We’ve been seeing that a lot of people are cooking air fryer bacon, but the secret to perfectly straight, crispy bacon is to bake it in the oven. Are you wondering how to cook bacon in the oven? We use two different baking methods that are easy to do, and you can use this step-by-step guide to get either crispy or chewy bacon strips.
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When you bake bacon, there are essentially two ways to cook it: on a wire rack or directly on a sheet pan. We’re going to share tips with you to get perfect bacon cooked in batches, so you’ve got enough baked bacon for a crowd, bacon for meal prepping, and even baked bacon to store in the fridge or freezer for future munching or recipes.
Selecting the Bacon
Bacon comes in a variety of different flavors, including applewood smoked bacon, hickory-smoked bacon, cured bacon, and uncured bacon. Bacon’s thickness affects the amount of time it takes for it to cook in the oven. For our cooking method, we recommend standard-cut bacon (regular bacon). Sometimes this is called classic cut, average, or regular. You can use heartier or thicker cuts, but you’ll need to adjust the cooking times accordingly. Turkey bacon is popular and yummy, but it’s not as well suited for baking in the oven.
Choosing the Best Pan
To make oven bacon, you need to use a rimmed cookie sheet, sometimes called a rimmed baking sheet. When the bacon fat starts to render, it will start to pool at the pan’s bottom. If you don’t have pans with rims, you’ll create a huge mess that will require deep oven cleaning. We like to line our baking sheets with foil, specifically wider and heavy-duty thick aluminum foil that will fully cover the bottom of the pan and go up the sides.
You can also use parchment paper to cook bacon, but you’ll have more cleanup if you use this. We also recommend covering the pan, whether you use the rack cooking method or cook your bacon directly on the sheet pan.
Cooking Bacon on a Wire Rack vs. a Sheet Pan
- Cooling Rack: When you cook bacon on a cooling rack atop a sheet pan, it will take about 5 additional minutes of cooking time because the bacon isn’t frying it its own hot rendered fat. You’ll have bacon that’s crispier around the edges, slightly wavier in appearance, and lighter in texture. The only downside to this cooking method is that there’s slightly more stuff to clean when you’re done.
- Baking Sheet Pan: Cooking bacon directly on a sheet pan gives you chewier bacon because it fries in its own fat. With a longer cooking time, the bacon will become crispier.
How to Cook Bacon Directly on a Sheet Pan
Line your sheet pan with aluminum foil and make sure it covers the sides of the pan. Line the bacon strips in a single layer onto the foil-lined baking pan. Space the bacon apart evenly, and be careful not to allow it to overlap. If you overlap your bacon, it will still cook, but if you don’t overlap your bacon strips, the protein cooks more consistently and doesn’t cook together. Bake the bacon strips at 375 degrees Fahrenheit (191 degrees Celsius) for approximately 20 minutes. Flip the bacon just before the last 5 minutes of cooking time, and you’ll have evenly cooked bacon.
The surface will be glistening, and if you want chewy bacon, allow a small bit of fat to run through the meat. The more fat that gets rendered, the crispier the bacon will be. Watch your bacon closely during the last few minutes of cooking time because it takes just a couple of minutes for bacon to go from crispy to burned. When the bacon is cooked, transfer it to a plate that’s lined with paper towels so that the excess grease can drain.
How to Cook Bacon Using a Wire Rack
To make cleaning up much simpler, line your sheet pan with heavy-duty aluminum foil. Choose an oven-safe wire rack, not one with a non-stick coating that can break down in the oven. Carefully arrange the bacon strips atop the rack and space them apart evenly. Don’t allow the bacon to overlap.
How Long to Cook Oven-Cooked Bacon
The cook time of your bacon will depend on how thick the bacon is, the oven’s temperature, and the cooking method you use. We like to bake our bacon at 375 degrees Fahrenheit (191 degrees Celsius) because this temperature renders the bacon fat gently, which results in even texture development and color. When the bacon’s surface reaches 300 degrees Fahrenheit (149 degrees Celsius), it starts to brown and becomes crispy because of Maillard browning.
