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Nov 4, 2012 03:01 PM

Cooking bacon in the oven... why the hype?

So, OK, I read everywhere how much everyone LOVES cooking bacon in the oven. Well, I've done it many times and I don't see what the big deal is, other than it being rather hands-off and it's easy to cook a lot at once. Whenever I do it, the bacon doesn't really get crispy, but parts will burn. Also it creates a ton of smoke, I even set off the smoke alarm this morning.

I cook at 400 degrees, use center-cut bacon, and put the bacon on a cooling rack on a foil covered baking sheet. I generally do an entire package at once, which is like 12 or 16 slices I think. Oh and it also takes twice as long to even get into the flacid cooked stage than most instructions call for. My oven is electric, and I do live at about 5500 elevation.

So, what am I missing?

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  1. If the bacon is burning before crisping, lower the temp and cook longer. Might try different positions in the oven or turning the pan part way through cooking if that alone doesn't solve the problem. You're cooking in a single layer, right?

    There's nothing earth shattering about oven cooked bacon - you can make perfectly good, well-crisped bacon in a frying pan on low heat, too. People like the oven method because it yields good results (when done right) and because it's very easy and low maintenance.

    17 Replies
    1. re: cowboyardee

      I add further, that cooking directly on the metal pan/cookie sheet and in it's own rendered fat ....will crisp the bacon better. i would not recommend using glass or ceramic bake ware.

      1. re: fourunder

        I tend to agree, and I normally cook without a rack and directly in the sheet pan when I oven-cook bacon. That said, you should be able to get pretty decent results with either method if you do em right.

        1. re: cowboyardee

          Placing another sheet pan directly on top helps the bacon to cook evenly by pressing it down on the cooking surface of the sheet pan below. Remove it during the last few minutes to commence the browning, crisping stage.

          1. re: letsindulge

            The idea of a second sheet pan is one I have not heard of before, and I don't think it is at all necessary. Rashers lying flat on the sheet pan stay perfectly flat all by themselves, and render very thoroughly and evenly as they confit themselves in their own fat. Once they are brown and crisp, I use tongs to hold them up so excess fat drips off them, then lay them on paper toweling. I use 375F. Time varies according to the thickness of the slices.

        2. re: fourunder

          Bacon in the oven....baked to a point where it can be eaten right away...or pre-cooked with the rendered fat for future use

        3. re: cowboyardee

          Thanks, I've found pan frying in a cast iron to yield the best bacon, and my big Foreman grill is the easiest :) It's just annoying to lug that thing out just to cook bacon, as I don't use it for anything else these days. I just read everywhere about how much everyone loves the oven method, and I like to cook large batches so I have extra to add to salads or sandwiches.

          I could try a lower temp for longer... but I'm already doing 400 for 30 minutes... at that point I might as well just pan fry in batches :) Yes, doing in a single layer.

          1. re: juliejulez

            The bacon should be layered carefully with just a smidge to seperate it and have your oven on a medium to low heat. Set the bacon out befor you go to bed and rthe minute you are up pop it in the oven and cook it slower than in a pan. this will crisp it up,and you can pour off the bacon grease and use it anothew day.

            1. re: juliejulez

              For ordinary supermarket bacon, that's way too hot and too long. 375, check at 15 min.
              Since I do not use a rack, the bacon continues to finish cooking once it is out of the oven.
              Typically I pull the pan at 15 minutes and wait another 10-15 before removing the bacon from the pan, both to finish it and for safety's sake, let the temp of the pan and fat drop a bit before attempting to pour off the fat into a jar kept in the fridge.

              1. re: greygarious

                Hi, grey! Got the family coming in in a couple of weeks so seeing this thread was good. After you remove from oven, does the meat stay warm enough for serving? We keep our house so cold :) but I do have a convection MW that would be big enough to hold it on low. Your input is appreciated. C

                1. re: c oliver

                  Hi C - you've been AWOL for ages, nice that you're back!
                  I think it stays warm enough but the microwave is always handy. I use a regular microwave to reheat what I take from the fridge if I'm making a club sandwich. If I'm making eggs I put the bacon into the pan when the eggs are almost done. Since it is thoroughly cooked, you don't want to subject it to prolonged higher heat.

