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How to Cook Bacon (all methods with video)

There are many ways you can cook bacon and we’re going to cover them all here! Whether you are cooking it up as a breakfast protein, a side snack, or as the topping on a dish – knowing how to cook bacon easily and crispy, is an essential skill for any home chef.

three different kinds of bacon cooked three ways displayed on parchment paper next to a spoon of bacon grease

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Choosing Bacon

Bacon comes in many varieties. Even just from the local grocer you can get flavors such as maple, regular cut, thick cut, thin cut, and even reduced sodium. In all our years purchasing bacon from the local grocer, I can tell you that even 10 packages of regular cut bacon can all be different thicknesses. This will depend on brand and lot number. It is what it is and there’s not much you can change about that. The directions you’ll find below on how to cook bacon, are all meant to be general directions for regular cut bacon you purchase from the local grocer. But let’s talk about other bacon choices as well.

three different kinds of bacon cooked and displayed on a platter

Note: The thicker the bacon the chewier it will be. Thin bacon will cook more quickly and be more on the crunchy side.

Other bacon types you might not be as familiar with are Woodland or Farm-raised bacon, bacon ends, Canadian bacon, slab bacon, lardons, and even pancetta. The general differences in these bacon types comes down to thickness and fat content. While American Bacon and Woodland/Farm bacon in the United States is cut from the same section of the pig, you’ll notice a difference in thickness (woodland is thicker) and typically in seasoning (fresh farm bacon is not as salty). To learn more about the types of bacon available click here.

Nitrates: While nitrates are naturally occurring in the air, soil, and water in some cases, it is also an additive found in some of the foods to stop the growth of bacteria and preserve color. Look for bacons labeled “natural” or “nitrate-free” from the local grocer (or simply purchase from a local farmer), for the healthiest option of bacon. The ingestion of nitrates on a regular basis can lead to heart disease and diabetes.

holding a piece of air fryer bacon

How to Cook Bacon in the Oven

Cooking bacon in the oven can be a game-changer for those that don’t want to deal with as big of a mess on their stovetop or have the need to prepare large quantities of bacon all at once. If you’re like me and have a large family, going through 1-2 pounds of bacon just for breakfast isn’t unusual. If you’re going to be serving up a brunch menu to friends and family, this will certainly save you time and possibly money. Cooking bacon in the oven ensures that all pieces get an equal cooking time and cook evenly. No one gets stuck with the burnt or rubbery piece.

To cook bacon in the oven, line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil. You can choose to add a cooling rack on inside and on top of the lined baking sheet or not. Some say this will result in a faster, more crispy bacon due to heat circulating fully around the bacon. Lay the bacon out evenly, without overlapping, and bake between 350F and 400F for 25 – 14 minutes depending on your desired crispness.

Oven Cooked Bacon on a foil lined baking sheet

The range in time and temperature here allows you to accommodate for any other dishes you may be cooking in the oven at the same time. There is no need for flipping the bacon. Once done, remove the sheet pan(s) from the oven using oven mits and transfer the perfect bacon using tongs to a paper towel lined plate to drain of any excess grease. Check the bacon frequently as it cooks and take it out as soon as it looks like good, crispy bacon. You’ll be set.

Note: Grease still does splatter even in the oven. You may find that you still need to clean your oven of any grease splatter after all is said and done.

How to Cook Bacon on the Stovetop

Cast Iron is by far the superior product for cooking bacon on the stovetop. While you can use non-stick pans and even stainless steel pans, we highly suggest cast iron for it’s longevity. Not only that, but you will actively season the cast iron as you cook your bacon in it and can then reserve the bacon fat for later use.

To cook bacon in your cast iron skillet, start with one that is large enough to handle your bacon. You’ll want at least a 12-inch skillet to handle five pieces of full-length bacon at a time. If using a smaller skillet, you’ll need to cut your bacon in half for best results. Preheat the skillet over low heat. Cast iron is known for it’s heat retention and even heat distribution. You’ll want to exercise patience here as too hot of a pan will result in blackened bacon and a lot of bacon smoke. Check out this article on troubleshooting heat distribution in a cast iron skillet.

woodland pork on a platter

You’ll know the skillet is ready when it reaches an infrared temperature of 375/380F, the seasoning/oil on the skillet becomes wet looking, and/or hovering your hand about 3 inches above the center, gives off a good heat. Carefully, using tongs, lay the bacon away from you. You should hear an immediate sizzle and start to see fat render and sparkle off of the bacon.

