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Southern Streak o’ Lean

Somewhere between bacon and lard, you’ll find Streak o’ Lean. It has a long and varied history in traditional southern foodways having been used for everything from seasoning to rendering for fat. This recipe showcases it on its own, dredged in flour and fried. One of the tastiest recipes from my childhood!

I debated with myself for a long time about whether to post this recipe. A really long time. Not just because almost no one will know what it is. Those folks are going to be few and far between.

Finished slices of streak o' lean on a white serving plate.

But mostly because old-time southern food has such a bad reputation. It doesn’t need me adding fuel to the fire with old recipes that just reinforce that stereotype. Yet, despite all those reasons nagging me, I still wanted to do it. So, here it is. Streak o’ Lean.

Who’s ever heard of Streak o’ Lean? Speak up. (testing, testing, is this thing on?)

🤔 What the Heck is Streak o’ Lean?

To start with, you’ll hear it called various things depending on what part of the South you’re from. In my area, it’s mostly streak-o-lean (Streak of Lean). Some folks run that all together, and it comes out sounding like “stricklin.” It’s also called fatback, side meat, white meat, and just plain salt pork.

You can think of Streak o’ Lean as kind of the opposite of bacon. Where bacon is smoked and has a streak of fat among the lean meat, streak o’ lean is salt cured and has a lean streak among the fat. It’s salt pork that has been elevated by coating it in flour and pan frying.

Finished slices of streak o' lean on a white serving plate.

Now before you send the food police around to my house and start proceedings to revoke my official food blogger’s license, just wait a minute. As crazy as the food world is today about bacon, if I had said I was deep frying bacon, some of y’all would be in a swoon right now. You know you would.

And besides, this is not something to be eaten every day of the week. As a matter of fact, the best I can remember, it has been at least 10 years since I last cooked Streak o’ Lean.

Although it can still be found on restaurant buffet lines in rural areas of the South, it’s really one of those once or twice a year (maybe decade) kinds of recipes. But be warned, once you’ve had it, you’ll never forget it. You’ll crave it. You will look for it at every buffet, and you’ll make an excuse to “just have a little bite.”

Finished slices of streak o' lean on a white serving plate.

❤️ Why You’ll Love This Recipe

  • Part of our southern food traditions.
  • Budget friendly (okay, it’s just flat out cheap).
  • It’s just plain delicious!

🛒 Ingredient Notes

All ingredients needed for the recipe.

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  • Salt Pork (Salt pork is very easy to find anywhere throughout the south. It should be available in most other areas because of its association with baked beans.)
  • Peanut Oil (I use peanut oil for any frying because it has a high smoking point. Canola or vegetable oil can be used as well.)
  • Black Pepper (No salt is needed because… *salt* pork.)
  • All-Purpose Flour (Makes a lovely crispy fried coating.)
  • Buttermilk or Regular Milk (You’ll soak the salt pork to draw out some of the salt before cooking.)

Note that the amounts given in the recipe are merely estimates. It’s very hard to give exact measurements because it’s one of those old recipes where you use what you need at the moment.

You’ll find detailed measurements for all ingredients in the printable version of the recipe at the bottom of this post.

🔪 How to Cook Streak o’ Lean

So how do you cook Streak o’ Lean? Well, you start with some salt pork. It’s the same thing that you use to season a pot of greens or a pot of baked beans.

👉 PRO TIP: Salt pork is available in one whole piece or in slices. You can slice it yourself with a very sharp knife or purchase the pre-sliced to make preparation very simple.

  1. The first step is to soak the salt pork. This step draws out a lot of the salt, and believe me, you don’t want to skip this. I know some restaurants that don’t soak it at all, just fry it up, but I prefer to draw out some of the salt first. Remove the salt pork from the milk, letting most of it drain away. Discard the milk.
  2. Place the salt pork on a board or pan and sprinkle it liberally with ground pepper.

👉 PRO TIP: Any kind of milk or cream works fine for drawing out the salt. Some cooks, instead of soaking, will boil the salt pork for about ten minutes, drain it, and then proceed with the recipe. If you’re short on time, that works as well.

  1. Then flour it well on both sides.
  2. Heat about a ¼ inch of peanut oil in a heavy skillet. When the oil is hot, carefully lower the prepared pieces of salt pork into the pan. Cook, turning once, until lightly browned, crispy, and cooked through – about 3 minutes on each side.

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  1. Put the finished slices on a paper towel lined plate to remove excess oil.
Finished slices of streak o' lean on a white serving plate.

❓ Questions About Streak o’ Lean

Is streak o’ lean the same thing as pork belly?

Streak o’ lean and pork belly are similar, but they come from different areas of the pig. Pork belly comes from, well, the belly, and streak o’ lean comes from the side (why it’s also called “side meat”) and is fattier. It’s also not bacon. Bacon is cured pork belly.

What can I serve with this?

Sides to serve with Streak O’ Lean are practically endless! Serve it with breakfast (grits, eggs, biscuits) in place of bacon. Or serve it as the main dish with sauteed fresh squash, butter beans, sliced tomatoes, and cornbread.

Lana Stuart.

Questions? I’m happy to help!

If you have more questions about the recipe, or if you’ve made it and would like to leave a comment, scroll down to leave your thoughts, questions, and/or rating!