- Standard Cut Bacon Strips: Approximately 25 minutes on a wire baking rack, 20 minutes on a sheet pan
- Thick-Cut Bacon Strips: Approximately 20 minutes on a wire rack, 22 minutes on a sheet pan
- Extra-Thick Cut Bacon: Approximately 31 minutes on a wire rack, 24 minutes on a sheet pan
Saving the Bacon Grease
If you’re not saving your bacon grease, you’re missing out! Bacon grease has tons of flavor, and it adds lots of richness to recipes, including sauteed green beans, fried eggs, braised kale, and more. You can also add a spoon of bacon grease to a pot of beans for a down-home flavor.
Leftover bacon grease has a smoke point that’s similar to lard, which is about 370 degrees Fahrenheit (188 degrees Celsius). Bacon grease should be used at temperatures that aren’t terribly high. To save your bacon grease, let the pan cool down a bit but don’t let the fat become solid. Strain the bacon grease through cheesecloth and a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl. Let it cool a bit, then put it into a canning jar or other airtight container. You can refrigerate bacon grease for as long as 3 months, and it will keep in the freezer indefinitely.
Storing Cooked Bacon
We love cooking up several packs of bacon at once, then storing the leftover bacon for later use. Put your baking bacon slices into an airtight container or resealable plastic bag for up to a week in the fridge. You can freeze cooked bacon, too, and pull it out and reheat it for a tasty treat. Your frozen bacon will keep for up to 3 months in the freezer. You can also crumble your bacon for use in recipes and freeze the bacon bits.
Reheating Cooked Bacon
To reheat your oven baked bacon, put it on a plate in the microwave. You need to have a paper towel below the bacon and a paper towel on top. Reheat it in 10-second increments until it’s as hot as you want it. Another option is to reheat your bacon on the stovetop until it’s hot on both sides, or you can warm bacon in oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Try any of these side dishes or main dishes with bacon.
- Bacon wrapped asparagus
- Instant Pot Brussels sprouts with bacon
- Baked potato with bacon bits
- Zuppa Toscana
Frequently Asked Questions
How do you bake bacon so that grease splatter doesn’t get all over the oven?
Bacon needs to be cooked in the center rack of the oven. If it’s too close to the heat elements at the oven’s top, the rendered fat will splatter and make a mess in your oven. The secret is to use bacon that’s cool so that it will slowly come to the correct temperature for rendering the fat. Don’t overload your sheet pan, especially if you’re cooking with thick or extra-thick bacon that has more fat. Also, lining the baking pan’s edges with an inch of aluminum foil will help prevent the bacon grease from splattering over the pan’s sides.
Do you have to flip the bacon when you cook it in the oven?
Technically, you don’t have to flip the bacon. It will cook up beautifully even if you don’t flip it. However, if you flip your bacon strips, it will brown more evenly and become crisper. When you don’t flip the bacon, one side will be chewier than the other.
How to Cook Bacon in the Oven
- Sheet pan
- 8 bacon slices
- Preheat Your Oven – Position the rack in your oven to the center. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit (191 degrees Celsius). Use aluminum foil or parchment paper to line a large sheet pan.
- Roast the Bacon Strips – Lay bacon on the baking sheet, making sure the bacon strips aren't overlapping. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes. Remove the sheet pan from the oven and flip the bacon over using tongs. When you put the sheet pan back in the oven, rotate it to a different position. Bake for approximately 5 additional minutes.
- For Crispy Bacon Strips – If you want crispier bacon, cook it on a wire rack. Put a wire rack onto your sheet pan and line the bacon on top of the rack. Bake the bacon for approximately 15 minutes. Remove the baking pan from the oven and flip the bacon strips over. Cook for an additional 8-10 minutes.
- Use Paper Towels to Absorb the Bacon Grease – Once the bacon is cooked, transfer it to a plate that's been lined with paper towels. The paper towels will absorb the excess grease.
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