Bacon

A Hands-Off, Splatter-Free Way to Cook Bacon

The easiest way to cook bacon is also the cleanest.

April 13, 2022
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 and, for the most part, we were prepared.

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.

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—Canadian, hickory-smoked, thick-cut, regular cut, and (dare I say) turkey bacon are all fair game.

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 (ideally bacon) 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 that tastes like it’s been sitting out for days. Some breakfast meats can sit on a platter for a few minutes, but it’s really not ideal, and especially not ideal for bacon. In 10 minutes they’ll be sitting in a pool of darkened fat.


Cooking Bacon in the Oven

My accidentally newfound technique for cooking bacon 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. 20 minutes and a package of bacon later, breakfast is served.

  • 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. Oh, and you’ll never have to avoid bacon grease splattering near and far across your kitchen the way you do when you pan-fry bacon on the stovetop. Cooking bacon in the oven is a clean freak’s dream!

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. Plus, thick-cut bacon is more delicious (don’t try to tell me otherwise).

  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. If it’s too high, it’ll cook unevenly.)

  2. Place bacon on a heavy aluminum half-sheet pan. I don’t line my pans with aluminum foil or parchment paper. While this makes for slightly easier clean-up, I find that the bacon doesn’t get nearly as crispy and may even stick to the foil. Some home cooks may line a rimmed baking sheet with a baking rack so that the bacon grease drips off the bottom and both sides of the bacon get effectively crispy, but I love seeing each strip cook in its own shallow pool of grease. (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 (feel free to use an oven thermometer to measure the accuracy), 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. This comes in handy if I’m hosting a lot of guests for breakfast or brunch and don’t want the oven to come to room temperature.

  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. Store cooked bacon in an airtight container for 4 to 5 days in the refrigerator, or up to one month in the freezer (yes, you can freeze it!).

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

This story was updated in April 2022 by our editors to share even more tips for cooking bacon in the oven.
Grab your copy

It's here: Our game-changing guide to everyone's favorite room in the house. Your Do-Anything Kitchen gathers the smartest ideas and savviest tricks—from our community, test kitchen, and cooks we love—to help transform your space into its best self.

Grab your copy

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • torres
    torres
  • Kf George
    Kf George
  • Drew
    Drew
  • RitaVDZ
    RitaVDZ
  • bonnie rose
    bonnie rose
A writer, a cook, an arts consultant and a Francophile.

141 Comments

torres August 10, 2022

I found this blog so amazing. So much information, and it’s all so well organized. . This is going to be a valuable resource for me. Thank you so much for creating it! Read another amazing blog : https://studyplex.org/blog/can-you-cook-bacon-from-frozen/
 
Kf G. April 23, 2022
You told how to do bacon 2xs in the oven but no where on how you did it with out power
 
Drew April 23, 2022
Sounds nice enough if you like it crisp. However, I don't care for crispy bacon. I prefer it barely within the legal definition of cooked, which means flash-frying it at absurdly high heat, just long enough to make the fat translucent. Fry a couple of eggs over easy in the rendered fat and serve the whole thing with a of couple slices of toasted sourdough to help absorb the grease and you've got a breakfast to make a cardiologist blush!

Of course, there's a reason I treat myself to bacon & eggs only a couple times a year...
 
RitaVDZ April 15, 2022
I use the bacon method, but I twist the bacon 2 times so there are gaps between the bacon and the cookie sheet. Don't have an opinion on lining the pan. Depends on how much clean up you want or have time for. Bacon is loved by the family this way. Easy peasy.
 
bonnie R. April 15, 2022
the ONLY way to cook bacon is in an air fryer. best reason to buy one.
 
Peg April 15, 2022
Time and temp in air fryer?
 
bonnie R. April 15, 2022
temp 350. i set the timer for 10 minutes. i check and flip in 5 and it's usually done a couple of minutes later. i cut it in half when i put it in.
 