Thanks so much for stopping by!

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Finished slices of streak o' lean on a white serving plate.

Streak o’ Lean

Streak o' Lean has a long history in traditional southern foodways having been used for everything from seasoning to rendering for fat.  This recipe showcases it on its own, dredged in flour and fried.
4.80 from 50 votes
Print It Rate It Text It
Course: Main Dishes
Cuisine: Southern, Vintage
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 8 minutes
Total Time: 13 minutes
Servings: 6 servings
Calories: 464kcal
Author: Lana Stuart


  • 12 ounces salt pork sliced
  • 1 ½ cups milk or buttermilk
  • 2 teaspoons ground black pepper
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • peanut oil for frying (1/4-inch deep)


  • Place the sliced salt pork in a container and cover with milk or buttermilk. Let sit for several hours to draw out some of the salt. Remove the salt pork from the milk. Discard the milk.
  • Pepper each slice of salt pork and then dredge lightly in flour.
  • Add peanut oil to a depth of a ¼ inch to a heavy skillet. Heat the oil over medium high heat. Carefully add the prepared salt pork slices to the hot oil. Cook, turning once, until lightly browned and cooked through (about 7-8 minutes).
  • Remove to a paper towel lined plate to drain excess oil.


  • Salt pork is very easy to find throughout the south. It should be available in most other areas because of its association with baked beans.
  • I use peanut oil for any frying because it has a high smoking point. Canola or vegetable oil can be used as well.
Tips —
Instead of soaking the salt pork in milk, some cooks will boil it for about ten minutes, drain it and then proceed with the recipe. If you’re short on time, that works well.

Nutrition Information

Serving 1 | Calories 464kcal | Carbohydrates 8g | Protein 4g | Fat 46g | Saturated Fat 17g | Polyunsaturated Fat 5g | Monounsaturated Fat 22g | Cholesterol 49mg | Sodium 1522mg | Potassium 57mg | Fiber 1g | Sugar 1g | Vitamin A 4IU | Calcium 8mg | Iron 1mg

Nutrition information is calculated by software based on the ingredients in each recipe. It is an estimate only and is provided for informational purposes. You should consult your healthcare provider or a registered dietitian if precise nutrition calculations are needed for health reasons.

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Finished streak o lean on a serving platter.

— This post was originally published on November 30, 2012. It has been updated with new photos and additional information.

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Recipe Rating


  1. 5 stars
    Thank you for this! My late pop would make this once a year- pretty much only recipe he really knew. He’d serve it with fried potatoes covered with salt. Pretty much a heart attack on a plate. Some of my best memories, and I’m glad I stumbled across this!

    1. It’s definitely not the most healthy choice, but like anything, if eaten in moderation (once or twice a year) it’s so good!

  2. Trip Swindell says:

    Thank you so much for this recipe. I haven’t made it, yet, so I can’t rate it … but I did want to let you know that streak o’ lean was part of my southern diet growing up. My family is from coastal Virginia, but I grew up in North Carolina and Georgia. My parents made streak o’ lean often, and even when I was in college in the early ’90s, a restaurant in downtown Atlanta still served it. I would swing by on my walk home, grab a slice and “gnaw” on it like salty bacon jerky all the way home.

  3. Lee Ann Burns says:

    Many thanks for posting this recipe and defining streak o’lean for us. I believe that these old recipes and our manner of speech need to be preserved as part of our beautiful Southern history.
    Let’s be proud of our heritage.

    1. You’re so welcome, Lee Ann. I completely agree that it’s important to preserve these older recipes!

  4. Meredith Gray says:

    Thank you so much for this post! I’ve been trying to find “stricklin” at my grocery store in Ohio, where I moved from Georgia. No one in Ohio had ever heard of it! I had no idea what the real name for it was because it had only and always been referred to as stricklin my entire life. So thank you very much for clearing that up for me and giving all this wonderful information. I have so many of my family’s recipes that called for stricklin and now I can make them more accurately!

  5. My grandmother used Streak O Lean to make spaghetti during the Depression, cut it into cubes, fry until crispy, then serve over spaghetti noodles with …. Gasp….catsup
    Sounds weird but it works, saltiness of the pork is balanced by sweetness of Catsup,

    1. That’s really interesting! I’ve never heard of it being used for spaghetti, but people did whatever they had to get by during that time!

  6. 5 stars
    Thank you …. I am a southern girl …mid 50s, I heard my aunts say streak of lean….I wasn’t exactly sure what it was but I call it salt pork instead of streak of lean . I used this in collards, peas, cabbage …I just call it different

    1. Yes, it’s called by several different names, but mostly salt pork or streak-o-lean.

  7. 5 stars
    I haven’t fried streak o lean in years but I love it! I keep it in my freezer for cooking peas and greens. Might have to get it out and fry some up!

  8. Virginia Prochnow says:

    I can understand your hesitation on posting this recipe. I mean how many people can there be, who 1) knows what streak o lean is and 2)don’t know how to cook it, but here I am. I was wanting some pinto beans and cornbread and suddenly wanted streak o lean. So I am so happy that you did.

    1. I rememeber my mother cooking this when I was a kid (in the 90’s). I remember it being called “strick-o-lean”. So I guess you could say nostalgia brought me to your recipe:)

  9. 5 stars
    I will never forget the first time I had streak o lean, it was in a roadside cafe in Eastern Tennessee, while I was driving down to Florida.

