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7 Ways to Cook Bacon (And When to Use Each)

Bacon in a frying pan, resting on a tea towel placed on a cutting board.
Elena Veselova/Shutterstock

There are a variety of ways to make bacon and what’s important to you—speed of cooking, the volume of bacon prepared, or just crispy fatty goodness in every bite—should dictate how you prepare it. Here’s what you need to know.

We all love the delicious taste of crispy and salty bacon. It pairs so nicely with eggs and toast, and even the sweet stuff like pancakes or waffles. What a lot of people don’t realize is that there are so many ways to prepare it. While you might have grown up with your parents only using a skillet or tossing the bacon in the microwave, there are a bunch of great reasons to branch out.

The OG Classic: A Frying Pan

Place a sturdy frying pan on medium/ high heat, and once your pan is hot, add a few slices. Carefully turn your bacon over using a pair of tongs and watch out for flying grease.

Once you’ve cooked your bacon to the desired crispy to chewy ratio, place your slices on a paper towel covered plate. Pour any access grease into a coffee mug or something that won’t melt.

Hot ‘n Fast: Microwave It in Minutes

Yes, the microwave will cook your raw bacon in just a few minutes and works well! While there are many gadgets sold on the internet for cooking bacon in the microwave, a plate, and some paper towels will do the trick just fine. Although, if you want a sturdy tool for the task, we swear the by the Nordic Ware bacon and defrosting trays. They’re built tough enough you’ll likely never need to replace them.

Nordic Ware Microwave Bacon Tray

This durable classic will give you years of trouble-free service.

If you’re using a simple microwave-safe plate with a few paper towels, and place about five bacon strips on top. Place another paper towel over the bacon to avoid a greasy mess in your microwave.

Microwave your bacon for about four or five minutes. Cook your bacon longer for extra crispiness. Be very careful as the plate will be very hot, and the bacon grease can burn you as well.

Many people swear by this method, but while it has speed on its side it is not without some downsides. Because microwaves are much smaller, you can only cook a few slices at a time, especially when comparing to the oven. Naturally, the edges won’t sear like an oven or frying pan, and uneven cooking sometimes happens.

A Lot of Bacon to Cook? Try the Oven

Cooking bacon in the oven surpasses all other methods when you have a lot of it to prepare. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and place your bacon strips right onto a cookie sheet and put it in your oven—for easier cleanup you can wrap the cookie sheet tightly with tin foil. Cook for between 12-15 minutes or longer, depending on desired crispiness.

In no time and only one batch, you will have a whole pound of bacon that is perfectly cooked to your liking. By cooking your bacon using an oven, you avoid a big splattering mess on your stovetop and counter.

Be cautious around hot bacon grease, especially when you take the bacon out of the oven.

Oven, Round Two: Extra Crispy Edition

Crispy bacon, cooked on a cooling rack place on a cookie sheet.
Emilee Unterkoefler

Many people swear by cooking bacon in the oven using a cooling rack, especially if you love your bacon extra crispy. Placing your bacon elevated on a cooling rack in the baking sheet promotes even cooking.

While a cooling rack isn’t necessary, it certainly brings your bacon to a whole crispier level. Follow the same steps as above (cooking in the oven).

Toaster Oven: Perfect for a Few Slices

If you only have a few slices of bacon to cook, then turn your toaster oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

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Place a few slices on the small baking sheet and cook your bacon for about 12-15 minutes depending on how crispy you like it. Pat with a few paper towels and enjoy the quick and easy cleanup.

Like always, place your strips on a few paper towels to drain the grease and serve.

Waffle Iron: Because You Can Cook Just About Anything in It

Bacon cooking in a waffle iron with raw bacon in the background and a pair of tongs.
Emilee Unterkoefler

Believe it or not, you can cook bacon—along with so much more!—right in your handy-dandy waffle iron. Cut your bacon strips in half to ensure they fit in the iron. Place a few pieces down and close the top.

Set your timer to about two minutes. Open your waffle iron and move your bacon around to ensure any parts that aren’t seared get cooked. Cook it for another two minutes and voila.

On the Grill

If you’re making just about any delicious meal that pairs well with bacon, skip the mess inside and cook those greasy strips right on the grill.

Preheat your grill to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Place your strips down on a large piece of heavy-duty tin foil and fold the sides up—or use a handy cast-iron griddle—put it on your grill, and close the top. Cook for about five to seven minutes, flip and cook a little longer.

Throw a few pieces on your burgers, or with any delicious grilled meat. The downside to cooking on the grill, of course, are the hot spots that may unevenly cook your bacon.

Whether you sneak a slice or two in the microwave or throw a whole pound in the oven, there are plenty of delicious ways to prep bacon for your next brunch or for a delicious bacon cheeseburger.

Emilee Unterkoefler Emilee Unterkoefler
Emilee Unterkoefler is a freelance food writer, hiking enthusiast, and mama with over ten years of experience working in the food industry. Read Full Bio »
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