Cook Bacon

Nothing beats the smell of bacon in the morning. There is a variety of ways to cook bacon depending on your recipe, preferences, or health needs, but they all taste great. Cooking bacon doesn't need to be difficult, and even making your own from pork belly is easy for the home chef.


Cooking on the Stovetop

  1. Take your bacon out of the fridge to warm up. When cold bacon hits a hot pan it doesn't have time to naturally heat up, allowing the grease to leave the meat and cook the bacon. Take your strips out of the fridge for 5-6 minutes before you start cooking.
  2. Lay the bacon on a cool frying pan or griddle. Lay the bacon out on the pan so it is flat and none of the edges overlap. Heavy bottom pans, like cast iron, are best, but any pan will work.
    • Don't try and cook only 1-2 pieces at a time. They will often lack enough grease to coat the pan, leading you to burn the bacon. Fill the pan up with strips.[1]
  3. Turn the heat on medium and let the bacon and pan heat up together. Bacon cooks best when started in a cold pan, so don't preheat anything. Turn the heat on medium-low and let the bacon start to crackle slowly.
  4. Turn the bacon when it starts to curl and wave. The familiar, wavy bacon shape is a good sign your meat could use a flip. Turn it over and let it keep cooking, undisturbed. This usually occurs after 7-8 minutes.
    • If you are having trouble with splattering, place a mesh or wire pan covering over the top. You need to let the steam and air escape, but this will trap a lot of grease.[2]
  5. Flip the bacon every 7-8 minutes until cooked to your desired crispiness. Bacon cooking is less of a science as an art, so make the meat you want to eat. As the meat heats up, it will brown and harden. Do not, however, let it get past a dark, bark-like brown, as the next step is usually burning.
    • Bacon continues to cook in the hot oil after removing it from the pan, so be careful handling it.
  6. Lay the cooked bacon on a paper towel to drain. Remove any excess grease by placing the bacon on a plate with paper towels, then gently pat the grease off of the top with another paper towel.
    • The hotter the bacon is, the thinner the grease will be and the easier it is to remove, but you should still be careful. Cooking tongs are often the best way to remove the bacon.
  7. Drain the grease into a glass jar. You should not pour grease down your drain, as it will solidify when it cools and can cause a clog. Luckily, bacon grease is an incredibly cooking oil that lends a rich, smoky taste to any meal. Let the grease cool in the pan for 2-3 minutes, then pour it into a glass jar to save. It will harden and can be used in place of butter, lard, or cooking oil.[3]
    • Drain the grease if you plan on cooking more bacon, as the new strips will add more grease to the pan. You don't have to let the grease cool, but you should prepare your glass jar by warming it up with hot water and draining it right before pouring in the grease to prevent shattering.
    • A bulb baster is a safe, easy way to remove hot grease while keeping the pan hot.

Cooking in the Oven

  1. Start pre-heating your oven to 400℉. Most restaurants cook bacon in an oven, as it is easier to clean up, leaves the stove top open, and, most importantly, allows you to cook a lot of bacon very quickly. It only takes 10-12 minutes, and you can easily make a whole pound at once.
    • Take your bacon out of the fridge to start warming up as you work.
    • Make sure you have an oven rack in the middle with plenty of space above the rack.
  2. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil, curling the edges slightly up. This ensures that no grease escapes the pan, potentially starting a grease fire. There will not be huge pools, so simply curling the edges up a bit should be fine. You can use a baking dish or a rimmed sheet instead, which will naturally trap the grease, and skip the foil.
  3. Place a cooling rack on top of the baking sheet (optional). If you have a wire rack, put this on top of the baking sheet. You can then cook your bacon on the wires, allowing the grease to drip down into the pan below instead of pooling around your bacon. If you do not have a wire rack, your bacon will cook fine on the foiled pan.[4]
  4. Lay your strips on the rack or pan. They should be close but not touching. Fit as many pieces on your pan/rack/dish as possible. They will shrink as they cook, so they can be close.
  5. Put the sheet in the oven as soon as you're ready. Don't wait for the oven to preheat all the way. Bacon actually cooks best when brought slowly up from room temperature, so get it in the oven whenever you can and let it start cooking.[5]
  6. Check the bacon after 15 minutes. After 15 minutes at 400℉ the meat should be just about ready to go. Any additional or minimal cooking is for your preference. If you like chewy bacon, remove it now. If you want it crispy, leave it in for 20-22 minutes total.
    • Bacon will continue to crisp up for 1-2 minutes after you remove it from the heat, so plan accordingly.[1]
  7. Lay the bacon out on a 2-3 layers of paper towels after removing from the oven. Take out the strips and lay them on the paper towels, which will soak up the excess grease and keep them crispy.