    They had a special of eggs and streak o lean on biscuits.

    So I ordered a plate. Took a bite and my face must have done all sorts of contortions since the waitress ran over and thought I was dying.

    I told her I was fine, but I think that first bite shot my blood pressure up 50 points!

    I finished the plate, tipped the waitress, and went and sat in my car waiting for my BP to drop back to normal.

    I’ve had it quite a few times since then, but I’ll never forget that first time. 😎

  10. Christian Harrison says:

    5 stars
    In the 70s, at the Colonial Restaurant in Morrilton, Ar, we put side-meat on the buffet on Thursdays. My shift started at 6:00 am, and on Thursdays my first task was to slice a side of salt pork and put it in a big bowl to soak in milk for a few hours. When it was time, I took the slices out of the milk and tossed them in flour seasoned with pepper. I cooked the floured slices on the grill. They came off the grill crisp, golden brown, and very tasty. They went into a big pan to go out and stay warm in the buffet. They were very popular with our customers. Whenever we had left-over side meat.

    1. Love that! It’s still popular on buffets in the rural areas around here.

  11. Karen Key says:

    5 stars
    This was my Mother’s favorite!! I was so happy when I saw this. Thanks for sharing!

  12. I remember my mother soaking it and frying it, then she used it to flavor a pot of greens. I cook the greens more now with a hamhock. But this recipe does bring back memories.
    I can’t wait to try the recipe. I’m sure going to make sure at New Years’ that I have some to fry up with my smoked jowl. Thanks again. Love your newsletter.

    1. I do hope you’ll cook some Streak o’ Lean for New Year’s! That would be perfect with the greens and peas.

  13. Cynthia Burgess says:

    5 stars
    Hi Lana. I really enjoy your recipes. I hadn’t thought of this one since we moved from Atlanta in 2013. We live in South Texas now and seeing your recipes remind me of the wonderful 18 years we spent in Georgia. We’re a bit Southern and a bit Western here.

    1. I’m glad the recipe reminded you of your time in Georgia! I hope you’ll cook some soon.

  14. 5 stars
    I remember my grandmother in central North Carolina using streak of lean in her vegetables by boiling it to get some salt out then adding it to her cooking vegetables. Or she’d fry strips of it like bacon. I loved how crispy yet tender the fat got.

  15. 5 stars
    There wasn’t a DAY that went by that this wasn’t in my parents refrigerator… My father loved it and so it was always on hand. It was hard to come by when we moved from Eastern North Carolina to Florida, so when we visited my grandparents, my parents would LOAD up the trunk with Salt Pork, Fatback, Streak o’ Lean, Air-dryed sausage and country ham (not to mention all of the fresh and “put up” vegetables from my grandparents farm). What glorious memories. Now when I visit (and I do a few times a year) I do the same thing. There’s a place in Rocky Mount, NC, Ralph’s, that still does a great Southern buffet, Eastern Carolina BBQ, chicken pastry, butter beans, pickled beets and all of the other fixins and sides and of course, Streak o’ Lean…. but you gotta get there early. When it’s gone it gone and it goes quick! God it’s good to be Southern…

  16. Debbie Bullard says:

    5 stars
    I am from the southern part of North Carolina. We fry side meat all the time to go with collards, mustard or turnip greens, or fried cabbage. My mother and grandmother never soaked it in milk or boiled it in water. We butchered hogs in the winter so we always had fresh side meat, and I don’t recall it being that salty. Fatback on the other hand is quite salty and we do boil it for a few minutes to get some of the salt out. I’m going to fry up some this evening to go with some fresh mustard greens, freshly dug new potatoes, stewed squash, and corn bread patties. I can taste it now! Thanks for sharing your recipe and putting the spotlight on one of our favorite pork meats.

    1. You’re welcome, Debbie! And, yes, if you have fresh you wouldn’t need to soak but if you’re using purchased salt pork it can really benefit from the soak.

  17. Miriam Wolfe says:

    5 stars
    I’m 73 yrs. old from northern New England, and as children we used to ask my grandmother to make this for us when we visited. It apparently became a common dinner meal here during the Depression, because her recipes were all typical of those times. Her father was a farmer, and fried salt pork was often included in the large hearty breakfasts my great grandmother cook every morning for all the farm hands. My mother never made it though, so I assume it wasn’t one of her favorites. I was pleased and surprised to easily find your recipe on an internet search. I find that no longer having to cook for a family with varied likes and preferences, I’m now desiring to occasionally re-experience many of the foods I had so long ago as a child… even if they are loaded with bad fat and sugar! The only differences between my grandmother’s fried pork recipe and yours is that I think she first soaked the salt pork overnight in water, didn’t add so much oil for frying, but then used the pan fat to make a gravy, and completed the meal with the addition of boiled potatoes and gravy.

    1. I think your grandmother’s dinner with boiled potatoes and gravy sounds delicious. I’m going to give that a try next time I cook Streak o’ Lean :-)

  18. Learned this method from my Mom. She grew up during the depression. have fond memories of having salt pork sandwiches. the salt pork was always floured and fried.