Repeat the laying in of the bacon quickly, for as many strips as you can fit in your skillet whilst not crowding the pan. Cover the skillet with a mesh splatter guard. This will help to contain the grease from the bacon as it cooks. Allow the bacon to remain undisturbed for about 5 minutes. Remove the screen and act quickly, using oven mits to hold the cast iron steady and tongs to flip over the bacon to the uncooked side. Return the mesh splatter guard and allow to cook for another 5 minutes. Repeat as needed for 1-2 additional minutes until you’ve reached your desired crispiness.

farm raised woodland bacon cooked in a cast iron skillet

Remove the bacon from the skillet and set on a paper towel lined plate. Allow about 5 minutes to cool and repeat the process for remaining bacon. A full pound of bacon will typically take about 20 minutes to cook in it’s entirety. Allow the skillet to cool about 10-15 minutes after turning off the heat before reserving any bacon fat in a mason jar for future use.

How to clean a skillet after cooking bacon

Clean the skillet once cooled and empty by running under hot water in the sink and scrubbing with a soft bristled skillet scrubber. For tough, stuck on messes, boil some water in the skillet and use a wooden spatula to help get the burnt on mess loose. Allow to cool and clean as directed previously. Then take a paper towel, dampened with a bit of reserved bacon grease and rub on the dried skillet. Place over low heat for about 3 minutes, long enough for the oil to be absorbed into the skillet. Skillet will still look shiny and slightly wet. Allow to cool fully before storing.

Note: Most bacon purchased at supermarkets have sugar added to them, which when fried in a skillet can create a very sticky mess. If needed, you can use modern dish soap with your bristle brush to clean your skillet.

How to Cook in the Air Fryer

Cooking bacon in the Air Fryer is possibly the easiest method. If you only need crispy, crunchy bacon enough for two and want to truly contain the mess and smell – this is the method for you! Most Air Fryers have a grate within the basket, giving you the same method and outcome of an oven but on a smaller, more contained scale. If you’re not concerned with saving the bacon grease, add a piece of bread under the basket. This will help to absorb any bacon grease as it cooks.

air fryer bacon

To cook the bacon, layer slices in the basket as flat as possible. Overlapping slightly here is okay. The bacon will shrink a bit as it is cooked. Air Fry at 380F for about 8 minutes with the shake reminder on. When the shake reminder sounds, use tongs to flip the bacon strips if needed and return the air fryer basket to the air fryer to complete the cooking. Simple, quick, and by far the least messy of the options.

Some tips for Air Frying Bacon

  1. If making batches of bacon, drain or wipe the excess bacon grease between batches.
  2. The smoke point of bacon fat is 400F, so keep your cooking temperature between 350F and 380F.
  3. You do not need to spray or line the air fryer basket. The bacon grease will act as a natural lubricant against the teflon style coating.
  4. Some Air Fryers will recommend preheating. With our Cosori 5.8 quart, we don’t find that necessary.
  5. Some Air Fryer bloggers recommend adding 1/2 cup of water to the bottom of the basket before baking the bacon to cut down on grease splatter and smoke. I have not tried this yet as I’ve seen good results with the bread method listed above.

How to Cook Bacon in the Microwave

To make bacon in the microwave, line a plate with about 4 paper towels. You want a nice thick bedding for as much grease to be absorbed as possible. Add the slices of bacon, careful not to overlap. Microwave on high for 5-6 minutes, flipping half way through. Check the bacon for desired crispiness. Add another 30 seconds to 1 minute as needed. Do note that your microwave could become a bit of a mess this way as there is no paper towel on top to catch any bouncing grease.

Pro Tip

If you have yet to master making bacon, be prepared to silence the smoke alarms in your home. Cooking bacon can get smokey quickly and modern smoke alarms are sensitive.

How to Cook Bacon Video

What to do with bacon grease?

