Bacon

This Is the Only Way I Cook Bacon Now, Thanks to ... a Power Outage

How I turned lemons into lemonade.

January  4, 2020
Photo by James Ransom

It has been decades since my husband and I decamped from Metropolis and moved to the country, which means one thing: We’ve had our fair share of power outages. In 1996, just three months into owning our first home, the power went out in a freak snowstorm that kept us in the dark for 11 days. We were younger then is about all I can say about how we got through it. Fortunately, that one snowstorm is still the record holder; most of our power outages since then have been no more than a few days (which is still plenty). With the exception of the freaky August 2003 power outage that knocked out electricity for 55 million people in the Northeast, all of our blackouts have been in the winter.

Recently, on a beautiful, calm Saturday morning, just as we started to make breakfast and tucked the bacon into the oven, we heard a huge crash outside the house and saw a flash of light. Then, the radio suddenly went off (the only immediate evidence on a sunny day that we had lost power). When I looked out the window, I could see the power lines dancing on the poles in front of the house, and then I spotted the tree limb in the street. One of the old maples near the road must have pulled down a line.

Decades ago, after that 11-day outage in our first house, and even though at the time it felt like an extravagant expense, we justified the purchase of a gas grill by positing that when the power went out, we could at least cook a few things. This theory, however, mostly didn’t work out, as the principal reason for most blackouts was lousy weather. This made it easy to pass on schlepping out to the stone garage where the grill was kept and dragging it out into open air to cook in the rain or sleet or snow. It’s one thing to traipse about in bad weather when you know there is a hot shower and a warm bed awaiting you at home; doing so in a blackout is not as enticing. Instead, we’d just light a fire in the fireplace, wrap ourselves in blankets, and eat crackers. Rule number one in a power outage: Do not open the fridge.

But that calm morning, with no weather to hinder us, and the grill now conveniently located on a deck outside the kitchen door, we could happily carry on with fixing breakfast.

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Top Comment:
“That picture wi the bacon on a rack needs to be changed. It implies th a bacon shouldn’t be on the pan itself, and it needs to be! Any reader that puts bacon on a rack and expects the same outcome will be severely disappointed. Hint: It cooks much slower AND doesn’t cook in its own fat. ”
— Tjmscott
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I had long been making bacon on a sheet pan in the oven. Rather than frying a few pieces at a time on the stove and getting grease everywhere, I loved that I could set up nearly a pound of bacon on a sheet pan, bung it into a hot oven, and move onto other breakfast duties. The only hitch was that you really needed to keep an eye on it. At 400 degrees, it could go from not-nearly-done to black-as-coal in no time.

The power went out 10 minutes after I’d put the bacon in the oven, and a quick peek determined I was still in the safety zone. So I decided to leave it in the oven and cook everything else on the grill. (I know there are people who cook bacon on the grill, but it worried me how easy it would be to drop a couple of rashers though the grates and have flare-ups for days.) I popped a cast-iron pan on the grill, let it heat up for a few minutes, and with a good pat of butter, over-easy eggs were a snap. The sturdy country sourdough bread was easy to toast on the grill, and a little char was even desirable. Best of all, it was possible to have them done at the same time with no need to dart back and forth between the stovetop and the toaster oven. Even the coffee pot on the automatic drip machine had retained adequate heat to make it to the breakfast table at a reasonable temperature.

By far, though, the best delight of the morning, was the bacon. Sitting on that sheet pan with the heat slowly subsiding made for shatteringly crisp, perfectly stiff rashers of bacon. It is now the only way I cook my bacon.