    1. I have to say I’ve never had it in a sandwich, Susan, but it sounds really delicious!

  19. Vesta Hamilton says:

    5 stars
    Salt pork is great as well as this recipe lol. Thank you for sharing and taking a chance on being outed for posting an old fashioned recipe……

  20. I ate this occasionally growing up. We called it Chickamauga Chicken. We usually ate it with wilted salad (leaf lettuce with the grease from the streak of lean poured over it. It was wonderful with cornbread and onion. I still cook it once a year as a treat.

      1. MY Mom born 1929, Called It Streak a lean, Streak a fat, never shortened, put it between a biscut, Ummmm Good! Brought back memories seeing her daddy going and coming from work! She said make you live 100 years, her parent lived into their 90s and She’s 93!

  21. Nikki Yandow says:

    5 stars
    This is an old family favorite often served with boiled potatoes and milk gravy. My husband’s grandfather passed away in 2019…this was a favorite birthday dinner (even at 104). He passed the love of it on to my son who just turned 16 this week and requested it for his birthday. No one turns down the offer when we tell them what’s for dinner.

      1. Hello, I had to google what this was, because I’m reading a book called: Miss Julia Hits the Road, and it references Streak o lean, glad I did, because I thought they were talking about some Southern beverage. LOL thank you!

  22. Charlie Jernigan says:

    Grew up eating this stuff. We grew our own. We kept it simple and just put it in a frying pay and cooked it until it was crisp. Also used it as a seasoning for fish stew, clam chowder and a lot of vegetables. Still love it just do not eat it often.

    1. My parents and grandparents grew ours, too, when I was growing up. Have to get it from the grocery store these days :-)

  23. Sherry Wilson says:

    We have this every year on New Year’s Day with our black eyed peas and cornbread. Started with my mother and carried on by me and my family as a tradition. Once a year won’t hurt you! LOL

  24. 5 stars
    I ate this as a child. Often. My depression era grandfather cooked much of our family’s food. Now, to be fair, it was often in small pieces along with your beans or other (home) canned veggies, we didn’t really eat huge chunks of it.

    1. Yes, it’s definitely depression era, poor people’s food. And very delicious.

  25. Dale Jeffers says:

    This reminds me that recently I have been thinking about what my folks referred to as “side”. Although, it wasn’t around the house very often. One of my aunts just loved “side”. I figured if anyone could tell me what this was it would be Lana.

    1. Do you think they might have been referring to “side meat”? If so, that would be the same as pork belly.

  26. Betty Carol Thompson says:

    I love this. I grew up eating this in Alabama. But I live in Florida now and there is a restaurant that serves Batter fried Bacon. It is amazing. It gives the Bacon a whole different taste but a good taste. Love your Blog

  27. Chefgranny says:

    I remember eating this as a child. Then my Mom fixed it now and then. She seasoned with also. She soaked over night in water. Never saw my Grandmother or Mom flour and fry. I cook it also, and do not flour. Have to try the flour part next time. Thanks for sharing this for those that never heard of. They just try it…

    1. 5 stars
      After frying the streak o lean, I would pour the excess oil off and make a cream gravy with flour and milk to go over biscuits with the drippings left in the skillet, to eat with the streak o lean!! Added plenty of pepper to the pan. Oh, man, good eating – but only for “once in a while”!!! Thanks for reminding me!!

  28. Diane Bernstein says:

    I haven’t had streak o’lean since I was a child. I remember watching my mother prepare it, boiling it first before frying it. I watched my father eat it every morning with his pancakes. This recipe brought back good old memories that I haven’t had in years. Thanks. I think I’ll try to make it for myself.

  29. I was watching a YouTube video of some old guys making hog head cheese (which my daddy loved) and it brought back so many childhood memories including us eating salt meat on homemade biscuits! So I looked up recipes on how to fry this and your blog popped up- I’m already a subscriber! Just never heard it called it streak o lean. My mom boiled, floured and fried it and I thought I was in heaven! I’m going buy some salt meat today! Thanks for sharing Lana.

  30. It has been over 20 years for me as well. My dad was born in the country. He would fry streak o lean straight out the package like bacon. THEN make sawmill gravy out of some of the grease, He would then make cat head biscuits.

    He would only cook like this a couple times a year. Streak o Lean is soooo salty, but when fried crispy it was good in small pieces. the gravy was thick and salty too. A trip down memory lane for sure. I still make biscuits the way he did, but don’t cook salt pork. Hog jowl bacon is good though if you can find it.

  31. Just had fried, flour dredged salt pork slices and scrambled eggs with wild onions and cream gravy for breakfast. Delicious. In the 1970’s the Indian (Native American) women’s church groups in Oklahoma City would always hold fund-raising wild onion dinners in the spring. They also served up a bowl of pinto beans and fry bread. Bowls of tripe soup for the brave. And would always have wild grape dumplings for dessert. Few churches do this now, all the cooks gone, not to mention anyone willing to go out and dig their own onions or gather wild grapes either. Few today even know what they look like. You can still usually find small packages of salt pork, both in a small block or sliced, in the grocery stores in Oklahoma.

  32. I love it ….and it makes the BEST gravy!

  33. Larry Stringfield says:

    I just wanted to say wanted to say we love this recipe though we don’t make it often. I like to fry it up in the morning and snack on it all day. Most cured meat is very salty but the picture in the recipe shows Bear Creek brand which is my favorite but I find it not to be salty at all and I even need to sprinkle on a little salt with the pepper. I’m having this tonight along with cornbread and buttermilk. Thanks.

