How to Cook Bacon in the Oven (without Preheating!)

Always forgetting how long it takes to cook bacon in the oven? I gotchoo.

There are certain things I'm always looking up. I probably look up how long it takes to make bacon in the oven about once a month. Every time I think, "Heeeey, I should write a blog post about this and maybe that'll help hammer this into my memory cells." And then I forget that too, in several minutes when there is bacon in front of my face.

But here we go, it's finally happening. At least I can reference my own blog when I have bacon amnesia for the millionth time.

How to Cook Bacon in the Oven via Worthy Pause

After too many close calls with an angry, splattering pan of bacon, I've pretty much retired from ever cooking it on the stove. I very rarely make an exception because I don't have a death wish. Safety first, guys. Oven bacon is where it's at.

In addition to avoiding third degree burns, I don't feel like I have to clean the kitchen or take a shower immediately after cooking bacon in the oven. It's relatively mess-free. The kitchen will still smell like bacon, but it's not like on the stovetop where the grease is (sometimes literally) soaked into every surface and pore. 

And lastly, it's the lazy way to make bacon. I don't want to stand over a hot pan when I can just... not. And I don't want to preheat the oven if I don't have to. That's a waste of precious energy and time I could be spending making scrambled eggs.

It's the easy way out, and we're all going to take it together.

How to Cook Bacon in the Oven via Worthy Pause

How to Cook Bacon in the Oven

The easiest, no-mess, grease-burn-free way to make bacon.
 

Materials

  • thick-cut bacon
  • baking sheet(s)
  • aluminum foil
  • tongs
  • paper towels
     

1. Don't preheat the oven.

Sure, you can preheat it. But why bother. Also, starting with a cold oven seems to help the bacon fat render more slowly and evenly, which is a requirement for Bacon Excellence.

If your oven is already on for something else, don't worry — you don't need to let it cool down and start over. I've baked bacon by preheating and not, and it works both ways (nearly the same bake time too).
 

2. Line and arrange bacon on baking sheet.

Line a baking sheet with foil. I used parchment paper in the pictures (who knows what I was thinking, really?), but usually use foil because it's easier to clean up. You don't actually need any liner at all, but cleanup will be greasier without the foil.

Then place bacon strips on the sheet so they are close together but don't touch. Even though they will shrink, don't try to crowd them too much. Depending on how much bacon you have, you may need more than one cookie sheet to finish the job.
 

3. Put the bacon in the oven and turn it up to 400 degrees.

I recommend thick-cut bacon (because it's just the best kind), so 400 F is the way to go. If you are baking thin or uneven pieces, try 350 or 375 to make sure the ends don't burn. 

How to Cook Bacon in the Oven via Worthy Pause

4. Bake bacon in the oven for 16-20 minutes.

Maybe longer, maybe shorter. But you won't need to check it before 16 minutes. Use that time to make eggs or hash or pancakes.

Everybody's ovens heat up at different rates, everybody's bacons are a different thickness and everybody's bacon doneness goals are different too. So the best advice I have is to go through this method once or twice and then write down your optimal time and temp and stick it on the fridge. 

For this batch of thick-cut bacon in the pictures (which, to me, was the optimal level of crispiness!), I cooked it for exactly 18 minutes.

How to Cook Bacon in the Oven via Worthy Pause

5. Transfer the bacon to a paper towel-lined plate.

Using tongs, move the bacon to a paper towel-lined plate and then pat carefully with another paper towel to soak up the excess grease.
 

6. Save or discard the bacon grease.

If you've used foil (like you should), let it cool a bit and then pour the grease into a container and put that in the fridge to reserve for later. If you're not planning to save the grease, just leave the pan to cool and solidify before carefully wrapping up the the foil and fat and tossing it into the garbage.

If you've used parchment (BIG MISTAKE, ANNIE) or didn't use a pan liner at all, deal with the grease right away before it solidifies or it's gonna get super gross.

How to Cook Bacon in the Oven via Worthy Pause

7. Eat bacon.

If you're looking for a new recipe to eat up all this bacon you just made, I have a few good ones choose from below!