DO NOT pour it down the drain! This is not good for your pipes. A few options are letting it cool slightly and storing in a mason jar with a lid, which can then be stored in the refrigerator and constantly added to. Or wait until it has completely cooled and solidified, then scrape into a trash can. When saving the bacon grease you can use cheesecloth to strain any hard or thick bits out. We typically just save it all, but for a “cleaner” look and removing any burnt pieces, you’ll want to strain. Also note that you want to use a thick glass or metal can for storage and not a thin glass that could shatter nor a plastic container that could melt.

Bacon Grease in a mason jar with a spoon and surrounded by bacon

How to remove the bacon smell after cooking

While some of us love the smell of bacon, they even make candles for it, some do not like how it lingers. To fight the lingering odor, use the oven’s exhaust fan or crack a window while cooking. Once the cooking is done, a bowl of vinegar on the counter near the stovetop can help to capture particles in the air.

How to clean bacon grease splatter

Chances are you’ll always get a bit of splatter from the bacon grease when cooking on the stovetop or microwave. The best cleaners I’ve found to aid in the aftermath are dawn dish soap on a wet sponge or a homemade cleaner using vinegar, lemon essential oils, a pump of dawn dish soap, and water wiped away with paper towels. Of course, please wait until your stove has completely cooled before attempting to clean. These methods also work in the oven. However, depending on how many times this happens between cleanings, you may need to use a legitimate oven cleaner.

FAQs about bacon storage

Yes! Store in a large Ziploc bag or vacuum sealed bag with as much air removed as possible for up to 3 months.

Cooked bacon will last up to 5 days in an airtight container.

The easiest way is sandwiching it between two paper towels on a plate and microwaving in 30 second increments. To reheat a lot of bacon at once, place it on a lined baking sheet in a 350F oven for 10-15 minutes. Thaw frozen slices in the refrigerator overnight before reheating with one of the methods above.

bacon with a bite taken out

More Bacon Recipes

Whether you’re looking for bacon to be the star of the show or as an added delicious bonus, you’ll find our favorite recipes utilizing bacon below.

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How To Cook Bacon (Oven, Air Fryer, Skillet, Microwave)

Want to know how to cook the perfect bacon? We're covering every method of cooking bacon here so you get juicy, crispy, bacon every time!
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Course Breakfast, Snack
Cuisine American
Servings 6
Calories 4069 kcal


  • Air Fryer
  • Cast Iron Skillet
  • Tongs
  • Paper Towels
  • Splatter Guard


  • 1 pound bacon
  • slice of bread optional


  • Air Fryer: Place a piece of bread at the bottom of the air fryer, under the grate. Lay the bacon, about 5 strips at a time, in the air fryer. It is okay if they overlap a bit. Air fry at 380F for 8 minutes with the shake reminder on, and flipping at the halfway point using a pair of tongs. Discard bread when finished cooking all of the bacon and it has cooled enough to handle.
  • Skillet: Preheat the cast iron skillet to 375F or medium-low heat. Place approximately 5 strips of bacon, cut in half if needed, into the skillet. Allow for a bit of spacing so the bacon doesn't stick to each other. Cook for 5 minutes on one side, undisturbed, and flip to cook on the other side for another 5 minutes. Use a mesh guard to reduce splatter.
  • Oven Method 1: Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil. Place the bacon strips on the foil and bake at 375F for 18 minutes. No need to flip.
  • Oven Method 2: Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil. Place a cookie rack on top of the foil to fit inside the baking sheet. Spray with non-stick spray. Place the bacon strips on the cookie rack and bake at 375F for 15 minutes and check for desired doneness. No need to flip.
  • Mircowave: Line a plate with about 4 paper towels to create a thick bedding for as much grease to be absorbed as possible. Add the slices of bacon, careful not to overlap. Microwave on high for 5-6 minutes, flipping half way through. Check the bacon for desired crispiness.
  • All Methods: Once bacon is finished cooking, be sure to move to a plate lined with paper towels to drain of excess grease.



Calories: 4069kcalFat: 451gSaturated Fat: 177gPolyunsaturated Fat: 51gMonounsaturated Fat: 204gCholesterol: 431mgSodium: 680mg
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