How to Cook Bacon: The Right Way

how to cook bacon

Between subscription boxes, deliciously unique artisanal recipes, and even themed getaway camps, bacon is bigger than ever. That perfect pairing of crisp-and-juicy, with smoky saltiness thrown in – each bite a wonderfully satisfying crunch followed by a burst of savory fatty flavor. These beautiful bacon-y truths are why we set out to find the hands-down, unrivaled best way to cook up the world’s favorite breakfast obsession. At the end of our pork-fueled journey, we have emerged victorious with our ranking of the best methods for cooking bacon. We’ve definitely got our pick, but there are a few effective ways to do it, so you’ll be able to get a good batch regardless of how you like it or what tools you have.

Our Favorite Method: Bakin’ Bacon

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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 afterwards – just drop those slices right onto a foil-lined baking sheet and save yourself the trouble.

The Tools

  • 1-2 pounds of thawed bacon
  • Large baking sheet/sheets
  • Aluminum foil
  • Tongs
  • Paper towel
  • A Plate

The Technique

  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  • 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.

The Tips

  • This method is also the best way to re-heat bacon – follow the same steps, but cook the bacon at 350 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) 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 afterwards. If you prefer not to use aluminum foil, you can use parchment paper instead.

A Close Second: Back Home on the Range

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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.

The Tools

  • 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)
  • Tongs
  • Paper Towel
  • A Plate

The Technique

  • 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 done-ness. 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.

The Tips

  • 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/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 afterwards 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. 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.

A Surprise Showing: When All Else Fails…The Microwave?

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Sometimes you just need bacon, but you don’t want to fuss with the stove top 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 the right way – but it is a method that gets discounted a little too quickly when you want that salty bite without all the hubbub.

The Tools

  • A few slices of thawed bacon
  • A microwave safe dish (a small casserole dish works especially well)
  • Paper towel
  • Tongs
  • A plate

The Technique

  • Line the bottom of the dish with 4 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 2 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.

The Tips

  • 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