Here's how to get perfectly cooked bacon every time.
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four slices of crispy bacon on a white background
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If we're being honest, the perfect batch of crispy, delicious, evenly-cooked bacon is difficult to achieve. If you pan fry it, you run the risk of having hot spots that burn pieces while others are limp and chewy. If you cook it in the air fryer, sure, it's well cooked, but most air fryers can only hold four or six pieces. And microwave bacon? I know it can be done, but should it?

So what is the best way to cook bacon if you want every slice evenly cooked and perfectly crisp? Try cooking bacon in the oven.

Crisp bacon slices are easy to achieve if you cook bacon in the oven. That's because the even temperatures of the oven and the wide surface of a baking sheet help each piece cook precisely the same so no ends are burnt while the middle is chewy and raw.

Here, we explain how to cook bacon in the oven, whether it's four slices for your own breakfast or you need 40 slices for a crowd. Keep reading to also get answers to some of the most common questions about baking bacon in the oven.

The Easiest Way to Cook Bacon

We don't have to tell you that cooking bacon is often messy. The slices splatter and spit as they crisp up in the frying pan. They cover your stove, cabinet, counters, and anything in a four-foot radius with a fine mist of slippery grease.

Most frying pans can only fit six to eight slices, if you're cooking with the biggest pan in your cabinet. Otherwise, you're left babysitting grease-spraying bacon for batch after batch. No thank you.

The next time you need to cook any amount of bacon, reach for a rimmed baking sheet, and turn on the oven, not the stove.

By cooking bacon in the oven, you can closely monitor and ensure each slice is cooked just as you want it. You can also easily reserve the bacon grease for other recipes, like Killed Lettuce, Bacon-Infused Bourbon, or Baked BLT Dip.

How to Cook Bacon in the Oven

It's far easier and faster to cook bacon in the oven. That's doubly true if you're cooking bacon for a crowd. Here, we break down what you need to cook bacon in the oven and how it's done.

What You Need for Baking Bacon

As long as you have bacon and basic kitchen utensils, you can make oven-baked bacon in just minutes.

Equipment:

  • aluminum foil
  • large rimmed baking sheet
  • tongs
  • plate
  • paper towels
  • cooling or baking rack (optional)

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound bacon of choice

Cooking Bacon in the Oven

1. Prep the oven: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

2. Prep the pan: Line a large rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil or parchment paper. I prefer aluminum foil because it makes cleanup a snap. Parchment paper will also prevent you from scrubbing stuck-on bacon pieces, but it won't catch the grease.

3. Prep the bacon: Lay bacon slices on the foil-lined baking sheet. Bacon slices can touch but shouldn't overlap too much.

4. Cook: Cook bacon for 18 to 20 minutes, or until the bacon is as crispy as you like. If your oven has hot spots, turn the baking sheet after 10 minutes, or half way through the cook time. If you are cooking more than one pan of bacon, rotate shelves half way through, too.

5. Serve: Remove the baking sheet from the oven when it's reached your desired degree of doneness. Use tongs to transfer bacon slices to a paper towel-lined plate. Serve immediately or reserve for later.

How Long to Cook Bacon in the Oven

If you cook bacon too high (over 400 degrees F), it'll crisp and burn more easily. If you cook it too low (around 350 degrees F), it'll take a lot longer than is necessary. I've found that 400 degrees F is the perfect temperature for cooking bacon in the oven.

At 400 degrees F, bacon should cook 18 to 20 minutes. Check the crispness level at 10 to 12 minutes to gauge how much longer it needs before you pull it. Bacon crisps up as it cools, so if the slices sag a bit when you pick them up from the pan, that's OK.

Thick-sliced bacon may need longer, or about 20 to 25 minutes to be perfectly crispy. Be sure to check the doneness early, or at about 15 minutes, to make sure you're happy with how it's cooking. If it's crisping quickly, pull it sooner so you don't risk burning it.

If you're only cooking two or three slices, check the bacon sooner. It may cook faster since there are so few pieces.

One thing you shouldn't do: Don't mix bacon cuts. Thick-cut bacon slices will need more time than medium-cut slices. If you wait for the thicker slices to be crisp, the thinner ones may burn.

If you do need to mix bacon types, just be sure to pull the thinner pieces when they're done so they don't overcook while the other pieces reach crispy perfection.

How Long to Cook Turkey Bacon in the Oven

You can cook turkey bacon in the oven just as you do pork bacon, but there's one important note: Turkey bacon is leaner than pork bacon, and it will cook faster. Most turkey bacon slices will be fully cooked in 10 to 12 minutes, but check the doneness at 8 minutes. Some thinner slices will be finished sooner.

