Crispy, salty, perfectly cooked bacon is quite possibly the world’s tastiest food. And we’re not exaggerating — a strip of bacon includes not one, not two, but six types of umami, the elusive “savory” flavor that makes human taste buds go totally bonkers.
In addition to being the most delicious, bacon is also one of the oldest cured meats in history. The Chinese began salting pork belly as early as 1500 B.C., but it wasn’t until 1924 when Oscar Mayer patented the first packed, sliced bacon that it became a breakfast staple in almost every household in America.
The only downside is that cooking bacon often ends with bacon grease everywhere (the stovetop, the walls, the cook’s new shirt, etc.). If that’s the only thing stopping you from enjoying several strips of thick-cut bacon today, we’re here to help with a no-mess cooking hack we use everyday in our test kitchens — baking bacon.
The benefits of cooking bacon in the oven are many!
- No mess.
- No scary bacon spitting hot grease at your face and new shirt.
- No flipping required.
- No uneven cooking.
After you finish reading this, you’ll probably never make bacon on the stove again. You could put your skillet in storage or make one of these skillet dinner recipes with it.
How to Make Bacon in the Oven
What you need:
- baking sheet
- optional: metal baking rack
Step 1: Heat oven to 400°F.
Step 2: Line a baking sheet with foil. Turn up the edges slightly to make sure the grease stays in the pan.
Step 3: Place bacon strips on the baking sheet. It’s OK if they touch each other because they will shrink a little, but they shouldn’t overlap. One pound of bacon will usually fit on a single baking sheet, but use two if you run out of room.
Optional: For crispier bacon (this is the way we like it!), place an oven-safe baking rack on top of the baking sheet and then place the bacon strips on top of that.
Step 4: Bake bacon for 15-20 minutes on the middle rack. Cook time will vary depending on the oven and the thickness of the bacon, but it will be golden and crisp when it’s done. If you are using thin-cut bacon, start checking it at 12 minutes to make sure it doesn’t burn. With medium or thick-cut, start checking at 15 minutes.
Step 5: Prepare your bacon landing area (a plate lined with paper towels). Using tongs, remove bacon right away and place each strip on the paper towels. Carefully pat each piece with another paper towel to soak up the extra grease.
Step 6: Clean up. Allow the grease to cool and solidify on the foil and then crumple it up, throw it out and put your baking sheet away (because it should be totally clean underneath!). If you’d like to save the grease for cooking, let it cool (but not solidify), pour it into a safe container and refrigerate.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can you cook turkey bacon in the oven?
Yes, you can. However, all bacon is not created equal — especially when it comes to turkey bacon. Most turkey bacon will have its own oven instructions on the package, so follow those and make sure to watch it extra carefully so it doesn’t burn.
Do you need to preheat the oven?
A lot of people swear by starting with a cold oven, and then setting the oven to 400°F at the same time you put the bacon in. With this method, the bacon fat renders slowly and can result in evenly cooked bacon excellence. However, some ovens heat up much faster than others, so when you don’t preheat it’s more difficult for us to tell you how long to cook bacon in the oven since we’re not at your house using your oven and eating your bacon. Try both methods next weekend and let us know which you prefer!
Do you need to line the pan?
Technically, no. For your own sake, yes. Lining the baking sheet with either foil or parchment paper helps you avoid a very challenging scrubbing session with your baking pans.
Do you need a baking rack?
Nope! We cooked our bacon with a rack, but you can place the bacon right on the foil as well.
How do you store leftover bacon?
Nobody knows because it’s usually gone in, like, five minutes. ZING.
OK, for real … bacon will keep for up to a week in the fridge in a sealed plastic bag or airtight container. You can also keep it for about 2-3 months in the freezer. Bacon reheated for a minute or two in the microwave can lose its crisp texture, so reheating it quickly in a pan is the way to go. Or simply throw leftover crumbled bacon into salads, pastas or egg bakes!
What can you do with bacon grease?
Lots of things! You can fry eggs or pancakes with it for breakfast, you can use it in hot salad dressings or soups. You can even substitute some bacon fat for butter or shortening in your favorite baked goods. If you’re looking for a new recipe to try with your bacon drippings, check out our German Potato Salad or whip up a classic White Gravy to serve with fried chicken or biscuits.