Today, we are mastering a life skill: Oven 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.
Cooking bacon in the oven 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.
Oven baked bacon is easier to make, healthier, and produces better results than fried bacon.
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).
An oven-safe rack allows the heat to circulate evenly around the bacon, a key component of bacon excellence.
Baked bacon is hands-free to make, quick to clean up, and won’t splatter you with hot grease while you stand at the stove to babysit it. Thee best way to cook bacon truly is in the oven!
Ready to dive into how to cook perfect baked bacon? Let’s do it!
Is It Healthier to Bake Bacon?
Here are a couple of reasons why it is better to cook bacon in the oven than on the stove:
- One of the great things about baking bacon using this specific method is that 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.
- Another step I take to make my oven baked bacon healthier is patting off any remaining grease with a paper towel. This further reduces the amount of fat left on each slice. As a bonus, this also makes the bacon crispier too.
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 Make Oven Baked Bacon
Let’s take a closer look at how to cook bacon in the oven.
Cooking bacon in the oven allows you to make large batches of bacon at once, with every slice evenly cooked and crisp.
It’s also safe to put bacon in the oven. If you know how to cook bacon on the stove, then you know that it requires time spent over the skillet, lots of flying grease, and a mess to clean up afterward. With this easy method, you can cook bacon in the oven without the risk of splattering yourself and with almost no mess.
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!
I like to purchase my 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.
Thickness wise, I like to 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, bacon that is applewood smoked is always delish, but I’d argue that quality stands out more than any particular bacon flavor or finish.
- Line a large, rimmed baking sheet (I swear by this one) with foil. Set an oven-safe rack on top of the foil. Most cooling racks (like this one) are also oven safe and can double for baking also.
- Spray the rack with nonstick spray for an extra layer of protection to keep the bacon from sticking. Arrange the slices in a single layer.
- Pop the pan into a 400 degree F oven, and try to be patient as your kitchen fills with the tantalizing aroma of freshly cooked, hot bacon.
- Remove the bacon once it has reached your desired level of crispiness. 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.
Tips for Perfect Oven Baked Bacon
- Bake at 400 Degrees F. Some recipes recommend baking bacon at 425 degrees F, 375 degrees F, 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. Make sure to spray the rack with nonstick spray first so the bacon doesn’t stick. If you don’t own an oven-safe rack and are wondering how to cook bacon in the oven without a rack, all you need to do is cook the bacon directly on the aluminum foil.
- Know When Your Bacon is Bad. There are a few general rules of thumb to follow.
- 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.
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. During this time, you can brew some coffee, scramble some eggs, or play with your dog. The baking bacon time is totally hands free, so enjoy the break!
- For Thin-Cut Bacon. Regular, thin-cut bacon will typically take about 12 minutes to become golden brown and crispy. 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. For thicker, slow baked bacon, you may want to bake it for as long as 20 minutes. Start checking it at around 14 to 15 minutes to ensure that it doesn’t burn.
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.
Baked 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.
- Use It as a Topping. Dice it and use it to top pizza or pasta (like this Carbonara Pizza or just about any of these healthy pasta recipes), or layer the slices on a burger or sandwich.
Favorite Recipes Using Cooked Bacon
- Maple Bacon Brussels Sprouts
- Jalapeno Poppers
- Sweet Potato Salad with Bacon
- BLT Pasta Salad
- Broccoli Cranberry Salad
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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