Ready to learn How to Cook Bacon the right way? Because you might be doing it wrong and you don’t even know it. One trick= the best bacon ever. 

Bacon Math

Alright, let’s start out with a little math. 

If Russell has 12 pieces of bacon and eats 8 of those pieces, what does Russell have?

Happiness, Russell has happiness. 

The Love of Bacon

There’s nothing quite like bacon because it hits everything that makes you feel so much inside, the smell of bacon, the sound of it sizzling in the pan, the popping and snapping of the grease as it explodes from the heat, the crunchy texture just waiting to be gobbled up.

Actually the truth is, I hated bacon as a kid. Greasy, crunchy and fatty, often over or undercooked= “naaaahhhh, pass.” I was a hard pass on that one. 

Perfectly crisp bacon on a baking tray lined with foil.

The Moment That Changed My Life Forever

One morning I woke up and the side of our tent was just a little damp from from the dew that had settled on the camp grounds that morning, it was going to be a chilly start to the day. My mom had taught me the best trick, when you go to bed, put your clothes in the bottom of your sleeping bag and they will be warm all night. In the morning you can just shimmy out of your jammies and right on into your toasty warm clothes. GENIUS.

Carefully I slipped into my peg-legged acid wash jeans, an old sweatshirt and pulled my hair through a dainty scrunchie, only brushing against the side of the tent half a dozen times and getting my sleeves wet in the process. 

Zzzzzzeeeerrrrppp, the chill of the morning rushed in to the musty tent as I flung open the flap and instantly I could hear the distinct sounds of breakfast-Who needs Christmas morning sounds when there’s breakfast?! 

I scurried over to a huge fire pit and a little shaggy haired boy in a puffy coat was standing there helping his dad with breakfast for all of the people gathered for a church campout. 

“You want any bacon?” he asked. Quite polite for a little 9 year old, but I wasn’t suckered in, “Nah, I don’t like bacon.”

“What?! Who doesn’t like bacon?!”

And so, at 9 years old I dug my heels in like a picky little eater would, “Me. I don’t.” And that was that. 

All About Bacon

It wasn’t until college that I realized the glory of bacon AND that people were cooking it wrong all over the world. But we will get to that in a minute. 

First, let’s go over a few things you should know when you’re looking to buy bacon. 

Four slices of perfectly crisp bacon.

Best Bacon to Buy

Alright, before we learn how to make bacon could we go over the best bacon to buy. Here’s the breakdown depending on what you like.

Thick or Thin Cut Bacon

Ahhh the debate of the Oh, Sweet Basil household… Cade likes it extra thick and I like it thin. 

Don’t get me wrong, I love thick bacon as well, but I believe bacon should match the meal. Thick bacon just is not as good for crumbling on top of potato soup, it sinks. Thin bacon is harder to enjoy on a good BLT

It really depends on what you’re going for, but in the end, quality is most important. Get the bacon that tastes the best and isn’t totally see through. 

Let me teach you what I mean, it all starts with a COLD pan. 

The Best Way to Cook Bacon

Our favorite way to cook bacon is not in the oven. Don’t worry, I was wrong as well. I’ve been baking bacon for years and years, but I recently stopped when I started noticing that I was missing that crisp snap of the bacon. 

Slices of perfectly crisp bacon on a baking sheet lined with foil.

How to Cook Bacon Stovetop 

The best way to cook crisp bacon is actually stove top, cooking bacon in the oven is only for crowds, so you’re going to want to invest in a good, expensive is not necessary, cast iron pan

  1. Put a cast iron skillet on the stove.
  2. Place bacon in the pan without touching the pieces together and turn the heat to low or medium low.
  3. Cook the bacon, flipping often to promote even cooking on both sides until done, about 8-10 minutes. If you need to cook it faster you can move it up to medium heat but the fat will not have time to render out.

How to Cook Bacon in the Oven

Breakfast is not breakfast if there’s not bacon. Alright, that’s not true, but all these years I’ve been making bacon in the oven thinking I was so smart and it turns out that unless you’re feeding a crowd, it’s not the best way. Bacon cooked in the oven is cooked at a higher heat sitting on a pan where the heat comes from above. Yes, it is slower and renders out good fat to be used later, but it doesn’t crisp like in a pan. Not completely. 

Bacon in the Oven Two Ways- Extra Crisp Bacon

#1- If you’re looking for more crisp bacon you’ll want to use an oven-safe wire rack placed on top of a baking sheet (I like to line the baking sheet with aluminum foil for easy cleanup afterward). This allows the hot air to circulate the bacon and you’ll end up with more crisp bacon. I’ve had issues with the bacon getting stuck plus you end up with bigger, more awkward dishes to clean. 

#2- Place aluminum foil on a cookie sheet with an edge (a regular is actually called a half sheet pan) and bake according to directions below. This is the method I generally use. 

How to Cook Bacon in the Oven

First, cooking bacon in the oven is so easy, but secondly it’s also essential when you need a lot of it. Here’s the exact oven temperature to cook bacon at and how long to cook bacon in the oven

  1. Line 2 baking sheets with tinfoil
  2. Heat the oven to 400 degrees. 
  3. Line each sheet with half of the bacon strips, do not allow them to overlap or touch. 
  4. Bake for 15-20 minutes. I like to flip mine for the last 5 minutes. 
  5. Place the cooked bacon on a paper towel lined plate. 
Five slices of perfectly crisp bacon.

