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Bacon is easily one of the most popular and well-liked meats globally. It has a delicious smoky taste and an addictive smell that you cannot get enough of. The only problem is, that cooking it can sometimes be quite a hassle as it requires an iron skillet on top of the stove and a whole lot of spitting grease and oil that is bound to burn your arms no matter how many layers you wear. If you are hoping for an easier way to cook bacon to crispy perfection, then read on!
Table of Contents
- What’s Wrong With Cooking Bacon In A Pan?
- Cooking Bacon In The Oven
- Oven-Baked Bacon With A Wire Rack
- Oven-Baked Bacon Without A Wire Rack
- How To Store Cooked Bacon?
- What To Do With Bacon Grease/Bacon Fat?
- Can You Cook Bacon From Frozen?
- FAQs On Oven-Cooked Bacon
What’s Wrong With Cooking Bacon In A Pan?
Well, it is completely dependent on how much energy or motivation you have to cook, but sometimes standing over a pan constantly while your bacon is cooking can be quite tiresome. Not to mention that when using a pan, bacon grease and oil are bound to spit everywhere making a mess on your stovetop that you will have to clean up. And the pan itself, unless you have a fancy non-stick pan, will be a lot of work to clean properly. While the time and effort it takes to cook and clean up may seem trivial to you, wouldn’t it feel better to still have an easier alternative?
Cooking Bacon In The Oven
Oven-baked bacon (try saying that 10 times fast) is a great alternative to a pan as it is easy, hassle-free, and minimal cleanup, not to mention there is no babysitting required. You will still be able to get crispy bacon just the way you like it but it will require half as much of your energy as normal. If you still aren’t sold, there are two methods for cooking bacon in the oven. One leaves the bacon a bit chewier while the other one ensures it is perfectly cooked bacon with that amazing crunch and crisp that everyone wants.
The two different methods of cooking bacon are almost the same but are still relatively different. In the oven, you will always have a baking tray and sometimes you will have a wire rack accompanying it. The two methods are one utilizing the mesh rack while the other one ignoring it.
While I can explain how to cook your bacon and what to use, everyone prefers it slightly differently. Similar to how everyone has a different idea of what the perfect steak is, bacon can be cooked differently to each person’s preferences. Some people want it crispy to the point where it snaps if you bend it too much, whereas other people will want it cooked enough but not too much so that it is still chewy.
Not only does it matter how your bacon is cooked, but it also matters what bacon you are using. Before you even turn the oven on, you have to have decided what bacon you will be cooking. There are many options such as smoked bacon or unsmoked bacon. You can also choose what the bacon is smoked with such as applewood, hickory, or oak. Alongside this, you must also take into account how thick you want your cut of bacon slices to be. They can be thick so they are chewier or they can be so thin that a perfect crisp is ensured. You can also choose if you want your bacon to be cured or uncured. The choices are all there, it is up to you to make them.
Oven-Baked Bacon With A Wire Rack
If you are wanting crispy bacon that is done to perfection, then you will want to make sure you have your wire rack on hand and ready to use. It is easy to cook bacon like this, provided you have all the resources necessary. To do this with a wire rack you will need;
- Baking Tray
- Wire rack/cooling rack
- Aluminum foil
If you remember when I said that oven-cooked bacon is also a lot cleaner and there is less mess for you to clean, you can thank the aluminum foil for that being true. To start off you will want to line your baking tray with aluminum foil. Make sure that you have it pressed to the sides as well, it does not matter if it sticks up at the top, just fold it over the edges so your tray is fully lined. After this, you will want to place an oven-safe cooling rack on the tray. It is important that you do not use a non-stick coating as this can break down in a really hot oven and they are generally not oven safe.
Place your cuts of bacon carefully and neatly on the top of the rack, being extra careful to make sure they do not overlap. Overlapping will cause the bacon to not cook properly as it will be more dense and thick in the areas that the bacon overlaps. After arranging your bacon, place the tray into the center of your preheated oven at 375 degrees F.
After 15 minutes have gone by, check on your bacon and gently flip each slice over so that they can evenly cook. In approximately 8-10 minutes your bacon should be done. Keep checking until it is done to your preference. This time will also change depending on how thick each cut of bacon is.
