Today, we are mastering a life skill: Baked Bacon in the oven. Here’s how to cook bacon that is impeccably crispy and uniformly cooked with less mess. You’ll call yourself a bacon perfection!
Baked Bacon is the Best Bacon
The secret to perfect fried bacon is that it isn’t fried; it’s 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).
- Even Cooking. An oven-safe rack allows the heat to circulate evenly around the bacon, a key component of bacon excellence.
- Hands-Free. No standing at the stove to babysit your bacon. It cooks in the oven unattended.
- Safer. Oven bacon won’t splatter you with hot grease while you fry it.
- Restaurant-Worthy. Ever wonder how your favorite brunch, burger or BLT spot achieves those flat, thick, and magically crisp bacon slices? I’d wager my last piece that the bacon is baked. It’s the method most restaurants use.
- Bigger Batches. Cooking for a crowd? Bake two sheet pans at once.
- Easy Clean Up. Let the grease harden on the foil, then discard it. Simple!
- Healthier than Fried. The grease from the bacon drips off and is collected below the rack, which means it stays off your bacon and out of your body. I also pat the bacon to remove some extra grease and keep it crisp.
Conculsion: Oven baked bacon is easier to make, healthier, and produces better results than fried bacon (Air Fryer Bacon is another great method).
Ready to dive into how to cook perfect baked bacon? Let’s do it!
A Quick Note. While baked bacon is arguably healthier than fried bacon, it is still bacon.
Enjoy it in moderation as one tasty component of a balanced diet.
Whenever we have bacon, I like to serve it with other lean proteins, fruits, whole grains, or vegetables to make a complete meal.
How to Cook Bacon in the Oven
The ONLY Ingredient
- High-Quality Bacon. 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 promise it’s worth it!
Tips for Buying Bacon
- Purchase bacon 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.
- Go for the thick cut bacon (no wimpy bacon here!). It’s easier to layer onto to sandwiches, makes more of an impact when sprinkled on salads, and is extra satisfying when munched on its own.
- For flavor, focus on the quality of the bacon first. Bacon that is applewood smoked is always good, but any flavor is delicious when it’s well-sourced.
Tips for Perfect Baked Bacon
- Bake at 400 Degrees F. Some recipes recommend baking bacon at other temperatures or starting the bacon in a cold oven, but I found that a preheated 400 degrees F is the best temperature for baking bacon. It cooks the bacon evenly no matter its thickness and the bacon won’t splatter.
- Use a Rack. Not only does the rack make the bacon healthier, but it also helps make it crispy and evenly-cooked.
How Long to Bake Bacon
How long bacon should be cooked in the oven will vary based upon the thickness of your bacon and your desired crispness.
- For Thin-Cut Bacon. Regular, thin-cut bacon will typically bake in 12 minutes at 400 degrees F. If you want it extra crispy, you can let it bake a little longer, but keep a close eye on it.
- For Thick-Cut Bacon. Thicker bacon will take 14 to 20 minutes, depending upon your thickness and how crisp you would like it to be.
The time the bacon takes to cook will also vary by how many slices you are making at once.
If your sheet pan is very crowded, you may need to extend the baking time by a few minutes.
Cooked Bacon Storage Tips
- To Store. Cooked bacon will last in the refrigerator for 3 to 5 days. If it starts to smell funny or change appearance, throw it out.
- To Reheat. Recrisp your bacon slices on a baking sheet in the oven at 350 degrees F.
- To Freeze. Store baked bacon slices in an airtight freezer-safe storage container in the freezer for up to 3 months. Remove and thaw slices as desired.
How to Use Baked Bacon
Now that you’ve mastered the life skill of how to make oven baked bacon, it’s time to use it!
- Use It in Any Recipe That Calls for Cooked/Crumbled Bacon. In addition to the most obvious end (gobbling the slices directly from the plate), baking bacon in the oven 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. These Roasted Brussels Sprouts are delicious with a little bacon sprinkle, to name but one example.
- Loaded Potatoes. A classic Baked Potato, Air Fryer Baked Potato, or Crockpot Potato Soup are all better with bacon.
- Salads. Crumbled bacon makes salads scrumptious and extra appealing. Try BLT Chopped Salad, 7 Layer Salad, Cobb Salad, or add it to Apple Walnut Salad.
- Top Pizzas. Dice it and use it to top Naan Pizza, Ricotta Pizza, and Brussels Sprouts Bacon Pizza.
- Sandwiches and Burgers. A slice of crisp bacon is always a good choice on a BLT, Air Fryer Grilled Cheese, Turkey Burgers, and more!
Recommended Tools for Making Bacon in the Oven
- Rimmed Baking Sheet. Your oven baked bacon BFF.
- Aluminum Foil. Adding a layer of this to your baking sheet makes cooking bacon in the oven a breeze to clean up.
- Oven-Safe Baking Rack. A key component in our crispy baked bacon.
- 6 slices bacon or any number of strips and thickness you like (see notes for recommendations)
- Nonstick cooking spray
- 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 for easy clean up (if you prefer to bake the bacon without foil, leave the foil off), 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.
- TO STORE: Cooked bacon will last in the refrigerator for 3 to 5 days. If it starts to smell funny or change appearance, throw it out.
- TO REHEAT: Rewarm gently in the microwave or use at room temperature.
- TO FREEZE: Store baked bacon slices in an airtight freezer-safe storage container in the freezer for up to 3 months. Remove and thaw slices as desired.
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Frequently Asked Questions
If your bacon is in its original sealed package, you can go by the expiration date listed on the package. If you’ve already opened the package, make sure to cook up the bacon within 1 week of opening to be safe. (Confession: I’ve used bacon more than 1 week after it’s been opened, but the comfort level is up to you.)
If at any point your bacon starts to change color or smells off, it’s safest to discard it.
If you don’t own an oven-safe rack, cook the bacon directly on the aluminum foil.
Uncooked bacon can be frozen in an airtight package for up to 6 months. Thaw it overnight in the refrigerator. If you don’t think you’ll use a whole package within 1 week of opening, freeze the unused portion right away.