August 11, 2006

The Best Way to Cook Bacon

bacon.jpg

I love bacon. I mean I really love it. Good American bacon - the crunchy kind, not that flabby stuff you get in other countries. At the risk of offending entire religions and regions, I think much of the unrest in the world is because too many people don't know the joy of bacon. Almost no one who has tasted bacon would willingly blow themselves up or start shooting at someone else. Bacon is worth living for.

But, it can be a real challenge to cook bacon well. Frying it is a mess. Microwaving has inconsistent results. Plus, neither scales well to the large amounts of bacon needed for a big brunch (or just me on a Sunday morning.) The secret is to bake the bacon in the oven.

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C or gasmark 7)
  2. Take a large cookie sheet with a lip and cover it in aluminum foil. I like the wide heavy duty stuff that can cover the tray with a single piece.
  3. Arrange the bacon on the sheet without overlapping.
  4. Bake for six minutes.
  5. Turn the cookie sheet around 180 degrees.
  6. Bake for another 4-7 minutes depending on your oven and how crispy you like your bacon.
  7. Lift the bacon out with tongs and set on a plate covered in paper towels. I dab the tops with another paper towel too.

Result: piles of perfectly cooked bacon for your dining pleasure.

Here are the cool bits about this recipe:


  • All of the bacon grease is in the pan on top of the foil. Once it cools down you can lift out the foil and throw it all away. No mess. Better still, you can spoon out the fat to scramble eggs in (because what goes better with hot bacon than eggs scrambled in bacon fat?) Beet greens or spinach stir fried in bacon fat with crumbled bacon on top is delicious too.

  • The turning around part is the magic move. Most ovens don't heat evenly. By turning the tray around, you ensure all the bacon cooks evenly. It's really amazing to me how evident the heat variation is when you see the bacon.

  • If you want more bacon (and who doesn't), stick more cookie sheets in the oven at the same time. You can do tons at once this way with no additional time and minimal additional effort.

I've read a variation of this recipe that recommends putting a wire rack in the cookie sheet to keep the bacon out of the fat. I tried it. The results aren't any better, the bacon sticks to the rack, and the rack is a mess to clean up. Stick to the simple solution above.

While I'm at it, I'll put in a plug for Niman Ranch bacon. This is the real deal. Thick cut, smoky, and meaty, this stuff is made from happy, pesticide-free, free range pigs that lead productive, satisfying lives and died in the prime of their tastiness for you and me. Oh man, this stuff is good as is everything from Niman Ranch. Go get some today (Trader Joe's carries the stuff as do other good stores.)

Mmm, salty, rich, crunchy, and meaty. What's not to love?

Posted by Tony at August 11, 2006 8:39 PM | TrackBack

135 Comments

I agree-- the oven is the way to go. And if you sprinkle brown sugar on the bacon before baking you get a lovely caramelized sugary coating. A sweet (and sticky) counterpoint to the salty crunch. Yum.

Sugar too. Mmm. Connie, I think I love you...

While I'll give you points on the oven, this burnt to a crisp bacon thing has to stop. Really. It's truly savage. You don't cook any other meat to a crisp right? Why? It tastes better. Exactly. We've moved past the caveman, smouldering, charred piece of meat cooking techniques. Come forward with us. For the love of God.

Chooky,your people over-cook every other piece of meat, so where's the moral high-ground? Besides, I'm not sure we should take food advice from a people who's culinary highlights include runny eggs with jam, black (blood) pudding, and canned baked beans for breakfast.

Hey Tony;

This message is strictly a personal one, posted on your website. It's Irene and Alberta. We are both living in the Chicago area now (in fact, I'm at Berta's, and we googled you, and there you are), and since 20 years have passed, we decided to find out how you're doing. If you want to catch up, you can email us at Irene's email...reading some of your stuff, it makes us remember what we all had in common, and what a good time we had.

Hey! I never mentioned the British. Don't go there with me. You're the one with a 007 fetish. Don't deny it. You think James Bond eats burnt bacon? No. That guy knows how to drink his martinis and cook his bacon. Although Q would be all over you oven cooking approach.

OMG Tony, this is awesome. I have a bacon press I use to try and keep the wiggly little slivers of pork goodness flat and crispy and minimze the fatty oil filled pockets... but I can only cook five strips of bacon at a time. Unacceptable!

