Whether it’s breakfast, lunch or dinner; morning, noon or night — we can all agree that bacon is a mealtime hero, always kicking things up a notch. Because frying bacon on the stove can be some smoky, messy business, you need to know how to bake bacon.

The cut used to make bacon comes from the side — or belly — of the pig. When it is cured and smoked, it becomes bacon. An abundance of fat gives bacon its sweet flavor and tender crispiness. Bacon is typically sold in slices. Bacon may be packaged in thin slices (about 35 strips per pound), regular slices (about 16-20 strips per pound), or thick slices (about 12-16 strips per pound). Bacon also may be available in slab form, which is one solid piece. Slab bacon usually comes with a rind that is meant to be removed before slicing. Fried, diced bacon rind is known as cracklings.

How to Cook Bacon

Prep Tip

If the packaged sliced bacon is cold from the refrigerator, slowly slide the dull edge of a butter knife along the length between the strips, to separate slices.

Broiling

Place bacon on a jelly-roll pan and cook three inches from the broiler, turning slices at least once. Drain the slices on absorbent paper towels before serving.

Pan-fry

Place bacon slices in an ungreased or lightly greased frying pan over medium heat, turning often to achieve uniform crispness. Drain the slices on absorbent paper towels before serving.

Baking

This is a great way to cook bacon for a large gathering. Preheat the oven to 400° F. Lay slices on a roasting rack in a shallow pan to catch the drippings. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes.

Microwave

Place up to eight slices on a microwaveable rack or plate and cover loosely with absorbent paper towels. Cook on HIGH for six to eight minutes, repositioning the rack every two minutes. For microwave-in-the-package bacon, follow the instructions on the package label.

How To Make Perfect Bacon Every Time

Use your oven to bake the bacon for a consistent and delicious result every time.

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
  2. If you don’t plan to save the bacon fat, line a lipped sheet pan with aluminum foil. When finished, you’ll be able to easily peel the foil from the pan and discard – minimizing the mess to be scrubbed from the pan. (You can save the bacon fat by pouring it from one of the sheet pan corners into a jar. or, if you prefer to just scrap it, line your sheet pan with aluminum foil prior to baking so you can peel and trash them once you’re done.)
  3. Coat both sides of a cooling rack with light cooking spray before; place cooling rack in the sheet pan.
  4. Lay strips of bacon across the width of the cooling rack.
  5. Bake for 20-25 minutes.
  6. Remove bacon from oven. Place bacon on a plate lined with paper towel, and pat away excess grease with another sheet of paper towel.

Cooking Tip

Avoid crowding while cooking more bacon. Crispy bacon is a product of allowing some breathing room in between strips while cooking so heat can circulate evenly. Where you’d want to limit your frying pan or skillet to 3-4 strips, you can fit about one pound on a sheet pan for baking. And more bacon is always better.

Bacon also may be available in other varieties including lower salt bacon (cured with less salt), ready-to-microwave bacon and pre-cooked bacon.

Flavored bacon, such as peppered or apple-smoked, also may be available.In general, because bacon has a higher fat content and intense smoky flavor, a little goes a long way. Sprinkle cooked bacon atop soups, pasta, vegetables, salads, and casseroles.

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