We often make bacon for breakfast on the weekends, and we all love a good BLT for lunch. Not to mention it's the greatest topping for almost any dish. My four year old LOVES bacon, and requests it regularly.
Usually, for breakfast and for BLTs we just make it in the oven, the long way. It always turns out crispy, flat and delicious....but it takes forever.
My four year old doesn't have the patience to wait 45 minutes for perfect bacon, and frankly, he doesn't care if it's gloriously flat.... So we usually make it for him in the air fryer.
With bacon in such high demand around here, we decided to figure out what is THE best way to make it?
Putting Bacon Cooking Methods To The Test.
We made bacon three different ways to see what produces the very best bacon. We had a clear winner, but we'll get to that...
We made bacon in the oven, the air fryer and the microwave. I've never done a proper comparison of bacon methods side by side, so I didn't actually realize how different the results were. This was an enlightening exercise for sure.
A Few Notes About Bacon - Size Matters
We have tasted all sorts of bacon, and we have come to the conclusion that not all bacons are created equal. We are purists. Only proper pork bacon for us. If you use turkey or some other version of bacon, you likely will have really different results.
Also, we definitely favor thick cut bacon. Thin bacon gets really curly and shriveled. It's fine if you are into that, but be sure to adjust your cooking times accordingly.
A Note About Cured Bacon:
Uncured bacon just doesn't taste or cook up the same. "Uncured bacon" is actually still cured, but it's cured in a mixture of salt and celery juice. This process still produces the same amount of nitrates as traditionally cured bacon, but they are just naturally occurring. Therefore, you're not really saving yourself from the nitrates, but you are sacrificing flavor and texture.
Our Favorite Bacon:
Our favorite is the thick cut bacon they sell at Business Costco, but I don't always have a reason to shop there. Costco's thick cut Kirkland bacon is our second favorite. The Kirkland bacon is quite uniform, and has a great flavor. Well balanced salt-wise, and the thickness is just right. That's what we used for this bacon fest extravaganza.
As I said before, we made bacon using three different methods.
Baked In The Oven
45 - 60 minutes at 325º
Mostly, we just eat bacon on the weekends for breakfast, so this is the method we typically do for breakfast bacon.
We are renting an older house, and our oven is ancient. It's a conventional oven from the early 1980's. It's not at all even, and likely not all that accurate temperature-wise. However, for this it's not really an issue. If you have a newer, or convection oven, you should adjust your cooking time, and maybe your temperature so you don't over-do it.
The key to nice, even, flat, crispy bacon is to cook it on a lower temperature for a longer amount of time. We cooked this bacon for 45 minutes at 350º. It could have gone for an hour if needed, but we had a nice crispy result with a great color at 45 minutes.
15 minutes at 375º
This is the way we usually cook bacon for our four-year-old. He does not have the patience to wait an hour for his bacon, and he doesn't really care if it's perfectly flat. This process is so much faster, less dishes, and produces an excellent result that satisfies our picky kid. If you don't mind some shriveling, this might be the way to go for busy, or impatient bacon-eaters.
5 minutes on High (2 1/2 minutes per piece)
This is a super quick way to make bacon, and because of the paper towels, generally it's less greasy. This is how I made bacon when I was a kid, since it didn't require any pans, cook top, oven or anything complicated. This is a way to make bacon if you are in a dorm or a single apartment without a proper kitchen. This is the fastest way to make bacon. If you're in a rush, this might be the way to go.
The hands-down winner, across the board was the oven bacon. The texture, flavor and presentation were all perfect. Pork really does benefit from a longer, cooler cook.
The crispiest, flattest and best chew. The bacon was perfectly crispy, perfectly evenly cooked with no irregularities. There was still some life left in it, even though it was crisp and snappy. The cooling rack over the cookie sheet let quite a bit if the greasy drain out of the bacon, so had just the right amount of fat, but not too much. This is everything you want in a bacon strip!
This was our second choice. Since we didn't turn the bacon, the underside was chewier than the top side. The bacon rumpled slightly (with thinner bacon this would have been much more pronounced) and the ends were cooked more than the center. This bacon had the most residual grease of all the methods. This is really being nit-picky. Honestly, I would have been perfectly happy with this bacon if it hadn't been on the same plate as the oven bacon when I tasted it.
Definitely not as good as the other two methods. This bacon was noticeably drier that the other methods. It was not only 'less greasy', it was actually quite dry. Also, the texture had an odd chew. It was almost like stale bread....if stale bread was bacon... Don't get me wrong, this wasn't bad, and if it wasn't next to text-book bacon it would have been fine. It just didn't compare to the other bacons on the plate.
The thing about this bacon though, it was a great texture for crumbling. If you like bacon bits on top of salads and soups, this is a good way to make it. You will save a few calories since most of the grease ends up in the paper towel. The dryness made it the easiest to crumble up. Once crumbled, the texture was significantly less important, and it still had all the flavor.
There's many many ways to make bacon, and this is just a few of them. What's your favorite way to make and eat bacon?