How to Cook Side Pork - Blog Post Image

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When I think of cooking side pork, I remember a small town butcher shop I used to visit with my grandmother. They had the most fabulous ground pork burgers (a story for another time), as well as fresh side pork. Today, we get side pork from our locally raised hog. But I realized one morning while I was cooking side pork for breakfast that it isn’t widely known. I’ve heard of people asking what it is and how you use it, so I thought I’d put together a post on this topic.

Caution: You might just find yourself with a new addiction…crispy side pork. 🙂

But first…

What is side pork? What’s the difference between side pork and bacon?

From what I understand (and this is from a Midwestern gal’s standpoint, just so you know), side pork IS bacon. It just hasn’t been cured yet. It’s pork. No smoke. No spices. No salt. Just clean slices of pork that come from the exact same spot as the bacon. (Side pork is the raw meat used to make bacon.)

Most side pork is a bit more chewy than bacon. In my experience, it doesn’t get quite as crisp, probably because it’s usually cut into thicker pieces than bacon and isn’t cured. Side pork also doesn’t have the smoky/strong bacon flavor, obviously. But if cooked properly, side pork still offers a deliciously crispy pork flavor you cannot forget.

How do you cook side pork?

Cook side pork like bacon, preferably in a covered cast iron skillet. (Trust me – you need one of these if you don’t already! They’re worth their weight in GOLD in the kitchen. Click here to see what sizes and designs you could get.)

Raw side pork pieces in a cast iron skillet.

Preheat skillet. Lay the strips evenly over a cast iron skillet. Keep the heat at medium-high until the skillet is hot and the meat begins to cook. Once the fat starts to render, turn down to medium/medium-low heat.

Cooking side pork.

Stir the meat using a large fork or pair of tongs, so it cooks evenly. You may need to continue adjusting the heat up and down.

You want the pan hot enough where it continues frying the side pork, but not so hot that it burns. But do watch and keep it hot, because if it gets too cool, the meat will boil in its own juices instead of frying, and that will make it tough. (Doesn’t do much for flavor either, trust me.) It really depends on the temperature of the room, as well as what stovetop and skillet you’re using.

Browning side pork
The side pork is a little more brown now!

Once the side pork is brown and crispy to your liking, remove from pan and drain on paper towels. Do NOT discard the grease or pan. More on that in a moment.

Crispy side pork draining on paper towels.

How do you use it? What does side pork taste like?

Eat freshly cooked side pork like bacon. It’s delightful for breakfast! You can eat side pork plain, or make it into a sandwich with mayo, tomato, and lettuce. I generally eat it plain or in a sandwich, but I suppose you could use it for some recipes that call for bacon, depending on the recipe in question.

Remember what I said about side pork grease? Drain and save it. (It keeps for at least a week in the refrigerator, longer if frozen.) It’s basically a deeper flavored lard. You can use it for baking too, if you don’t mind the cooked meat flavor that may come with it. It’s always wonderful for cooking eggs, french toast, etc. too.

Also save the pan once you’ve discarded the grease. It makes wonderful gravy! Cooking eggs directly in the pan also provides a delicious flavor that cannot be replicated with just the grease.

Tips for Cooking Side Pork:

  • If desired, season the pork with salt before cooking. It does help it fry better, but it isn’t completely necessary. (You could season it with other spices if you get the hankering! I’ve tried to make a quickie bacon before.)
  • Cast iron works best for cooking side pork, because it fries better than plain stainless steel or aluminum pans.
  • Warning: In my opinion, side pork splatters more than bacon, so be extra careful of your eyes while stirring.

Have you ever had side pork before? What did you think? Comment below!

Wondering how to cook side pork? Find instructions for cooking fresh side (kind of like bacon)!
5 from 3 votes

Side Pork

Course: Main Course
Keyword: side pork
Author: Rachel Abernathy


  • Skillet (cast iron is best) with lid
  • Tongs/fork for stirring
  • Paper towels


  • 1 pkg fresh side pork
  • Dash salt optional


  • Preheat skillet. Lay strips evenly over skillet. Keep the heat at medium-high until the skillet is hot and the meat begins to cook. Once the fat starts to render, turn down to medium/medium-low heat.
  • Stir the meat, so it cooks evenly. (You may need to continue adjusting the heat up and down, depending on your stovetop, pan, etc.)
  • Once the side pork is brown and crispy to your liking, remove from pan and drain on paper towels. Serve immediately.
  • Save grease and pan for future use (if desired).

20 Replies to “How to Cook Side Pork”

  1. Momma used to fry fresh side pork until crisp, the used the drippings to make a white gravy! We had this with boiled potatoes or over bread. As you might gues , times were tough for them! But there are times I wish for those Suppers again.