Shrimp Cobb Salad with Bacon Dressing
Credit: Photo: Antonis Achilleos; Prop Styling: Missie Neville Crawford; Food Styling: Torie Cox

Benefits of Cooking Bacon in the Oven

If you're still not sure why cooking bacon in the oven is the easiest way to cook the breakfast meat, here's more benefits:

  • It's less messy. Cooking bacon on the stovetop can be a greasy mess, as fat pops and splatters around the frying pan. Bacon cooked in the oven is far less messy. If you line the baking sheet with aluminum foil, you should be able to wrap up the grease, and throw it all away. The baking sheet might not even need to be washed.
  • You can cook bacon in big batches. If you're serving a crowd, forget standing over the stove for batch after batch of bacon. Load up one or two baking trays, and stick them in the oven. To help the bacon cook evenly, swap the pans at the half way point of cooking.
  • You won't be glued to the stove. If you're cooking bacon in a frying pan, you're typically stuck babysitting the slices, moving them around and away from hot spots. With oven-baked bacon, you can put the baking sheets in the oven, and walk away until your timer goes off.

Tips for Crispy Oven-Baked Bacon

Some cooks swear by baking bacon on cooling racks that are sitting inside the baking sheet. I've tried this method a few times, and I have found no differences in how the bacon turned out.

But I did note one thing: It makes a mess. Cleaning the racks is a headache. For that reason alone, I prefer to cook bacon slices right on the baking sheet. But if you like sitting the bacon on the racks so the grease drips away, that's fine, too.

Another benefit of baking bacon in the oven: You can closely monitor the crispiness level. If you have a household of picky bacon people, cooking in the oven will help you get slices precisely as everyone likes them.

If someone likes bacon a little more limp and chewy, take a few slices out when they reach their preferred doneness. Stick the baking sheet back in the oven, and keep cooking.

How to Store Cooked Bacon

You don't have to eat cooked bacon right away, if you can avoid the temptation. If you're trying to get ahead for some recipes or just want to keep a few slices in the fridge for quick breakfasts, you can bake bacon and store the slices for later.

To do this, let the cooked slices cool. Then, put them in a plastic zip-top bag. Store the bacon in the fridge for 3 to 4 days.

If you want the bacon much later, you can freeze the cooked bacon, too. After the bacon has cooled, wrap it in aluminum foil, and place it inside a zip-top bag. Write the food's name and the date on the outside, then place the bag of bacon in the freezer. Frozen, cooked bacon will last 2 to 3 months if stored properly.

What to Do With Bacon Grease

Lots of bacon will create lots of bacon grease, and if you're not eager to toss all that liquid gold, don't. Lining the baking sheet with aluminum foil will help you gather excess bacon grease and pour it right into a jar or sieve for sifting out pieces.

Once it has cooled, you can store bacon grease in the fridge until you're ready to use it. Leftover bacon grease makes fried eggs extra special. My grandmother always stirred a spoonful into her grits to make them taste a bit more decadent.

Common Questions About Cooking Bacon in the Oven

How long do you let bacon cook in the oven?

At 400 degrees F, medium-thick bacon slices will need 18 to 20 minutes to reach the perfect level of crispiness. But check the bacon at 10 minutes, and adjust your cooking time to your preferred degree of doneness.

Temperatures over 400 degrees don't necessarily cook the bacon faster. I find the bacon burns at the ends before the middle is even crisp. The sweet spot temperature for cooking bacon in the oven is 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Can you bake bacon without foil or parchment paper?

Absolutely, but it'll be messy. Foil is my preference for baking bacon because I can toss some used napkins or paper towels on the tray to rapidly absorb the grease, then wad up the whole thing and throw it straight in the trash (if I don't want to save the bacon grease).

Can you use a cooling rack?

Some people swear that cooking bacon atop a cooling rack makes for crispier pieces. You can certainly do that if you've found that to be true. But I've done it several times and didn't find the bacon cooked faster or crispier than cooking it right on the baking sheet.

What's more, it made a huge mess on the cooling rack, and I did not enjoy cleaning that.

How do you know bacon is done?

Bacon's level of crisp is a matter of personal preference, to be honest. I like my bacon more crisp than other people in my family. But typically, you can tell bacon is done when the meat (not the fat portion) is hard and crisp from tip to middle. The color will be a rich red-brown.

If you like your bacon a bit more tender, you may want to cook the bacon until the center is less hard and the fat is more opaque still.

Should you flip bacon in the oven?

No, there's no need to flip bacon that is cooking in the oven. You can, however, rotate the baking tray if your oven has a hot spot in the back or front and you don't want to risk burning any bits with too much focused heat. Otherwise, you can put the tray in the oven and leave it there until it's ready to pull.