At The Baconer, we like to say that our bacon is the favorite meat of vegetarians. That’s only half-joking, and if we have tempted any vegetarians to the meat side of the Force, the next question is probably “What’s the best way to cook it?” Or, you know, if you simply don’t cook bacon much and you are too tempted by amazing artisanal bacon with epic flavors, you probably want to learn how to master the art of cooking bacon.
The Beginner’s Guide To Cooking Bacon
Fear not, friends. We’ve got you covered. There are a number of ways to cook bacon -- some admittedly at a higher quality than others (we’re looking at you, microwave) -- but ultimately, they all get the job done. And hey, who are we to complain about what your time and energy constraints are?
All we can do is give you all your possible cooking options and let you make the choice. (But seriously, please only use the microwave as your last resort.)
There are many sites and videos that will give you the traditional pan-fry method. We do think that using a stovetop and a pan are the best way to do it...but we tweak it a little bit. Hey, our entire job is built around bacon, so we think our opinion matters. This is how we do it (even with a fancy downloadable version).
1) Take one pan, stone cold and layer the strips of bacon on it.
2) Add juuuuuuuuust enough water to cover the bottom.
3) Crank that heat to medium-high to simmer off the water. This braises the bacon before frying.
4) Reduce the heat to medium and crisp the first side.
5) Crispy enough for you? Then flip it and finish it off.
Bonus: if you're cooking something else to go with it, you can drain the fat and use the remaining grease and crumbs to cook the next dish in the same pan. This works great if you're making breakfast potatoes.
Cooking bacon in the oven is an effective way to cook a large batch at once. Or if you're feeling lazy and don't want to babysit a pan of strips that need to be flipped, consider your oven.
First, pick your equipment – you’ll need a baking sheet, but one with a raised lip around the perimeter. This prevents the grease from slipping off the side, so basically we’re sparing you from a grease fire. And to make clean-up easier, line that sheet with several layers of foil before you put the strips of bacon on it. If you have a baking rack, that’s perfect to allow the fat to drip off.
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees, then put the sheet in for 15-20 minutes. You won’t have to flip it halfway through due to the thinness of the cut and the ambient heat in the oven. If your oven does convection cooking, this will help crisp it up even further.
It is possible to cook your bacon on the barbecue. This doesn’t mean you lay the strips directly on the grill -- the grease drippings would immediately turn your cooking experience into one of those viral YouTube videos about what not to do and a fire extinguisher would be part of the recipe.
Instead, get an iron skillet and put it directly on the grill while preheating. When the barbecue is nice and hot (ideally around 400 degrees, similar to the oven), put strips directly onto the skillet (use tongs, you’ll thank us later). It should only take 15-20 minutes, and you’ll want to flip the strips at least once. Unlike a pan, there’s no need to keep flipping it.
By the way, if you’re grilling steaks wrapped in bacon, still be careful but you can cook directly on the grill, since you can usually take the steaks off by the time it’s juicy and dripping. Thus, you’re usually off the rack before you get to the whole “fire hazard” stage.
Please don't recoil in horror. There is a time and place to use the microwave to cook bacon. Let's say you're extremely strapped for time and the bacon pieces are going to go into something else, like a stir fry or different dish that will be pan fried or baked. In those cases, a microwave can help expedite things, especially if you're juggling all the cooking duties with your own two hands.
So, how do you cook bacon in the microwave? The main thing to know that 1) you'll have to deal with the fat and 2) it's not gonna crisp up (that's why this is usually best when prepping the bacon to be finished off or elsewhere).
So to address the first part, your bacon should lay its savory head on a bed of paper towels -- preferably two to four sheets, with the bacon strips laid across equally. Then another two to four sheets of paper towels across the top, so you're basically tucking the bacon into bed, except, you know, in a microwave. Set for high for about five minutes and nuke away. You could always theoretically top it off in the oven or frying pan or even a deep fryer to crisp it up.
Keep in mind that the grease may splatter a bit, so you'll probably want to wipe down your microwave pretty quickly afterward.
The ol’ George Foreman Grill -- a staple for college dorms since the 1990s -- gets the job done for cooking bacon, albeit a bit inconsistently. One of the issues with the Foreman Grill is that it drains the fat, thus drying out whatever meat cooks on it. However, one of the benefits of the Foreman Grill is speed; because it heats from both top and bottom, the bacon cooks relatively quickly (three to four minutes) and mostly evenly. Keep in mind that the bottom surface will get cooked more because the meat cuts will be so thin that the top won’t get the same level of contact with it. Because of that, it doesn’t hurt to flip the bacon strips halfway through.
Because the Foreman Grill is designed to drain the fat, your grease-collecting tray may actually fill up while you cook bacon. (Seriously, this happened to me in college.) Prepare for this accordingly by putting a piece of foil under the grease tray or having the backup one ready to swap out.
After You Cook Bacon
Chances are, bacon is only going to be part of your meal -- whether it's a breakfast side or atop a sandwich. So where do you put the bacon to make sure that it stays warm and crispy while you take care of the rest of the recipe? One very simple technique is to wrap the bacon in a light paper towel covering, then another wrap of aluminum foil. Then put the whole thing in a toaster oven at a low level -- even 150 degrees works fine to keep the bacon nice and hot without drying it out.
Now that you've mastered the art of cooking bacon, what's the next step? Simple -- discover the power of artisanal bacon by checking out The Baconer’s cuts and flavors. And if you find that you just love cooking bacon so much (even with a *shudder* microwave), try The Strip Club by The Baconer.