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Ham vs. Canadian Bacon: What's the Difference?

Edited by Janet White || By Harlon Moss || Updated on October 16, 2023
Ham is meat from a pig's hind leg, often cured, while bacon is thin slices of meat from a pig's belly or back, usually smoked or cured.

Key Differences

Ham and bacon both originate from pigs but are derived from different parts. Ham is specifically the meat from the hind leg of the pig, while bacon is thinly sliced meat from the pig's belly or back.
Curing and smoking processes further differentiate ham and bacon. Ham can be sold fresh, but it's often cured (salted) or smoked for flavor and preservation. Bacon, on the other hand, is typically cured and can be smoked or unsmoked.
The culinary uses of ham and bacon vary. Ham is typically served as a main dish, especially during festive occasions, and can be baked, boiled, or fried. Bacon is often a side dish, breakfast staple, or ingredient in a variety of recipes due to its rich, crispy nature.
In terms of texture and taste, ham usually has a more substantial and less fatty texture compared to bacon. Bacon tends to be crispy when cooked, with layers of fat rendering down during the cooking process.
Around the world, the definitions and types of ham and bacon might slightly differ. For instance, what Americans know as bacon might be called "streaky bacon" in other countries, to differentiate it from back bacon or other cuts.

Comparison Chart

Part of the Pig

Hind leg.
Belly or back.


Can be fresh, cured, or smoked.
Typically cured; can be smoked.

Culinary Use

Main dish or centerpiece.
Side dish or ingredient in recipes.


More substantial, less fatty.
Crispy with rendered fat when cooked.

Global Variations

Different curing and flavoring.
Varieties like streaky or back bacon.

Ham and Canadian Bacon Definitions


Ham refers to a specific cut of pork, distinct from other pork products.
She sliced the ham thinly for the sandwiches.

Canadian Bacon

Bacon's crispy texture is achieved through its fat rendering during cooking.
The sizzling bacon released its fat, making it crunchy.


Ham is the meat from a pig's hind leg.
For Easter, many families roast a ham as the main dish.

Canadian Bacon

Bacon is often smoked or cured for flavor enhancement.
The smoked bacon added a savory touch to the salad.


Ham can be a cured or smoked pork product.
The smoked ham had a rich and robust flavor.

Canadian Bacon

Bacon can be an ingredient in various dishes, adding a rich taste.
The pasta had bits of bacon, giving it a salty kick.


Ham can be sold fresh or undergo preservation methods.
The cured ham lasted longer in the fridge than the fresh one.

Canadian Bacon

Bacon consists of thin slices of meat from a pig's belly or back.
He cooked the bacon until it was crispy.


Ham is a popular meat choice for festive occasions.
Every Christmas, we have a glazed ham centerpiece.

Canadian Bacon

Bacon is a common breakfast item in many cultures.
She enjoyed her eggs with a side of bacon.


The thigh of the hind leg of certain animals, especially a hog.


A cut of meat from the thigh of a hog, often cured by salting or smoking.


Can ham be eaten without being cured or smoked?

Yes, ham can be sold and eaten fresh.

Is bacon typically fattier than ham?

Yes, bacon usually has more fat layers compared to ham.

Are both ham and bacon derived from pigs?

Yes, both ham and bacon come from pigs.

Which has a longer preservation, cured ham or fresh bacon?

Cured ham generally has a longer preservation compared to fresh bacon.

Which is saltier, ham or bacon?

Both can be salty due to curing, but bacon often tastes saltier because of its thinness and cooking method.

Can you get bacon from parts other than the belly?

Yes, back bacon comes from the pig's back rather than the belly.

Can ham be used as a pizza topping?

Yes, ham is a popular pizza topping, often paired with pineapple.

How is ham typically served in meals?

Ham is often a main dish, especially during festive occasions.

What part of the pig does ham come from?

Ham comes from the pig's hind leg.

Is bacon always smoked?

No, bacon can be smoked or unsmoked.

Why does bacon become crispy when cooked?

Bacon becomes crispy due to the rendering of its fat during cooking.

Can bacon be a main ingredient in dishes?

Yes, bacon can be a primary ingredient in dishes like pasta, salads, and more.

Can ham be fried like bacon?

Yes, ham slices can be fried, although its texture will differ from bacon.

Is ham bone used in cooking?

Yes, ham bones are often used to flavor soups and broths.

Is bacon only a breakfast item?

While bacon is popular at breakfast, it's versatile and used in various meals.

Are there global variations of bacon?

Yes, there are variations like streaky bacon, back bacon, and Canadian bacon.

How does the flavor of smoked bacon differ from unsmoked bacon?

Smoked bacon has a deeper, smoky flavor, while unsmoked bacon has a purer pork taste.

Which has more varied uses in recipes, ham or bacon?

Both are versatile, but bacon is more commonly used as an ingredient in a wider range of recipes due to its rich flavor.

Are there different types of ham based on curing methods?

Yes, there are various types of ham, like smoked, honey-cured, or country ham.

Is prosciutto a type of ham?

Yes, prosciutto is a type of thinly sliced, dry-cured ham.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.

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