Is there a better time to be a bacon lover than right now? Not only do you have access to subscription boxes that send bacon to your door, but there are countless artisanal recipes to choose from and bacon-themed getaway camps to attend.
There’s just something about the combination of fatty, salty, crispy, and juicy that just gets us. (Not, like, in the physical way, because it could do that, but this is a paean to bacon, so we’re going to make sure we do some extra exercises to feel better about the country’s favorite breakfast obsession.)
These beautiful strips of meat — these visions of what heaven is truly like — are why we set out to find the hands-down, unrivaled, best methods of preparation. At the end of our pork-fueled journey, we have emerged victorious with our guide on how to cook bacon. You’ll be able to get a good batch regardless of how you like it or what tools you have.
How to Cook Bacon in the Oven
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This is bacon we’re talking about, so we’re not going to bury the lede here: oven-roasted is our winner for the best cooking method. It’s practically hands-free, makes easy work of big batches, clean-up is a complete breeze, and it serves up delicious strips of bacon with just the right balance of crispy crunch and succulent flavor. You may have heard that to get the best oven-baked bacon you need to lay the slices over a metal cooling rack on top of the baking sheet. This method will cook the bacon just fine, but in our experience, it’s hardly worth the extra chore of scrubbing grease off the rack afterward — just drop those slices right onto a foil-lined baking sheet and save yourself the trouble.
- 1-2 pounds of thawed bacon
- Large baking sheet/sheets
- Aluminum foil
- Paper towel
- A plate
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Line a baking sheet with foil and place the bacon strips in a single layer on the baking sheet. It’s alright if the strips touch, but make sure they don’t overlap or you’ll end up with under-cooked pieces.
- Place the bacon in the oven and let it cook for 15-20 minutes. Your final cook time will depend on the thickness of your bacon and your preferred final texture, so watch it closely after the 15-minute mark to ensure you get the finish you like. It doesn’t take much time to go from best-bacon-ever to burnt-to-a-crisp.
- When the bacon is done, remove it from the baking sheet and place on a paper-towel-lined plate to drain. You can devour it immediately, store it in your fridge for the week, or freeze it to use for up to three months.
- If you decide not to save the grease, let it cool and solidify, then just wrap up the foil around it and toss it in the trash. Easiest. Cleanup. Ever. (Don’t pour the liquid down the drain. You’ll regret it later.)
- This method is also the best way to re-heat bacon. Follow the same steps, but cook the bacon at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for only about 5 minutes and you’ll end up with practically-fresh pork
- If you like your bacon on the softer side, cooking at a lower temperature (350 degrees Fahrenheit) will leave those slices with a heavenly, melty-tender final texture
- You can cook the bacon on a bare baking sheet, but keep in mind that means you’ll have to scrub it clean afterward. If you prefer not to use aluminum foil, you can use parchment paper instead.
How to Cook Bacon on the Stove
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As much as we’re all-in on the oven method, we can’t knock an old favorite: the range-top method. While this traditional technique fires up that comfortable feeling of Sunday breakfast crackling on the stove, it’s by far the messiest and it can be tiresome if you’re frying up a large batch. Still, we can’t deny that a hot skillet can make some mean bacon, with consistent classic texture and savory flavor.
- 1-2 pounds of bacon, thawed to room temperature
- A large skillet (we really love cast iron for this, but any large pan will work)
- Paper towel
- A plate
- Giving up that initial sizzle and placing your first slices in a cold pan will ensure that the bacon fat is rendered slowly and the crispy areas don’t end up burnt. Once your first slices are in, keep the temperature on medium.
- Once the bacon has been sizzling for about 10 minutes, flip each slice for even browning.
- After the flip, keep a close eye on your bacon so you can remove it from heat at the desired doneness. Remember, the slices will continue to cook slightly after you take them out of the pan, so you want to remove them when they are just shy of your desired finish.
- Remove finished slices from the pan and place onto a paper-towel-lined plate to drain.
- Don’t put cold bacon into your skillet. Thawing bacon to room temperature first lets the fats get soft for cooking and helps prevent uneven frying and burning.
- If you’re going for a chewier texture, you can add a little water into the skillet. The water will help render the fat slowly and evenly, which not only seals in extra tenderness but also prevents splatter.
- If you’re cooking a lot of bacon on the stove top, drain between batches. If slices are drowning in grease, they’re more likely to burn and splatter, plus cleaning the pan afterward will be a lot messier.
- Don’t over- or under-load the pan. Too many slices will cause the bacon to steam instead of fry, which means you’ll end up with floppy, listless pork (there’s a joke in there, but we’re going to let it go this time). Too few, though, and you’ll get a burnt mess. You want to leave enough space between each slice so that they do not touch each other.
- You can use brown paper bags or newspaper instead of paper towel to drain your finished bacon.
How to Cook Bacon in the Microwave
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Sometimes you just need bacon, but you don’t want to fuss with the stovetop and you don’t have the time to wait around for the oven. All hope is not lost for those on-the-go (or just slothful) moments. You can successfully make bacon in the microwave. Look, we’re not gonna sit here and tell you it’s the best way — and there’s not a passionate baconite alive who’s going to tell you it’s — but it is a method that gets discounted a little too quickly when you want that salty bite without all the hubbub.
- A few slices of thawed bacon
- A microwave-safe dish (a small casserole dish works especially well)
- Paper towel
- A plate
- Line the bottom of the dish with four layers of paper towel.
- Place your bacon in a single layer on the bottom of the dish, leaving space between each slice so they do not touch.
- Cover the bacon in two more layers of paper towel. It’s important that you cover the bacon entirely, otherwise you’ll end up with uneven cooking and lots of splatter.
- Microwave on high for 1 minute per slice of bacon.
- After the initial cooking time, check the bacon for doneness. You want it slightly less done than you prefer since it will continue to cook for a minute after you take it out.
- If it needs more time, microwave the bacon (covered with the paper towels) in 30-second bursts until it’s ready.
- Use tongs to remove the bacon from the dish and place on a paper-towel-lined plate to cool.
- Don’t hesitate to cut bacon slices in half to help them fit more easily into your dish. They will cook just as well
- Don’t leave your finished bacon to cool on the same paper towel you used in the microwave — your pieces will stick, and you will regret it
Article originally published July 5, 2017. Last updated by Sam Slaughter on August 14, 2018.