Is turkey bacon pre cooked?

Turkey bacon, sometimes referred to as turkey rashers, is a popular alternative to traditional pork bacon. Unlike pork bacon, turkey bacon is made from ground turkey which is shaped and cured to resemble bacon strips. This allows people who do not eat pork for religious, health or ethical reasons to still enjoy the iconic bacon flavor and texture. But an important question for turkey bacon consumers is – is turkey bacon pre-cooked or does it need additional cooking before eating?

The short answer

Turkey bacon is not fully pre-cooked when you purchase it. It is cured and partially cooked, but requires additional cooking before consumption. Most brands of turkey bacon are smoked or pre-cooked to around 50-60% doneness. This means you need to finish cooking it thoroughly before eating to eliminate any harmful bacteria and make it safe to eat.

How is turkey bacon made?

Turkey bacon undergoes a multi-step manufacturing process to achieve its signature flavor, texture and appearance:


Turkey bacon is made from turkey breasts or thighs. The meat is brined, which means soaked and injected with a saltwater solution. This enhances juiciness and infuses seasoning.


After brining, turkey bacon is smoked to add flavor. The smoking process may use natural hardwood smoke or liquid smoke added to the brine solution.


The turkey bacon is partially cooked, typically to around 50-60% doneness, either by smoking, steaming or baking. This cooks the meat to make it safer to eat.

Slicing and curing

The turkey meat is pressed and shaped to resemble pork bacon strips, then sliced. A curing process adds preservatives like nitrites to help maintain color and extend shelf life.

As you can see from this process, turkey bacon undergoes partial but not complete cooking during manufacturing. It needs additional cooking before you eat it.

Why turkey bacon is not fully pre-cooked

There are several reasons why turkey bacon is only partially pre-cooked:

  • Food safety – Partial cooking eliminates harmful bacteria in the raw meat. But full cooking right away would make the bacon dry and tough.
  • Shelf life – Partial cooking extends shelf life compared to raw meat. Fully cooked bacon would have a much shorter unrefrigerated shelf life.
  • Convenience – Consumers expect to be able to quickly cook turkey bacon at home like pork bacon.
  • Appearance – Partial cooking leaves the bacon looking raw and uncooked to meet consumer expectations.

Proper cooking of turkey bacon

To make turkey bacon safe to eat and achieve the best texture, it needs to be fully cooked before consumption. Here are some tips:

  • Cook turkey bacon until it reaches an internal temperature of 165°F throughout. Use a food thermometer to check it.
  • Pan fry over medium heat, turning occasionally, for around 5 minutes total until crispy.
  • Bake in the oven at 400°F for 10-15 minutes on a rack lined sheet pan.
  • Microwave for 2-4 minutes depending on thickness. Place on a paper towel lined plate.

Undercooked turkey bacon can potentially lead to foodborne illnesses. Make sure to use a food thermometer if unsure, and cook to a safe internal temperature.

Differences from pork bacon

There are a few key differences between pork bacon and turkey bacon cooking:

Pork Bacon Turkey Bacon
Typically fully cured and smoked during production. Only partially pre-cooked, not fully cured.
Shrinks more during cooking. Less shrinkage when cooked.
More fat so crisps up easier. Leaner so can dry out if overcooked.

Due to less fat content, turkey bacon benefits from lower heat and not overcooking. This keeps it tender and moist.

Ingredients to look for

When purchasing turkey bacon, read the label closely and look for these indicators of quality:

  • Turkey meat – Should be the first and main ingredient.
  • Minimal ingredients – Shorter ingredient lists signal a less processed product.
  • No added nitrates/nitrites – Some brands use natural preservatives like celery powder instead.
  • Low or no added sugar – Sugar is added for flavor in some turkey bacons.

Choose turkey bacon with the fewest artificial ingredients for the healthiest option.

Nutrition comparison to pork bacon

Compared to regular pork bacon, turkey bacon is generally:

  • Lower in fat, especially saturated fat – turkey bacon has about 50% less fat than pork bacon
  • Fewer calories – turkey bacon has about 40% fewer calories
  • Higher in protein
  • Lower in sodium

However, nutrition can vary significantly between different brands and types of turkey bacon. Be sure to compare nutrition labels, as some turkey bacons may contain added sugars, preservatives or other ingredients that affect the nutrition profile.

