Cured vs. Uncured Bacon on Keto

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Written by Rahul Malpe, Certified Nutritionist and medically reviewed by Abby Courtenay

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Bacon has been a popular food for centuries. In the United States, each person eats an average of 18 pounds of this food every year. That’s over half a billion pounds annually! 

There are many different types available for purchase, including traditional (also known as “streaky”), Canadian, and Australian kinds. Numerous flavor variations also exist, such as applewood-smoked, honey-cured, and pepper-coated.

A fun fact with this meat is that new choices are appearing all the time, so there’s something to suit everyone’s taste.

The aim of this article is to provide an overview of two types of this meat known as cured and uncured.

How does cured differ from uncured? Can one be considered superior to the other in terms of keto? 

We'll explore all the important questions regarding this meat in this article and explain how they relate to a ketogenic diet.


What is cured bacon?

It is a meat that has been treated with a combination of salt, sugar, and nitrites. This curing process helps to preserve the meat and give it its characteristic flavor. 

Cured pork can be made from either pork belly or loin, and it is typically smoked after it has been cured. The smoking process further enhances the flavor of the meat and helps to prevent spoilage.

It can be eaten raw or cooked, and it is a popular ingredient in many dishes.

Curing reduces the amount of moisture in the final product and because of this, harmful microorganisms like Clostridium botulinum are unable to multiply and cause foodborne illness like botulism.

The process preserves the freshness and safety of meat. In addition, the flavor and color are also enhanced and the final product is usually more tender as well. 


What is uncured bacon?

It is a meat that has not been treated with nitrates or nitrites. These chemicals are typically used to cure meat, which means they help to prevent the growth of bacteria and extend the shelf life of the product. However, they can also be associated with health risks, such as cancer. 

As a result, some consumers prefer to purchase uncured versions, even though they may cost more and have a shorter shelf life.

It is also sometimes referred to as "nitrate-free" or "nitrite-free" bacon.

As a prerequisite to making it, the meat must be cured and smoked. Yes, uncured bacon is still cured, just not with nitrates. 

Instead, a brine made up of different ingredients and curing agents (such as celery salt or powder, sea salt, sugar, and sometimes spices) is injected into the belly of the pork as the initial step in curing.

After that, the flavor is added to a mixture and the meat is left to absorb it. In order to absorb all the flavors of the mixture, the meat must be left in it for a period of one or two days.

As soon as the pork has absorbed all the ingredients in the mixture, it is smoked slowly over real wood or by using liquid smoke. The flavor of pork products can vary greatly depending on the type and level of smoke used.

Once that is over, it is chilled and pressed, and the meat is cut into uniform slices and prepared for slicing. At the end of the process, the meat is packaged and delivered to stores.

Even though the slices in the packaging are partially cooked, they are not ready for consumption until they are cooked all the way through.


Cured vs. uncured bacon nutrition facts

Despite the fact that they both come from the same animal, they may have some differences.

Which one has the most calories? What is the breakdown of their macronutrients?

Both products' nutritional information can be found in the table below. Information taken from USDA FoodCentral Database is used in these charts.

Nutrients Uncured bacon (28 g) Cured bacon (28 g)
Energy 140 kcal 110 kcal
Fat 14 g 10.4 g
Protein 3 g 3.8 g
Net carbs 1 g 0 g
Total carbs 1 g 0 g
Fiber 0 g 0 g


Keep in mind that the nutrition info will vary depending on the brand and ingredients used.

Cured versions have salt and other preservatives added to it, while uncured versions do not.

Both types are high in fat and protein, but cured kinds also contain sodium and other additives. 

Unhealthy diets high in saturated fats and salt, such as smoked pork, have been linked to an increased risk of heart disease, stroke, and other chronic health conditions.

For this reason, it is important to limit your consumption of processed meats

If you do choose to eat it, opt for uncured varieties whenever possible (to reduce the risk of cancer).

When comparison-shopping, also be sure to check the labels for added sugars, which can increase the calorie and carb counts of otherwise healthy foods.


Differences between uncured bacon vs. cured bacon

It is primarily the ingredients used to cure the meats that make them different from uncured types. 

  • The uncured kind is pork that has been treated with a saltwater solution that usually contains natural ingredients, including natural nitrates like celery powder or sea salt.
  • Cured kinds, on the other hand, are preserved with artificial nitrates and nitrites.


When to eat cured bacon vs. uncured bacon on keto

When it comes to deciding when to eat these meats, there are a few things to consider. 

  Uncured bacon Cured bacon
  • Contains natural ingredients
  • Longer shelf life
  • May have stronger flavor
  • Typically less expensive
  • Shorter shelf life
  • May be more expensive
  • Contains chemicals that may be harmful to your health


Cured meats have a longer shelf life than uncured meats. This means that it will last longer in your fridge or freezer.

However, the chemicals used to cure meats can be harmful to your health. For this reason, you may want to choose uncured kinds instead. 

Uncured types often have a more natural flavor than cured ones. This is because the curing process can mellow out the flavor of the meat. If you like a strong pork flavor, you may prefer the uncured version. 

Finally, the cured type is typically less expensive than uncured bacon. If price is a concern, you may want to opt for cured over uncured. 

Ultimately, the decision of when to eat either of these meats is up to you. Consider your health concerns, flavor preferences, and budget when making your choice.

If you do choose either of them, there are many keto-friendly recipes that can be made with cured and uncured bacon. Here are just a few:

  • Bacon-wrapped chicken: Chicken is a lean source of protein that is perfect for a keto diet. Wrapping it in meat adds flavor and helps to keep the chicken moist.
  • Bacon and egg cups: These are a great option for breakfast or snack time. Simply cook some eggs in muffin cups lined with pork strips.
  • Bacon cheeseburger salad: This recipe combines all the flavors of a classic cheeseburger into a healthy salad. Start by cooking some meat strips and then crumble them over a salad made with lettuce, tomatoes, and pickles. Top with shredded cheese and your favorite low-carb dressing.
  • Bacon-wrapped shrimp: Shrimp is a healthy seafood option that is also low in carbs. Wrapping them in the meat before cooking gives them an extra boost of flavor


Which one is better for a ketogenic diet?

When following a ketogenic diet, it is important to choose sources of fat that are high in healthy fats and low in unhealthy fats. Bacon is a common source of fat and protein for those on a ketogenic diet, but there is some debate over which type of bacon is best.

Overall, both cured and uncured bacon can be part of a ketogenic diet, but uncured bacon might be a better choice because it doesn’t contain artificial nitrites or nitrates which may be linked to cancer risk.. 

However, both types should only be eaten in moderation because they are processed meats. Even if they can both fit into the keto diet in terms of net carbs, a healthy diet is also about making sure what you eat does not contain artificial ingredients which can be harmful to your health in the long run. 

Closing thoughts

Both types of bacon can be part of keto because they don’t contain any carbs and are rich in protein and fats. However, while they may be keto-friendly, this does not make them healthy.

It is recommended to limit or avoid any packaged food that comes with a lot of artificial ingredients as they can be harmful to health. Instead, choose foods that are unrefined and do not go through a lot of processing.