Leslie V. April 15, 2022
I cook at least 15pounds at once. cookie sheet with wire racks .Lay bacon on racks in a 400 oven 10 minutes, turn over and other 10-15. Repeat. When all 15 pounds cooked, I put 6 slices on a sheet of parchment wrap up and place 6-7 packages in a gallon food stoarge bag. When all done put in a tub in my freezer. When i need bacon take out a package or more open up. Thaws quickly and is still crisp. put in sandwich, cut up for other dishes to add, salads, etc or in toaster oven on sheet pan to warm up. I strain the bacon fat put in pint jars and freeze thawing as i need it. Been doing this for decades. Several hours to do but we have bacon all cooked for many months. Wish I could show you my photos of the assembly line. I am about ready to do this again..I see i am down to one package. I buy thick cut bacon on sale and freeze. Some times after the first flip, I brush with a little Manuka Honey or real maple syrup i add in my shaker of Brown sugar and either McCormicks Smokehouse Maple or Bacon Chipotle seasoning in it, for a added surprise. i mark those pkgs to indicate this bacon is seasoned. This summer I will try to cook it on our Propane BBQ grill in my new outdoor kitchen.
 
Leslie V. April 15, 2022
If husband comes home and i suggest a BLT for lunch, take out bacon needed. Toast the bread, assemble the sandwich, and bacon is thawed no need to do do anything add to sandwich, cut and serve. Breakfast Take out bacon, after flip the hashbrowns set the bacon on top and cook the eggs along side the potatoes. bacon warmed up dish up and serve
 
CY April 15, 2022
I cook the bacon on the skillet/pan (my mini skillet has 8' diameter so I cut/divide the bacon strips into 4 pieces). First, I lay down the bacon strips before turn on the heat. Second, pour 1/10 to 1/8 cup of white/clear liquor (wine or rum) (at least 20% ABV) between the bacon strips. Third, cover the skillet/pan to avoid fat loss (through evaporation). Turn on the heat to medium and let it cook/sit for about 10 minutes (alcohol will evaporate as bacon gets cooked). If bacon gets shrunk, flip them over and cook for another 5~10 minutes (between medium and low heat to avoid becoming too crunchy and burnt). I save and reuse the bacon fat to cook vegetables like garlic, onions, scallion, leeks, carrots, cabbages, and hot chili peppers (fat is flavor). It is so important to cook the bacon low and slow, since it is pork. Just like pork, same principle applies to duck and turkey: low and slow.
 
Patricia C. April 15, 2022
I always cook my bacon in the oven, but at a steady 325 degrees. Works beautifully. Done in about 20 minutes.
 
MacGuffin April 14, 2022
Generac is your friend.
 
Kathleen April 14, 2022
This discussion has become ridiculous, nonsensical and useless. Most of you should just keep your stupid comments to yourself.
 
Evviefl April 14, 2022
Power outage bacon in an oven? What am I missing here?
 
quietforest April 14, 2022
I discovered this years ago, but with some small differences. First, I DO NOT use aluminum cookware (not a big fan of dementia). Second, I've never owned an electric oven. I put the bacon on a cast iron griddle with the oven around 375. Mine tends to wander a bit temp-wise. I turn the bacon once at roughly ten minutes in, then turn the oven off two or three minutes later. Iron holds heat very well, so when it's near done (we like more chewy bacon), I take the griddle out of the oven and place it on the range top. It will continue to cook for a bit. When it looks done, drain and serve.
 
Drew April 23, 2022
There has never been any link whatsoever established between aluminum use and Alzheimer's Disease or other dementia disorders: https://www.alz.org/alzheimers-dementia/what-is-alzheimers/myths.

