I can’t remember when I started cooking bacon in the oven. However, I am sure that there is no going back to the skillet. Sorry, cast iron pans. I love you, but you’re not for bacon anymore. We’ll make some fantastic fried eggs together, I promise.
Cooking bacon in the oven on a sheet pan has changed the way we make breakfast. It cooks quickly and evenly, and it could not be easier to clean up – especially if you’re
lazy efficient like me and use aluminum foil to line the baking sheet. This method is a great way to make a lot of bacon at once, so it is great for large (or bacon-loving) families. The only limit is the size of your sheet pan.
But the best thing about cooking bacon in the oven is that this method is hands off. No more tending to wiggling, curling bacon whilst attempting to cook the rest of your breakfast (and dodging greasy splatters.) Put the bacon in the oven and forget it for about 22 minutes. Meanwhile, make french toast or scrambled eggs. Knit a sock. Contemplate nature. Admire your clean stovetop, which will not be splattered with bacon grease! (Don’t forget to set a timer!)
Why oven bacon is better
- It stays flat. No curling! There is no better bacon for a BLT.
- It cooks evenly. Every piece turns out crispy, end-to-end, with no flabby underdone spots or burnt tips.
- The process is hands-off. No tending, turning, or rearranging strips in the pan in the hope that they all cook evenly.
- No splattering. Tired of dodging dangerous pops of bacon fat? This bacon won’t splatter you with grease. If you’ve always dreamed of cooking bacon on your underwear without fear of injury, this method is for you. 😉
- Easy cleanup. Line your pan with foil for nearly zero cleanup time. Just peel back the edges and gather up the fat in a little pouch, and discard. Or pour the fat into a jar if you save your bacon fat for cooking.
The best type of bacon to cook in the oven
Thick-cut bacon works best for this method. We’ve tried thinner bacon, and the slices can be difficult to remove from the sheet pan without breaking. You can try using thin-cut bacon, but you’ll have to reduce the baking time. I would also recommend using a very thin spatula to remove it from the pan.
Why we don’t recommend using a rack for this method
A lot of recipes for cooking bacon in the oven call for cooking the bacon on an oven-safe wire rack over your sheet pan. While this method does allow the fat to drip away from the bacon, I don’t think it’s worth it, for a couple of important reasons.
First, using a rack does not improve the texture or speed up cooking time. In fact, I think it makes the texture more chewy and less crisp, which is not my preference. Rendered bacon fat, and fats and oils in general, conduct heat much better than air. Higher surface heat makes the bacon more crispy. Most of the fat can be drained off after cooking if that is a concern.
Second, using a rack results in… a dirty wire rack. It’s probably the worst thing to clean in the kitchen. I try to avoid picking baked-on food molecules out of dozens of tiny intersecting wires, thank you very much.
Ok, sometimes you need to use a skillet.
Even though we love oven cooked bacon, sometimes a recipe calls for using rendered bacon fat. In these cases, we use a skillet to cook the bacon, then remove it from the pan, leaving the rendered fat behind. We use this method for sautéeing onions for chili, and to brown chicken for coq au vin.
- 8 strips thick-cut bacon
- Preheat an oven to 400 degrees F.
- Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil (optional, but recommended!)
- Place bacon strips in a single layer on sheet pan, leaving some space around each strip. (They will shrink when cooking.)
- Bake on center oven rack for 20-22 minutes, depending on how well-done you like your bacon. Start checking the bacon after about 20 minutes, and every minute thereafter, to make sure it doesn't burn.
- Remove from oven. Drain on paper towels.
- Enjoy delicious bacon!
- Ovens can vary in temperature, so watch your bacon starting at about 20 minutes to make sure it doesn’t burn.
- Drain the bacon on paper towels immediately after it comes out of the oven, which will remove most of the excess fat. Draining immediately also results in crispier bacon.
- If you use foil for easy cleanup, make it even easier by letting the bacon fat solidify. Peel off the foil with the fat and toss it.