I think we can agree that crispy, smoky bacon is one of life's greatest pleasures. However, standing over a hot stove dodging sputtering bacon grease is not. Here is how we can have the best of both worlds: a hands-free, hassle-free method for cooking perfect bacon, all in the oven.
I was a skeptic of oven-baked bacon at first. Give up cooking the long strips in my beloved cast iron skillet? Really? There's just something that feels so nostalgic and right about cooking bacon that way — tenderly flipping and monitoring the progress of every slice, though yes, while nursing the occasional oil-spatter burn. For a few quick slices, I still think a skillet is the way to go; but when cooking a pound or more of bacon for a big Saturday brunch or for a week of easy meal add-ins, I am a total oven-baked bacon convert.
For one thing, it's just so easy. There's no flipping or monitoring involved. You just lay the bacon on a baking sheet, stick it in the oven, and set a timer. The strips of bacon bubble away in the oven (no splattering!) and gradually becomes the crispy, golden-hued, irresistible bacon we know and love.
For another thing, there's the convenience of cooking an entire batch of bacon in one pan and all in one go. I find that a pound of medium-thick bacon fits on a single baking sheet. To cook even more (or if your bacon doesn't all fit on one sheet), you can cook two baking sheets at once.
Bacon cooked in the oven definitely gets crispy, but I also find that it retains a bit of chewiness near the middle, especially when cooking thick-cut bacon. I love this, but if you love your bacon crispy through and through, then you might try baking it on top of a metal cooling rack set over the baking sheet. Lifting the bacon up lets it cook from all sides and get even crispier.
Do you cook your bacon this way? Have any other tips to add?
Line a baking sheet with foil and lay the bacon in a single layer without touching.
How To Make Perfect Bacon in the Oven
What You Need
1 to 2 pounds bacon
1 to 2 baking sheets
- Preheat the oven to 400°F: Turn on the oven and preheat to 400°F. Place a rack in the lower third of the oven. If you're cooking multiple sheets of bacon, position a second rack in the top third of the oven.
- Arrange the bacon on a baking sheet: Line a baking sheet with foil (this makes clean-up easier). Lay the bacon on the baking sheet in a single layer. The bacon can be close together, but don't let it overlap or the bacon will stick during cooking. If necessary, use a second baking sheet.
- Bake the bacon: Place the baking sheet of bacon in the oven and bake until the bacon is deep golden-brown and crispy, 15 to 20 minutes. Exact baking time will depend on the thickness of the bacon and how crispy you like it. Begin checking around 12 minutes to monitor how quickly the bacon is cooking. The bacon fat will sputter and bubble as the bacon cooks, but shouldn't splatter the way it does on the stove top. Pour off the bacon grease as needed so the bacon isn't totally submerged in grease.
- Cool the bacon: Remove the bacon from the oven and use tongs to transfer it to a paper-lined platter to drain and finish crisping. Serve immediately. You can also refrigerate leftover bacon for a week or freeze it for up to three months; warm the bacon in the microwave before serving.
- Clean up: If you want to save the bacon grease, let it cool slightly, then pour it into a container and refrigerate. If you don't want to save the grease, let it solidify on the baking sheet, then crumple the foil around it and discard.
- Even Crispier Bacon: For even crispier bacon, set a metal cooling rack over the foil-lined baking sheet and lay the raw bacon over the cooling rack. Elevating the bacon allows it to cook from all sides and become extra-crispy.
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This post and recipe have been updated. Originally published 02/04/10.
(Images: Emma Christensen)