grill it until crispy, while others may boil or bake it.

The cooking method can vary depending on personal preference and the desired outcome.

Regardless of the cooking method, Irish bacon is known for its tender texture and rich, savory flavor.

Irish Bacon vs. American Bacon

One of the key differences between Irish bacon and American bacon is the type of cut used.

While American bacon is typically made from pork belly, Irish bacon is made from the leaner pork loin.

This results in a leaner and less fatty cut of meat. Irish bacon is often considered a healthier alternative to American bacon due to its lower fat content.

Another difference is the curing and smoking process. Irish bacon is usually cured using a dry cure method, whereas American bacon is often cured using a wet brine.

The dry curing method involves rubbing the meat with a mixture of salt, sugar, and seasonings, whereas wet brining involves soaking the meat in a saltwater solution.

The smoking process also differs, with Irish bacon being typically smoked using hardwood chips.

Serving Suggestions

Irish bacon can be enjoyed in a variety of ways and is a versatile ingredient in many dishes.

Here are some popular serving suggestions:

  1. Full Irish Breakfast: Irish bacon is a key component of a traditional full Irish breakfast. It is typically served alongside other breakfast staples such as eggs, sausage, black and white pudding, grilled tomatoes, and fried potatoes.
  2. Bacon and Cabbage: Irish bacon pairs well with cabbage, and a classic Irish dish is bacon and cabbage. The bacon is boiled or simmered until tender and served with boiled cabbage and potatoes.
  3. Sandwiches: Irish bacon makes a delicious addition to sandwiches. It can be served hot or cold and works well with a variety of fillings, such as lettuce, tomato, and mayonnaise.
  4. Salads: Sliced Irish bacon can be added to salads to add a flavorful and protein-rich element.
  5. Pasta and Risotto: Irish bacon can be diced and added to pasta dishes and risottos to provide a delicious smoky flavor.


Is Irish bacon the same as American bacon?

No, Irish bacon and American bacon are different. Irish bacon is made from pork loin, while American bacon is typically made from pork belly. Irish bacon is leaner and has a milder flavor compared to the more fatty and crispy American bacon.

How is Irish bacon different from Canadian bacon?

Irish bacon is made from pork loin, while Canadian bacon is made from pork back bacon. Canadian bacon is typically brine-cured and smoked, resulting in a moist and tender texture. Irish bacon, on the other hand, is usually dry-cured and has a slightly firmer texture.

Can I substitute Irish bacon for American bacon in recipes?

Yes, you can substitute Irish bacon for American bacon in most recipes. However, keep in mind that Irish bacon is leaner and has a different taste and texture. Adjust your cooking time and method accordingly to ensure the desired outcome.

Where can I buy Irish bacon?

Irish bacon can be found in specialty stores, Irish food markets, and some supermarkets. It may also be available for purchase online through various retailers. We have Irish bacon featured in some of our gift baskets and hampers.

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