Once cooked to perfection, remove the baking tray from your oven using the correct safety equipment to avoid burning yourself. Using a spatula, tongs, or even a knife and fork, transfer the bacon onto a plate lined with 3-4 sheets of paper towels. These will soak up all of the excess fat and liquid on the bacon. Allow the bacon to cool a bit and then serve it.
The cleanup using an oven is very easy as instead of having to wash an entire pan, you only have to wash the wire rack. You can remove the aluminum foil from the tray and it will still be clean and can be left in the oven. However, before you do anything, you might want to pour that bacon grease and fat, all of the juices in the pan, into an airtight container or a mason jar. It will be discussed further on, but bacon grease is such a helpful ingredient to keep around the kitchen.
Oven-Baked Bacon Without A Wire Rack
For those of you who are hoping for a slightly chewier slice of bacon in the morning, this one is for you. When using a wire rack, the bacon juices such as grease and fat, end up pouring onto the aluminum foil underneath. However, when there is no wire rack, the bacon and those juices stay together. The bacon will be cooked in the oven but will also be fried by the rendered fat at the same time, which makes it cook a few minutes faster than the alternative.
The steps to the perfect chewy bacon from your dreams are pleasantly simple and do not require any babysitting or interference except a flip in the middle. You will want to preheat your oven to 375 degrees F and wait for it to fully heat up. Some people put food in the oven immediately without waiting for it to preheat, and they are monsters. While you wait for the oven to heat up, you can line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Make sure the foil covers all the sides, even if it sticks up a bit. You have lots of wiggle room here as even if the foil is sticking up by a few inches on each side, you can just tuck it under the tray anyways.
On your lined baking tray you will want to place your bacon slices so that they are evenly spaced away from each other and do not overlap. If overlapped, the bacon will stick together and will not cook properly as that area will be denser so the cooking time would be longer.
When your oven is heated, you can place your baking tray in the center of the oven and allow it to cook for 15 minutes. After this time your bacon will be in need of a flip so that it can cook perfectly even on both sides. Open your oven and carefully flip each slice. This is best done with metal tongs or a spatula, yet if you are going to use your hands at least be careful. Once flipped, let your bacon cook for another 5 minutes. This is a general estimate, depending on the thickness of your bacon and how you like it cooked, it might take more or less time. Check it often if you decide to cook it for longer as it can quickly go from crispy to burn without you even noticing.
Once your bacon is cooked to your liking, carefully remove the baking tray. This should be done with oven mitts to avoid burning yourself. Place the baking tray on the side and line a plate with multiple layers of paper towels. This can be 3-4 sheets depending on the thickness of your towels. Using metal tongs or a spatula (preferably) you will need to transfer your bacon from the baking tray and onto the paper towel-lined plate. The paper towel is there to soak up any excess fat and juices on the bacon. This is done so that it is nice and crisp, and also slightly healthier.
Again, after your bacon is cooked and cooled, you can serve it. But before cleaning up immediately, transfer your leftover bacon grease in the baking tray into a mason jar or an airtight container. It can be a useful ingredient that I will talk about soon. I mentioned aluminum foil a lot in both this and the ‘with a wire rack’ instructions, but this can be substituted for a baking sheet instead if you only have access to that. Aluminum foil is a lot more sturdy but a baking sheet will still help you avoid the mess from the grease.
How To Store Cooked Bacon?
Now that you know how to perfectly cook bacon in the oven without having to spend ages cooking it or cleaning up from it, you might have started cooking it a lot more often. For breakfast, for lunch, for dinner, you can really have it whenever you want in the day. However, if you are cooking it increasingly often, there is a chance that you are sometimes left with leftover bacon. Some people would throw it away but if you want to avoid food wastage then you can learn how to store your cooked bacon.
There are a couple of ways to store your bacon to make sure you can save it for later. One of these methods is for short-term storage whereas the other method is for storing your bacon for a much longer time.
If you are wanting to store your bacon and intend on eating it within the next week, then you will want to store it in the fridge. To do this you will need to wait until your bacon is at room temperature, if you put hot bacon in the fridge it will create a breeding ground for bacteria. While allowing your bacon to cool, it is important you do not let it stay at room temperature for more than two hours as this will also allow bacteria to breed and grow to a point where the food is covered in so much bacteria that it might make you sick.
