How to make crisp and evenly cooked bacon in the oven without all the grease splatters and mess of frying it on the stove.
Bacon. Have you ever noticed that bacon has the ability to instantly trigger a response in your brain? Its salty goodness reaches to the recesses of your mind, and you are transported to a time other than the one you’re in. My personal bacon memory sends me back to six years old. I’m sitting in my grandma’s kitchen at the breakfast bar, knees tucked up under my nightgown, the smell of bacon mixing with fresh brewed coffee. My grandma has just piled my plate with the fluffiest scrambled eggs you’ve ever seen, and there, just to the side of the yellow mountain is a strip of bacon, salty and distinct.
In our house, we love bacon, but we still consume it in moderation, which means less than once a month. I’m a big fan of moderation, in which I can indulge here and there fully without worrying about it because I know the other 95% of the time I’m not.
So, to the matter of the bacon baking. First, let’s say there’s a recipe that calls for bacon bits and then using the grease immediately after where you’d benefit from deglazing all those browned bits off the bottom of the pan. (The bacon bits that top the butternut squash soup are an example of this.) For all those purposes, I cook my bacon at the time of the recipe, first cutting the bacon into pieces with kitchen shears.
The kitchen shears make it easy to get little pieces without pulling and tearing the bacon, and then they go into the pan I intend to make the rest of the recipe in. Cooked over medium to just above medium heat, pulled off, drained, and the grease and browned bits on the bottom of the pan are incorporated into the final dish.
Usually, however, when you’re using bacon bits or making bacon strips for breakfast, you aren’t using the grease for the final recipe, which requires you to make bacon and the recipe you need it for or the meal you’re serving it with. Rather than waste time with a pan of splattering grease, we opt to bake our bacon. It produces nice, evenly cooked strips that bake off while we’re taking care of the rest of the food or life or whatever else is thrown our way.
A few tips for baking bacon:
- Use a high-walled baking sheet. This is not a time for your cookie sheet, as the grease will collect, and if you don’t have a proper wall there to contain it, you’ll be left with a large mess on the bottom of your oven.
- Take the bacon out when it looks browned and the white fat portions are starting to contract and shrivel a bit. The bacon won’t be completely crisp. If you wait for it to crisp, it will burn. Instead, pull it out when it looks done, move it to a paper towel to drain, and then wait patiently a minute or two for it to crisp as it cools.
- Don’t be afraid to bake at a different temperature. If you having something else going on in the oven that won’t be disturbed by a sheet of bacon in there, give it a go. It may take longer at 375º F, but if it’s convenient to put it in with a casserole, then put it in with a casserole.
How to Store Bacon Slices or Bits
- To Freeze: For full sliced and bacon pieces wrap in plastic wrap first, placing inside a zip-top bag, and then sucking the air out of the bag with a straw before sealing.
- Refrigerated: Store in an airtight container and use withing the first 2-3 days.
Where to Use Bacon
::Grilled Romaine with Blue Cheese Vinaigrette
::Asparagus, Bacon, and Feta Pizza on Flatbread
::Butternut Squash Soup with Bacon and Sage
::Bacon and Blue Cheese Sliders | Simple Bites
::Bacon-Stuffed Avocado Swiss Chicken | Cheeky Kitchen
::Bacon and Cheese Breakfast Muffins with a Kick | Dine & Dish
1 sheet parchment paper
1 baking sheet with sides
Preheat oven to 425º F. Line the baking sheet with the parchment paper. The paper should come up the sides, ideally. Lay the bacon strips out next to each other over the parchment. Bacon strips can touch each other, but should not overlap.
Bake for 12-15 minutes until bacon is cooked through and golden brown. Remove from oven and drain on paper towels, cooling slightly to allow bacon to crisp. Serve warm or store in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 3 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months.
Makes 1/2-1 pound of bacon.