  34. Grandmommee says:

    I enjoy Streak of Lean one orbtwice a year. My grandson and son in law really likes it too. Thanks fir posting it.

  35. D the cook says:

    Southerners and not few and far between. We’ve all known streak O’ lean all our lives and and good Southern cook knows of many uses of it. I’m not sure we’re the flouring and deep frying comes from. I’m Georgian and I’ve never heard of it.

    The idea that Southern food is inherently bad for you is actually something of a racist idea promoted chiefly by Northerners, who have never had real Southern food. While it may be true that modern, lazy Southern “cooks” consume an incredibly unhealthy diet, traditional Southern cuisine is balanced, primarily vegetable and fruit-based and quite healthy. It is also delicious when prepared by someone who carefully studied his/her grandmother’s skill.

    Obesity in this country isn’t an epidemic caused by Southern food. Rather, it is the result of people cutting corners and using prepared and convenience foods instead of fresh, whole foods that are cooked using traditional methods. Somehow we came to believe that dinner should be a 15 minute effort, forgetting that healthy food takes some time and an investment of effort. Last night, I made this for dinner: fried chicken (one piece each), pink eye peas flavored with bacon (one strip for a quart of peas) and okra, roasted corn and cantaloupe. You can’t get more Southern than this. My meal provided about 600 kcal but was nutrient-rich.

  36. I grew in North Carolina in the 40s and 50s, never saw anyone flour or pepper their streak of lean — all ways boiled it for a few minutes and then straight to the cast iron frying pan.

    1. Lana Stuart says:

      Yes, people have all different ways of cooking the same thing, don’t they?

  37. Ilana Deyette says:

    When I originally commented I clicked the -Notify me when new feedback are added- checkbox and now each time a comment is added I get 4 emails with the same comment. Is there any approach you may remove me from that service? Thanks!

    1. Lana Stuart says:

      Ilana – I think I’ve fixed that for you. Please let me know if it continues to be a problem, and thank you for letting me know so that I could help.

  38. I think it’s funny many feel to need to apologize for this southern dish. My family ate streak o lean almost every day when I was young. I don’t eat it much anymore because you cant find any places that sell good quality steak o lean now (we called it sow belly). I live in north Georgia and if anyone can direct me to a location that sells good S.O.L. I will be grateful.
    One other dish my dad cooked was salt fish (fish that used to be bought in small tubs packed in salt brine). He would pick out the small bones and soak the fish overnight to remove much of the salt. In the morning he would batter with flour and fry, very good. One other thing, I have eaten fried chitterlings too, they are good, however I know most will not try these.
    Again if any one can direct to a place that sells good steak o lean I would appreciate it very much.


  39. Jeff DeRamus says:

    Publix in our area has stopped stocking Streak-o-lean. I asked the manager to order some and it came in this morning. The meat market manager called me today and said it has come in. I went and bought the whole case they go in. Can’t wait for tomorrow morning for breakfast.

  40. Mary Gray says:

    One of the best meals that I ever had was homemade biscuits, King Po-T-Rik Molasses and streak o’ lean! My dad and I really enjoyed that meal!

  41. Catherine says:

    My mother, born and reared in Western North Carolina, would make what she called “Grandma Ollis Steak.” (Grandma Ollis was her mother). It was just sliced fatback with the rind, or skin, fried in a skillet. Pure fat. This would be our protein for supper or, occasionally, breakfast. I didn’t like the fat, but loved chewing on the rind.

    1. Lana Stuart says:

      We used to have streak-o-lean and bacon with the rind, too, but it’s just about impossible to find any with rind these days.

  42. Elaine Gibson says:

    My grandmother was born in 1889 in Oklahoma. She called this dish “Arkansas fish” and my now 89 year old mother says it was really good .

    1. Lana Stuart says:

      Arkansas fish is a new one to me! Never heard that term before. So interesting.

  43. Steak-O-Lean was my favorite!!! My grandmother “Ma” pronounced Maw, used to make it for me on my birthdays. She was from rural Mississippi. She always made, Fried Chicken and Streak O Lean, Mac & Cheese, Collard Greens with ham hocks and banana pudding.
    I sure miss her and Mama cooking for 2 days for the holidays! Great times in the house.
    Thanks for the recipe, you’ve brought me home!

  44. Thanks for posting this, very informative. I just got some to season bean soup and will have plenty left over to try this. It will go so good with the “real grits” I just ordered and my hens fresh eggs. I like the buttermilk idea and reserving the leftover portion for corn bread which is a staple in hour home.

  45. Onisha Ellis says:

    I grew up on it and I am not ashamed to say I still love it. We did not flour ours, just laid in the pan and fried it. My mother would make some homemade biscuits, open a quart of her canned tomatoes and we would feast. I miss those days.

    1. Lana Stuart says:

      Sounds like a fantastic supper to me, Onisha!

