Crispy Oven-Baked Bacon
Of all the ways you can cook bacon — including a skillet, the microwave, a deep-fryer, or anyplace else — it turns out that the very best way is to bake it in the oven. Baking your bacon ensures that it comes out crispy and golden brown, but without all the messiness of cooking it on the stovetop in a skillet.
The reason your oven is so great is that you really want to cook your bacon slowly, and at a low temperature. Too fast or too hot will scorch it, and you'll end up with bacon that's crumbly rather than crispy.
So here are the steps. Let me just give you a heads-up here that the most important thing is putting the bacon into a cold oven. Don't preheat! Starting with a cold oven ensures that the bacon will cook slowly, like it needs to.
- Line a baking sheet with foil. This will make cleanup easier later.
- Arrange the bacon slices on the foil and place the baking sheet on the center rack of a cold oven. (Try not to stretch the slices out. Just gently drape the bacon across the pan.) Close the oven door. Turn the oven on to 400°F. Walk away.
- Come back 17 to 20 minutes later. As soon as the bacon is golden brown, but not excessively crisp, it's done. The exact time will depend on the thickness of the bacon slices, and also on how quickly your oven reaches the target temperature.
- Remove the pan from the oven. Transfer the bacon to another sheet pan lined with paper towels to absorb any excess fat.
REMEMBER: Don't pre-heat the oven! Make sure the oven is cold when you put the bacon in.
Also, keep your eye on the bacon during the final few minutes of cooking to make sure that it doesn't burn.
Another thing: Remove the cooked bacon from the hot pan right away. The heat from the pan and the hot bacon fat will continue cooking the bacon.
TIP: You can slightly undercook the bacon, then cool it and freeze it in a zipper bag. Then, to reheat, cook two slices in the microwave on medium power for 30 seconds or so.
How Important is the Foil?
And now let me mention something about the foil, which is to say that the foil is not strictly necessary. All it does is help keep your sheet pan clean, but another advantage of this cooking technique is that since we cook it slowly and gently, the bacon really shouldn't stick.
However, if you find your bacon is sticking, try crumpling up the foil a little before you line the sheet pan with it. The little crumples in the foil will help the cooked bacon lift right off.
One final note: Cooking bacon this way results in the bacon fat rendering off beautifully, and I like to save the fat for other uses. I'll strain the hot bacon fat through some cheesecloth into a heat-proof ramekin, and then store it in the fridge.
You'll notice that since the fat doesn't burn while you cook the bacon, it'll be almost transparent when you pour it, and have a lovely, creamy white color once it cools in the fridge.