Next weekend, I'm making bacon in the oven. I'm a little worried about the grease removal process to a frying pan, but we'll see how it goes. Usually I fry eggs 'basted' style in the leftover bacon grease. The yellows stay nicely soft for toast dipping, the whites are cooked and not slimy on top, and there is no risk of yolk breakage from clumsy flipping. Large and relatively quick quantities of perfect bacon is worth the risk though - I'll just make sure the egg poaching pan is ready to go in case I need a plan B for the chicken's contribution to breakfast.

mmmmmm. everythings better with bacon... but you've got to lay off the folks who eat baked beans with their breakfast. With all the culinary train wrecks to make fun of in the UK (spotted dick? brown sauce? the baked beans actually aren't that bad. (yeah, it's one of the better British habits I've imported along with PG Tips and HobNobs).

~Elphie

Help me with this, please. I like your hint about baking in the over; however, I'll be cooking for a rather large group. I will need to bake the bacon at my home the night before and the next morning carry the bacon to the breakfast meeting. (There is no cooking equipment there)
We do however have a microwave available. How do I re-heat the bacon after I've baked it the night before?

Really need your answer quickly.--Many thanks.

Help me with this, please. I like your hint about baking in the over; however, I'll be cooking for a rather large group. I will need to bake the bacon at my home the night before and the next morning carry the bacon to the breakfast meeting. (There is no cooking equipment there)
We do however have a microwave available. How do I re-heat the bacon after I've baked it the night before?

Really need your answer quickly.--Many thanks.

Help me with this, please. I like your hint about baking in the over; however, I'll be cooking for a rather large group. I will need to bake the bacon at my home the night before and the next morning carry the bacon to the breakfast meeting. (There is no cooking equipment there)
We do however have a microwave available. How do I re-heat the bacon after I've baked it the night before?

Really need your answer quickly.--Many thanks.

Sorry, Marcia, I don't have any experience at re-heating bacon; I mean, who has bacon left-over that they need to reheat? :)

All I can suggest is trying it at home first. Bake a sheet of bacon, let it cool, and then try reheating it in the microwave. I suspect it'll be fine.

Good luck!

Eggs......with.....Jam??? Since when? Who told you that? I think someone is pulling yer leg mate!!! =D

Man oh man... I cooked some fresh cut bacon (Not store bought) exactly the way you said and added some brown sugar; it is the best bacon I have ever had... Thank you!

mmmmmm!!!!!!!!!!! I LOVE BACON!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I think that bacon is the best kinda food in the world i would eat it for every meal if it wasnt so fattening

Hell yeah bacon is so Deliciousness

Bacon makes me a wonderful person... without bacon i would be an angry person

I would have sex with bacon if it was up to me!

yeah, the oven is the only way to go!
i learned the technique while serving brunch on sundays at a five star hotel, do you really think that they are cooking 500 pieces of bacon on the stove top. of course not, the only way is in sheet pans and the oven!! glad to see this info is being passed out of the restaurant kitchens and to the home Bacon for all! now you can cook 100 slices of bacon at the same time in just a few minutes!!!

I LIKE FOOD!

Bacon should be cooked until the rind has 'crisped' a little - no more than that.

Soggy rind is disgusting, so is crispy bacon meat.

Cook it in a frying pan with no fat added - and most importantly, buy good quality bacon that hasn't been injected with water to bulk it up, otherwise it ends up 'steaming' itself.

Anyone tried 'turkey bacon' - its not as tasty, but its a far healthier option.

Bacon oh bacon and eggs bacon and eggs bacon and eggs bacon and eggs bacon and eggs

what can i cook with bacon im exsperimenting, i love bacon and everything with it but i have run out of ideas help?

I found this page from a Google search. Just made my first batch following your directions precisely and it worked perfectly! Thanks so much!

Glendale: glad it workd for you!

Your method worked deliciously. I have always been bad with bacon, accidentally burning it or not getting it crisp enough. I tried the oven method and made BLTs for my husband and he loved. Thanks!

Rose: Glad to hear this worked. Mmm BLT. I may need to make one tomorrow...

You guys are too funny!! I had a friend in college who told me the story of how when he was a child, his grandmom cooked up a pound of bacon and he ate it all himself. Got so sick he could not even take a peek at bacon again until I persuaded him to try this method. Friend is now all fixed and loves bacon once more. Moral of story: never eat 1 pound at 1 sitting. Spread the love out and leave the pigging to the pigs....Awesome cooking method! Thanks Tony!

i came across this website whilst doin my hw and r u guyz all americans? seriously u r obsessed with bacon!!! wanting 2 hav sex with it is just freaky... and is Tony supposed to be the 'mastermind' behind all this? (hope u dont find me rude but this is interestin...)

I tried the oven thing today for the first time. it's the only way to go, however I foolishly did the rack way and you are so right. Stuck to the rack and hard to scrub. BLTs, yum!

added benefit-i can cook bacon with the baby close by. bet ya didn't think of you bacon recipe as a child safety process!