  46. Ben coleman says:

    How nice that we’ve all kept this convwrsation going for over two years. Haha. When I posted my family’s method several years ago, I think I forgot to mention that after my parents divorced, my father eventually brought a new lady friend home to meet the family. Upon her arrival, my grandmother had made our time honored version of streak o lean that we only knew as “fried salt pork”. My fathers new friend instantly dubbed it “chicken fried bacon”. We thought that was the funniest thing we’d ever heard. So hard nowadays to find “salt cured only” pork belly. Most prepackaged salt pork has also been smoke cured. That totally changes the flavor. Not bad though. Sweet memories. Thank you all for sharing.

    1. Lana Stuart says:

      Thanks for your comments, Ben! It’s so interesting that I hear more from readers whenever I post an old southern recipe like this. People have such strong memories tied to food, don’t they? And I so enjoy keeping the old recipes alive for future generations to know about.


  48. I grew up on a farm and we cured our own meats, not smoked just salt cured! I still love “real” country ham or “middlin” meat (bacon or fat-back). This post comes at a good time since this is basically how I fix my hog jowl for New Years since I still do the traditional meal I grew up on which is hog jowl, blackeyed peas, and greens for New Years dinner. I roll the jowl in cornmeal and then fry it in the manner you described and it is delicious!! My husband is a northerner and he had never tried it until we were married. When I bought the jowl he said he wasn’t going to eat any of that stuff, but after it was fixed he now looks forward to eating it – which I only fix the one time a year. We also love the salted pork like you fixed with gravy and biscuits!

    1. Lana Stuart says:

      I’ve had pork jowl, blackeyed peas, and greens every New Year’s Day for my whole life, Lenoria! It just wouldn’t be New Year’s without it, would it?

  49. Yes, I recall this delicacy showing up a few times in my childhood and youth. Was it the same thing as what my folks called “side”?

    1. Lana Stuart says:

      I’ve heard it called all kinds of things, Stella. My daddy called it “white meat.”

  50. Shirley Lindsey says:

    I’m 71, from the deep south, and have eaten what my mother called “White Side” all my life, though not very often. It is exactly the same as “Streak o’ Lean. Mama cooked it quite a bit and she did soak it; I don’t, and she never floured it so neither do I. Just fry it until crispy. Country ham is just about as salty and lots of people eat that regularly. Hardee’s has a Country Ham Biscuit that is delicious. Some McDonald’s have that as well. I do try to eat healthy most of the time, however sometimes that food we ate from childhood is worth it. Drink some orange juice or eat a banana to even out the sodium. My in-laws used “Fat Back” for seasoning and it was total fat; couldn’t stand it.

  51. I’m a born and bred south Mississippi girl, who grew up in a family of 8. Occasionally my father would cook supper for us to give my mother a break from cooking. One of the things he loved was fried “salt meat,” tomato gravy and a fabulous bread he fried in an iron skillet. We called it galette. Being descended from French ancestors, this word was used for skillet breads and sweets. Thanks for the memories you brought back to mind. And to everyone else who posted allowing us a glimpse into their family and community memories!

    1. Lana Stuart says:

      Thanks for sharing your memories, Marcia!

  52. Have lived in the South all my life (81) and remember fried “fat back” well. However, I have just learned more about it in the last year (I moved to a small town). My African-American friends told me about their mothers flouring the meat and cooking it in the oven. I have also learned about tomato gravy. Apparently quite popular and I never knew. I was a city girl.

    Because I wanted to make these treats for our community breakfast, I decided my only help was going online. Bingo! Found out everything I need to know. Can hardly wait until morning to see how they like. I’m sure I will learn some fine-tuning points from my friends.

    Thank each one of you have taught me so much!. Love Ya!

  53. I grew up eating this. In fact, I’m planning to go to the meat market tomorrow to buy some. My daddy never soaked it in milk or used flour. He just threw it in a cast iron skillet and fried it like bacon. I love to eat it along side fresh red potatoes cooked in milk and butter. That’s my supper menu for tomorrow night! :)

    1. Lana Stuart says:

      Hope you enjoy it, Sonia! We don’t have it often, but when we do we thoroughly enjoy indulging!

  54. I live in South Carolina, I bought a pack of “Streak O’ Lean” the other day and googled it and found this. I was raised southern, and this is a rare treat. I’m going to eat it with no regrets

  55. I had this a lot as a child growing up on the Chesapeake. My Grandfather was a waterman and we had big breakfasts very early. My Grandmother called it “Fried fat-back”, we called it delicious. She would fry the crab cakes, oysters, spot (a local fish), and eggs in bacon grease. We didn’t know what hush puppies were, or biscuits and gravy (yuk!).

  56. When I was a little girl my grandaddy used to cook this sometimes, but he used to just throw it in the pan no butter milk or flour.

    I want to try it with the flour to see how different it tastes.

    1. My husband is a CrossFit, biking, kayaking healthy eating man. But every year on his birthday he makes me laugh with his B’day dinner request.” I want Fried fat back, butter beans, and coleslaw. “Then a pain in the butt to make Carmel icing for his cake. I have to call my mom every year to ask how do I fry this? But this year I lost my mom so here I am on Pinterest and here it is! Thank you for posting this, but I was gonna say drudging it in flour makes a huge difference it doesn’t draw up as bad. I am looking forward to trying soaking it in buttermilk we always soaked ours in water.

