It’s time to stop bringing home the bacon, because the pork professionals over at Tender Belly will deliver it to your door. It was really only a matter of time until technology expanded to include rashers of pork. They even have a Bacon Every Month Club; I’ll go out on a limb here and assume that’s self-explanatory. I recently had the opportunity to taste-test a few of Tender Belly’s signature products, including two of their flavored bacons and some uncured franks.


Sweet Surprise

First of all, arriving home to find a thick envelope-like package of pork waiting really improved my evening. I immediately proceeded to fry up some of the maple-cured bacon. Boy, did those strips sizzle! I let the edges get a bit crispy before deeming the product fit for testing. The flavor was smoky and sweet, though I couldn’t quite discern the maple. Definitely a solid piece of meat though, my taste testers (AKA friends) and I thoroughly enjoyed it! Unlike your standard supermarket-bought variety, Tender Belly’s bacon is thick – even after frying. Makes you feel more like you’re eating a bacon-esque cut of meat rather than the more traditional thin strips you might be used to. And it looks especially impressive garnishing an all American Bloody Mary!


Tender Belly’s website touts the quality of their pigs, who are fed a 100% vegetarian diet to render their meat more, well… tender? Whatever they’re doing, it must be working – this was a fine slice of pork. The guys over at Tender Belly are serious about their hogs.

Entertaining with bacon

Rewinding a bit to the beginning: the meat arrived in a thick white package. I had to cut through a hefty layer of insulation (the phrase “pigs in a blanket” came to mind) to get to the good stuff. Inside were two packages of each of their flavored bacons and some smoked sausage. I had a choice of either maple or habanero flavored bacon. After the initial maple tasting, I decided to save the spicy version and the sausages for another occasion where I had guests over for dinner. Some 10 minutes before the food was ready, I started frying up the package of habanero dry-rub uncured bacon. Almost immediately, the acrid smell of spiced smoke filled the kitchen, and everyone in the vicinity was coughing in no time. Now, to be fair, I’m not sure if this was entirely the fault of the bacon, as I made this flavor again a second time with much more mild results (though still some of the same general effect). Be forewarned! Cook with caution!


Through a haze of smoke, I served the bacon along with dinner, and the reception was amazing. Everyone thought it was a huge hit, with one guest going as far as to say it was the best bacon he had ever had. Not bad right? I wasn’t ready to commit to quite that extreme of a sentiment, but I’ll admit, the spicy and flavorful habanero bacon was really something. Each bite was thick and juicy and deserved to be savored.


At the same occasion, I also tried out the sausages pan-fried and served up as a side to some potatoes. Very solid performance as well, everyone had only good things to say. I agreed that it was a damn good sausage, though perhaps less unique than the bacon.


Bacon that’s not just for breakfast

I can eat almost anything with a side of bacon, but I decided that Tender Belly’s signature bacon flavors deserved more thoughtful pairings. The winning combinations:

  • Maple cured served up with a bloody mary
  • Habanero fried crispy and crumbled over tortilla soup
  • Sausages served on top of pasta

I’m already making plans to sneak a bit of Tender Belly into some of my family’s Thanksgiving recipes. Score some easy points with the in-laws.

The Verdict

Tender Belly make some fine meat products. If you consider yourself a meat man, you owe yourself to try these guys out at least once. I’ll wager you won’t regret it! More specifically on each of the products:

  • Sausage super tasty, would definitely try this again.
  • Maple bacon – a solid rasher of pork, though the sweetness was not overly reminiscent of maple. More like a generic sweet flavor, but still delicious!
  • Habanero bacon – cook this in a well-ventilated area and serve it up to people who appreciate spicy food and like some kick to their meat.

This review was written by Trey Hastings, a food critic at HisPotion


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