How to Cook Bacon in the Oven

The Best Way to Cook Bacon: Bake it!

Baked Bacon
Baking a package of bacon at once produces an evenly-cooked batch of bacon. Rodolfo Benitez/Stockfood Creative/Getty Images

I remember the old days when I cooked bacon in a frying pan or on a griddle. The spatter, the burns, the mess. That was before I discovered the miracle of cooking bacon in the oven, and I have never looked back. Evenly cooked bacon with hardly any mess and very little fuss! Yippee!

If you poke around the Internet you will see different ways of baking bacon. This is my way, that I have refined over the years.

Note: I don't know if this would work for fake bacon, such as soy "bacon" or turkey "bacon", but I suspect not, and if it did I don't know the best temperature and how long it would be expected to take.

What You Will Need to Cook Bacon in the Oven

  1. A whole package of bacon (yes, you can store cooked bacon and use for a week or two)
  2. A rimmed baking sheet (ideally something like a jelly roll pan, which is a 15X10 baking sheet with a 3/4" rim)
  3. Heavy-duty aluminum foil -- you can use regular, but there's a good chance you'll end up thinking, "why didn't I buy the heavy-duty foil as Laura suggested?" Although to tell you the truth, you can do it without foil. The bacon shouldn't stick because of all the grease.  But then you have to clean it up.

To Preheat or Not to Preheat -- It is a Question

My recommendation: Don't.

Most people who write about this method of cooking bacon (including the venerated Cook's Illustrated magazine) recommend preheating the oven.

But we who do not preheat are a substantial minority, and I've found it works better. I find that starting with a cold oven ends up with more even cooking as the fat renders more slowly. That said, I have recently discovered one major drawback for people like me who write about cooking: it's harder for me to recommend exact cooking times when starting from a cold oven because every oven is different in how fast it heats up.

So I think it's possible that the reason people say to start with a preheated oven is that they can then give more exact cooking times.

How to Bake Bacon

1. Line the baking sheet with the heavy-duty foil.  The foil will be bigger than the pan.  This is good, as it makes cleanup easier.

2. Lay the raw bacon onto the sheet (no overlapping), and put it into the oven.

3. Turn the oven on, and set the temperature to 400 degrees F.

The time it will take to cook depends on your oven, the thickness of the bacon, how crisp you like your bacon, and the amount of fat in the bacon (lean bacon cooks more quickly). Check after 18 minutes or so and see how it's coming along. I find that thick-sliced bacon is done to my liking at around 22-25 minutes.

4. Remove the bacon from the fat immediately to a few layers of paper towels. It will keep cooking if you leave it in the hot fat.

To save the grease

I let the grease cool for half an hour or so, and then make a little spout by creasing one corner of the foil to channel the grease as I pour it into a glass container. If you want to be a purist, you can strain the grease to get out the bacony bits, but I happen to like them. I guess if I was going to let the grease sit around for weeks it might be a safety issue, but for short-term use, and stored in the refrigerator, I think it's fine.

And besides, I still remember the days when the bacon grease canister sat on the stove top (no, I'm not making this up), with grease being added or taken away periodically with no worries.

To store the bacon

After it drains, I like to wrap the bacon in a fresh paper towel, and then put it into a plastic bag in the refrigerator. It can also be frozen if you don't go through bacon very fast.


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