  57. Ben Coleman says:


    Enjoyed your recollections of “Fat Back”. Funny how we spend so much time thinking about the simpler foods of our past. Growing up in East Texas, we never had seen a red bean. All we knew were pinto beans. Now that I live in New Orleans where the sun rises and sets on the “Red Bean”, I rarely eat pintos, although they will always be my favorite. As you know, salt pork/fat back is an excellent seasoning for them. Whether cooking in a stock pot or crock pot, I always render my salt pork first in a skillet with a little butter or oil, before adding beans. We could all write a book on the many different methods/recipes to prepare cornbread, but in my family, cornbread was strictly a yellow meal recipe cooked in a standard size black skillet. We would always melt a couple of tbs of crisco in the skillet and let it get hot enough to smoke, otherwise the cornbread will always stick. Once smoking, we’d pour in the batter and bake for about 20 minutes. Then we’d remove, give the skillet a shake to loosen the bread, then flip it over. This would allow it to brown and crisp on both sides. Using crisco rather than oil will make the edges crispier. Eat with fresh cold butter and you’ll think you’ve died and gone to heaven!. I’m sure you have a special recipe that’s dear to you as well. This is such a wonderful site to share.

    1. Ralph Paisley says:

      Ben, this was the way my mom made pinto beans and cornbread. I guess I did not realize we were poor. We always had three meals a day, however. I remember the cornbread so well. Thanks.

  58. I grew up eating this with pinto beans and corn bread…my Momma never soaked it or breaded it so it was SALTY to the max! I found your recipe today looking for a way to season crockpot pintos with it. We always just called it fat-back and my Daddy actually cured it himself. Believe it or not I’m only 25…when I tell my friends the way I grew up they say I sound like an old timer :) I take that as a compliment. My Momma came from a farming/logging family of 10, my Daddy from a farming/logging family of 5. I’m an only child of a logging Daddy and nurse Momma but grew up with A LOT of cousins and learning/doing/working in a very old-fashioned way. I have a family of 4 now myself and love the way I grew up :) thanks for reminding me of my childhood! So weird that something as crazy as fat-back brought all that back lol! Oh and what the person above referred to as “scrapple” we call it livermush here in western NC and we eat it as a breakfast meat or with pintos and cornbread :) very yummy!

  59. Ben Coleman says:


    I’m obviously late to the conversation, but this made my heart sing when I read your recipe and all of the wonderful comments. I’ve spent the past 25 years attempting to explain to my friends, this wonderful of southern staples. My family was a transplant to East Texas from Southern Alabama shortly after the Civil War so most all of our cherished recipes hail from that area. I never heard this referred to as Streak O Lean, we just simply knew it as Fried Salt Pork. When purchasing the pork, we owned a rural family store and often bought “Green Pork Belly” in bulk, now more commonly known as green bacon. Some varieties/cuts/sources are more salty than others. My family tended to acquire the saltiest variety known to man. The belly (or cut slab) would literally be covered in dry salt, like snow. My Great-Grandmother would even scrub it with a bit of soap, first before soaking. Our standard method was to slice thin, (always with the rind on), begin soaking in a mixture of syrup water in the morning and just prior to the noon meal, pepper, flour and then deep fry. The texture and taste was amazing. We grew sugar cane and made our own syrup every fall (true cane syrup not to be confused with sorgum) so this is what was used. I now keep a can of Steens Pure Cane Syrup on hand for this very purpose. This wonderful tradition has nearly died out of our region although there is now a huge resurgence in all things “pork-belly”. Funny how food comes in and out of fashion like clothing. Thank you again for sharing. Ben Coleman

    1. Lana Stuart says:

      Thank you so much for commenting Ben. You’re absolutely right, food fads come and go and right now anything “southern” or “vintage” is very cool. I just shake my head when I see young cooks acting like they’ve discovered a new continent the first time they make pimento cheese, for instance. Good Lord…we never thought anything about pimento cheese until a few years ago when it started being popular outside the South. Same with pork belly in all its uses. It’s one of the most fashionable ingredients in food circles right now.

      My family also grew cane and made syrup every fall. It’s hard to find any good cane syrup these days. Same with cornmeal. Very hard to find good quality, fine ground, white cornmeal. But we search out those ingredients because we enjoy bringing out and keeping alive those old food traditions.

      I enjoyed your comment so much and I do hope you’ll continue reading the blog. I do both new and old-fashioned recipes so you never know what you’ll see here!

  60. Don Jackson says:

    We have streak o lean biscuits almost every Saturday morning for breakfast. Have for years. I don’t wash it, just fry it in a pan (no oil) like bacon. Cut off the rind and put 2 or 3 slices in a fresh baked biscuit. Nothing better. I’ve seen my brother cook it just long enough to get some fat rendered, then remove it from the pan, dredge it in flour, let it sit a minute, then return it to the pan to finish cooking. Delicious. Nothing like living and eatin’ in middle Georgia. (Don’t tell my Doctor! : )
    BTW – I never make cornbread without buttermilk.

  61. Found this recipe because my husband requested streak-o-lean, creamed corn, sliced tomatoes and home-made biscuits tonight. I’ve cooked it maybe twice in fifty years of marriage. If you read current health literature, it seems that natural fats are no longer the bad boy they’ve been made out to be. I doubt s-o-l will ever be recommended, but now and then…… to make my husband happy……. He says his mom used to batter it in syrup before flouring it, I guess to make the four stick.