How to Cook Bacon in the Air Fryer

There are a lot of variables that go into cooking bacon in an air fryer. You have the size and type of air fryer, the thickness of your bacon and how crispy you want your bacon cooked. In general, here is what we have found for cooking bacon in an air fryer:

  1. Set your air fryer to 350˚F. There is no need to preheat the air fryer.
  2. For regular cut bacon, air fry for 7 minutes for softer bacon and 8-9 minutes for crispy bacon.
  3. For thick cut bacon, air fry for 9 minutes for softer bacon and 10-12 minutes for crispy bacon.

Should I Chop Bacon Before or After Cooking It?

You know what I’m going to say, right?! The answer to the question is that “it depends!” It depends on what you are using the bacon for.

If I am going to use the bacon to flavor a dish, then I will chop the bacon before and cook it in a pan. Then the little bits are left behind and you can use as much of the bacon grease as you want. This is the method that we use for recipes like our award winning Instant Pot chili.

If I’m using the bacon to crumble on top of a salad or soup, then I will cook bacon first and then chop it up afterward. This is the method of cooking bacon that we use for recipes like our broccoli salad, loaded cowboy salad, cheesy bacon ranch corn dip or potato broccoli corn chowder.

All that being said, I almost always chopped my bacon after cooking it.

BACON FAQs

What is the Difference Between Bacon and Pork Belly?

Pork belly is bacon that is uncured, unsmoked and unsliced. It’s thicker and often used in restaurants to make tacos or thick BLT sandwiches. 

Cured vs. “Uncured” Bacon

There’s plenty of debate surrounding cured and “uncured” bacon.  
Cured- Cured bacon is made by adding artificial nitrates into the regular salt and brine mixture.
Finally, Uncured- For those looking to eliminate nitrites and nitrates from their diet uncured might be the way to go but the studies are not solid yet. Also, it’s worth noting that virtually every uncured supermarket brand of bacon contains naturally occurring nitrites in the form of celery powder, sea salt, and other things. 

How Long Will Uncooked Bacon Keep?

Unopened, uncooked bacon will keep for about 1 week in the refrigerator, but be sure it’s in a sealed package. We often freeze our bacon to get more time out of it. 

How Long Will Cooked Bacon Keep?

Left-over cooked bacon will keep for 4-5 days in the fridge.

Can You Reheat Bacon?

Yes, the best way to reheat bacon is in the oven or in a taster oven.
Place the bacon in a baking pan and cover with foil.
Heat at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes, or wrap in paper towels and microwave for 30-45 seconds.

Recipes for Bacon Lovers

Where do I begin?! First of all, it’s the flavor! That salty, smoky flavor makes life and just about every recipe better. Then there is the texture! When it is cooked properly, the level of crispiness is perfect and enhances any dish. It’s also so versatile! Let me show you just a few of the ways that we’ve used bacon to make the most fabulous recipes…

And this is just a few of the ways we use bacon in our cooking! The flavors are unmatched! And let’s not forget that bacon doesn’t have to be part of a recipe to be used. Just eating bacon as a side with the perfect buttermilk pancake or a fabulous liege waffle is my favorite way to eat bacon!

So to recap, bacon is life! If you need to make it in bulk to feed a crowd, use the oven cooking method, but if you want perfectly crispy bacon, I only use the stovetop now!

Recipes that Use Bacon:

How to Cook Bacon

No ratings yet
Servings: 8
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes

Description

Crisp and chewy bacon always matters. I love bacon but it's only recently that I learned an important mistake I was making in preparing PERFECT bacon.

Ingredients 

  • 1 Pound Bacon

Instructions

Stovetop

  • Put a cast iron pan on the stove.
  • Place bacon in the pan without touching the pieces together and turn the heat to low or medium low.
    1 Pound Bacon
  • Cook the bacon, flipping often to promote even cooking on both sides until done, about 8-10 minutes. If you need to cook it faster you can move it up to medium heat but the fat will not have time to render out.

Bacon in the Oven

  • Line 2 baking sheets with tinfoil
  • Heat the oven to 400 degrees. 
  • Carefully lay out each sheet with half of the bacon, do not allow them to overlap or touch. 
    1 Pound Bacon
  • Bake for 15-20 minutes. I like to flip mine for the last 5 minutes. 
  • Place the cooked bacon on a paper towel lined plate. 
  • Serve!

Notes

Left-over cooked bacon will keep for 4-5 days in the refrigerator.

Nutrition

Serving: 2slicesCalories: 236kcalCarbohydrates: 1gProtein: 7gFat: 23gSaturated Fat: 8gCholesterol: 37mgSodium: 375mgPotassium: 112mgVitamin A: 21IUCalcium: 3mgIron: 1mg
Author: Sweet Basil
Course: Breakfast
Cuisine: American

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Perfectly crisp bacon on a baking tray lined with foil.