How to Make Perfect Bacon

Plate of bacon
Amy Neunsinger / Getty Images
  • 01 of 10

    Place Package of Bacon on Cutting Board

    Place the package of bacon on your cutting board
    Place the package of bacon on your cutting board. Photo © Danilo Alfaro

    I generally opt for the low-sodium variety of bacon if it's available — not so much for health reasons, but because I find I get really, really thirsty after I eat the high-sodium kind.

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  • 02 of 10

    Cut the Whole Package In Half

    Step 2: Cut the Whole Package In Half
    Cut the Whole Package In Half. Photo © Danilo Alfaro

    That's right, you're going to cut the whole package right down the middle. Don't worry, it'll be OK — I promise.

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  • 03 of 10

    What's Going On Here?

    Step 3: What's Going On Here?
    What's Going On Here?. Photo © Danilo Alfaro

    You'll see in just a moment. For now, just wrap up one-half of the package and put it back in the fridge. We're only using one of the halves.

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  • 04 of 10

    Arrange the Bacon Slices on a Baking Pan

    Step 4: Arrange the Bacon Slices on a Baking Pan
    Arrange the Bacon Slices on a Baking Pan. Photo © Danilo Alfaro

    One reason we've done it this way is to make it easier to fit all the slices on your baking pan. Not all pans are the same size, and if your pan is more narrow than the length of your bacon, you have to lay the slices lengthwise. But that leaves some space at the end of the pan you can't use. Using half-sized bacon solves that problem.

    A bigger issue, though, is that as you go draping those long slices of bacon across your baking pan, you're almost certain to stretch them out a little...MORE bit. This makes the centers of the slices thinner than the ends, which leads to uneven cooking. Using half-slices prevents stretching and gives you more evenly cooked bacon. Brilliant, isn't it?

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  • 05 of 10

    Place the Pan in a Cold Oven

    Step 5: Place the Pan in a Cold Oven
    Place the Pan in a Cold Oven. Photo © Danilo Alfaro

    This part is important. Don't pre-heat the oven. Just slide the pan of bacon into a cold oven and close the door. Turn it on and set it to 400°F. Set a kitchen timer for about 17 minutes and then just walk away.

    The reason for starting in a cold oven is that bacon should be cooked slowly, with low heat. Even if you're cooking it in a skillet, the skillet should be cold to start with. But skillet bacon is for newbies.

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  • 06 of 10

    Prepare a Heat-Proof Ramekin and Cheesecloth-Lined Strainer

    Step 6: Prepare a Heat-Proof Ramekin and Cheesecloth-Lined Strainer
    Prepare a Heat-Proof Ramekin and Cheesecloth-Lined Strainer. Photo © Danilo Alfaro

    What's with the hardware? I can't bring myself to waste perfectly good bacon fat. But I don't like to see any little-roasted bits in my bacon fat, so I pour it through a mesh strainer lined with a few layers of cheesecloth.

    Incidentally, I strain everything through a few layers of cheesecloth — sauces, stocks, you name it. Needless to say, I go through a lot of cheesecloth.

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  • 07 of 10

    Remove the Perfectly Cooked Bacon From the Oven

    Step 7: Remove the Perfectly Cooked Bacon From the Oven
    Remove the Perfectly Cooked Bacon From the Oven. Photo © Danilo Alfaro

    As soon as the bacon is golden brown, but not excessively crisp, it's done. The exact time will depend largely on the thickness of the bacon slices, but it's going to be somewhere in the neighborhood of 17 to 20 minutes. The last minute can make a big difference, so watch it carefully toward the end.

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  • 08 of 10

    Drain Bacon on Paper Towels

    Drain Bacon on Paper Towels
    Drain Bacon on Paper Towels. Gwendolyn Richards/Flickr

    Have another pan or a large platter lined with paper towels at the ready so you can get the bacon off the pan as quickly as possible — the longer it sits on the hot pan, the longer it keeps cooking.

    If you were concerned that by cutting the package of bacon in half, your bacon would be too short, I think you'll find that this bacon fits into your mouth perfectly.

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  • 09 of 10

    Strain Bacon Fat Through Cheesecloth Into Ramekin

    Step 9: Strain Bacon Fat Through Cheesecloth Into Ramekin
    Strain Bacon Fat Through Cheesecloth Into Ramekin. Photo © Danilo Alfaro

    Did I not mention what a ramekin is? It's that little white dish you see in the picture there. They're awesome: compact, heat-proof, totally versatile. I mostly use them for crème brûlée, but you can use them to make mini-chocolate cakes or mini-frittatas — anything where you want to serve individual portions. Like hot bacon fat.

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  • 10 of 10

    Chill and Store Bacon Fat in the Fridge

    Chill and Store Bacon Fat in the Fridge
    Chill and Store Bacon Fat in the Fridge. Photo © Danilo Alfaro

    Okay, no, we're not serving the bacon fat. We're just storing it in the fridge. Next time you want to sauté something, try using a dollop of this. The other night I was making rice, and I dropped a spoonful of it into the water right before I covered the pot to let it simmer. Genius.

    That's it — perfect bacon that fits in your baking pan and your mouth. Also, other than the fat that's absorbed by the paper towels, not an ounce goes to waste. Which is good, because, with bacon this...MORE perfect, you won't want to waste a single bite.

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