How To Cook Bacon

Bacon sandwich with egg

Many of us have developed a fanatic obsession with the tender meat, velvety fat and salty smokiness of bacon.

Bacon can be baked, fried, boiled or grilled.  It can be the star of the show or a savory flavoring ingredient of the most upscale or the most down home of dishes.  

Please experiment with the various methods of how to cook bacon until you develop your own favorite!

How To Cook Bacon

How to Cook Bacon In a Skillet

This is the old tried and true method.  Start off by using a cast iron or heavy-bottomed skillet.  No matter what pan you use, bacon never sticks because of its' high-fat content. 

  • No matter what pan you use,  DO NOT preheat the pan
  • Starting with a cold pan will allow the bacon to relax and slowly release its fat, allowing the meat and fat to become equally crisp

  • Lay out the bacon strips without overlapping in the cold pan and cook over a low to medium-low heat. Cooking slowly renders more fat and reduces burning

  • Cook bacon about 12-18 minutes, turning once or twice, or until your preferred degree of doneness (see below) is achieved, depending on the thickness of the bacon

  • Drain on paper towels or a brown paper bag

Cooking Bacon in Water

bacon cooking in water

Cooking bacon in water is easy and has its advantages.  Bacon surrounded by simmering water is less likely to splatter.  The water "embraces" the rendering fat and slows the cooking process.  The water reduces the risk of burnt or overly-crisp bacon and gives you the most tender meat.  Cooking bacon in water can be done in the skillet or in the oven

How to Cook Bacon in the Oven

Cooking bacon in the oven is my favorite cooking method.  It has many advantages which include:

  • Needs less attention. Position the bacon slices and go. There is no need to turn the slices unless you want to

  • Greasy splatter remains in the oven and not all over the stove/counter/floor/you. Decide which is the easiest surface to clean

  • Best for cooking bacon for a crowd. Use large baking sheets lined with parchment paper

  • Cooking bacon in the oven makes it easier to create flavored bacon

To Cook Bacon in the Oven
Place bacon in preferred pan and place in a cold oven.  Turn oven to 400°F Bake until desired doeneness, about 12-18 minutes.

Pour off accumulating fat as desired.  Baking time will vary depending on the thickness of the bacon, number of slices, size of pan and your preferred texture.

Cooking Bacon in the Oven - Tips and Tricks

  • The size of the pan depends on the number of slices you want to cook.  Not critical, but try not to overlap the slices or they might cook unevenly and stick together

  • Use a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper or aluminum foil (highly recommended).   Crumble the foil to create "nooks and crannies" for the grease to settle into. Lining the pan with foil or parchment paper makes clean-up much easier.

  • Bacon grease can be poured off as it cooks, or not

  • Use a baking sheet with wire rack and parchment. Cooking bacon on a rack does not seem to make it any less soggy or greasy.  Not to mention, it is a real pain cleaning the rack!

  • If not saving the bacon grease (??), let it cool and congeal a bit on the foil or parchment before disposal.

  • You can also use a glass baking dish or disposable aluminum pans (with or without parchment/foil)

  • Specially-designed pans for cooking bacon pin the oven are available for purchase

  • Drain on paper towels or a brown paper bag

Time, Temperature, Texture

Just when you thought there was nothing more to learn on how to cook bacon......this will be quick.

Low and Slow Cooked Bacon
High Temp Quick Cook Bacon

Just like cooking any piece of meat, a low temperature and an extended cooking time delivers a moist, tender product.  With bacon the meat becomes lightly crisped with a soft interior.  The fat is lightly browned and literally melts in your mouth. 

Low and slow cooking starts with an oven temperature of 350°F to 400°F for 15-25 minutes, or a medium-low fire for cooking on the stove.  Begin checking at 10 minutes and cook until you get the desired results. 

Higher temperature and a short cooking time will give bacon an overall crispy, "shattering" texture.  The meat and the fat will have about the same crunch.    

High temperature cooking starts at an 400°F to 450°F oven for 10-15 minutes.  Keep an eye on it (it goes quickly) and be careful not to burn the bacon grease. 

How to Cook Bacon in the Microwave

First off, I am not a fan of cooking (as opposed to reheating) food in the microwave.  Don't know why this is an acceptable thing, but that's just me. 

Cooking bacon in the microwave does offer many advantages.  Cooking time is cut way down, almost no out of control fat and splatter to worry about, and clean-up is a piece of cake.

To Cook Bacon in the Microwave

Layer 2-3 paper towels on a microwave-safe plate.  Place bacon on paper towels, don't crowd or overlap slices.  Place 2-3 paper towels on top of the bacon.

Microwave on high.  Check at about 3 minutes and if necessary continue cooking in short intervals until preferred texture is reached. 

Letting bacon rest a minute or so will increase crispiness


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