Once at room temperature, you will want to place your bacon in either a Ziploc bag or in an airtight container. Cooked bacon can be a bit annoying to place in an airtight container due to how different in sizes the cuts can be. If you put your bacon in a Ziploc bag, make sure you squeeze out all of the air. Crispy bacon would be better off in an airtight container so that you do not accidentally snap it as bacon strips are thin and can be snapped surprisingly easily. Once in the fridge, the bacon can be taken out and eaten whenever you want for up to 5 days. Past this time, it is advisable to discard it.
Perhaps you are wanting to store your bacon for a lot longer. For long-term storage, you will want to freeze your baked bacon. This can be done with only a couple of steps of preparation. Firstly, you must ensure the bacon is at room temperature. Not only will warm bacon cause a breeding ground for bacteria in the freezer, but it will also cause condensation in the container it is in which will lead to freezer burn.
When at room temperature, you can either place your bacon in a heavy-duty freezer bag or in an airtight container. While it might seem like more hassle, you will want to wrap your bacon cuts in plastic wrap individually if you are putting them in an airtight container. This will minimize the amount of air in contact with the bacon which will help them freeze better and again, prevent freezer burn. When using a freezer bag or a Ziploc bag, you will want to squeeze out all of the air to also avoid this.
Once prepped for storage, you can freeze your bacon and keep it there for up to 3 months. When the time comes to eat your bacon, you will want to leave it in the fridge overnight so it can gradually thaw.
What To Do With Bacon Grease/Bacon Fat?
Bacon grease is thrown away by a lot of people, which is a waste as once you learn just how valuable it is, you might start hoarding it. Bacon grease can be used as a substitute for a lot of oils or cooking lubricants. If you place it in the fridge and allow for it to harden, you can also make your own bacon lard from it.
As said, it can replace any oil or cooking lubricant so you can use it whenever you need to fry something or grease a pan before cooking. On top of this, it will also impart some of its delicious bacon flavors onto whatever it touches. Similar to how peanut oil and sesame oil will flavor the foods they are cooked with, bacon grease will do the same.
You can also use bacon grease as a base for soups by sauteing veggies in bacon grease or using it to make the roux for your soup base. Alongside this, bacon lard can also be spread on toast instead of butter. This is one way to improve any BLT or club sandwich. Not only will it help make sure the bread isn’t too dry, but it will also flavor the sandwich a lot and help with the overall flavors. It is also a good alternative to butter for someone who cannot have dairy products.
Can You Cook Bacon From Frozen?
While a lot of people decide to defrost and thaw bacon before they cook it, you would be surprised to know that it can be cooked straight from frozen. To do this you will want to fry the bacon on low heat and wait until the slices start to separate. Once it is thawing to the point of the pieces separating, gradually and carefully increase the heat and fry the bacon until the pieces are cooked through. The cooking time of frozen bacon will be significantly longer than the cooking time of fridge temperature or room temperature bacon as frozen bacon has to defrost before it starts cooking. With most meat, you must wait until it is at a certain core temperature so that all of the harmful bacteria is killed but bacon is thin enough that the bacteria will be killed once all the edges have started to cook properly.
FAQs On Oven-Cooked Bacon
Is it safe to cook bacon on aluminum foil?
Cooking bacon on top of aluminum foil is completely safe. The foil will also reflect heat upwards so the bacon cooks more evenly.
Is it better to bake bacon on foil or parchment paper?
You can use both when baking bacon, but aluminum foil is a lot sturdier and easier to pick up and throw away while filled with grease. Also, if you intend on keeping the grease, aluminum foil makes pouring it a lot easier as the edges will not go soggy while you are pouring.
Can I cook bacon in the oven without foil?
You do not need the foil to cook bacon in the oven. Foil is helpful for cooking the bacon more evenly as the heat will be reflected, and is also great for making sure your baking sheet does not get messy. However, if you want to cook without the foil, your bacon will still turn out just fine.
What temperature should you bake bacon?
Bacon should be baked at 375 degrees F for the most part. Depending on the thickness of your cut, this will take around 25 minutes to cook to perfection.