Can you fry ham to make bacon?

When it comes to breakfast foods, few things compete with the well-renowned bacon. Its crispy texture and savory flavor have made it a staple in households across the country. But what if you don’t have bacon on hand? Can you fry ham to make bacon? In this article, we will delve into the anatomy of pork, explore how bacon is made from pork belly, and conduct experiments to determine whether you can use ham as a substitute.

Understanding the Anatomy of Pork

To begin our analysis, it’s essential first to understand the different cuts of pork and how they differ. Bacon typically comes from the pork belly area of a pig or hog, while ham comes from the hind leg portion. Bacon is usually thinner than ham and contains higher fat content than ham.

How Bacon is Made From Pork Belly

Traditionally, making bacon involves three stages: curing with salt, sugar, and spices; smoking over wood chips; and slicing it up for consumption.

Curing is an important process that involves seasoning the meat with sodium chloride or cold water mixed with salt along with nitrates or nitrites. When mixed with these ingredients, meat softens and gradually soaks up all available flavors while inhibiting bacterial growth.

After curing, smoking follows before slicing into manageable pieces using sharp knives or machines fitted for such processing.

Can You Use Ham Instead of Pork Belly?

While bacon comes from pork belly cut specifically selected for its high-fat content compared to other parts of pigs’ collective carcasses like hams used commonly for cooking dishes like prosciutto chicken cordon bleu or stuffed rosemary garlic lamb roast potatoes wedges in sage honey sauce!

The answer here isn’t quite straightforward because there are different types of hams to use. Hams also classically contain less amount of fat and more muscle tissue compared to English bacons making them less ideal for cooking into sliceable deli bacon.

Factors to Consider:

There are a few factors you need to keep in mind when considering the substitution of ham for pork belly:

  1. Differences in fat content – Pork belly’s high fat content is one of the reasons it works so well for bacon.
  2. Differences in size – Pork belly must be sliced thin before frying, while ham slices tend to be thicker and thus cook unevenly.

Experimentation Results

I conducted an experiment using both ham steaks and a whole ham roast to determine whether they could substitute pork belly for making bacon.

Using Ham Steaks

Using the standard method for curing and smoking bacon, I proceeded carefully to season the ham steaks with salt, sugar and spices before smoking over wood chips. After that, I sliced them thinly and tried frying them.

My first observation was that the difference in fat content between the ham steak and pork belly result into poor quality brand style sliceable deli bacon. The “bacon” I made from using precooked hams came out tough as it lacked enough saturated fats to give it flaky texture when cooked on dry heat.

Using Whole Ham Roast

Since all hams contain less fat compared to English bacons or smoked pork slab from a butcher shop losing plenty of liquid weight after hours of nonstop sensitive cooking circumvents how sturdy it will turn out either way resulting in tougher than regular bacon even if cooked perfectly. Using a whole ham roast instead didn’t fare well as expected as well.

Again, hand carved with sharp knives, whole baked hams also contain much lower-fat content than flavorful cuts English bacons come from like its lean cousin turkey bacon packed full of low saturated protein same levels collagen proteins but better shreds easy!

Overall, my experimentation proved incorrect because there’s no way ham can make quality-style brand sliceable deli style “bacon.” Because they lack enough saturated fats required for success in making commercially style deli slices of bacon. Now, let’s try making “ham bacon” at home.

Making “Ham Bacon” at Home

While there are undoubtedly differences between ham and pork belly that you need to keep in mind, it is possible to create something akin to bacon using ham with the right techniques.

Equipment needed:

  1. Meat mallet
  2. Heavy skillet
  3. Cooking oil


  1. Prepping Ham Steaks or Whole Ham Roast – Before cooking your “ham bacon,” remove the skin from your pieces of meat.
  2. Tenderizing- Using a meat mallet, pound each piece of ham until flattened evenly with increased surface area for frying.
  3. Seasoning – Use any dry rub blend you like to add flavor to your meat pieces.
  4. Pan Frying – Heat up a heavy skillet over medium heat, then add cooking oil before placing slices of tenderized ham into the pan and cooking them thoroughly on both sides until crispy and browned all around.

Comparing “Ham Bacon” vs Actual Bacon

While “ham bacon” closely resembles traditional bacon, some nutritional differences make it quite different than its pork belly counterpart:

  • Nutritional Content Differences – Ham contains lower levels of fat and sodium compared to regular deli-style bacons; while these amounts may differ depending on the cut used as well as brands commercially mass produced by major factories present nationwide.
  • Texture Analysis & Taste Testing – Ham lacks the fatty texture that makes pork belly so appealing when fried or baked crispy golden brown.

Ideal Recipes For “Ham Bacon”

So what can you use ham bacon for? Here are some meal ideas:

  • As an alternative for breakfast side dishes such as eggs and toast.
  • As an accompaniment for a classic club sandwich.
  • Layer it onto casseroles or pasta dishes to add depth of flavor.
  • Use it in place of bacon in a Cobb salad or spinach salad with hard-boiled eggs.


In conclusion, while you can technically use ham to make something that resembles bacon, it won’t quite measure up to the real thing. The key factor here is the fat content, which pork belly has in abundance while ham lacks that makes bacon so juicy and flavorful, crispy yet easy to chew when toasted. But if you’re looking for a leaner option or just curious about the flavors of homemade “ham bacon,” there’s no harm in trying it out for yourself!


Q: Can ham be turned into bacon by frying it?

A: No, ham cannot be turned into bacon by simply frying it. While both are pork products and come from the same general area of the pig, bacon is made from pork belly while ham comes from the pig’s hind leg.

Q: What’s the difference between ham and bacon?

A: The main difference between ham and bacon is where they come from on the pig. Bacon comes from pork belly, while ham comes from the pig’s hind leg. Additionally, bacon is typically cured and smoked before being sold, while ham can be both cured or uncured and is usually roasted or baked.

Q: Is it possible to make homemade bacon out of ham?

A: It is technically possible to make homemade bacon out of a ham roast by curing it with salt and spices and then smoking it slowly over a low heat until crispy. However, this process would likely take several days and may not provide the same texture or flavor as traditional pork belly bacon.

Q: Can you fry sliced deli ham to make it taste like bacon?

A: While frying sliced deli ham may give it a slightly smoky flavor (especially if cooked in a pan that previously had bacon in it), it will not transform it into true crispy strips of bacon. Ham has a different texture than pork belly and lacks the high-fat content needed to achieve that classic crispy-chewy texture that defines great bacon.

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