                  1. re: greygarious

                    Was on hiatus for a while but I'm baaaacccckkkk :)

                    Thanks for the additional info. Doing a pound on top of the stove just seems way more tedious than I want to deal with. Would rather play with grandbabies :)

                    1. re: c oliver

                      Wellllllll, we wound up with quite tasty bacon but it took a LONG time. We're at 6400' elevation and sometimes I have to take that into effect with the oven. Obviously I should have with this. 375 for 15 minutes and very little was happening. I bumped it up 10 degrees at a time and still much. Finally set it on 400 and convection and made bacon for the family!!! I'm going to try when the kids leave and doublecheck. But it was definitely tasty. Thanks.

                      1. re: c oliver

                        I do thin bacon at 425 and thick bacon at 375.....

                        1. re: c oliver

                          I live at sea level and do my bacon at 400 for at least a half hour.

                          1. re: coll

                            It's interesting that people have so many different experiences with this. I did have an appliance repair person tell me that ovens are notoriously inaccurate and that those little thingies that you put in to check it aren't accurate either. Oh well.

                            1. re: c oliver

                              Gas ovens are usually off by 50 to 75 degrees, I've been told by experts. Electric not so much.

              2. re: cowboyardee

                Agreed and you can also cook a full pound in one session.

              3. I prefer cooking bacon in a wide skillet, either an all clad or an old cast iron one for a few reasons.

                It's easier to pour the grease out of the skillet to save for later than a sheet pan.
                The skillet is easier to wash that the sheet pan and rack.
                Skillet makes plenty of bacon for the two of us.
                The oven is too hot for bacon cause I have a pan of biscuits ready to go in.
                The oven is too cool for bacon because I'm keeping pancakes warm in it.

                My big cast iron skillet does a half pound in one batch which is plenty for us. If I needed more I would look into the oven methods.

                1. I think cooking in the oven is a revelation, but mostly because it works so well if you need to prepare bacon in any quantity. I prefer pan-frying, and that works if cooking maybe 6-7 slices, which is plenty for myself and my kids. If hosting a breakfast party or brunch, cooking in the oven gets the quantity up and the stress level down, and allows me to focus on other stuff.

                  1. I have never had smoke---try 350*. I lay the whole pound of sliced bacon out on a big bun pan (slices overlap slightly) and bake it until it is nearly done then soak out as much of the fat as I can using paper towel on a thick pad of newspaper. (Yes, I like bacon fat but there are health considerations) . I then keep the bacon in refrigerator or freezer until wanted then wrap a couple of slices in paper towel and zap it for 20-30 seconds; it gets really crisp, crisper than I can fry it. The convenience factor is huge.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Querencia

                      Thanks for this tip. I just tried it. Amazing!

                    2. It is easier and produces flatter, more uniformly cooked bacon. DO NOT use a rack, bake it directly on aluminium foil on a sheet pan. Thin bacon, 425 degrees. Thick bacon, 375 degrees. Begin checking either at 12 minutes. I have NEVER had smoke from this in many many years of doing it this way.

                      Sooner or later, cooking bacon in cast iron will harm its nonstick finish, due to the sugar in the bacon.

                      22 Replies
                      1. re: sandylc

                        When I open a new package of bacon, I seperate it into groups of 4 slices (just enough for the 2 of us). I then wrap it in foil and freeze the packages. I can then take a package out the night before, open the wrap in the morning, spread the thawed slices out on the foil, place on a baking sheet with the foil edges slightly curved up. I then bake the bacon. The foil contains the fat making a pool for it to cook in. After cooling, the solidified fat can be thrown away with the foil. Very neat and easy!