Cooking in the Microwave

  1. Cover a microwave-safe plate with 3-4 layers of paper towels. The paper towels will help soak up the grease as the bacon cooks. The more the better, though you shouldn't need more than 4 layers of paper underneath the meat.
  2. Lay the strips out on the plate and cover with one more paper towel. They shouldn't be overlapping, but you can get them pretty close together. They will shrink as they cook. Lay another paper towel lightly over the bacon without pressing it in -- it is mostly there to prevent grease from splattering up.
  3. Cook the bacon for 1 minute per strip on HIGH. If you have 4 slices of bacon, cook for 4 minutes. When done, check them to see if they are at your desired crispiness.
  4. Keep cooking in 30-second bursts until at your desired doneness. Know, however, that the hot grease will continue cooking your bacon after you remove it, so take the pieces out right before it is perfect.[1]
  5. Try bacon cooking trays for your microwave. These special trays have ridges, allowing the grease to drain and out of the bacon naturally and cook to a crispier texture. You should know, however, that it is a challenge to get perfect, restaurant quality bacon in the microwave. Here's how you do it. Once the bacon is cooked to your preference, remove from the microwave and then wait 1 - 2 minutes for the bacon to crisp up. Like a meat roast that tastes better after sitting out of the oven for a bit, the bacon needs some time to crisp up.
    • If you use a bacon tray, you should still lay a paper towel over the top of the bacon to prevent spattering.[5]

Customizing your Bacon

  1. Cure your own bacon. The way to get the ultimate bacon is to simply make it yourself. The following recipe can be customized to your liking, but contains all the basics of a good curing:
    • Place 2 1/2 lbs of pork belly, rind removed, in a zip lock bag with 2 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt, 1/2 cups of a sugar (white, brown, maple syrup, molasses etc.), 1 teaspoon black pepper, and a dash seasonings you desire (liquid smoke, garlic, paprika, fennel, mustard seeds, etc.) Coat the meat in the mixture.
    • Let the bag soak in the fridge for 7 days, flipping over once a day. You should notice liquid building up in the bag.[6]
    • Rinse the meat off and cook it at 225℉ for 90 minutes, or until the internal temperature is 150℉. You can also smoke the meat on the grill to this temperature, usually 3-5 hours.[7]
    • Cool the meat and cut it into thin bacon strips. You now have bacon that is ready to be cooked in the oven, microwave, or pan until your desired crispiness.
  2. Marinade your bacon in maple syrup for "Vermont Style." This New England breakfast meat may sound like a joke, but the combination of sweet and salty is heavenly. To do so, put your strips of bacon in a bowl and cover with maple syrup, preferably the thin, traditional kind. Let the it sit covered in the fridge for 30 minutes, then take the strips out and cook like normal.[1]
    • The caramelized sugars will make a mess as they cook, but the resulting bacon will be worth it.
    • While you can use "fake" syrups, like Aunt Jemima, the high-quantity of corn starch in imitation maple syrup will be tough to clean and leave a thick, sticky coating on the meat.
  3. Cure your bacon in brown sugar. Let the bacon sit out at room temperature until it is warm. Rub both sides of the strips with brown sugar (dark or light) and wait 4-5 minutes before cooking like normal.[1]
  4. Add 1-2 tablespoons of water to your pan for easily crumbled bacon. Do not try and cut the bacon ahead of time and then cook the pieces -- they will heat up too fast and release all of the delicious juices. Instead, cook the bacon on a stovetop as normal. However, before you start heating up the pan, add 1-2 tablespoons of water to the pan with the meat. The water will evaporate, leading to crispier, easily crumbled bacon perfect for salads or recipes like Bacon Mac and Cheese.[8]


  • If the bacon seems too chewy, you have not cooked it enough. Unless you like it chewy, then feel free to cook it for as long or as short as you like.
  • Practice cooking the bacon until you figure out the correct timing.
  • Prosciutto and serrano ham are types of bacon that do not need to be cooked.
  • Don't leave it on the stove.You should watch so as not to burn it.


  • Do not use fingers to flip the bacon! They will burn!
  • Never wash the pan immediately after cooking, which may warp it due to the change in temperature and damage non-stick surfaces. Allow the pan to cool on its own before cleaning.

Related Articles

Sources and Citations