How to Cook Perfect Bacon

Crisp, but not too crisp; meaty, yet also snappy—perfect bacon strikes a savory balance between texture and taste. The Taste of Home Test Kitchen explains how to make bacon in the oven, microwave and stovetop.

By Elizabeth Harris, Contributing Editor and James Schend, Food Editor

There are many ways to cook bacon, from the classic stovetop to the speedy microwave, and even the oven. Frying bacon in a cast-iron skillet on the stove is best for small batches and tender texture. The microwave’s best for—you guessed it—quick cooking for a few strips at a time. Preheat the oven if cooking for a crowd, prepping thick bacon, or looking to minimize clean up.Read on for step-by-step instructions for each method.

How to Cook Bacon in the Oven

1. Place a wire rack in a 15x10-inch baking pan. Lightly spritz with cooking spray.

 Coating a wire rack over a baking pan with cooking spray.

2. Place bacon strips in a single layer on rack.

arranging bacon strips on top of wire rack in a single layer.

3. Bake at 350° to desired degree of crispiness, 20-30 minutes. How long to put bacon in the oven depends on your desired texture: briefer for softer, longer for crisper. When it’s done to your liking, remove from oven.

Removing baking sheet of bacon from the oven.

4. Use a tongs to remove bacon strips from wire rack.

 Using tongs to remove bacon strips from wire rack.

5. Pour off grease into a heat-safe container.

Pouring bacon grease into a heat-safe container.

6. Place rack and pan in dishwasher.

How to Cook Bacon in the Microwave

1. Place 2-3 sheets of paper towel in a microwave-safe dish.

Placing two or three sheets of paper towel on a dish before microwaving bacon.

2. Top with up to 4 slices of bacon.

 Arranging up to 4 pieces of bacon on top of paper towels for cooking in microwave.

3. Place 1-2 sheets of paper towel on top.

Covering bacon with one or two sheets of paper towel before microwaving.

4. Microwave approximately 1 minute for every piece of bacon. Thick bacon will need a little more time and thin bacon will need less.

5. Remove and place on serving plate when it’s just a little underdone (bacon will carry-over cook a little).

 Bacon cooked in the microwave will continue to cook after removing from oven.

How to Cook Bacon on the Stovetop

1. Place a single layer of bacon strips in a cold skillet, preferably cast-iron.

Arranging bacon in a single layer in a cold cast-iron skillet.

2. Cook on a medium-low heat – you want to render a lot of the fat out of the bacon and this takes time. Don’t rush it.

Cooking bacon in a cast-iron skillet over medium-low heat.

3. Turn bacon occasionally with tongs so bacon cooks evenly. Since most pans don’t heat evenly, you should move the bacon to a different part of the pan when flipping it.

Flipping bacon strips with tongs for even cooking.

4. When cooked to desired doneness, transfer bacon to a plate lined with paper towel, clean newspaper or a cut-up paper bag to absorb the excess grease.

Removing bacon strips from cast-iron skillet to cool on a plate lined with paper towel.

5. Pour grease from skillet into heatproof dish until cool. Discard or save for another use.

Pouring bacon grease from cast-iron skillet to a heatproof container.

6. To clean pan, fill with ½-inch of water and bring to a boil. Lightly scrape with a spatula to help remove any stuck-on residue.

Got extra bacon? You can always stash leftovers in the fridge. Crumble them on salads, layer onto sandwiches and reheat for breakfast any day.