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Mar 18, 2010 07:21 PM

Major bacon fail

I posted this query a couple of years ago:

And I appreciate all the answers people gave me, but I am STILL FAILING to cook crispy bacon. So here's the mystery boiled down to its essence for me: most people say to take it out the pan and then it will it crisp up. But what qualities am I looking for *while the bacon is still in the pan* that will indicate to me that the bacon will crisp up after I take it out?

I do things that most people posted about, cooking the bacon on low, turning it often. I swear I wind up with the bacon in the pan for 20 or 30 minutes and it is STILL rubber after it comes out and then cools. What the hell am I doing wrong? Tonight my husband said the bacon literally tasted "uncooked" although it was in the pan for 20 or more minutes.


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  1. I do my bacon in the oven and it comes out perfect everytime////have you tried that?

    9 Replies
    1. re: LaLa

      So do I. You can put it on a rack in the oven, it will crisp that much faster. And if you have convection, that works well to hasten the process.

      1. re: Phurstluv

        The rack in my oven is my favorite too. Now if only the rack wasn't such a pain to clean. Whatever, it's worth it!

        1. re: Phurstluv

          Will it crisp while it's in the over or after you take it out? That's the problem I always have -- how to discern whether it will be crispy in the future. I just don't get how you do that.

          1. re: mutterer

            It has to dry a bit since it won't be 'crispy' while sitting in melted fat. So drain the pieces on a paper towel, they'll crisp up.

            And they should be sufficiently browned, that the actual fat streaks are no longer white or pink, but brown.

          2. re: Phurstluv

            This has been the only way I've been able to get my bacon really crispy. Half the time I set the smoke detector off when I take it out of the oven that's how long I bake it! I put a rack on a foil-lined cookie sheet, then usually put another cookie sheet or some foil on the lower oven rack just in case there are any splatters.

          3. re: LaLa

            I have not tried the oven method yet as I'm afraid of the mess. Won't it splatter all over the inside of the oven...and then won't it smoke me out of the house?

            1. re: julesincoq

              It's not a worry if you have a self-cleaning oven. And no, it doesn't smoke in the oven. I do it quite frequently without cleaning the oven in between and it's not an issue for me.

          4. Most likely you have too much bacon in the pan, or too much fat, or both. Don't try cooking the whole pound at the same time. It'll crisp up the best with less fat and more room.

            If you're using a standard frying pan try 4-5 pieces in the pan at a time. Pour off excess fat during the cooking process. On a low-medium heat it should crisp up in about 10 minutes.

            5 Replies
            1. re: doribug

              But even if I follow those directions, does it crisp up WHILE it's in the pan? If not, how do I tell when it's time to take it out? This is what I'm trying to zero in on.

              1. re: mutterer

                I sometimes remove fat if it's popping too much.

                Basically you want to take it out before it burns. I cook it as much as possible without burning it. The little tiny bits that are loose and sticking back to the bacon strips will be dark brown at the point you want to take it out.

                I wonder if you don't have the heat too low. I cook it on medium, turn it down if it seems too hot.

                Why not get someone to show you?

                A thick cut should be no problem ... that's all I use.

              2. re: doribug

                I completely disagree. The bacon crisps up more thoroughly and evenly if you do not pour off the fat. It's like making cracklings - the fat in the meat renders more completely if the meat is surrounded by fat. If using the stovetop, I fill the pan as much as possible and cook over medium heat until all the pieces are brown and crisp while in the pan. Then drain well and save the bacon grease for making home fries.

                If making it in the oven, I do not use a rack - same reason, it is least fatty, and crispest, if it cooks in its own fat. I save that fat, too.

                In the microwave, no rack or paper towels. I saved the lipped ceramic tray from the prior microwave. Put the bacon on that, cover with a circle of parchment. When done, I save that fat too, though it is not as good as oven or stove fat. I think it has water in it - no brown specks and it doesn't harden as much in the fridge.

                1. re: greygarious

                  I have used the microwave too and the thing I dislike the most is the stinky microwave after. Everthing smells like bacon for days. So here is my handy dandy little tip: put some water and couple of tbsp of vinegar in a glass bowl and boil it for a few minutes. Wipe out the inside of the microwave after since the sides are all steamy now it's easy to wipe and the vinegar takes away the smell.

                  1. re: greygarious

                    I'm with you on this one. I think the more fat in the pan, the better the bacon cooks. I cook it in a very hot oven 425 - 450 and use a disposable foil pan for easier cleanup. Sometimes, the bacon is "limp" while it's hot, but it will not cook more once you take it out of the pan, so you need to cook it to doneness.

