What is the difference between Gammon and Bacon? Would it be generally reasonable to substitute the two as required?


6 Answers 6


I did my internship for culinary school in London, and if I recall correctly from what I saw in the markets there, what you call Gammon would be equivalent to our Ham - both coming from the pig's rear leg.

What we call bacon is what you'd call "streaky" or "streaky bacon" which is made from the pork belly.

Streaky would be the best substitute in recipes calling for bacon.

  • 1
    According to Wikipedia "bacon" in the UK may refer to what we call canadian bacon. Not yet sure which Rowland is referring to since he's in the UK. Was this your experience there as well?
    – hobodave
    Commented Jul 26, 2010 at 18:14
  • @hobodave: I don't recall seeing our equivalent of "Canadian Bacon" (made from the loin). This was 16 years ago too so it's been awhile. The terms streaky and gammon I do recall and they were the english equivalent of "bacon" and "ham" respectively. Commented Jul 26, 2010 at 18:32
  • @Hobodave & Rowland: After referencing some of my English cookbooks and specifically "Traditional FarmHouse Fare: A Collection of Country Recipes from Farmer's Weekly" they are using the terms mentioned above with "back bacon" as the English term for American "Canadian Bacon". Commented Jul 26, 2010 at 18:46
  • @Hobodave & Rowland: I just checked out "Anton Edelmann Creative Cuisine - Chefs secrets from the Savoy Hotel" and where he lists "streaky bacon" in two recipes he notes "US Canadian Bacon" in parenthetical notes. However the photo of his bacon-wrapped scallops shows something closer to a dry cured ham such as prosciutto. Here's my final suggestion on substitution: If you're cooking it and the recipe says to cook something else (such as onions) in the rendered fat, then use Streaky Bacon. If it's in the recipe as more of a meaty element, then back bacon or gammon should be fine. Commented Jul 26, 2010 at 18:54

As per:

"Both ham and gammon are cut from the leg of a pig. The meat is the same but the preparation and treatment is different. Ham and gammon are both cured meats. This means that they are treated with salt, known as brining, and other substances before being eaten.

Ham is meat that is cut from the carcass and then treated.

Gammon is meat that is cut from the carcass after the brining treatment.

Both gammons and hams might also be smoked.

Traditionally, regional variants in the process and the ingredients used would bring different flavours to the cured meats. This explains the origin of distinctive varieties such as York ham, Bayonne ham and Prague ham.

Air dried hams are also cured first but then usually eaten raw whereas brined hams are baked or boiled before serving."

  • For me, ham is cooked, cured pork, which can be cooked on the bone (most supermarket delis tend to stock some on the bone for hand-carved ham) Commented Jul 26, 2010 at 19:59
  • @Rowland Shaw: before it's cooked and sliced I'd still say ham. If you were to say "We cooked a whole ham last weekend", or "I've got the ham for christmas" I would have a picture in my head that involves starting with a raw leg on a bone and ending up with slices of ham as you would understand it.
    – vwiggins
    Commented Sep 28, 2012 at 15:48

According to my local friendly butcher, Gammon is a type of bacon that is specifically from the hind quarters.

Bacon is defined as any pork that has been cured through a process of salting, either as a dry-cure or a wet-cure where the meat is either packed in salts or brine respectively. With wet curing, other ingredients can be added to impart other flavours, such as beer or sugars.

Typically, rashers are made from the body of the pig with streaky bacon coming from the belly, and back bacon coming from, well, the back (so the same cut as a pork loin chop). Bacon joints are typically made by combining cuts of bacon from the shoulder and collar, whilst the hind quarters are sold as gammon with a premium on price.

Traditionally ham referred to cooked gammon, although in modern uses, it is often extended to include other cooked bacon joints, which include moulded meats made from combining cuts together with other additives to help bind them.


Well bacon is a very generic term. You might want to clarify which you're referring to.

In America 'bacon' comes from the belly of the pig. Whereas, according to Wikipedia bacon in the UK typically comes from the back of the pig (we call this canadian bacon). Either way these are usually dry-cured.

Gammon cuts come from the hind legs of the pig. It is typically wet-cured.

Update: Based on your images above, yes gammon can be used as a substitute for back bacon.



In England good bacon is dry salted, (without sugar) and is mostly cut from the back and side of the pig and has a 'pork chop' appearance, with an eye (tenderloin), and muscle streaks and fat attached to the tail end (side of the ribs).

It is called a rasher, often has the skin attached, and can be either 'green' (unsmoked) or smoked (never hot smoked like in N. America).

It may be cooked to a crisp, or just till it turns opaque. Depends on taste.

There are many regional varieties, with Wiltshire and Danish being premium varieties. In Scotland, Ayrshire bacon is excellent and the rasher is rolled so the bacon rasher has a round appearance. Good bacon and gammon does not ooze white stuff, nor does it shrink much when it is fried.


Gammon is always cut thicker and is composed mostly of meat like a ham slice. It also tastes different. From my understanding it is usually made from salted leg meat.

You can find photos of 'English bacon rasher' and 'gammon rasher' on the web if you include UK in the search. If you haven't tasted this kind of bacon you can get an idea of the British bacon taste by salting a piece of pork belly in the fridge (it really needs fat to be delicious). Just leave out the sugar and spice. There are recipes on the web. You may never go back to the water soaked meat in a plastic bag that is sold as bacon in supermarkets.


Peameal Bacon is commonly known as Canadian Bacon, it comes from the loin is cured and rolled in cornmeal. Streaky Bacon is also often referred to as Canadian Bacon, comes from the belly, cured and then smoked.

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