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Which truLOCAL Bacon is Best?

We tried the most popular and most unique bacon to find the best truLOCAL bacon in Canada. The results may surprise you. How many truLOCAL bacons have you tried?


truLOCAL carries more than 25 different kinds of locally sourced bacon across Canada (with plans for more) and we take pride in our quality. Since we specialize in locally sourced meat, not all the bacons in this truLOCAL taste test tournament will be available in every region. 

We love our bacon, and we know that our customers do too, but which truLOCAL bacon is the best? Let's find out in an all-bacon truLOCAL taste test tournament!


Taste test tournament rules:

• Each bacon will be cooked using both an oven set to 360F and an electric griddle set to 350F (to mimic a frying pan but still offer a lot of cooking space).

• Each bacon will be judged at a range of bacon “doneness” from soft to crisp.

• Each bacon will be judged by two adults and two children.


Alberta

Alberta has nearly a dozen different kinds of bacon and has the best range of bacon made from different animals. If you want pork, beef, turkey, elk, or wild boar, truLOCAL in Alberta has you covered. Let’s try some! 

Wild Boar Bacon

Supplier: Hillview Heritage Pork

First Impressions: Wild boar bacon looks like traditional pork bacon but with more fat that seems to glisten even before cooking it. It still has the smoky, salty smell like traditional bacon. It should be noted that the bacon is in strips, despite the above photo showing them in smaller bite-sized pieces.

Cooking: Although griddle-frying (or pan frying) this bacon is delicious, the high fat content splatters far and wide and makes quite a mess. This one is easier to cook in the oven. 

Final Thoughts: The flavour and smell are similar to a typical pork bacon but with a deeper, richer, almost nutty flavour. It does not have gamey flavour. This would work in any recipe that calls for bacon, especially a recipe that uses the higher fat content like wrapping around lean meats to keep them juicy during cooking. It would add a ton of flavour to our recipe for Bacon Wrapped Cod. It is Great for those who enjoy fatty bacon although it firms up and gets crispy, even the fatty parts.

Elk Bacon

Supplier: Wild Rose

First Impressions: Elk bacon is a very different kind of bacon with a deep reddish-purple colour and a large, round slice that measures about 6” by 6”. It is extremely lean and is cut against the grain from a large, lean muscle rather than a fat belly cut of typical pork bacon. It is brined and smoked like typical bacon but smells faintly like beef.

Cooking: Great in either a frying pan or in the oven. Because this is so lean, use a bit of oil in a frying pan and be aware that it firms up quickly. 10-20 minutes in a 360F oven, depending on how firm you like bacon. It almost can’t be overcooked because it becomes a chewy jerky when cooked longer (but it still tastes amazing).

Final Thoughts: The flavour is not gamey and is between steak and bacon with a slight sweet and salty flavour. This bacon is more like a ham and is surprisingly versatile. It would be great heated and added to a sandwich or cooked until dried as elk jerky, something that fatty bacon cannot do. The subtle flavour would be lost if added to a burger or omelet but is enjoyable on its own, either beside eggs or on a charcuterie board. This is a great bacon if you are looking for something new but also want something lean without sacrificing flavour. 

Beef Bacon

Supplier: Hillview Heritage Pork

First Impressions: It looks like pork bacon except that it is larger (3” wide before cooking). The meat looks like raw steak, and there is a pronounced strip of fat through the center. The smell is mild with a slight raw steak smell. It should be noted that this bacon is in long strips despite the above image showing them in bite-sized pieces.

Cooking: Beef bacon cooks just like traditional bacon and is well suited for cooking in the oven or in a pan/griddle. The meaty parts will become crunchy if overcooked but won’t become powdery like a crispy pork bacon. The streak of fat does not render like pork bacon fat. 

Final Thoughts: This bacon is a bit more substantial than typical pork bacon. It has salty and sweet bacon flavour with hints of red wine and a subtle mustard-like flavour. It is hearty and has a great balance of fatty and meaty sections. Choose this bacon if you love both the fatty and meaty parts of bacon, or just prefer beef over pork. It is perfect for anyone that has an allergy to pork and is well-suited for substituting pork bacon in any recipe. 


British Columbia

British Columbia also has 9 great local bacon varieties to choose from (keep an eye out for a new bacon hitting BC soon). There is no reason to get tired of bacon because BC has the most specialized flavours to mix it up once and a while.