                          1. re: sandylc

                            except for throwing away bacon fat!!!!

                            1. re: LaLa

                              oops, I missed that one, didn't I? A sin, for sure....

                              1. re: LaLa

                                And throwing out foil which is incredibly easy to recycle.

                                1. re: smtucker

                                  Our recycler will not take foil!

                                2. re: LaLa

                                  How much bacon fat do you use. I keep a pint jar at the most and that's too much.

                              2. re: randyjl

                                I do the same separation of bacon, as it's just me. Sometimes 3 slices, sometimes 4. Having itquickly defrostable for either breakfast or using in other recipes is handy.

                                However, I still don't bake it in the oven; a fry pan works as I'm just cooking it for myself. I *have* put it in the microwave when I needed crispy bacon quickly and didn't want to dirty a fry pan.

                              3. re: sandylc

                                "Sooner or later, cooking bacon in cast iron will harm its nonstick finish, due to the sugar in the bacon."

                                I strongly disagree with this.

                                Also, in my list of good reasons to cook bacon in a skillet I forgot one of my favorites. After pouring off the excess grease into the bacon grease jar, I still have the good bacon fond in my skillet. Very good for cooking something else in later that day or even the next day.

                                1. re: kengk

                                  With you about the aromatic fond.Salmon is something I will do a two way plan for as are grilled cheese sandwiches or sometimes potatoes.

                                  1. re: kengk

                                    Oh yeah, love the bacon fond. Throw some Brussels sprouts or green beans in there and scrape up all the goodness! I disagree with the cast iron statement as well - my cast iron cooks a lot of bacon and it has a beautiful seasoning coat.

                                    1. re: kengk

                                      I have experienced MANY times my eggs not sliding around well in a well-aged iron skillet post bacon cooking in that same skillet.

                                      1. re: sandylc

                                        I cook anything I can in my CI skillets, including bacon. I find I have to cut the strips in half in order to avoid hot spots and get the entire strip to cook without raw ends or burned centers, guess my preferred skillet is too big for the burner (common in residential appliances, in my experience). But I honestly don't remember cooking bacon and immediately thereafter eggs. The fond, however, is just the bomb for brussels sprouts! And next day, after a little salt scour, eggs cook just fine. Not sure what the cowboys did.

                                        1. re: blaireso

                                          I think they used sand. Down by the ol' stream. Where they did their wash-up.

                                          1. re: sandylc

                                            At first I thought you were talking about Christopher Kimball washing skillets using sand down by the stream and about fell out of my chair laughing!

                                            1. re: LindaWhit

                                              Naw, he'd underpay someone to do it while he recited folksy prose from his mazerati.

                                              OK, CK fans, attack!

                                              I really am somewhat teasing.

                                              1. re: sandylc

                                                I really like Bridget, Julia, and the other ATK/CC folks, and learning from them means tolerating Bowtie Boy. I'm about full up, though, after the radio show today, where he pronounced "hoisin" as "hoi-SANN", using the same French pronunciation and emphasis as in "gratin". And to think that I considered it a stretch when on the show where they overly overhauled Chicken Marbella, he said "Mar-BAY-a". Since it's named for a Spanish town he's technically right, but it's not an original Spanish dish.
                                                And if memory serves, he says "tapas", not the "tapath" he'd say if he were being a consistent stickler.

                                                1. re: greygarious

                                                  I've only ever pronounced Marbella that way (but have never cooked it).

                                                  Neither have I *ever* heard tapath from any native Spanish speakers, letht they have a lithp.

                                                  1. re: linguafood

                                                    wait, really? i lived in Barcelona - all the "z's" and "c's" were always lisped, every time. Barthelona! other parts of Spain too.

                                              2. re: LindaWhit

                                                that's hysterical! this is probably after he harvested and shocked his wheat by hand (my dad actually did this back in the day).

                                        2. re: kengk

                                          i only buy sugar-fee bacon anyway.