Even though I am Chief Cook around here, with decades of experience, somehow breakfast is the meal that often takes my breath away—and not in a good sense. During the week, it’s usually just an English muffin or granola. But on weekends, we like to make some variation of eggs and toast with whatever breakfast meat might be on hand. It still surprises me how often I find this stressful. Maybe it’s my complete obsession with making sure that the eggs are perfectly cooked. Eggs have to be served the instant they are done—they can’t be parked at all or they’ll keep cooking, or worse, cool down. Toast is best when it’s hot out of the toaster and the butter melts on it. At our house it’s impossible to toast more than four slices at a time, in some cases, two; so unless you can delegate toast duty to someone else, and they are efficiently toasting and buttering, you’re going to end up with greasy hard bread. Some breakfast meats can sit on a platter for a few minutes, but it’s really not ideal. In 10 minutes they’ll be sitting in a pool of darkened fat.


Cooking Bacon in the Oven

My accidentally newfound bacon technique has helped reduce the stress and has given me a few legs up. I now put the bacon in a 400-degree oven and set a timer for 10 minutes. I cut off the power when the bell goes off; I can forget about it and all will be well.

  • After sitting for 10 more minutes once the oven is off, you’ll have slightly chewy but crispy bacon; this is my preference.
  • Five more minutes buys you more crisp and less chew.
  • Another five delivers that shatteringly crisp bacon that I love so much. (As long as you don’t leave it there for an hour, when the bacon fat might start to congeal, you’re fine.)

Cooking bacon in the oven like this means you're rendering the fat low and slow, ensuring maximal crispiness.

One additional benefit is that the bacon fat seems less likely to scorch, and once the rashers have been moved to a paper towel–lined plate and the pan has cooled a few minutes more, it’s fairly easy to dispense with the fat, or better yet, pour it into a heatproof container to keep in the fridge for sautéing other foods and lending a touch of smoky flavor to anything and everything.

Photo by James Ransom

Power-Outage Bacon

Makes one pound of bacon, depending on the thickness.

I prefer thick-cut, and think the texture is better for this technique, but have also tested the recipe with standard thin-cut bacon.

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F with the rack in the middle of the oven. (Note: It is important that the rack is in the middle; if it’s too low, the bacon could scorch.)

  2. Place bacon on a heavy aluminum half-sheet pan. (The bacon can be quite close, even touching, just not overlapping. This can be a bit like playing with a puzzle depending on how irregular your bacon is, but I flip the pieces around until they fill the sheet pan. Occasionally this means one or two strips don’t fit and I set them aside for some other use.)

  3. When the oven reaches 400°F, put the sheet pan in the middle of the rack. Set a timer for 10 minutes.

  4. When the timer goes off, turn off the heat, leaving the bacon in the oven with the door closed. (It’s okay at this point to take a quick peek, but too much peeking will let out the heat too quickly and the results won’t be the same. If your oven bakes unevenly, rotate the sheet pan before cutting the heat off.)

  5. I like to leave it in for another 15 minutes, at least—sometimes longer—and I won’t start my eggs or toast until around that time so everything is warm when it comes to the table. I’ve left it in the oven a full 30 minutes before, and it was still crisp and warm.

  6. Because this renders the crisp bacon flat, leftovers (what’s that?) can be stacked and stored, taking up very little space in the fridge.

How do you cook your bacon? Let us know in the comments below.

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  • Karen
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Writer, consultant, cook, Francophile.

100 Comments

Karen January 14, 2020
Great! Perfect in fact. Thanks.
 
PS007 January 14, 2020
Interestingly, this is essentially the same method ATK uses for their simple roast chicken which is supposedly their most popular recipe of all time (or top two anyway). A rub of olive oil, S&P, and pop it in the oven with the heat on 450 for 30 mins, then kill the heat and leave for another 30 mins. Perfectly cooked chicken with crisp skin and juicy breast meat. A simple pan sauce finishes it off.
This is for about a 4lb chicken, and the pan sits in the oven while it is heating before the bird goes in.
 
Daniel B. January 13, 2020
"bung it into a hot oven"??!? if you need new writers, you have my contact info
 
Katherine January 13, 2020
Daniel, expand your horizons. No need to be mean spirited.
“Bung” is British slang for “toss, fling or throw.”
 
Sarah C. January 13, 2020
Yep.... I loved it!
 
