As much as I love bacon, I used to avoid it because the though of sputtering hot bacon grease getting all over me and my kitchen was enough to make me stick to just eggs and toast. But in my early 20’s I worked in a commercial kitchen where I learned how to cook bacon in big batches with next to no effort in the oven. It was one of those 🤯moments. Sometimes the easiest solutions are the ones that escape us, so I want to share this quick tutorial and make sure everyone knows about the easiest and best way to cook bacon.
How to Make Perfect, Crispy Bacon in the Oven
Why Cook Bacon in the Oven?
The number one reason I suggest cooking bacon in the oven is that it’s totally hands off. You put it in the oven and then you are free to make your eggs, toast, or whatever else you want to serve with your bacon for breakfast. You don’t have to babysit a skillet full of sizzling bacon, or protect yourself from projectile hot grease. Everything is safely contained in the oven.
The second great thing about cooking bacon in an oven is that you can cook more at one time than what normally fits in a skillet. So, if you’ve got a crowd to feed, or you just really really like a lot of bacon, you can cook it all at once instead of in batches.
The third thing that I love about cooking bacon in the oven is that it self drains as it cooks. In the technique I use below, the bacon is suspended above the baking sheet with a wire cooling rack, which allows the grease to drain away as the bacon cooks instead of swimming in a pool of grease. I mean, I love bacon grease and all, but in moderation.
Do I Need to Use a Wire Rack?
Using a wire cooling rack is not 100% necessary, but I highly suggest it if you have one. The wire rack allows the bacon to heat from both sides, which yields a crispier piece of bacon. You can lay your bacon right on the baking sheet and it will fry in its own fat as it cooks, which yields a slightly chewier piece of bacon.
Do I Have to Use Foil?
No. If you prefer not to cook with aluminum foil, you can skip it. It simply makes cleanup easier, IMHO, but I understand that many people have safety concerns about cooking with aluminum foil. Baked on bacon grease usually cleans off baking sheets with a 10 minute soak with hot soapy water and a little elbow grease. Barkeeper’s Friend is also great for getting baked-on grease off cookware.
What Kind of Bacon Can be Cooked in the Oven?
Any type of bacon can be cooked in the oven, but I prefer thick cut bacon for this method. Thin bacon tends to turn out quite delicate and can sometimes stick to the wire rack and tear. The cooking times listed below are for thick cut bacon.
How to Cook Bacon in the Oven
- 12 oz. thick cut bacon
- Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Prepare a large baking sheet by lining it with aluminum foil and then placing one or two wire racks on top to hold the bacon above the surface of the baking sheet.
- Lay the strips of bacon across the wire rack so they are close, but not overlapping.
- Bake the bacon in the fully preheated oven, for 20-25 minutes*, or until it has reached your desired level of crispiness. Begin checking the bacon at 15 minutes, as ovens can vary.
- After baking, use tongs to remove the strips of bacon from the wire rack to a paper towel lined plate. Serve immediately.
- Allow the remaining bacon grease to cool for about ten minutes, then pour off into a bowl or jar, and reserve for another use.
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How to Use Leftover Bacon Grease
Leftover bacon grease is pure gold. It adds SO MUCH flavor to whatever you use it with. You can pretty much use it to cook anything in place of butter. Try some of these yummy uses for your bacon grease:
- To fry potatoes or eggs
- Use to sauté greens, like kale, spinach, or even green beans
- Make stove top popcorn
- Spread on your bread when making grilled cheese
- Use in place of butter in Fried Cabbage with Noodles
How to Bake Bacon in the Oven – Step by Step Photos
First preheat the oven to 400ºF. Prepare a large baking sheet by covering it with foil and placing one or two wire cooling racks on top.
Lay the slices of bacon out on the wire rack so they are close, but not overlapping.
Bake the bacon in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes (for thick cut bacon), or until it reaches your desired level of crispiness. Begin checking the bacon at 15 minutes, so you’re aware of its progress (every oven is different). I like mine extra brown and crispy, so I let mine go closer to 25 minutes.
Although most of the grease drains away as it bakes, some will pool on the top, so I still use tongs to transfer the cooked bacon to a paper towel lined plate.
Let the bacon grease cool for about 10 minutes on the foil so that it’s still liquid, but not burning hot. Then pull up the sides of the foil to capture the grease, and pour it off into a bowl or jar.
Cover or close the container with the grease and refrigerate until you decide what food will be graced with its presence. If you strain out the small bits of bacon and debris the bacon grease can last months in the refrigerator. But I know I’ll use it quickly, so I don’t bother to strain!