How To Make Perfect Bacon in the Oven

by | Mar 30, 2021 | Recipes

Beef Bourguignon By Nicky Corbishley

I think we can agree that crispy, smoky bacon is one of life’s greatest pleasures. However, standing over a hot stove dodging sputtering bacon grease is not. Here is how we can have the best of both worlds: an easy, simple, hassle-free method for cooking perfect bacon, all in the oven. It’s the perfect way to cook a lot of bacon all at once — enough for a crowd!

 

Why the Oven Is Best for a Big Batch of Bacon

I was a skeptic of oven-baked bacon at first. Give up cooking the long strips in my beloved cast iron skillet? Really? There’s just something that feels so nostalgic and right about cooking bacon that way — tenderly flipping and monitoring the progress of every slice, although yes, while nursing the occasional oil-spatter burn. For a few quick slices, I still think a skillet is the way to go; but when cooking a pound or more of bacon for a big Saturday brunch or for a week of easy meal add-ins, I am a total oven-baked-bacon convert.

 

How Much Bacon Can I Cook at Once?

I find that one pound of medium-thick bacon fits on a single large baking sheet, like our favorite sheet pan. To cook even more (or if your bacon doesn’t all fit on one sheet), you can cook two baking sheets at once.

Do I Have to Flip the Bacon?

Nope! You don’t have to flip it while cooking. It’s just so easy — there’s no flipping or monitoring involved. You just lay the bacon on a baking sheet, stick it in the oven, and set a timer. The strips of bacon bubble away in the oven (no splattering!) and gradually become the crispy, golden-hued, irresistible bacon we know and love.

How Do I Make the Bacon Extra-Crispy?

Bacon cooked in the oven definitely gets crispy, but I also find that it retains a bit of chewiness near the middle, especially when cooking thick-cut bacon. I love this, but if you love your bacon crispy through and through, then you should try baking it on top of a metal cooling rack set over the baking sheet. Lifting the bacon up lets it cook from all sides and get even crispier. Just make sure to use an oven-safe cooling rack for baking bacon. This one below is one of our favorites: very sturdy, and a total steal!

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Heat the oven to 400°F and prepare the baking sheet. Arrange rack in the middle of the oven and heat the oven to 400°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil, making sure there is overhang on all 4 sides (overlap a few sheets if needed, this makes cleanup easier).

  2. Arrange the bacon on the baking sheet. Arrange 12 ounces bacon on the baking sheet in a single layer. The slices can be close together or touching, but don’t let them overlap or they’ll stick together during cooking.

  3. Bake the bacon. Bake until the bacon is deep golden-brown and crispy, about 14 minutes for regular bacon and 18 minutes for thick-cut bacon. Exact baking time will depend on the thickness of the bacon and how crispy you like it. Begin checking the bacon after 12 minutes. The bacon fat will sputter and bubble as the bacon cooks, but shouldn’t splatter the way it does on the stovetop.

  4. Transfer the bacon to a plate lined with paper towels. Use tongs to transfer the bacon to the paper towels to drain and finish crisping. Serve immediately.

  5. Clean up. If you want to save the bacon grease, let it cool slightly, then pour it through a fine-mesh strainer into a heatproof container and refrigerate. If you don’t want to save the grease, let it solidify on the baking sheet, then crumple the foil or paper around it and discard.

RECIPE NOTES

Even crispier bacon: For even crispier bacon, fit a metal rack over the lined baking sheet and place the bacon on the rack before baking, which allows the bacon allows to cook from all sides and become extra-crispy.

Storage: Refrigerate leftover bacon for 1 week or freeze it for up to 3 months. Rewarm the bacon in the microwave or oven before serving.

 

How We’ve Re-tested This Method

In November 2019, we put eight different methods of cooking bacon to the test to determine the very best. The winner, Martha Stewart’s oven-baked bacon, was practically identical to Kitchn’s recipe: both cooked the bacon at 400°F for 15 to 20 minutes depending on the bacon’s thickness and desired doneness, and suggested the use of a wire rack for extra-crispy bacon. The difference was in the pan lining, with Stewart calling for parchment and Kitchn’s original recipe calling for foil. 

To determine the best way to cook bacon in the oven once and for all, I tested Kitchn’s tried-and-true method again using both regular and thick-cut bacon on both parchment- and aluminum foil-lined baking sheets. 

After this further testing, we’ve determined that parchment paper and aluminum foil work equally well. The important variable is an overhang on all four sides of the rimmed baking sheet to contain the hot, rendered fat and make cleanup easy. While extra-wide rolls of both parchment and foil are preferred for this method, regular rolls can be used when overlapped to cover the baking sheet completely. Make sure to let the pan cool slightly before draining the fat. 

Depending on your desired doneness, regular sliced bacon will be ready after about 14 minutes and thick-cut bacon at 18 minutes. If you cook less than a full sheet of bacon, the strips cook more quickly, which is why we suggest checking after 12 minutes.

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