Awwww, yeah! Bacon!
Anyways, thanks for teaching me a new, better way to cook bacon. Tried it, and tastes better. Thanks

you should cook bacon how you feel it should be cooked it dose not matter if you do it in the oven or in the pan what matters is the end result and if your pleased thats all that matters

Oven cooked bacon is excellent. And I agree that the 180 degree turn is crucial.

Anyone have a method for a grill?

Last summer on a boat, I cooked bacon on the grill using a similar method. I made a tray out of aluminum foil and cooked the strips-of-love on that. Worked great.

This version ROCKS!!! I've lost track of the burns from the splatters from the pan style not to mention all the curly 1/2 cooked bits. THANKS for sharing!!! mmmm bacon for brekkie, BLTs, bacon cheeseburgers, spinach and bacon salad &/or Quiche..yummmmmmmmm

Glad I could help.

Thank you so much for the perfect instructions! Worked like a charm.

I'm putting here my favorite bacon recipe that you might enjoy since you love bacon as much as it seems the rest of us do!

Enjoy!
Ruth

Bacon and Shell Macaroni Supper

8 slices thick bacon, cut up about 1" pieces
½ small onion, diced
1 ½ c small shell macaroni, cooked and drained
1 small can (8 oz) tomato sauce
Pepper to taste

All amounts of ingredients can be adjusted to taste.

Boil shell macaroni. Fry bacon, remove and set aside. Drain most of the bacon grease from pan and fry onions till clear. Add pepper. When Onions are done, add the bacon back and the macaroni to pan. Add tomato sauce, stir to coat.

The amount of pepper is to taste. It can get spicy hot real fast and I like it that way so mine is usually a little hot. This is usually put in a casserole and baked for about a half hour, but I eat it straight from the pan. The amounts above will feed 2 people with a little left over. I usually have the left overs for breakfast the next morning. The amounts above are not critical. If you are feeding more, use more bacon and macaroni. Only use the small shell macaroni as it holds the tomato sauce the best. Also, if you like more bacon, then use more bacon. If you like it more moist, use two cans of tomato sauce. If you increase the recipe or plan on baking it, then use two cans of tomato sauce.

My mom used to make this and as best as I can remember, this has the correct ingredients. Mom would use a whole pound of bacon, a whole small bag of shell macaroni and two cans of tomato sauce and this fed all 6 of us. She also baked it and it was crispy on the edges.

Thanks, Ruth! The recipe sounds great!

Please answer this as soon as possible. I need to cook a lot of bacon for a breakfast party, and I have never cooked it in the oven. Do you have to cover the bacon with foil when cooking it in the oven? Does grease splatter all over the oven if it is not covered? Thanks for a quick response.

B.Allen:

No need to cover it in the oven. It doesn't spatter all over.

Good luck!

My wife and I also love bacon so we tried this and it came out perfectly. Thank you, Tony! Scott & Debbie - Colorado

Thanks for the recipe. My mil cooked us bacon every morning for a week during a visit and she did it in the oven - it was great - but I never remembered to ask how she did it. I wanted to try it and found your site - THANKS!! We love BLT's and saturday morning big breakfasts but I have always hated making bacon - now I dont.

Also, I loved your commentary in the recipe and I thought you might like this video (if you havent seen it already) I thought of it while I was reading your recipe!

videosift.com/video/Bacon-1

Who knew such a simple way of preparing bacon could yield such wonderful results? I tried this method this morning for a large group and it was amazing! Highly recommended.

-J

Oh, what a shame to put bacon in the oven. :-P
Its supposed to be fried in a pan, with TONS of fat! :D This way it doesn't get to dry, and as we all know, fat = taste XD

Bensch,

Actually, bacon cooked in the oven does cook in its own fat. It doesn't get dry which is great, because I agree that fat=flavor!!

I've made bacon your way several times now and won't go back to the old pan fried way. It comes out perfectly cooked in the oven and doesn't shrink all up.

Made some this morning and my husband was saying how great the bacon is when it's done in the oven. I like the magic turning trick too. Thanks so much.

An even better way to cook bacon is to put it on a cooling rack and then put the cooling rack on a roasting pan and into the oven at 375 C for 15-20 min, depending on how thick your bacon is . It gets perfectly crispy on both sides and a lot of the fat drains away so it isn't as greasy.

Thanks, Zoey, for the tip. As I mentioned in the post, I tried cooking the bacon on the rack, but I found it to be messy (hard to clean the rack) and didn't provide better results. The bacon in the method I describe does get crispy and isn't greasy (well, any more greasy than bacon should be... yum.)

I can hear everyone's coronary arteries hardening as we speak.

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