Maple Bacon

Supplier: Hopcott

First Impressions: This beautiful maple bacon looks like a fresh, thick-cut deli bacon with nice pink meat and a subtle maple syrup scent. It looks like a high-end, thick cut, butcher bacon.

Cooking: This bacon takes a little longer to cook because of its thicker cut, but the salty, almost caramel flavour is worth the wait. The slower cooking allows for the bacon to cook exactly how you’d like it – whether in a griddle/pan or in the oven. 

Final Thoughts: This slightly sweet bacon is great for kids and adults alike and has a sweet bacon flavour followed by a pure maple syrup aftertaste. It would be amazing on a burger because of the maple flavour but also because it is easily bitten through, unlike some bacon that gets pulled out of a burger on the first bite. This is a great crowd-pleasing bacon with a subtle sweetness that kids love.

Garlic Bacon

Supplier: Hopcott

First Impressions: Garlic bacon also looks like it is freshly cut from a butcher and is thicker than most bacon. The smell is noticeably garlic.

Cooking: This thicker cut bacon does well both in a frying pan/griddle or in the oven, but it was surprising how fast it cooks. It firms up even after it is removed from the cooking surface, so remove it a bit earlier than you think. 

Final Thoughts: The flavour is complex and changes over time. At first the flavour is roasted garlic that dissipates to a bacon flavour with subtle yet spicy notes of fresh garlic in the aftertaste. It is a good balance of the garlic and the bacon flavour and perfect if you love both. Although this bacon is great on its own, it will really add a lot of flavour to Caesar salad, omelet, or in truLOCAL’s recipe for pan-fried Brussels sprouts and bacon.

Pastrami-crusted Bacon

Supplier: Hopcott

First Impressions: This pastrami-crusted bacon is thicker than most store-bought bacons and has a fine brown powder along the edge. The meat looks fresh and the smell is like a deli with slight salami notes.

Cooking: This thick-cut bacon cooks evenly and is cooked to crispy in just under 30 minutes at 360F. This bacon is best when removed slightly before you think it is done because it firms up as it rests.

Final Thoughts: The pastrami crust on the outside becomes crunchy and adds an interesting texture as well as an incredible flavour. It has a unique balance of flavour that shifts from the salty bacon to the subtle sweet tang of pastrami. This bacon is definitely one to try on its own but would be great to kick up the flavour of a club sandwich or BLT.

Peppered Bacon

Supplier: Hopcott

First Impressions: This is a thick-cut peppered bacon with coarse ground pepper around its edges. It smells just like bacon with a peppery kick - who would have guessed? The meat looks fresh and pink and is laid out in a way that suggests a butcher cut it, not a machine.

Cooking: This bacon cooks evenly due to its thicker cut and was right between chewy and crispy at just over 30 mins in a 360 F oven. 

Final Thoughts: The flavour is a balance between salty and smoky with a perfect punch of freshly ground pepper. The spice level is not high, but it builds while eating and is not recommended for those who do not tolerate spicy foods. It will be amazing anywhere you use bacon, like sandwiches, burgers, salads, or on its own.


Ontario

Ontario has four great options for bacon lovers (five if you consider our amazing peameal which we did not include in this taste test but trust me is mouth-wateringly delicious). It is great for those looking for healthier options such as sugar and nitrate free but also organic bacons. 

Bacon

Supplier: Townsend

First Impressions: A thicker cut bacon with a great ratio of fat to meat. The smell is a distinct hickory smell and not the usual smoky smell of most smoked bacon. It smells like it just came out of the smoker!

Cooking: This bacon cooks well in the oven where it stays nice and flat. When in a frying pan, although still delicious, it curls up more and makes it more challenging to cook consistently. This is great for those who do not like there fat cooked much, or for those that like fatty bites with a mix of textures. 

Final Thoughts: This bacon is exactly what you want from a high-quality bacon. It is salty, smoky, and sweet. The texture is a great balance of chewy and crispy, it is the truest tasting bacon from all the bacon tested. It is great as is beside eggs or added to any recipe calling for bacon, such as our recipe for a Savoury Green Breakfast Bowl.

Sugar and Nitrate Free Bacon

Supplier: Townsend

First Impressions: The colouring of this sugar and nitrate free bacon is not as intense as in other bacon. The smell is the distinct hickory wood smoke that Townsend’s Butchers use in their on-site smoker, although it should be noted that they use a blend of hickory, oak, and maple in their smoker.

