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How to cook bacon

Bacon is a versatile food that can be eaten by itself, as part of a traditional breakfast or even as an ingredient in other more complex dishes like chicken, bacon and leek pasta or pigs in blankets. Bacon is also a cheap source of protein and a great way to give your food loads of flavour with just a little meat.

For more tips on how you can keep your shopping costs down while still supporting higher welfare and eating a balanced diet, check out our eating better on a budget article.

How should bacon be cooked?
There are many ways to cook bacon, you can grill it, fry it, bake it or even microwave it. But to really get the best bacon experience, we believe you have to go all the way back to the supermarket and ensure that when selecting your bacon you look for the RSPCA Assured logo. Find out which supermarkets stock RSPCA Assured bacon.

What is the easiest way to cook bacon?
The easiest way to cook bacon is to dry fry it, which basically goes: pan, heat, bacon, cook. But if you’ve got your hands full grilling sausages and scrambling eggs, you might prefer to cook your bacon in the oven. The results are often a little more crispy but just as delicious.

How do you cook bacon in a frying pan?
The most popular way to cook bacon is in a frying pan. You don’t need to add any oil since the bacon releases its own fat to cook in. Once the bacon starts to buckle and curl, be ready with your trusty kitchen tongs to flip it over and keep flipping to ensure it browns evenly and the fat renders throughout.

What tools do you need to cook bacon on the stove?
A frying pan. It can be a good heavy skillet or a non-stick pan. Some pans come with raised ridges that allow the fat to drip through and away from the bacon keeping it crispy.

A good pair of tongs. You’re going to be turning your bacon quite a lot and while you can use a fork, the bacon often slips off and you might scratch your pan.

How do you cook bacon step by step?

Place five to six rashers of bacon in your hot pan, ensuring they’re not overlapping.

  1. Cook over a medium heat flipping regularly
    • For chewy bacon, cook for 2 to 3 minutes
    • For crispy bacon, cook for 5 to 6 minutes
  2. Transfer your cooked bacon to a plate lined with kitchen roll and let it rest for a few minutes
  3. Serve and enjoy

Do I need to flip bacon?
When cooking your bacon in a frying pan, you need to flip it regularly. So make sure you’ve got your tongs ready.

Do you need oil for cooking bacon on the stove?
No, you don’t. Your bacon might stick to the pan initially, but it’s quite a fatty cut of meat and will release its own juice to cook in pretty quickly.

What to do with the fat from your bacon?
When you remove your bacon from the pan, it will be a bit greasy, so it’s best to drain it off. Let your bacon rest on a plate with some kitchen roll, on a brown paper bag or even yesterday’s newspaper.

Saving your bacon (drippings)
After cooking your bacon, you will no doubt have some fat left over in your pan (your grandma used to call this dripping) and you can use it to add flavour to your other culinary creations. Whatever you do, don’t pour it down the sink as it can block your drain.

How to store bacon drippings
To store your bacon dripping, you need to pour it through a strainer while it’s still warm, not hot, into a glass jar or container. This is important as the bits of bacon can cause it to go off quickly. You can now store your dripping in the fridge. It will go solid, so you can spread it like butter or let it warm up and liquefy before use.

Some uses for bacon drippings
It may seem strange to us now to use bacon dripping but in the past, it was quite common to add it to other meals to add flavour. Here are a few suggestions for what you can use bacon dripping for.

  • Drizzle it over vegetables before roasting them instead of oil
  • Use it to fry burgers or sausages in
  • Use it instead of butter in baking
  • Spread it on some toast
  • Fry eggs or omelettes in it
  • Add it to mashed potatoes instead of butter

How to make the best bacon in the oven

It might not be the most traditional way to cook your bacon, but it does leave you and your hobs free to concentrate on other things; like your RSPCA Assured eggs, whether you’re having them scrambled or fried.

Do I cook the bacon first or the eggs?
If you’re cooking your bacon on the hobs and you’ve got the hands (or the help) to juggle your pans and get everything served up hot together, we would say start your bacon first but have your eggs ready to go.

What are the advantages of cooking bacon in the oven?

  • It’s hands-off. You don’t need to look after your bacon, flipping and turning it every few minutes to make sure it doesn’t burn. Once you’ve got your bacon on the wire rack, pop it in the oven and that’s it until it’s cooked.
  • Less mess. When you fry bacon, grease gets everywhere, but cooking in the oven means no splatter and minimal cleanup.
  • Cook more bacon at once. When cooking on the hobs, you’re limited by the size of your frying pan but when you use the oven you can lay out more bacon, and it will all cook evenly. Cooking bacon in the oven is great when you’re cooking for a group of people.
  • Perfect every time. Cooking bacon in the oven is the way chefs do it and the reason they do is that it comes out perfect every time.

How to cook perfect bacon in the oven
A preheated oven and metal baking rack are essential to getting the perfect bacon from your oven, but perfection starts before you even turn your oven on. Getting the perfect bacon means getting the perfect cut, so you can get your bacon just the way you want it.

  • Thin-cut bacon: quick cooking and crispy on your plate
  • Medium-cut bacon: a bit less crunch and a bit more flavour
  • Thick-cut bacon: takes a little longer but it’s worth the wait for thicker, chewier bacon

What do you need to cook bacon in the oven?

  • A preheated oven. It’s important to only put your bacon into a well-heated oven, it will ensure it cooks evenly.
  • A metal baking rack. This allows the fat to run off the bacon, keeping it crispy and also means you can collect the bacon dripping for later.
  • Tin foil. Remember to line your baking tray before you start cooking to help with the cleanup afterwards.

How to best cook bacon in the oven

  1. Preheat your oven to 200ºC and line a baking tray with tin foil
  2. Place your metal baking rack on top of the tin foil
  3. Lay your rashers of bacon on top of the rack, ensuring none of them overlap. Remember: they’re going to shrink, so it’s fine if they’re touching
  4. Put your baking tray in the oven and use the following baking times depending on the thickness of the bacon:
    • Thin: 10 to 15 minutes
    • Medium: 15 to 20 minutes
    • Thick: 20 to 25 minutes
  5. Once your bacon is ready, remove it from the oven and let it rest for a few minutes
  6. Transfer your bacon to a plate and enjoy

Should you flip bacon in the oven?
Cooking bacon in the oven is totally hands-off. You don’t need to flip it in the oven because the wire rack helps circulate the heat.

Can you cook bacon in a microwave?
If you’re in a rush and just can’t wait for your bacon, it’s OK to cook it in the microwave. It only takes a few minutes but it won’t provide a crispy texture.

How to cook bacon in the microwave

  1. Place two or three paper towels in a microwave-safe dish
  2. Arrange the bacon in a single layer on paper towels
  3. Cover the bacon with another paper towel
  4. Microwave on high for one minute per rasher
  5. Remove and let your bacon rest on the plate for one minute before serving

Note: The bacon will look a little undercooked when it comes out of the microwave as there will be carry-over cooking. This is when the food doesn’t stop cooking when you remove it from the microwave, so the meat’s interior gets warmer even as the outside grows cooler.

Where to buy RSPCA Assured bacon
You can find RSPCA Assured bacon in supermarkets across the country. To see which supermarkets stock RSPCA Assured bacon and other products, please visit our Where to Buy page.

About the author

Jodie Adam

Jodie is RSPCA Assured's Digital Communications Manager. 

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