Baked Bacon | How to Make PERFECT Bacon in the Oven
Today, we are mastering a life skill: Baked Bacon. At the end of this post, not only will you know how to make bacon that turns out impeccably cooked and uniformly crisp every single time, but you’ll also proudly refer to yourself as a bacon perfectionist.
The secret to perfect fried bacon is that it isn’t fried. It’s baked. This is the method most restaurants use, and it is foolproof. Ever wonder how your favorite brunch or burger spot achieves those flat, thick, and magically crisp bacon slices? I’d wager my last piece that the bacon is baked.
Baked bacon is one of those rare culinary situations where the method that yields a superior result (baked bacon) is actually easier than the conventional method (pan frying). Baked bacon is easier to make, easier to clean up, and won’t splatter you with hot grease while you stand at the stove to babysit it.
You can make perfect baked bacon in four easy steps. Ready? Let’s do it!
How to Make Baked Bacon
STEP 1: Choose Your Bacon Wisely.
This might sound obvious, but I can’t overstate its importance: the better quality of bacon you buy, the better your final baked bacon will taste. I like to purchase mine from the butcher counter at the grocery store. It’s usually only a dollar or two more than the pre-packaged stuff, but the taste is remarkably better.
Thickness wise, I like to go for the thick cut (no wimpy bacon here!). Bacon that is applewood smoked is always especially delicious.
STEP TWO: Prep the Pan.
Grab a large, rimmed baking sheet (I swear by this one) and line it with foil for easy clean up. Then, set an oven-safe rack on top. Most cooling racks (like this one) are also oven safe and can double for baking also.
Give the rack a spritz with nonstick spray to keep the bacon from sticking, then arrange the slices in a single layer. The slight elevation of the rack allows the heat to circulate evenly around the bacon, a key component of bacon excellence.
STEP THREE: Bake Your Bacon.
Pop the pan into a 400 degree F oven and try to be as patient as your kitchen fills with the tantalizing aroma of freshly cooked, hot bacon. The amount of time will vary based upon the thickness of your bacon and your desired crispness. It could be as short as 12 minutes for regular, thin-cut bacon or as long as 20 for thicker bacon. During this time, you can brew some coffee, scramble some eggs, or watch ESPN highlights with your dog. Baked bacon is totally hands free, so enjoy the break!
STEP FOUR: Pat. Eat. Repeat.
At this point, your baked bacon is ready to eat. You can devour it directly off the rack, but I like to pat it dry with paper towels first. Removing the excess grease will keep it crispy for longer, whether you eat it right away or save it for another use.
Baked Bacon: How to Use It
Now that you’ve mastered the life skill of how to bake bacon, it’s time to use it! In addition to the most obvious end (gobbling the slices up directly), baking bacon is an ideal method any time you have a recipe that calls for adding cooked, crumbled bacon, or if you want to make a standard recipe a little more decadent. Dice it and use it to top pizza or pasta, layer the slices on a burger or sandwich, jazz up your potato salad, or convince veggie skeptics to finish their Brussels sprouts with a little bacon sprinkle.
Baked bacon slices also save for up to a week in the refrigerator, so you can make a larger batch and use the leftovers throughout the week.
Some of my favorite recipes that call for baked bacon:
- Sweet Potato Salad with Bacon
- BLT Pasta Salad
- Shrimp Corn Chowder
- Broccoli Cranberry Salad
- Carbonara Pizza
Essential Baked Bacon Tools:
PERFECT Baked Bacon—Easy oven method that results in perfect, crispy bacon every time. This is the best way to cook bacon. So much better than frying!
Yield: 1 to 100!
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 12–20 minutes
Total Time: 20–30 minutes
- Sliced bacon, any amount and thickness you like (see notes for recommendations)
- If making an amount of bacon that will fit on a single baking sheet without overlapping (about 6 to 8 slices, depending upon the bacon and sheet), place a rack in the center of your oven. If making a larger amount, place the racks in the upper and lower thirds. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F.
- Line a large, rimmed baking sheet with foil, then place an ovenproof baking rack on top. Spritz the baking rack lightly with nonstick spray. Arrange the bacon in a single layer on the baking rack.
- Bake until you reach your desired level of crispness. This could be as early as 12 minutes if you are using thinner bacon and like it less crisp or 20 minutes or more if you using a thicker cut and like your bacon really crispy. If baking two racks at once, rotate their positions halfway through.
- Once cooked, immediately transfer the bacon to a paper-towel-lined plate and lightly pat dry (this keeps it from getting soggy). Let cool just enough so that you don’t (completely) burn your tongue. Devour immediately or use to top salads, pastas, and sandwiches, or in any of these recipes.
- To clean up: Let the bacon grease cool and harden, then crumple it up inside the foil and discard. If you’d like to use the bacon grease for another purpose, let it cool for a few minutes, transfer it to a lidded container or jar, and refrigerate.
- I like and recommend thick-cut applewood smoked bacon. The applewood smoke flavor is classic, and the thick cut provides maximum bacon crunch and full flavor. I also prefer center cut bacon when possible, as it is more lean and “meaty.” If you can get the bacon from the butcher directly or from a local supplier, that’s even better. With bacon, quality really counts, and it’s worth the splurge. We are making bacon, after all.
- Leftover cooked bacon can be refrigerated for up to 1 week or frozen for up to 3 months. Rewarm gently in the microwave or use at room temperature.
Serving Size: 1 slice (thick-cut)
- Amount Per Serving:
- Calories: 60 Calories
- Total Fat: 5g
- Saturated Fat: 2g
- Cholesterol: 10mg
- Sodium: 180mg
- Protein: 4g