Susanna January 12, 2020
Made bacon this way today, and it was perfect—at least when it first came out of the oven. (I didn’t use parchment so that I could pour off the bacon fat and use it to fry the eggs—yum!) I did notice that the shattering crispness of the bacon didn’t last, however. I had set it on paper towels to drain, and by the time I finished my breakfast, the leftover bacon was all chew and no crisp (it was still good, of course, because...bacon). I don't make bacon all that often, but in my recollection this hasn’t happened when I’ve cooked it on the stovetop. Wondering if there’s an explanation for this.
 
Silvia R. January 13, 2020
Susanna, i believe the oven can not be too hot as needed or the bacon might burn. and do not drain all the fat. when i place the strips on a plate cvered by another plate it release all the fat, then i put it in the frying pan to crisp and it comes as if it was cooked only in the pan on the stove. i was tired of getting burned, so i tried this method and is perfect. i never get burn anymore or have to deal cleaning bunch of fat anywhere. also the liquid fat and the bit one in the pan i use them to make a dinner. rice with anything mixed in or pasta, hamburgers etc.
 
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Gary S. January 13, 2020
Hi Susanna - a couple of thoughts. It may have rested too long on the paper towels, which I think sometimes can slightly steam it. I try to leave mine in the oven until it ready to hit the table than do a quick Pat with the towels. Though I wonder if resting on a rack my keep it crispier. I’m loathe to have one more thing to clean ( I can design whole meals around knowing what will fit in the dishwasher) but a rack used for resting, rather than cooking, would be far easier to clean in my book. I’ll keep experimenting and report back and do the same if you find different results.
 
Susanna January 13, 2020
Thank, Gary!
 
Cara C. January 12, 2020
We have been doing this for years. When we need bacon we cook a pound & freeze what we don’t use for later. No mess & love it!
 
Silvia R. January 12, 2020
THE DAY AFTER THE HURRICANE ANDREWS I COOKED A LARGE POT (CALDERO) RICE WITH BEANS AND SOME MEAT IN A GAS BBQ GRILL. ABOUT 3 YEARS AGO AGAIN WE LOST POWER AFTER ANOTHER HURRICANE AND WE HAD A 2 BURNERS CAMPING STOVE WHICH WORKS WITH SMALL CANS OF GAS. I PLACED IT ON TOP OF THE STOVE PUT AN ALUMINUM SHEET OVER AND COOKED EVERY DAY WHAT EVER WE HAD IN THE FRIDGE BEFORE IT WENT BAD. A NEIGHBOR USED TO COME EVERY MORNING TO ASK IF I COULD MAKE THE OATMEAL FOR HER ELDERLY MOM, MAKE COFFEE AND WARM ANY FOOD WHICH I DID. SO THESE ARE HANDY ITEMS TO HAVE IN CASE DISASTER STRIKES.
 
Silvia R. January 12, 2020
I make bacon easier, don't need to splash grease in the oven. i place them in a plate cover with another plate and microwave to remove the excess fat. keep a fry pan hot place the strips to crisp and no grease jumping and burning or dartying all over.
 
Ted G. January 12, 2020
No splashing or jumping of grease. Simple no mess method. I tried it this morning and it worked perfectly. Respectively suggest you try it once before declaring what happens.
 
