How to Cook Bacon Perfectly 4 Ways and What Method Never to Use

Master how to cook bacon in the oven, the microwave, the air fryer, or even on the grill with our tips for sizzling up the perfect strips.

Countless recipes, including savory sandwiches and sweet chocolate layer cakes, can be improved by bacon. So whether you toss your crispy bacon crumbles into pasta carbonara or coat bacon strips in chocolate, you can't go wrong—as long as you know how to cook bacon perfectly. (In other words, it's not limp, soggy, dry, or overly chewy).

We're here to coach you through all of your options for cooking bacon, including how to cook bacon in the oven, how to cook bacon in the microwave, how to cook bacon on the stove, and even tricks for cooking bacon on the grill. We'll also dish on how to select and store your pork for the best results.

Prepare to pig out—you'll want to add strips to every meal after mastering all the best ways to cook bacon.

The 4 Best Ways to Cook Bacon

Whether you're seeking a hands-off method for cooking bacon, you need bacon fast, or you are craving slices with some smoky flavors infused right inside, you'll find the best way to cook bacon for your needs below.

How to Cook Bacon on the Stove

Bacon frying pan
Blaine Moats

Cooking bacon on the stove, also known as pan-frying bacon, is the traditional method for many home cooks. It's a great option to cook bacon quickly, and you'll only need one pan.

Place bacon slices in an unheated skillet (if using an electric range, preheat the element for 2 to 4 minutes). The critical element for how to cook bacon perfectly this way: Knowing exactly how long to pan-fry it. We suggest cooking it over medium heat 8 to 10 minutes or until your desired doneness turning occasionally. If the bacon browns too quickly, reduce heat slightly. Drain well on paper towels.

Test Kitchen Tip: Try using a cast-iron bacon press to place atop the cooking bacon. This helps the bacon cook evenly and more quickly and also minimizes shrinkage. Consider an inexpensive splatter screen ($23, Target) to cover your skillet to cut down on splattered grease when frying bacon.

How to Cook Bacon in the Oven

Baking bacon
Andy Lyons

Cooking bacon in the oven works well when cooking more than six strips of bacon or when you need to free up space on your stove top. Baking bacon also requires less attention during cooking since no turning is necessary.

Curious about what heat to cook bacon in the oven? We suggest a relatively high temperature: Preheat the oven to 400°F. Place bacon slices side by side on a rack in a foil-lined shallow baking pan with sides. Bake 18 to 21 minutes or until crisp-cooked. Drain well on paper towels.

How to Cook Bacon in the Microwave

Choose this strategy to cook bacon quickly and without heating up your kitchen. Cleanup is also a cinch.

Place bacon slices on a microwave-safe rack ($13, Amazon) or a plate lined with microwave-safe paper towels. Cover with a paper towel. Microwave on 100% power (high) to desired doneness, rearranging bacon once. Allow 1½ to 2 minutes for two slices, 2½ to 3 minutes for four slices, and 3½ to 4 minutes for six slices.

How to Cook Bacon on the Grill

Flare-ups are a concern when cooking bacon on the grill since the slices can drip fat down onto the flames. To avoid this, we recommend cooking bacon in a cast-iron skillet ($30, Target) following the stovetop instructions above. Aim for a grill temperature of 400°F; cook with the lid closed, opening to flip the slices partway through the cooking time.

How About Air-Fryer Bacon?

Wondering how to cook bacon in air fryers? We don't recommend it. After testing this out for our complete guide to air fryers, we discovered foods with a higher natural fat content (including bacon) can start smoking in an air fryer. Choose one of the other four best ways to cook bacon above instead and reserve the trendy appliance for recipes it's better suited for, like these air-fryer chicken dinners, air-fryer fish recipes, and air-fryer desserts.

How to Buy and Store Bacon

American bacon usually comes from the pork belly with streaks of fat running through it, and it is cured and smoked. For crisper bacon, buy a thinner cut. Thinner slices take less cooking time, so they get crispy before burning occurs. Take a peek at the bacon through the packaging to see the fat-to-meat ratio to determine your desired ratio. In some markets, you can also buy bacon from the butcher or meat counter. Tell them what you're cooking bacon for, and they can direct you to the best thickness and flavor (say, chipotle, maple, applewood-smoked, or brown sugar).

Once you open the package, keep the bacon tightly covered in the refrigerator for up to one week. Wondering how to freeze bacon? You have a few options:

  • Divide the bacon into portions of four to six slices and place in freezer bags, then freeze these portions for up to one month.
  • Stack individual slices between parchment paper. Layering the paper like an accordion ensures you can select a single slice—or as many as you need. Place the bacon stack in a freezer bag; freeze for up to one month.
  • Roll each slice of bacon into a pinwheel, then place on a sheet pan. Freeze until solid, then transfer bacon coils into a freezer bag and freeze for up to one month.

Thaw any of the above in the refrigerator before using.

Now that you're a bacon buff, you're all set to sear up better-than-diner crispy slices to serve as part of your blue plate special, build a better BLT, or even ace our bacon desserts. Since you're well-versed in all the best ways to cook bacon, you'll never have to fight over the last slice—just whip up another batch.

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