Kitchen Hacks

How to Cook Flat Bacon

September 11, 2014

Inspired by conversations on the Food52 Hotline, we're sharing tips and tricks that make navigating all of our kitchens easier and more fun.

Today: A trick for making pretty, flat bacon -- no big wrinkles of fat in sight -- from our test kitchen manager Derek Laughren.

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You can't cook bad bacon. Well, unless you really burn it.

Let me clarify: You can't cook badly shaped bacon. All bacon shapes are delicious, but sometimes you want the bacon to be at the center of your presentation. Whether you want perfect bacon squares for tiny BLTs or perfectly straight strips to accompany a classy breakfast platter, keeping bacon flat and cooking it evenly can be a pain in the ass. 

More: Try a spicy, sweet glaze to amp up your bacon game.

Fortunately, we have ways of dealing with unruly pork. Line a sheet tray (or jelly roll pan, or a cookie sheet -- whatever you have that's large, flat, and lipped) with foil. This makes cleanup fast and easy, and also lets you quickly transfer the rendered bacon fat to a container for storage so that you can cook everything -- and I mean everything -- in bacony goodness.

Lay a wire rack on the lined tray. This keeps your bacon off the surface of the metal. The reasoning here is the same as with a roast: You want the air to be able to circulate around the bacon, allowing it to cook quickly and evenly. Lay the bacon out single file, no overlap. Sometimes, this setup is enough. 

Most of the time, bacon will come out flat and browned and beautiful just like that. If you have particularly thin or fatty pieces of bacon, however, it can still curl up on you as the water evaporates from the meat and the belly fat renders. To combat this, simply lay another wire rack face-down on top of the bacon. Bake at 350 or 375° F until done, maybe ten to twenty minutes depending on how crispy you want it. Boom. Done. 

This is also particularly useful for candied bacon. Of course, like all bacon, it should be drained over or patted down with paper towels to remove excess grease. If you're looking to do precision cuts, don't cook the bacon to the point of crumbly crispy -- leave a little flex. You can always finish it to your desired crispness once you've cut it into the pieces you want.

Tell us: How do you make your bacon?

Photos by James Ransom 

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Derek Laughren

Written by: Derek Laughren

Test Kitchen Manager at Food52


Jeanmarie T. April 13, 2020
To me, the best bacon is done in the oven, parchment paper on a rimmed baking sheet, but NOT at 400 degrees. I prefer doing it in a cold oven set to about 325. It takes longer, but renders the fat beautifully. If you are really not in a hurry, cook it at 300 degrees. Incredible. I don't use a rack because it's a pain to wash, and I don't have bacon curling issues in the oven at these temperatures.
Nan G. January 13, 2020
We dredge our bacon in flour then cook it in olive oil in a large enough pan that it can lay flat.
Also, if it starts to buckle press it with a hamburger press.
You only turn it once after it is golden brown on the bottom.
Comes out absolutely wonderful and loses virtually no size.
Great on a BLT, also with scrambled eggs, refried beans and cheese.
Judie G. January 5, 2016
Oh yes, I forgot, I line a small pan or if I'm cooking more than one sandwich I use a cookie sheet. Easy clean up.
Judie G. January 5, 2016
If I'm making a BLT, I weave 3 strips of bacon which has been cut in half (6 short strips). I weave it like a lattice pastry over/under and when it is done at 400 degrees, cold oven and about 20 minutes. Fits a slice of toast or bread perfectly and a bit of bacon in every bit of sandwich.
m October 4, 2015
LOL at the trash that cooks oscarmayer bacon in the microwave. kill yo self.
Valerie G. December 8, 2015
You are a SNOT. Yo mama didn't switch you enough.
susan&stan September 14, 2014
George Forman grill! Perfect bacon with no splatter and easy cleanup.
Cynthia F. September 14, 2014
I've been making bacon like this for 40 years. It's the only way to make perfectly crisp, flat bacon without having bacon grease all over the stove top. Clean-up is a snap.
Maryle B. September 14, 2014
The bacon rack is by Nordic Ware and called compact baking rack. See note below.
Maryle B. September 14, 2014
Buy the plastic ridged item for cooking bacon. Microwave for 4 minutes and it comes out perfectly. I used Oscar Mayer smoked bacon. The fat drains into the little groves and bacon comes out crisp and flat.
rob September 14, 2014
Lotta wasted foil, and lotta cleaning-up to do there.

Place the bacon in a 12" non-stick skillet, turn the burner on to a low setting, and let it go. The bacon will be 'perfectly flat', and crispy without burning. And clean-up is a cinch.
Alison September 14, 2014
I never would have thought of it. Brilliant!
Lena September 12, 2014
I use a method I learnt from America's Test Kitchen:
put a little water in your (cold) cast iron skillet, just enough to cover the bottom, array your bacon slices in the skillet so they don't overlap, put skillet on stovetop and cook until the water has evaporated and the bacon is crispy on one side, flip over and cook the other side until crispy: perfectly flat bacon.
csbaskin September 11, 2014
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Array slices side by side. Bake at 375-400 degree oven for 15-20 minutes depending on your how done you like your bacon. No fuss. No mess.
Gregory C. September 14, 2014
Added benefit: If you're not saving the bacon fat for another use, let the pan cool until the fat firms up, fold up the parchment and toss it in the trash. Keeps the grease out of your drain/septic tank, and leaves the pan clean (if your parchment wraps up the sides of the pan).
Chris S. September 11, 2014
The racks are a pain to clean even if I remember to spray them. I'll try Colleen' s method next. I really enjoy FOOD52.
Jennifer September 11, 2014
I use a cast-iron press. Works great and also minimizes grease pops. And also terrific for grill-cheese sandwiches.
Rosalind R. September 14, 2014
I do the same but I cut the raw bacon slices in half. That way the grill press fits over each strip with nothing hanging out.
colleenhere September 11, 2014
what a ridiculous amount of clean up that is. those grates suck to clean after a baconing. all you have to do is lay the bacon on foil, or on one rack if you like, and put it in the oven when it is OFF. Not preheated. Then turn it to 350 for 20-30 min. The bacon being in the oven while it comes up to temp keeps it from curling up. Voila.
olympia A. September 11, 2014
Exactly how I cook mine!
Giao D. September 11, 2014
agreed! i do mine at 375 though...
AntoniaJames September 11, 2014
Very clever! Will use colleenhere's suggested method the next time I make bacon. ;o)