beapolite January 12, 2020
So, a few things: Yes, I have been cooking bacon in the oven on a foil wrapped aluminum pan WITH a piece parchment on top of the foil under a rack for a long while. I usually do 2 or 3 pounds at one time because, as someone said, it stays good a long time in the fridge. I store mine between layers of paper towels.
My oven bacon comes out great but I am willing and excited to try this new method with the suggested crumpled foil, no parchment and no rack.
I use foil and wrap over the edges of my sheet pan so as not to ruin my sheet pans, because cooked oil leaves stubborn stains that have to be scrubbed off, and parchment because it's easier to pick up and drain after each batch of bacon. If you have cut anything whatsoever in your sheet pans that left a scratch, there is no getting all the grease out of those scratches. ALSO, and this is the main reason, I am not using wads of paper towels to wipe up that much excess grease nor is it going down my kitchen drain. The cost of heavy duty foil is expensive. But I get it (and the parchment) at Costco, and frankly someone in my house uses one or both every single day. The foil is far cheaper than a plumber . . . and less of a massive headache you will have from having your kitchen sink drain be clogged and not draining at 10:30pm the night before Thanksgiving - 2019 - with your son on the floor in the wee hours taking apart the plumbing to figure out why. HINT: if you make yeast dough that goes wrong, use a paper towel to wipe out EVERY SINGLE BIT into a TRASH CAN before you wash it . . . ditto rice.
As for oven cleaning. Cheers for never cleaning it, especially never before a holiday when it will immediately be greasy again. I don't even scrape. Dutch oven breads and other high temp foods take care of the worst goop/drippings and a damp cloth wipes them away when cooled. If someone is going to just me on the cleanliness of my ovens, they have a bigger problem than ‘dirty’ ovens. As for the oven door glass, a good grease cleaner and a non-scratch scrubbie improves them greatly, if that matters to you. I just hang pretty towels on the oven door handles and move on.
 
bunmartin January 12, 2020
Ok- sorry got it- NO rack
 
bunmartin January 12, 2020
Is the bacon on a rack or not- picture shows it is But no mention in recipe?
 
Ted G. January 12, 2020
No rack. If you cycle through comments, it’s discussed.
 
laura January 12, 2020
Great idea! I recently made the sriracha maple bacon recipe in the oven but almost ruined it at the end (it was at 350 for the whole time). I think this suggestion will be great for all bacon but especially tricked out bacon that is coated in maple syrup or brown sugar.
 
Author Comment
Gary S. January 13, 2020
Would love to hear about it if you try it!
 
Judi January 12, 2020
I made the mistake and cooked my thin sliced bacon on the rack. After ten minutes it was perfect (in my Breville oven). This is almost foolproof if you watch it. Will never cook bacon in a fry pan again. Life changer! Thanks!!
 
Connie January 12, 2020
I cook bacon in an air fryer. 18 minutes and I have beautiful crisp bacon with all fat caught in the pan below ... best ever!
 
Ted G. January 12, 2020
I just followed the easy directions (400° for 10 minutes; turned heat off; removed bacon 20 minutes later). Used slightly crumpled foil- no sticking, no cleanup. Used regular Kirkland bacon.
Results were amazing- crisp bacon as good as with any other method. Will be my go-to method whenever I want to indulge.
Thanks for sharing!
 
Ted G. January 12, 2020
Adding to above- it was using a Viking gas oven.
 
Donna B. January 12, 2020
Common frustration with my favorite recipes is how LONG it takes to get to the recipe.
 
Mlouise January 12, 2020
On the subject of bacon, I made a wonderful discovery at my butchers! Lamb bacon!, the slices are smaller but the flavor is bigger.
 
Linda A. January 12, 2020
Let's get back to the inability to make a lot of toast. Am I the only one that remembers - and still makes - great buttery toast in the oven? Same deal as the bacon, just either wait until the bacon is done and pop buttered bread into a hot, active oven OR pop that bread in as soon as you turn off the power and just keep an eye on it until it's as crisp and buttery as you like it.
 
Kathryn K. January 12, 2020
I cook about 6-8 strips at a time on the grill pan of my toaster over with foil in the lower pan. 350 for 45 mins. Perfect crispy bacon for me.
 
Connie D. January 12, 2020
Agreed
 
EternalBrat January 12, 2020
Forget the bacon.....I loved the power outages article. I personally lived through both huge power outages that you talked about. The huge ice storm that grounded life to a halt and the huge summer storm that once more grounded life to a halt. Both storms provided their own cooking dilemmas. Such great memories for me...thanks.
Back to the bacon.....my son-in-law does his in the oven because my daughter hates the smell of bacon BUT likes to eat it. I will have to tell him the 10-10-10 secret.