                2. Did you try a thinner cut at some point in the last 3 years and still no dice?

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: bluemoon4515

                    I have stuck with the thick cuts. That's what the nicer bacon in the store seems to be these days. Maybe I should try thinner?

                    1. re: mutterer

                      Yes, the thicker cuts tend to be chewier than the thinner cuts.

                      In the frying pan, cook it over a low to medium low heat. Turn regularly, but it doesn't have to be too frequently.

                      When the bacon is about ready to take out, the color will be a deep reddish/golden brown (not black!) and the fat will be making small bubbles on the surface of the bacon. The bubbles are one of the best indicators. If you watch the fat on the surface of the bacon as you cook it, you'll see it go from big fat popping bubbles to much smaller, fine bubbles.

                      Remove bacon from pan and put on a thick layer of paper towels to drain. Let cool for a few minutes, and it should be crisp.

                      1. re: TorontoJo

                        Those bubbles are water, which you need to cook out to achieve a crisp result.

                      2. re: mutterer

                        I don't think you can get a thick-cut bacon to crisp up. Try the thinner cuts. Look for lots of fat, which is the center-cut, as opposed to the leaner, tougher back-cut bacon. The flavor is in the fat. If it curls up and gives you problems when you fry it, go to a kitchen store and invest in a cast-iron grill press, or just weight the ends down with a heavy spatula.

                        Fry it on medium-high until the fat part of the first side browns nicely, repeat on the second side (flip once). Drain on paper towels and wait a minute or two. If it still isn't crisp enough, nuke it on the paper towel for 30 seconds. You will succeed, it just takes practice!

                        1. re: elegraph

                          I disagree. I mainly only use thick sliced bacon. I'm so used to walking away while it's in the oven, that when I only have the regular sliced I almost always overcrisp or burn it since it's so freakin' thin.

                          And my thick sliced bacon comes out crispy, you just need to be a patient and give it time.

                    2. I agree the best way to get crispy (and flat) bacon is in the oven. I put mine on a cookie sheet at 350 or 400 (depending on how quickly I want it. ) I never preheat. Drain grease once if necessary.

                      If you do use a frying pan, you have to drain the grease a lot or it won't cook evenly or crisp well.

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: beggsy

                        okay, but i am still trying to answer a SPECIFIC question, which is: when it is in the oven, do I look for it to be crispy before i take it out? alternatively, in the fry pan, how is it supposed to look BEFORE i take it out so that it will be crispy after i take it out. sorry, but i just can't seem to get this and i need very specific advice. thanks.

                        1. re: mutterer

                          Each slice should be evenly golden brown over pretty much the whole slice. The darker brown it is, the crunchier it will get as it cools. I use my toaster oven or the microwave in a pinch. I use thick sliced bacon as well. My problem is watching it closely enough so it doesn't burn because it goes from golden to burned really quickly.

                          Also, are you taking it out of the pan and resting it on paper towels and patting off the grease? This may help, too.

                          If you haven't seen it, Chow has a video on this very subject so you can see exactly how it's done:


                          1. re: Jen76

                            thank you. that's exactly the kind of information i was looking for. so i look at the color? the thing that eludes me is that the texture is one way when it's in the pan and another after it leaves, but i guess that's not what i'm supposed to be focused on.

                          2. re: mutterer

                            Yes, it is crispy when I take it out. I haven't cooked bacon in a pan in years but I'm pretty sure it would have to be crispy when you take it out.

                        2. I am so surprised people don't mention doing bacon in the microwave more often. It turns out perfect every time and is a lot easier in many way. I take a platter, cover it with a double thickness of papertowel, lay the bacon strips on the papertowel, cover that with a single layer of papertowel and again perfect bacon every time! You can make it soft or crispy, you are in complete control. The last minute or so will make the difference. I usually cook it 5 mins at 50-60% power and again watch it the last minute, it sometimes needs a little more time, give it anohter 30 sec zap and see if it is how you like it. Best tasting bacon is done n the microwave IMO.

                          4 Replies
                          1. re: cheri

                            oh I should also mention it is a lot less greasy this way, the papertowels absorb ALL the grease, it is so much better in so many ways!

                            1. re: cheri

                              i don't think it cooks as evenly in the microwave as in does in a conventional oven

                            2. re: cheri

                              so when i'm "watching" in the last minute, what specifically am i watching for? that is what i don't get: what to look for to see whether it is done. thanks.

                              1. re: mutterer

                                It should be evenly medium brown all over and the ridges/bumps that are in direct contact with the pan are starting to turn dark brown. Flip the slices and get that side with the bumps turning dark brown. Pan heat should be medium to medium low, depending on your stove & pan.