Get perfectly cooked bacon every time whether you fry it on the stove, bake it in the oven or cook it in the microwave with these easy instructions. Plus, find ideas for using bacon while still keeping meals healthy.

Sophie Johnson
October 09, 2012

It's hard to deny that bacon possesses magical qualities. It gets people out of bed in the morning, it turns basic dishes into flavorful favorites, and it gives new life to classic recipes.

Everything about bacon-its smoky perfume, its salty yet subtly sweet bite-screams "Eat me! Eat lots of me!" But here's where the fairy tale ends: If you sit down to a plate full of bacon regularly, you will probably face some consequences.

That's because, though bacon does have its virtues, being a health food isn't one of them. Downing a 3-ounce portion of bacon will set you back 460 calories and 36 grams of fat.

Like so many good things in life, it's important to use bacon in moderation. Lucky for us, bacon is so powerful that using just a little bit goes a long way.

Here, we share three ways to cook bacon, delicious recipes with bacon, and a few tips on how to enjoy bacon responsibly.

How to Cook Bacon

1. On the Stovetop

The classic approach consistently yields perfectly crispy strips. Cook bacon in a large skillet over medium heat until browned and as crisp as desired, 5 to 7 minutes. Flip halfway through. Remove with a slotted spoon and soak up extra fat on a paper towel-lined plate.

2. In the Oven

Cooking bacon in the oven allows you to cook more of it at a time, plus you'll produce no grease stains or burns on your stovetop. Place an oven rack in the center position, and preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with foil or parchment paper, and lay the bacon down in a single layer. (For extra-crispy bacon, place a metal cooling rack over the baking sheet, then place the bacon on the rack.) Bake until golden brown and crispy, about 15 to 25 minutes. Transfer the bacon to a paper towel-lined plate to absorb extra fat before serving.

3. In the Microwave

In a rush? Put two layers of paper towels on a microwave-safe plate, then place up to eight slices of bacon on the paper towels, making sure the strips don't overlap. Cover the bacon with two more layers of paper towels, and cook on high for 4 to 6 minutes. (Microwave cooking times may vary.) Transfer the bacon to a fresh paper towel-lined plate to absorb extra fat.

4 Ways to Cook with Bacon

1. Use It as a Garnish

bacon garnish

Pictured Recipe: Cauliflower Soup

Instead of having bacon take up real estate on your plate, treat it as a garnish like we do with this delicious cauliflower soup. Sprinkling bacon on top of the dish not only makes it look delicious, but also gives the impression that there is a lot more bacon per serving (when really there is just a little), which helps you feel satisfied.

2. Keep Your Portions Reasonable

A good rule of thumb for a reasonable portion size of bacon is about half an ounce per person. That's one thick slice per person, which comes in at around 61 calories and 5 grams of fat. Plus, that one piece of bacon is so flavorful, it goes a long way. Especially when you use it as part of a larger recipe, like wrapping it around chicken tenders.

3. Get Rid of Unnecessary Fat

How you cook bacon influences how healthy it is in the long run. The healthiest way to cook bacon is to cook it until crispy (but not burned), which allows the most fat to melt off. Then, drain it on a paper towel or brown paper bag to remove even more fat before eating. The more fat that is absorbed by the paper towels or paper, the less fat you will consume.

4. Buy Bacon That Has a Big, Bold, Smoky Flavor

Pictured Recipe: Broccoli Salad with Bacon

Bacon has an umami-rich, salty taste, but it also has a subtly smoky aroma. If you buy and taste different bacons, you'll notice that there's quite a bit of difference in terms of how smoky each is. Try double-smoked or cob-smoked bacon. You can use less of it for a bigger flavor impact.

Watch: How to Make Bacon-Wrapped Chicken Tenders with Cucumber-Ranch Dressing

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