From one of our favorite toppings at The Tomato Head in Market Square to the decadent appetizers and entrees at the Foothills Milling Company in downtown Maryville, Benton’s Bacon is emerging as a staple for local, regional and national restaurants.

Established in rural Madisonville, Tennessee, Albert H. Hicks began selling cured hams in 1947. Now owned and operated by Allan Benton, Benton’s Smoky Mountain Country Hams has transitioned from a small operation that locals affectionately call “the ham house” to a business shipping over 70% of its product to locations throughout the country.


Photo by Hannah Cather

Wanting to expand his business, Allan Benton reached out to Blackberry Farm in 1991, one of Tennessee’s renowned restaurants. Impressed with Benton’s products, the resturaunt began featuring dishes around Benton’s hams and spreading the word throughout the culinary community about this Tennessee treasure.

Famed for its unique smoky flavor, Benton’s Bacon has since become a popular ingredient for trendy restaurants throughout the country. Sean Brock, executive chef of the Husk Restaurant in Charleston and Nashville, stated:

“We have their ham in the bar and you just slice it as you want it. You eat that country ham and you drink it with bourbon, there is nothing else in the world that matters. It’s the smoke. Nobody uses as much smoke as he does. It is outrageous. If you put the tiniest amount of Benton’s bacon into anything, it’s like MSG, it just makes it. It’s just incredible.” (as told to

Made with a simple rub of salt, brown sugar and smoked red pepper, Benton’s hams go through a one to two year process of curing and smoking to become the mouthwatering bacon that is taking the culinary world by storm.

To see how its made, check out:

In addition to using time-honored curing and smoking processes, Allan Benton is also very conscious about the quality of the pork he uses. He orders only heritage hogs, which are breeds dating back hundreds of years to when livestock were free range. According to Benton, these hogs have greater intramuscular fat and the meat possesses a richer flavor.

Ultimately, Allan Benton strives to produce high quality ham that honors the traditions of the region and is affordable to consumers. After one taste, you will be instantly hooked, and all other bacon will pale in comparison to the rich smokiness of Benton’s bacon and other ham products.

Where can you buy this drool-worthy bacon?

Three Rivers Market
Pratt’s Country Store
The Market
Strawberry Fields Market (located across from the intramural fields on Sutherland Ave.)

For more bacon articles and recipes that Benton’s could certainly amp up, check out:

Bacon Jalapeño Cream Cheese Poppers
Bacon-Wrapped Dates with Goat Cheese and Rosemary
5 Delicious Ways To Eat Bacon All Day Long
First Look: Empire Biscuit


Benton’s Smoky Mountain Country Hams
Find. Eat. Drink. Chef Sean Brock
Prized Pork: Reputation for Quality Puts Benton’s Ham, Bacon on Menus Across the U.S.