While there are a number of different ways to prepare bacon for meals, cooking it in the oven is arguably the best method. Not only is it a quick and simple procedure, but it also helps to avoid dreadful stovetop splatters, while cooking the bacon evenly, and ensuring it has the perfect texture. Whether you like your bacon to be on the chewier or crispier side, this detailed guide will help you cook the ideal and most delicious bacon in the oven.
Choosing the right type of bacon
The first thing you need to do is decide which type of bacon you would like to cook. There is a wide variety of bacon types available, all with different thicknesses and sizes, and the choice for most people usually boils down to the crispiness and the desired taste. While thinner bacon varieties are often crunchier, and therefore more popular, they are also much more fragile and delicate.
It’s important to remember that the thickness of the bacon also affects the preparation time, which is why this oven-baked recipe should be used as a guideline, not a rule. Always keep an eye on your bacon, and check it often, to see how long it takes to reach the desired texture and golden color.
Cooking bacon in the oven
Regardless of your preferred taste and texture, here is a simple way of cooking bacon in the oven perfectly every time:
1. Preheating the oven
Preheat the oven to 200 °C (400 °F) and place the oven rack in the middle to evenly distribute the heat. Alternatively, you can put the bacon in a cool oven and let it cook as the oven heats up, but it will take much longer to achieve the desired results.
2. Preparing the baking sheet
Choose a larger baking sheet and carefully line it with aluminum foil. Make sure the foil covers the sides of the baking sheet, as well as the bottom, to capture the grease and make cleaning that much easier.
3. Arranging the bacon
If you like your bacon a bit chewier in the middle, and with a more prominent smoky flavor, lay the bacon directly on top of the aluminum foil. Make sure it’s arranged in a single layer, spacing the slices evenly apart, and being careful not to overlap them. This will prevent the bacon from sticking, and ensure it’s cooked consistently.
For lighter and crispier bacon, you can also place it on an oven-safe cooling rack, which will allow the slices to cook evenly from all sides. Remember to put the rack inside a foil-lined baking sheet as well, to catch any extra grease that might drain away.
Now is also an ideal time to consider elevating the flavor of your bacon by seasoning it with anything from brown sugar to freshly ground black pepper or chili powder.
4. Cooking the bacon
Bacon should ideally be baked until golden brown, approximately 15-20 minutes. However, the exact cooking time can depend on the thickness, desired crispiness, as well as your oven. That is why it’s recommended to monitor your bacon closely, starting at about 10 minutes in, and checking it every couple of minutes, until it reaches the desired color and texture.
5. Transferring and serving
Once the bacon is finally cooked, remove the baking pan from the oven, and carefully transfer the bacon onto a plate lined with paper towels, to drain the excess grease, and allow the bacon to crisp up. Move the bacon to a clean plate, serve immediately, and enjoy!
Saving the leftover grease
If you want to save the collected bacon grease for frying or adding flavor to meals, simply pour it into a glass or metal container while the baking sheet is still warm, and store it in the fridge for future use. If, however, you don’t feel like saving the grease, allow it to cool down and solidify in the pan, before crumpling up the aluminum foil, and discarding.
Being a quick and simple way of preparation, without any splatter or mess, cooking bacon in the oven is arguably the best, crunchiest and most delicious way of making this all-time favorite dish.