  2. Side pork was a staple growing up on a farm in northwestern North Dakota. We had it often with fried potatoes for dinner. You are correct in that it is quite tasty and does have a bit of an uncured bacon flavor, somewhere between pork chops and bacon.

  3. My mom and dad were raised on it in Kansas. I’m 70 and grew up on fresh side pork with rind. My mom laid it flat in a cast iron skillet with no lid and fried it like bacon with a little salt and pepper. Pat it dry to remove the remaining fat. We then cooked our potatoes, and then eggs in the fat. Now a days, I see it at COSTCO sold as pork belly. It tastes and looks the same only thicker and with no rind. My kids and grandkids are now enjoying this wonderful flavor!!!

  4. Rachel, I had many questions about side pork and salt pork and your post answered everything. It was clear and thorough. Every reference I had read would leave some unaddressed threads.

  5. Love side pork (pork chop bacon -my kids called it that) I serve it with Mac and cheese (the box kind Kraft Deluxe or something)
    My favorite bacon

    1. Made a Mistake to have bought side pork, cooked it but will not buy again. Not sure what to do with it. Maybe put into bean soup.

  6. My family makes fresh side pork for dinner. We call it Grandma’s dinner. She would lay out wax paper or foil and lay the side pork on top. Salt & pepper the slices and then dredge in flour and pan fry in an iron skillet. Start with a small amount of bacon fat in the skillet. Serve with fried potatoes with onion and kidney beans (cooked with a bit of bacon grease) and a simple salad.. This dinner is only a once or twice a year meal but worth the wait.

  7. Side pork has been a staple in our home since I met my farm boy husband 42 years ago. We buy it with the rind on and slice it ourselves. It’s a supper dish here served w/macaroni and tomatoes. I like mine crispy and well done and he likes his floppy!
    I’ve always left it flat and never tried moving it around in the pan, I’ll do that tonight:)

    1. How’d it work? I move it around in the pan because mine is sliced pretty thinly, but thicker cuts don’t cook the same way. 🙂

  8. From southern Wisconsin here, just north of Madison. It’s usually difficult to find side pork at any time, but Covid has really made that hard to find. But we did! Side pork tastes to me like a nice thin cut of porkchop but with more fat for the FLAVOR! And yes, you can fry eggs in it and it’s wonderful. Making some this morning hence my reason for doing a Google search. THANKS, RACHEL!! 🙂 Loved the tips

    1. Central Wisconsin here, have you tried a processor ( not a butcher, but a place where cow/pig farmers that their meat cut) I have no problem finding it in the Merrill area

  9. 5 stars
    Hi, your thoughts concerning the side pork was very interested I never heard of side pork, so I was very glad whenever I saw your comments on side pork. I just took some out for dinner I was going to fix some for this afternoon, but I see it is a breakfast food. my story is a long one on how the hog came into our lives as a pig we raise him, he got so big until we decided to have him butcher. We got so much meat, with meat costing so much today it was a blessing for our family. Thank you so much for your input.

    1. So glad to hear it was a blessing to you! 🙂 Technically more of a breakfast food, but I’ll make it anytime, particularly for BLTs.

    2. Hi Barbara , I live a n Vermont and have eaten Side Pork most of my life . We cook it here for supper and serve it with boiled potatoes and gravy made from the pork drippings and use milk in the gravy . Very good !

      1. 5 stars
        Thank you to all that takes of Side Pork and Salt Pork. It all makes sense now. My Mother loved Salt Pork. I make gravey with milk and with boiled potatoes. Can’t beat it.
        Plain good food.

  10. I see no one left a message. You appear to be very young. I applaud you for the side pork cooking. I haven’t had good side pork since my father in law died. We use to butcher our own hogs. Just cant beat fresh side pork. If you talk to anyone nowadays and mention side pork most people don’t know what it is. I am an older gentleman and remember going with my grandma to the butcher shop, oh those were the days. Best meats ever.

    1. 5 stars
      I was just watching an old episode of Gunsmoke on TV & some woman offered Matt Dillon some eggs, biscuits & side pork & gravy! So I had to look it up lol. I’m in my 50’s & never heard of it. But now I know it’s just salt pork. My mama cooked with it but back then it wasn’t nothing special. I grew up in LA, Calif. My mother was from New Orleans & we ate what she cooked which now they call soul food.

      1. That’s great! I’m glad I’m not the only one who looks up dishes they hear on TV shows, haha. 🙂

      2. Side pork and salt pork are two different things. Side pork is the fresh meat from the side/belly of the pig and salt pork is the meat cured in salt.

      3. It’s not salt pork, salt pork is actually salted to keep it from spoiling. Side pork is just plain unadulterated pork belly slices.

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