- Cooking bacon in the oven is easier, quicker, and cleaner than frying it on the stovetop.
- Lay your bacon out on a wire rack set in a rimmed baking sheet, and start it in a cold oven.
- The result is a large batch of evenly crisped bacon in about 15 minutes.
To cook bacon on the stovetop or in the oven, that is the question.
If you ask Cara Tobin, executive chef-owner of Honey Road restaurant in Burlington, Vermont, the answer is bacon in the oven. "It's way easier for me, especially if I'm making a full breakfast, to throw the bacon in the oven and not have to think about it," says Tobin, who feeds a family, adding that oven-baking simply just saves time and energy.
Why the oven is better than the stovetop
If you're used to cooking bacon in a skillet on the stove, you know it can get messy, fussy, and, and time-consuming. Here's why you should consider baking oven instead:
- It reduces the mess. No cleaning up bacon grease splatters later. Plus, laying the bacon on parchment paper or foil makes clean-up easier.
- It requires less hands-on time. Instead of flipping each strip and dodging sizzling fat, you just have to monitor the oven.
- It ensures the bacon cooks more evenly.
- It feeds a crowd more easily — if you need more bacon, all you need to do is to get a bigger sheet pan.
What to do with leftovers
Bacon leftovers aren't all that common for most of us. But, it can happen. In that case, wrap it in foil, place it in a plastic bag, and store it in the fridge. "Use it in salads, chop it into scrambled eggs, toss it into pasta. You can always find somewhere to put bacon," says Tobin. If you want to reheat it, spread it on a plate and microwave it for 30 seconds.
What to do with bacon grease
Regardless of your cooking method, you'll probably end up with some bacon grease. This could either feel like a pain or like a delightful opportunity — bacon grease adds a rich meaty flavor to even the simplest dishes.
Once it's cooled, scrape the grease into a small container with a lid and use it to sauté greens, fry eggs or bread, or even to bake with. Next time you're making chocolate chip cookies, replace half the fat that's called for with bacon fat. Store the bacon fat in the fridge for up to three months or freeze it indefinitely.
If you'd rather dispose of it, wait until it's cooled, then scrape it into a non-recyclable container or plastic bag. If you'd really like to go the extra mile, take a permanent marker and label it, "Cooking grease. Non-recyclable." Then, throw it away and pat yourself on the back for being a responsible citizen. Don't pour it down your drain or it could clog up your pipes as it cools and solidifies.
Unless you're charmed by the idea of standing over the stove, flipping your sizzling bacon, you may as well cook bacon in the oven. Just make sure to watch it more closely if you're working with especially thin-cut or sweeter bacon and to let it rest on paper towels or a brown paper bag for a moment before serving. You'll never go back.