That said, other than baking sheets, I don't usually cook with aluminum. I prefer the solidity and lower heat conductivity of cast iron and stainless cookware, and use silicon mats/glass lids whenever possible for lining pans/covering food to reduce waste.
 
quietforest April 23, 2022
https://neurosciencenews.com/familial-alzheimers-aluminum-15527/

https://www.hippocraticpost.com/mental-health/strong-evidence-linking-aluminium-alzheimers/

On the contrary, there are many links, such as the ones above. However, correlation is not causation. It could very well be that accumulation of aluminum in brain tissues is a symptom of Alzheimer's, not a cause. It could also be that there are many causes, or a combination of factors. I just found a study in a journal called the Irish Medical Times that points to a possible connection between fluoridation and dementia. Unfortunately, the journal blocks anyone but registered medical professionals from reading it. Isn't it wonderful how our 'betters' now try to protect us from disturbing information? I guess they're afraid we don't know how to look up those big, scary words they use.

So, we must to agree to disagree. I'm content to stick to iron and steel for cooking, filter our drinking water through our Berkey, and let the rest of you play the roll of lab rat.
 
DONALD K. April 14, 2022
To keep the bacon from sticking to the foil AND to make cleanup super easy . . . simply wad the tin foil up loosely and then lightly undo the tin foil wad and place it on the baking sheet - bacon won't stick and all the bacon grease is captured in the small indentations of the tin foil - simply wad it up (after allowing the grease to cool) and toss it in the trash.
 
MKETom April 14, 2022
Methinks Gary protests way, way, way too much.
 
Arthur J. April 14, 2022
Gary, are you paid by the word like Charles Dickens?

I loved this article, but felt I had wasted too much of my life reading it.
 
Dcresp April 14, 2022
Almost pure BS.
 
Drew April 23, 2022
Without any actual argument to support your assertion, so's your comment.
 
Pipermom January 2, 2021
Question: does it make a difference if you use gas vs. electric oven?
 
Gary S. January 3, 2021
I haven’t tried it in a gas stove but I think it should work. A gas stove MAY lose temp faster as there are no hot coils so it may take a little longer. Try it a take a quick peek at 10 min and see how it looks. If you leave it and it’s not done enough you could always give it a blast of heat again. Keep your rack in the middle, and bear in mind if you are not cooking a full pound it will go faster. Good luck.
 
Rebecca L. May 16, 2020
I just made bacon following this recipe. It turned out just the way I wanted it. I like really crispy bacon. I lined a sheet pan with foil, then I set a cooling rack in the pan and laid the bacon on that. I cooked it at 400° for 20 minutes and then let it sit for another 20.
 
Rebecca L. May 16, 2020
I just made bacon following this recipe. It turned out just the way I wanted it. I like really crispy bacon. I cooked it at 400° for 20 minutes and then let it sit for another 20.
 
Peg February 29, 2020
Adjustments are needed if the bacon is thick-cut. I had to turn the oven back on at one point. Does anyone have a better option for thick-cut bacon?
 
Gary S. February 29, 2020
Hi Peg - thick cut bacon is all I use and it has always worked for me. Tell me more about your experience... how long did you leave it in after you cut the heat? When did you feel you needed to turn the oven back on?
 
Peg February 29, 2020
15 minutes after I turned the oven off, I saw that it was not going to work for me. I turned the oven back on to reach 400° then turned it off again. About 10 min later it was perfect. I had used a rack, I’m trying it again without a rack...fingers crossed!
 
Peg February 29, 2020
Just did a batch with no rack, it will be just fine going the full 20 minutes after turning the oven off...YIPEE!
 
Gary S. February 29, 2020
Glad to hear it! Thanks, Peg!
 
tastysweet April 14, 2022
Peg, so you ended up start to finish, 40 min.
20 min. at 400° and 20 min. no heat while still in the oven?
 
KarenSiena April 14, 2022
Oh Gosh - and you had the luxury of alllll that cooked bacon!!!
 
NYCJoe April 14, 2022
All you use is thick bacon you say? And yet above you share with your dear readers your fear of having a few rashers slip through the grates on the grill. Gary, Gary, Gary, as anyone who has eaten bacon since 1591 can tell you a rasher is a thin slice of bacon.