When you think of cooking bacon do you envision bacon strips sizzling in a skillet? There’s a much better way. Skillets make it difficult for bacon to cook to a uniform doneness. It’s obvious why: in a round frying pan only the bacon slices in the middle are in full contact with the pan. As a result, you spend your cooking time rotating done and barely-done pieces in the pan with the fading hope of producing uniformly crisp pieces. Wouldn’t your time be better spent tending to your breakfast pancakes or homemade biscuits? The solution is simple and a heck of a lot easier. Cook your bacon in the oven and you’ll enjoy evenly crisped bacon every time.
How to Cook Bacon in the Oven
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. This is the ideal temperature that doesn’t rush your bacon. Remember, even when pan frying bacon the heat should be medium to medium low to allow the bacon fat time to render without toughening the proteins of the meaty portion.
1. To minimize cleanup, line a rimmed baking sheet, otherwise known as a cookie sheet or a jelly roll pan, with foil to cover all exposed surfaces including the sides. No foil? No problem. Skip this step.
2. Place a stainless steel baking rack on top of the foil. Please use a true stainless steel (18/8), oven-safe baking rack. Do not use a baking rack that is metal plated, or that has non-stick coatings that can chip or scratch and transfer toxins/chemicals to your food. Here’s one we like that fits a standard cookie sheet. If you don’t have a baking rack handy, skip it and put the slices directly on the pan.
3. Place your bacon strips in a single layer across the baking rack or pan. The edges of the bacon can touch but do not overlap the slices.
4. Place the sheet pan of bacon in the upper third of your pre-heated oven for 25 – 30 minutes depending on how thick-cut your bacon is and your preferred level of crispness.
5. If you are cooking the bacon without a baking rack and want even browning, at the 20 minute mark remove the bacon from the oven and flip each slice over, then return to the oven for the final 10 minutes. This is not technically necessary because the underside of the bacon will be heated through in the rendered bacon fat, but we appreciate the crispy bacon lovers out there who may want to take the extra step. If you are using a baking rack you can skip this step. I know I do.
Once baked to your preferred crispiness, transfer the bacon slices to a paper-towel-lined plate to drain the excess fat before serving, though you’re just fine to skip that step too.
Extra credit: Let the bacon drippings cool, then pour into a wide-mouth glass, air tight container like an old jelly jar. Store the bacon fat drippings in the refrigerator. Properly refrigerated bacon grease can last up to six months. I know your grandmother may have kept bacon grease in a coffee can on the counter at room temperature. You are not your grandmother. Use the wonderful drippings just as you would butter to saute vegetable–especially leafy greens, or fry eggs, or mix a tablespoon or two into raw hamburger meat before forming into patties to add the perfect smoky flavor to your burgers. Also consider swaping out a tablespoon or two of butter for bacon fat in soft-baked ginger cookies. Trust us on this. Ginger, molasses and the ghost of smoky flavor from the bacon fat are flavors that result in a perfect, quirky and delectable taste.
Check out our list of best bacon and bacon of the month gifts to buy online.