Learn the three best methods to cook bacon that is crisp, savory, and delicious every time. Whether you use the oven, the microwave, or your stove, this step-by-step guide is all you need to make perfect bacon at home.
So how do you cook bacon? There are several methods, but here are our top three methods:
- In a 400°F/200°C oven, bake on a baking sheet for about 15-20 minutes (the longer you cook it the crispier it gets).
- In the microwave, cook 6 strips on high for about 30 seconds per slice, depending on thickness.
- Sauté your bacon in a frying pan on the stove over medium heat for 15 minutes, flipping at least once.
Although each of these methods works, we think the best way to cook bacon is in the oven. Read on to find out why.
The Top Three Methods for Cooking Bacon Perfectly
You can cook bacon dozens of ways. Basically any way you can heat up meat, you can likely cook bacon that way too. That being said, the majority of people will likely use one of three methods to cook bacon at home: in an oven, on the stove, or in the microwave. We cover each style below.
To begin, we’ve outlined some basic data from our tests in using these different bacon-cooking methods. If you aren’t sure which approach to take, these quick stats may help you decide:
|Cooking Time (min)||15-20||3-5||15-20|
|Difficulty||Easy to Medium||Easy||Medium|
|Pro’s||Cook a whole pound at once||Fast and easy cleanup||Easy to save the fat for other cooking|
|Cons||Takes Time||Uses a lot of paper towels||More rubbery texture|
|Results||Best Texture, crispy with a little chew||Average Texture, from rubbery to brittle in 60 seconds||Average Texture, Chewy|
Cooking Bacon in the Oven
Oven-cooked bacon is, from our tests, the best method, for a few reasons. The oven cooks the meat thoroughly and results in the best-tasting finished product. As a bonus, when you cook bacon in the oven, you can remove the fat to save for cooking other food. Ultimately, the oven method leaves you with less clean up too because there’s no grease to splatter all over your cooktop. If you are preparing a meal for a large group, the oven method will free up your time as well, so you can focus on entertaining your guests. It’s hands-off, easy, and reliable. A win-win all around.
Here’s how to do it:
Step 1: Preheat Your Oven
Before you put in your bacon, your oven needs to be preheated to 400°F. Remember that ovens are different depending on the manufacturer. Any hotter and you risk burning your bacon. You can confirm the oven temperature with an oven thermometer if you like.
Another kitchen hack you want to remember while your oven preheats is to line your baking sheet with parchment paper. You can also use aluminum foil. This will help make cleanup easier.
Use a Cooling Rack (optional)
A cooling rack is essential if you want your bacon to be less greasy and as crisp as possible. Placing a wire cooling rack on your baking sheet elevates the bacon, ensuring that the strips cook from all sides and the fat drips off as it renders.
If you don’t mind the grease, you can skip this step.
Step 2: Bake for 15 minutes
Once you have lined your baking sheet with parchment paper, lay the bacon strips on the wire rack set over the baking sheet. The edges of the bacon strips can be touching, but they should not overlap or they will stick to each other.
Allow the bacon to bake for about 20 minutes, or until crispy. The thickness of the strips will determine the time it takes to become crispy. You can start checking after 15 minutes to avoid burning your bacon.
Step 3: Blot dry then serve
Once the bacon is fully cooked, transfer the bacon to a paper towel-lined plate to help remove any excess fat from the slices. Serve immediately after patting the bacon dry.
Step 4: Save the fat
Oh, yes, you heard that right! Preserve the excess fat left on the baking sheet in a glass jar and store it in the refrigerator. You can use the fat to make eggs, potatoes, sauté your veggies, or pop your popcorn. The flavor it adds to your other dishes is worth the extra effort!
Try baking your bacon in the oven and let us know how it goes in the comments below.
Cooking Bacon in the Microwave
The microwave has been around for decades and though some people don’t use it for much more than heating up water or last night’s leftovers, it can be used to cook raw foods too. If you are in a pinch and need bacon cooked quickly, the microwave method is the fastest option.
Here’s how to cook bacon in the microwave:
Step 1: Prep your Dish
Line a microwavable-safe dish with a paper towel or two. We recommend using a large dinner plate that is microwave-safe (no metal, just glass or ceramic). You can also use a Pyrex glass dish if it will fit. Also, you can use a single layer of paper towel on the bottom, but our tests have shown two work wonders in soaking up more of the drippings which yields crispier bacon.
Step 2: Place 6 strips of bacon on top of the paper towel, edges barely touching
Once your dish is prepped, layout up to 6 strips of bacon with the edges up against each other, but not overlapping. The bacon will shrink while being cooked, but if they are overlapping they will end up stuck to each other.
Step 3: Cover the top of the bacon with another paper towel to prevent splatter
One last step before zapping them, cover the top of the bacon with another paper towel. This will serve two purposes:
1) it will keep your microwave clean
2) it will help soak up a little more of the grease.
Step 4: Microwave on high for about 3 minutes
Depending on the thickness of your bacon and the power rating of your microwave, you may need to adjust the cooking time. We’ve found that about 30 seconds per strip works best when we are cooking 6 strips.
This is definitely the fastest method and arguably has the easiest clean-up, but it might not give you the best tasting finished product.
Cooking Bacon in a Frying Pan
Here is another tried and true method to cook bacon. This is likely the most common method you’ve seen bacon being cooked in movies or pop culture. The image of a cowboy cooking bacon and eggs over a campfire comes to mind. Read on to learn how to cook crispy bacon on the stove.
Step 1: Heat up a non-stick frying pan on a medium heat
You can use any frying pan, but we prefer using a non-stick frying pan. A cast-iron pan will work well here as well, it just takes a little longer to heat up.
The heat should be on medium. If it’s too low your bacon will not come up to temperature to cook and if it’s too high you risk burning your bacon.
Step 2: Lay the strips of bacon in the pan
There’s no need to prep the surface of the pan with oil. There is enough fat in bacon that it will render and cook in its own fat.
Step 3: Cook for about 15 minutes
Cook the bacon until it has browned and shrunk in size. If you want chewier bacon, cook it for a little less than 15 minutes. If you want extra crispy bacon cook it for closer to 20 minutes.
Tip: Frying Pan Clean up
One of the downsides to using the frying pan method is the fat can splatter all over the stove. If this is happening to you, the heat might be a little too high on your stove. Simply reduce the heat just a little. It will take a little longer to cook the bacon, but they should be sizzling away without splattering too much.
Also, as mentioned above in the oven method, cooking bacon in a frying pan will make it fairly easy to save the bacon fat for use in cooking other dishes.
That’s all there is to it. If you’ve tried all three, let us know which one is your favorite and why. If you have another method you want to share, please do so in the comments below.
Perfect Oven-Baked Bacon
- Baking sheet
- Parchment paper
- Wire rack
- 8 ounces bacon
- Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and place a wire rack on top.
- Arrange the bacon on the wire rack, making sure none of the pieces overlap.
- Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until crispy on all sides.
- Let the bacon cool for about 5 mintues on the rack before serving. Save the bacon grease on the baking sheet for cooking other dishes.