Whether you’re eating bacon on its own, or if you’re using it as an ingredient in a larger recipe, there are many ways to cook it. You’ll achieve slightly different outcomes in bacon texture and flavor depending on which method you choose. It’s good to familiarize yourself with all of the cooking methods available — you may find you prefer different cooking methods for different bacon applications. No matter what cooking method you try, you’ll always wind up with perfectly-cooked bacon in its simple, savory glory!
To get started on your bacon-cooking explorations, read on for our go-to cooking methods.
The key here is to start with a cold skillet. We like to use a well-seasoned iron or non-stick skillet. Place the pieces of bacon side-by-side in the skillet, and place it over medium heat. When the bacon starts to brown on the first side, check to see if it releases easily and carefully turn it, using tongs. Cook on the second side until it’s done to your liking. Remove and drain on paper towels.
Preheat the oven to 375°F. Cover a large baking sheet (with a 1/2- to 3/4-inch lip to catch the grease) with parchment paper or foil. Place the raw bacon in a row side-by-side on the parchment paper. Bake in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes until bacon is done to your liking. Remove bacon to paper towel-lined plates and pat dry.
There are many tools out there to help you with your microwaved-bacon skills. We’ve chosen the good ol’ plate-and-paper-towel method here, which works great for a few slices (that is, as long as your style isn’t crispy-or-bust!). In this procedure, the paper towel soaks up the drippings and you’re left with cooked, but not crispy slices of bacon. Line a microwave-safe plate with several layers of paper towel. Lay up to 6 slices of bacon across the towels. Cover the bacon with a few more layers of paper towel. Microwave on high for 4 minutes. Cooking time will vary according to the microwave and number of slices of bacon you have. Remove the bacon from the paper towels and serve.
You can cook your bacon in an iron skillet over the fire. If you’re feeling a wee bit more adventurous, you can also cook it right on a stick over the fire. The opportunities for flames and foods lost to the fire are about equal to that of roasting marshmallows. The perfect time to roast is when you’ve got a nice layer of hot coals going and the fire is not too high. Grab a nice, long roasting stick, skewer a 3-inch or so piece of bacon (or you can fold a longer slice into thirds), and roast it until it’s cooked just as you like!
Now you have our repertoire of bacon-cooking methods, you might find you use a few methods interchangeably, depending on the tasks or recipes at hand. If you need bacon recipes to put your new skills to work, check out our recipes for bacon fat mayonnaise and pancetta parmesan pasta.
You can find even more bacon tips in Zingerman’s Guide to Better Bacon.