Cooking: This bacon cooks well in both the oven and in a frying pan or griddle with minimal curling, but the oven provides a better texture that is both chewy and crispy. It cooks to a dark brown colour with very little difference from regular bacon, despite it looking paler when raw.

Final Thoughts: If someone didn’t tell you that this bacon was sugar and nitrate free, you would never know. It is less sweet than the other bacon but still has an amazing smoky and salty flavour that comes through. There is more complexity to the flavour in this bacon with a distinct wood smoke that is surprisingly bright. This is a healthier version of bacon that does not sacrifice on the bacon flavour. It crumbles well and would be great on pizza, in a salad, or in our Classic Penne Alla Vodka Pasta.

Organic Sugar and Nitrate Free Bacon

Supplier: 3Gen

First Impressions: This organic sugar and nitrate free bacon is very pale in colour and does not have the usual reddish-pink colour that comes from the smoking process. It has a subtle pork smell and does not have a spice or smoke smell at all. It is slightly thinner cut than the other pork bacon being tested (but not by much).

Cooking: This bacon does well when cooked in a frying pan (or griddle) or in an oven with slightly more curling when cooked on a griddle. The pale colour turns into a delicious dark brown bacon colour when cooked and it crisped up quickly.

Final Thoughts: This bacon has a mild flavour, likely since it is not smoked or have sugar in the brine. There is a subtle pork flavour with hints of salt, and a meaty, earthy flavour that is, honestly, hard to explain. It tastes lighter and less greasy than all the other pork bacon tested. It is perfect for those looking to avoid Nitrates and sugar but also the smoke flavour found in most bacon. It does not crumble as easily as other bacon but would be great diced into an omelet or in our Tomato, Spinach, & Bacon Pasta recipe.

Turkey Bacon

Supplier: Townsend

First impressions: This turkey bacon is sliced thinner, but the slices are much wider and longer (about 3 ½” x 8 ½”) than most of the other bacon. It has a speckled colour that hints to it being a pressed and formed meat, rather than a cut meat like all the other bacon. The smell is amazing! It smells like smoke, spice, and sweetness, not unlike a grilled sausage. It was hard to fight the temptation to eat it raw because it smelled so great.

Cooking: Turkey bacon is lean and does not require much time to cook. Do not walk away when cooking this because it is fast, it only takes about 14 minutes on a 350F griddle or 20 minutes in a 360F oven. The oven was more forgiving for cooking but didn’t caramelize the surface like a frying pan or griddle. Overall, the frying pan/griddle offers a slightly better flavour.

Final Thoughts: This bacon has a soft yet crispy texture that is buttery and light. The flavour is not bacon but not turkey either. It tastes a bit like ham with a bit more bacon flavour. A great benefit of this being a pressed meat is that the flavour and texture is consistent, unlike most bacon that have a fatty bite and a meaty bite. It is easily bitten through and would excel on any sandwich and could even replace a sausage patty for a healthier option that still has lots of flavour. Because it crisps up quickly, it would be amazing wrapped around foods that need some flavour but do not take long to cook, like wrapped around asparagus or green beans.

But which truLOCAL bacon is best?

truLOCAL Canada has a lot of amazing bacon and we can only provide our own personal opinions when judging which one is best. Out of all the bacon tested, there were a few that really stood out as amazing. The turkey bacon (from Townsend in ON) was incredibly light and flavourful and would be great for a health-conscious individual. The elk bacon (from Wild Rose in AB) was unlike any of the other bacons and had such an incredible chewy texture. Both the maple and garlic bacon (from Hopcott in BC) were balanced and would add amazing flavour to any dish - actually, all the Hopcott bacons tested were amazing.

But there can be only one winner and, by far, the best bacon out of this entire taste test tournament was the peppered bacon from Hopcott in British Columbia. This was confirmed by three out of four testers with two of them stating that it was the best bacon they have ever had in their lives. Its texture, kick of spice, overall exceptional quality, incredible versatility, and flavour upgrade when using it wins it the title of Best truLOCAL Bacon in Canada. If pressed to pick favourites from each zone, the elk bacon from Alberta, the turkey bacon from Ontario, and (obviously) the peppered bacon from BC were definite highlights and all judges would highly recommend them. Having said that, there was not a single bacon that had any leftovers because they were all amazing and each unique in some special way.

Everyone has a different preference in bacon and we welcome you to judge our bacons for yourself. Once you pick a winner, tell us about it on twitter or Facebook.


Posted on July 28th, 2021