Everyone has their secret for cooking the “perfect” bacon, and here at Hempler’s we’ve got our favorite methods, too. But we were curious how the results of various cooking methods compared side-by-side. So that’s what we did!
Read on for the details of this fun (and tasty) experiment.
We cooked our Hempler’s Original Center Cut bacon using multiple techniques and then observed and taste-tested them to compare appearance, texture, and flavor.
Here are the 8 cooking methods we tested:
- Stovetop starting with a cold pan and cooking over medium-low heat
- Stovetop starting with a cold pan and cooking over extra-low heat
- Stovetop starting with a hot pan and cooking over high heat
- Stovetop starting with room-temperature bacon (as opposed to cold bacon)
- Baking in a 400-degree oven (with and without a rack)
- Baking in a 200-degree oven (with and without a rack)
Microwave: We didn’t expect this one to be a great method, and we were right. We used a tray specifically made to cook bacon in the microwave and while it was supposed to only take a few minutes, we kept having to add time because it wasn’t done. All in all, it took 6 minutes and the bacon was dry, hard to chew, and lacked rich color. Even if you’re in a hurry, we really don’t recommend this method.
Stovetop (medium-low heat): We started with a cold pan, put the bacon in, and turned the heat to medium-low. It took 18 minutes to cook and the result was bacon with a great bite, good color, and rich flavor. This one’s definitely a winner.
Stovetop (low heat): We wondered if cooking the bacon low and slow would make a huge difference stove-top. The result was FANTASTIC. It was chewy with the best flavor and deep color. The downside? It took an hour, and let’s be honest – nobody’s going to babysit their stove-top bacon for that long in the real world.
Stovetop (high heat): For this test we heated the pan up before tossing in the bacon. We got that satisfying “sizzle” the moment the bacon hit the pan – and then everything went downhill. The bacon in direct contact with the pan cooked so quickly it burned, while other parts remained raw. Eventually there was so much smoke we were fearful of a grease fire, so we removed it from the heat after 6 minutes.
Stovetop (room temp bacon): Once we determined that medium-low heat was ideal for stovetop cooking, we wanted to see if there was a noticeable difference if we started with room-temp bacon as opposed to bacon directly from the cold refrigerator. Turns out, there’s not. We still ended up with crisp, flavorful bacon.
Oven (400 degrees): We tried cooking bacon with and without a rack. To our surprise, bacon cooked on the rack took longer to cook, tasted a little dry, and was less crisp than the bacon cooked right on the sheet pan. Overall it took 22 minutes to cook the bacon in the oven, with 4 additional minutes to cook the bacon on the rack. So if you don’t have a rack, don’t sweat it – your bacon will still be delicious without it. Exception: If you’re making a glazed bacon, a rack is preferred to keep your bacon from sitting in burnt sugar.
Oven (200 degrees): Like the stovetop method, we wanted to see what “low and slow” did for our bacon. Well…after an hour and a half in a 200-degree oven, we gave up. It wasn’t looking amazing anyway, and we doubt many people are going to wait that long for their bacon.
Grilled: Grilling bacon takes some extra skill and babysitting, but the added smoky flavor is worth it! It ended up being one of our top methods with great flavor, crispness, and texture.
Our favorite methods (in no particular order) were: stovetop on medium-low heat, oven-baked at 400 degrees without a rack, and grilled. All delivered perfectly-cooked bacon in a reasonable amount of time with good color, flavor, texture, and crispness.
Pick up a package of our Hempler’s Original Center Cut Bacon and do your own bacon-cooking experiment to find the method that you love!