Cost difference

Turkey bacon generally costs more than pork bacon. The average price of turkey bacon is about 1.5 to 2 times higher per pound.

Reasons for the higher cost of turkey bacon include:

  • More expensive to produce than pork bacon
  • Smaller market so lower production scale
  • Perceived as a “premium” or “specialty” product

However, prices can vary significantly between brands. Store brands and large-scale producers like Oscar Mayer help lower the price gap compared to traditional pork bacon.

Most popular turkey bacon brands

Some of the most popular brands for turkey bacon include:

  • Oscar Mayer
  • Hormel Black Label
  • Jennie-O
  • Applegate
  • Wellshire Farms
  • Niman Ranch
  • Trader Joe’s
  • Whole Foods 365

Oscar Mayer has the highest brand recognition and market share. Jennie-O is another leader, specializing in turkey products. Premium brands like Applegate, Wellshire Farms and Niman Ranch offer minimally processed options.

Popularity and trends

Turkey bacon has steadily grown in popularity over the past decade. But it still makes up a small fraction of the overall bacon market. A few trends are driving growth:

  • Increased demand for alternative bacons like turkey, beef and vegetarian.
  • Consumer interest in lower fat and lower sodium products.
  • Rising costs of pork.
  • More availability in mainstream grocery stores.

However, turkey bacon has not yet become truly mainstream. The strong traditional preference for pork bacon still limits how much demand switches over to turkey bacon.

Common uses

Turkey bacon can be used as a substitute in any dish you would normally use regular bacon for. Common uses include:

  • Breakfast – bacon and eggs, omelets, pancakes, baked goods
  • Sandwiches – BLTs, burgers, wraps
  • Salads – Cobb salad, wedge salad
  • Soups and chilies
  • Pizza and flatbreads
  • Potatoes – baked potatoes, home fries
  • Appetizers – deviled eggs, stuffed mushrooms
  • Brussel sprouts, green beans and other roasted vegetables

Turkey bacon works well as a saltier, smoky seasoning to balance dishes. Just adjust cooking times and temperatures to avoid overcooking the leaner turkey bacon.

Should you refrigerate unopened turkey bacon?

Even when still in the original sealed package, it is advisable to refrigerate turkey bacon. Since it is cured rather than fully cooked, refrigeration helps slow bacteria growth.

The low moisture environment of the refrigerator keeps turkey bacon fresh for longer by slowing down chemical reactions. Refrigeration also helps prevent spoilage from any oxygen exposure inside the packaging.

Check the best by or use by date on the package and follow the recommended storage instructions. Once opened, turkey bacon should always be promptly refrigerated in an airtight container or bag.

Can you freeze turkey bacon?

Turkey bacon can be frozen for longer term storage, keeping it fresh and safe to eat for 2-3 months. To freeze turkey bacon:

  • Make sure turkey bacon is not past the expiration date.
  • Wrap tightly in airtight freezer bags or plastic wrap.
  • Remove as much air from the packages as possible.
  • Freeze at 0°F or below.

Slicing the turkey bacon before freezing makes it easier to separate portions later on. Properly frozen turkey bacon maintains quality and taste when thawed.

Can you eat turkey bacon raw?

Raw turkey bacon should always be fully cooked before eating. The curing process does not make the bacon ready to eat uncooked like some dry cured salamis.

Eating raw turkey bacon can potentially lead to:

  • Salmonella – Raw turkey commonly carries dangerous salmonella bacteria, which causes severe food poisoning.
  • E. Coli – Both salmonella and E. coli infections have been linked to raw turkey bacon consumption.
  • Toxoplasma gondii – Raw pork products may contain parasites if diseased livestock is used.

Always cook turkey bacon thoroughly to an internal temperature of 165°F. Uncooked bacon can hide harmful pathogens inside that are only destroyed by proper cooking.


Turkey bacon provides a tasty lower-fat alternative to regular pork bacon. But unlike fully cooked pork bacon, it needs additional cooking before eating for food safety. Read labels closely for quality and cook turkey bacon thoroughly until crispy to 165°F internal temperature. With proper cooking and handling, turkey bacon can be part of a delicious and healthier breakfast.

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