    1. Hi Jan – never heard of putting the streak-o-lean in syrup! That’s a new one on me. Hope your husband enjoyed his dinner.

  62. I remember streak o’ lean and Merry Acres buffet, too. When we would have fish fries outside in our back yard, it would not be complete without some streak o’ lean.

  63. Nancy@acommunaltable says:

    Ok, I thought I was pretty knowledgeable about food… but I have never heard of this… and I know my boys would flip for it (will have to quiz the oldest about it when he gets home to see if he’s had it yet!!).
    Will maybe surprise them with this one morning… or save it for when “Mom” is in the doghouse and needs a “get out of jail free card”!

    1. It’s an experience for sure, Nancy. You wouldn’t believe the number of local folks that have emailed me to say how much they still love Streak o’ Lean and wish they could enjoy it more often. It used to be a staple of the rural Southern diet, but with the knowledge we have now it has become just a very rare treat. I’ll bet your boys would love it :-)

  64. Aly ~ Cooking In Stilettos says:

    Lana – definitely you have intrigued this gal. I couldn’t find salt pork to save my life up here in Philly (but boy – scrapple everywhere) unless I probably go to the Italian Market. Now I’m on the hunt…

    1. Hope you find some, Aly!

  65. I am actually glad you shared this recipe! I honestly did not know what Steak O’Lean was. The process seems easy, and the end product sounds DELISH!!! Thank you for sharing, Hugs, Terra

  66. DessertForTwo says:

    I’ve heard of Streak o’ Lean!!! Of course!

    I love it in green beans & potatoes :)

  67. Kudos to you for making this! Yum!

  68. I could eat that whole plate right now!!! Let me at it!! Keep that southern stuff coming!!

    1. You should have come over and helped us eat it, Rhonda! I probably won’t cook it again for another ten years now.

  69. Lana – remember when everyone in Albany would go to Merry Acres for Sunday dinner after church JUST so we could grab as many pieces of Streak o’ Lean as we could put on our plates from their Sunday buffet? We all claimed it was for their fried chicken – and that was yummy too – but I could have skipped the chicken completely for that salt pork!

    1. Yes, lord, I remember! People would eat that Streak o’ Lean faster than the kitchen could fry it up and put it out on the buffet. I heard that the restaurant has re-opened and you just might be able to find some on their lunch buffet!

  70. Oh my goodness. I had completely forgotten about this! I haven’t eaten it for probably close to 40+ years. My Dad used to make it for us for dinner along with SOS on a night when he wanted some it himself.

    I remember most of my siblings going “ugh”. But, not me… I loved it. Thanks for posting this and bringing back many memories.

  71. Ok, I confess. I love streak o lean. Fried fat. With salt. That’s two of the four food groups right there. The other two food groups are sugar and chocolate, just in case somebody is counting.

    And, it’s been over a decade since I had streak o lean. I may have to remedy that pretty soon.

    Miss P

    1. Yes, once a decade is about right for enjoying this recipe. And I love your four food groups! I’ll have to remember those :-)

  72. Carla Griffin says:

    Don’t throw that buttermilk away! Use it to make cornbread.

    1. I’d never thought of using the buttermilk for cornbread! Good idea. Maybe a little salty, though :-)

  73. Barbara | Creative Culinary says:

    Whoa…it has been 27 years for me! I admit I’ve forgotten about it since moving to Colorado but you’re right…a breakfast buffet without grits and streak o’ lean was simply lacking! Funny, I’m working on a grits recipe now; the holidays can make me sentimental since my girls were born in NC and those first early years with them were some of the best. This just adds to the time travel; thanks for posting.

  74. Hi Lana – Yes, I remember streak o lean from my South Atlanta childhood. It always was covered with white salt crystals, and was used mostly in green beans. My cousin and I would sit on the porch and string the beans. Good times.

  75. oh and if you don’t post it……… who’s going to remember their heritage?

    your readers are mature enough to either not use it if they object…… or just read it with interest as ‘that’s how it was done’

    1. Vi is right, Lana. I love learning new recipes … even when I might never make them (though I might have to try this one — the “Mr” will love it)

  76. up north they have something like that called scrapple

    and lana, lemme tell you…. back ‘in the day’ folks needed all the calories they could get from fat…… cause real food (not the processed plastic stuff you get nowadays) didn’t have a whole lot of fast calories…..
    fats did
    and fats are necessary in the diet ……. real fats not those engineered fats

    1. Vi –
      Scrapple is really pretty different from this. As my grandma used to say “it’s everything but the oink”. It includes parts of the head, the liver, heart, and various other pieces & parts – mixed with cornmeal and/or flour. I’ve never liked it but some people (particularly in Pennsylvania) just love it.

      1. Sempergeo says:

        Wendy – I was born in Doylestown (Bucks) and absolutely love scrapple. I agree it is nothing like streak o lean… But I’m getting some salt pork today!

  77. Yes I admit that I look for it on buffet lines too. There is no other flavor that says South like this does. Thanks for posing this. Makes me want to go out and buy some.

    1. Miss P told me that they have recently re-opened the restaurant at Merry Acres in Albany. They always have Streak o’ Lean on their lunch buffet. Next time you’re over that way, you might stop by there for lunch :-)