Yes, you can eat turkey bacon raw. Turkey bacon is usually made from chopped and smoked turkey. The bacon is cured and smoked, so you technically don’t need to cook it before consumption.
While most people would find the taste gross, some prefer it as is. Still, it’s way safer and tastier to cook your turkey bacon before you eat it.
We’ll quickly explain all you need to know about turkey bacon, what to do with it, and how to eat it below.
Do I Need to Cook Turkey Bacon?
There’s no need for further cooking with turkey bacon. Turkey bacon is made from smoked, chopped, and improved turkey. It is pre-formed and cured beef that looks like actual bacon. It is an easy alternative to pork bacon if you prefer a low-fat concentration. Besides, some religions prohibit eating pork bacon, so they like this alternative.
Regular bacon must be cooked in a frying pan, microwave, or oven. It is almost unfathomable to eat it raw, but turkey bacon is not the same. It’s processed and may just need a light searing in the pan.
Still, it’s best to check the instructions on the bacon package to see if you should cook it.
What’s the Nutritional Value of Turkey Bacon?
Turkey bacon is generally healthier than pork bacon. It’s popular mainly because it’s a low-fat substitute. Here’s a breakdown of the nutrients in a typical 16g turkey bacon bag:
- Calories – 60
- Carbohydrates – 0.7 g
- Fat – 4.2 g
- Protein – 4.8 g
- Sodium – 328 mg
- Sugars – 0.7 g
- Fiber – 0 g
But the nutritional value might vary slightly from brand to brand, and the bird part in the pack you buy. For example, your bacon pack may be made from:
Ground White and Dark Meat: this means the turkey bacon is made from several sections of the turkey brined and sliced into bacon strips.
Large Chunks of Dark Meat: the turkey is made from dark meat from the turkey’s thighs. They are mixed in flavor enhancers and sliced into bacon strips.
Most turkey bacon bags don’t contain carbohydrates, but some brands add sugar for sweetness. This accounts for the 1-2 grams of carbohydrates on some packages.
While it has less saturated fat content, it still contains sodium nitrites and fat and should be eaten in moderation. There are two types of fat in turkey bacon: saturated and unsaturated. This adds valuable protein to your daily diet.
Does Turkey Bacon Benefit Me?
Turkey bacon is especially beneficial to people on low-carb or weight loss diets, trying to get their daily protein intake. It has several nutritional benefits but about 25% less saturated fat. This helps to regulate fat content without sacrificing protein intake.
Besides, Muslims, Jewish people, and people from other religions with pork exemptions may be thrilled at the prospect of turkey bacon. Some people simply may be allergic to pork bacon but still want to be able to follow recipes with bacon in them.
Turkey bacon affords them the alternative to enjoy certain meals.
Can Eating Raw Turkey Bacon be Bad for Me?
While most people can eat turkey bacon raw without any problem, there are still some health complications that may come with it for others.
Here are some of the consequences of eating raw turkey bacon.
- It contains more carbohydrates and less protein. Most people eat bacon as a source of protein, but turkey bacon contains about 20% less protein than regular pork bacon.
- Turkey bacon may have too much sugar for people on a low-carb diet. Some brands add tons of sugar to improve the texture and taste of their turkey bacon. However, there are turkey bacon brands that have no added sugar.
- Turkey bacon may contain some dangerous chemical preservatives like nitrites and nitrates. Nitrites are naturally found in fruits and vegetables, but the one in turkey bacon is synthetic, so it’s not well-suited for the body. It can form nitrosamines, which are harmful compounds that may lead to stomach or throat cancer.
The chances of this happening from turkey bacon alone are low, but there’s no way to guarantee that you don’t already have enough synthetic nitrites in your system.
- Turkey bacon is a processed meat product. So, consuming it in high quantities can increase one’s chances of getting diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease. So, although you can eat turkey bacon raw, you should watch out for the quantity.
- It contains a high sodium content. This may interfere with achieving the full taste and aroma when you use it for cooking. So, if you prefer a more flavorful meal, you should ensure you get low-sodium turkey bacon instead.
Is Turkey Bacon Easy to Cook?
Yes, turkey bacon is easy to cook. You can cook it the same way you cook regular pork. However, you can reduce the cooking duration. You can cook it by baking, pan-frying, or microwaving.
Turkey bacon has a very nice texture when baked. Still, the result is not the same texture as pork bacon. For example, the high-fat concentration in pork bacon makes it crispy when you cook it. This crispiness may not reflect when you cook turkey bacon. Still, the taste is worth losing the crispiness.
You can use turkey bacon in any recipe you would normally use your typical bacon for and expect great results.
How to Cook Turkey Bacon
As mentioned, you can choose several ways to cook your turkey bacon, the same as you would your pork bacon. Here are a few methods below.
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and put the baking rack over the baking sheet. Place your turkey bacon strips on the baking rack without allowing them to overlap and bake for ten minutes. Then, you should flip it to the other side and let it bake for another 8-10 minutes.
This is the simplest way to cook turkey bacon, and it gives you control over the bacon throughout.
- Turn your stove to medium heat and place your frying pan or skillet on it. Then add just enough frying oil of your choice to cover the bottom of the pan.
- Add your turkey bacon to the pan and ensure they all lie flat without overlapping the other. It’s better to fry in two or more batches than for the parts to overlap.
- When your turkey bacon starts to brown and curl at the edges, you can flip it over the sides with your tongs. Then, when it looks shriveled with a deep brown color, it’s time to take it out.
- Place your turkey bacon on a dish lined with a paper towel to allow the oil to drain.
You can push down lightly on the top with your tongs to remove more oil. Then serve with a meal of your choice.
Microwaving is an easy route to cooking your bacon if you can’t do the other two methods. You can cook turkey bacon on a tray for 1 ½ -2 minutes. Then, once it’s done, you can enjoy it immediately.
What Happens if I Eat Bad Turkey Bacon?
You’ll likely get an upset stomach or food poisoning if you consume bad bacon. A food poisoning case will lead to dizziness, vomiting, high fever, and severe stomach ache.
Eating spoiled turkey bacon is unhealthy, even if it has no pain consequences on you the first time. So, if your turkey bacon has an awful smell or sour taste, it already contains harmful bacteria and should be thrown out. It’s best to refrigerate your turkey bacon.
An open turkey pack will be safer to eat for up to 12 days after, but you shouldn’t leave it out at room temperature for more than 2 hours at a time. Then, pack the leftovers in an airtight bag/container to keep them edible.
Why is My Turkey Bacon Pink?
Even though turkey bacon is processed and cured, it’s normal that it retains a pinkish look. Turkey bacon is usually cooked to a minimum internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
Think of it like a turkey luncheon stripped to thin, bacon-like slices.
The answer to the question, “can you eat turkey bacon raw,” is yes. Turkey bacon is the result of pressing seasoned turkey mixture into bacon-like strips. But unlike regular bacon, the turkey bacon option is processed and cured.
Still, it’s not a taste that many people would enjoy. So it’s often best to treat your turkey bacon like pork bacon. You can pan-fry it, bake it in the oven, or toss it in the microwave. While you won’t get the same crispiness as regular bacon, it’s a delicious, low-calorie, low-fat option for bacon lovers.