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Bacon Perfection: Here's the Secret to Crispy Strips Without the Mess

After reading this, you'll never want to go back to cooking on a greasy stovetop.

David Watsky Senior Editor / Home and Kitchen
David lives in Brooklyn where he's spent more than a decade covering all things edible, including meal kit services, food subscriptions, kitchen tools and cooking tips. Before, during and after earning his BA from Northeastern, he toiled in nearly every aspect of the food business, including as a line cook in Rhode Island where he once made a steak sandwich for Lamar Odom. Right now he's likely somewhere stress-testing a blender or the best way to cook bacon. Anything with sesame is his all-time favorite food this week.
Expertise Kitchen tools | Appliances | Food science | Subscriptions | Meal kits
David Watsky
3 min read
bacon cooked in a roe

Bacon is the king of breakfast, but cooking it doesn't have to make a royal mess. 

Mike Kemp/Getty Images

When it comes to breakfast foods, it's almost impossible to beat bacon, although many have tried (looking at you, ham). Bacon is not difficult to cook, but it can be messy and cleaning up a grease-splattered stove after a bacon feast is never fun. If you want all the joys of bacon without the river of oil, try making bacon in the oven. Cooking bacon in the oven doesn't take any longer than in a pan. Oven bacon gets just as crispy, if not crispier, and there's very little mess to clean up after.

Making a batch of bacon in the oven also means you can do other things while it's cooking. Frying bacon in a pan may be satisfying, especially if you love that pop and sizzle, but you're also bound to the stovetop for as long as it takes for the bacon to cook. And it usually must be done in batches, too. Oven bacon can be cooked in larger quantities (hmmm, more bacon) as long as you have the proper equipment. Then you're free to scramble eggs or diced fruit for fruit salad while the bacon sizzles away.

Below, you'll find the simple steps needed to cook perfect bacon in the oven. When it's done, use these genius ways to use leftover bacon fat.

Read more: Make Your Next Burger in an Air Fryer and Thank Me Later

How to cook mess-free bacon in the oven

bacon uncooked on tray

It's fine if the bacon touches, as long as it's not overlapping. 

Hana Asbrink/CNET

Here are my tips for cooking perfectly crisp bacon in the oven. Spoiler alert: There aren't many steps, and none of them take very long.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. I would avoid air fryer mode if your oven has it since the fast-moving air is more likely to blow grease around the inside. We're aiming for a mess-free scenario. 

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Line a baking tray with aluminum foil, or use a nonstick sheet pan for a more eco-friendly approach. If you're going the foil route, make sure the edges ride up the sides of the tray so the grease doesn't spill over the sides and down onto the tray. 

If you're using nonstick bakeware, I prefer a ceramic sheet pan or tray but Teflon works well, too.

Arrange bacon on the tray. The strips shouldn't overlap, but it's fine if they touch since they'll shrink down significantly while cooking. If you prefer super crispy bacon with a bit less grease, you can arrange the slices on a wire rack above the tray for the fat to drip down below.

Cook for eight to 10 minutes. Be sure to keep one eye on the bacon as some ovens run hotter than others. If you like your bacon crispy and well done, give it another few minutes. Remember, bacon does a lot of its crisping after it comes out and cools. 

bacon on a tray

Oven bacon is as good as it gets.

Hana Asbrink/CNET

Drain the bacon on a sheet or two of paper towels. After a few minutes, you're ready to serve those crispy strips with eggs, in a BLT or crumbled to fancy up boxed mac and cheese

The best part? After cooking bacon in the oven, all you're left with is a small ball of foil to heave effortlessly into the trash.

Ovens we love for cooking bacon

For bacon, I love using a smaller countertop convection model. A large oven works just as well but takes longer to preheat and, dang it, we want bacon now. 

The Ninja Double Oven and Breville's Smart Oven Air are two multifunction ovens that work well. Both are large enough that bacon grease won't splatter on the ceiling, but are small and powerful enough to preheat quickly and cook bacon to a crisp in under 10 minutes. (We've also got tips for how to clean your cast iron skillet and how to make boxed mac and cheese taste so much better.) 

Can you make bacon in an air fryer?

Bacon in an air fryer

An air fryer is another cleaner tool to make bacon in.

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Absolutely. Easy air fryers are perfect for making bacon in a very similar manner to oven bacon. Here's a step-by-step guide to making bacon in an air fryer