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Regular vs. Center-Cut Bacon

By Cook's Illustrated Published September 2013

“Center-cut” bacon is becoming available at supermarkets. How does it differ from regular bacon?

Many brands now offer center-cut bacon, a product advertised to contain anywhere from 25 to 30 percent less fat than traditional bacon, uncooked.

To see how it might compare with ordinary bacon, we rounded up samples of both kinds from the same brand and compared the cooked strips in a side-by-side tasting. We then sampled the same bacons in spaghetti carbonara. Our findings? Though the regular-cut bacon did have more fat on its ends, much of that fat melted off during cooking, and tasters across the board didn’t experience the center-cut bacon, which is sold in shorter strips, as significantly less fatty. Tasters likewise found both products to be nearly identical in the carbonara. So what exactly does distinguish center-cut bacon from the ordinary kind?

As it turns out, not much. Center-cut bacon is nothing more than regular bacon with the fatty ends cut off. If you’re looking for bacon with less fat, by all means go for center-cut strips. Just know that you’ll be paying more for less: The 12-ounce center-cut packages we sampled were priced exactly the same as the 16-ounce regular packages from the same brand.

REGULAR-CUT: Longer strips have more fat at the ends that mostly renders away.

CENTER-CUT: Shorter strips have less fat—but the same price.