Make us your home page

Taste test: bacon bits

Summer salads are a staple in my house — a great break from the hot oven, stove or even the barbecue grill. But, if a meal doesn't include meat, my family members think it's an appetizer. So I am always looking for a way to incorporate protein in every entree. Our judges have the same philosophy. For some dishes, bacon bits are a great option. They add a touch of salty, meaty flavor without overpowering a bowl of greens, vegetables or starches. We found four brands of real bacon bits (not the hard, imitation variety) and compared each for appearance, texture and flavor. In the end, most judges said they likely would take the time to fry up a few strips of bacon when they need a little extra flavor for a dish, although a couple of these packaged options might work in a pinch.

Kathy Saunders, Times correspondent


(out of 100)
Hormel 64Publix 50Great Value 41Oscar Mayer 41

Judges preferred these bacon pieces for their nice chop and "genuinely smoky meatiness." One panelist said he appreciated the smaller cut of the pieces and the mildness of the flavor. "They would be good as a salad topper or on a main dish because they wouldn't overpower the flavor," he said. "These don't have an overwhelmingly bacon taste." The store brand was the favorite of a couple of panelists because they liked the leanness of the meat and the not-too-salty flavor. "These are the best of the bunch," said one judge. Another said they looked and tasted homemade. "They have a nice overall appeal," he added. One said they would be a nice addition to deviled eggs. "This could dress up a lot of things from appetizers to dessert," said another.These bits looked like real bacon, according to our tasters. "They are slightly smoky and a bit on the fatty side — in a good way," said one judge. Another liked the larger size of the pieces and the pleasing smokiness. These were heavy on salty flavor, warned a couple of judges. "I like the smoky notes and would sprinkle these on salads or an omelet, perhaps," said a panelist who would buy the brand.The bacon bits from this familiar hot dog maker didn't impress judges as much as they had hoped. The meat bits were fatty and a little too chewy for a couple of panelists. One judge appreciated the mild saltiness and the finely chopped size of the pieces. "These would be good in an omelet strata or as a garnish for chili," she said.


they buy?
All four judges said yes.Three of the four judges said yes.Two of the four judges said yes.Two of the four judges said yes.
Shopping information$4.58 for a 6-ounce pouch from Walmart.$2 for a 3-ounce pouch.$1 for a 2.5-ounce pouch from Walmart.$2.48 for a 3-ounce pouch from Walmart.

Panelists: Jeff Jensen, public information officer for the city of Treasure Island; Wayne Conery, retired restaurant manager; Mary Jane Park, executive director of the St. Petersburg Warehouse Arts District; and Janet Keeler, assistant professor of journalism at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg. All foods were tasted blind.

Send suggestions for product testing to: Taste section, Tampa Bay Times, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731 or email them to Please put TEST SUGGESTION in the subject line. To read past Taster's Choice columns, go to

Serving size1 tablespoon1 tablespoon1 tablespoon1 tablespoon
Fat/Fiber1.5g / 0g1.5g / 0g2g / 0g2g / 0g
Sugars/Sodium0g / 200mg0g / 220mg0g / 190mg0g / 160mg
Carbs/Protein0g / 3g0g / 3g0g / 3g0g / 3g

Taste test: bacon bits 06/13/16 [Last modified: Monday, June 13, 2016 12:07pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Top things to do in Tampa Bay for the week of Sept. 25-Oct. 1


    MegaCon Tampa: The multi-genre convention brings a lineup of celebrity guests and comic book creators to the Tampa Convention Center Friday-Sunday, including icon Stan Lee, William Shatner, above, Kevin Smith and Gaten Matarazzo and Caleb McLaughlin from Stranger Things. Shop hundreds of vendors selling …

    Courtesy Adultswim
  2. This Lemon Blueberry Bundt Cake is ready for breakfast, dessert or your next party


    This week, food critic Laura Reiley offers thoughts on the Bundt cake, and why it and other retro desserts are making a comeback. Read that story here.

    Lemon Blueberry Coconut Bundt Cake. Photo by Michelle Stark, Times food editor.
  3. New podcast: Belushi's 'Real Men,' 'The Principal' turn 30


    Hand to god, I'm a sucker for a good Jim Belushi movie. And the mid-'80s gave us SO many good ones from the actor. But of all odd timing, two of his more under-appreciated flicks actually were released within one week of each other 30 years ago: The Principal and Real Men.

  4. Is the Bundt cake back? How retro baked goods are becoming trendy again


    Once there were grunts and slumps, buckles and brown betties. Oh, and pandowdies and sonkers. In the olden days, people routinely made angel food cakes, tomato soup cakes and hummingbird cakes. These were not Duncan Hines mixes, but rather confections made from scratch following yellowed and stained recipes in your …

    Nothing Bundt Cakes in Tampa offers a variety of options, from tiny “bundtinis” and 10-inch cakes that serve 18 to 20 people. Core flavors include lemon, marble, red velvet and chocolate-chocolate chip, with featured flavors like confetti.
  5. Taste test: new snack foods from Lay's, Duncan Hines and more

    Taste Test

    After foraging through our hurricane kits and noshing on all the fun snacks — even before Irma hit, for some of us — our judges were ready to find some new nibbles. This week, panelists enjoyed new chips, a new dessert and what they described as the perfect children's party food.