We'll cut to the chase. You should be cooking bacon in the oven, period.
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See, bacon is a glorious thing. The crispy, fatty, salty pork makes so many things so much better. The baked potato. The BLT salad. Just about every burger ever.
But let's be real: Frying it in a skillet is truly, profoundly, inescapably unpleasant.
Not in terms of the actual procedure — it's not hard to put some raw bacon in a hot skillet and watch it sizzle — but in terms of the effects it has on your kitchen. The lingering smell (which isn’t quite as magical 32 hours after you fried it) and the fine (but extremely noticeable and greasy) layer of bacon mist that coats every inch of your kitchen (or the entirety of your very small apartment). There’s a term for these kind of symptoms. It’s called a Bacon Hangover, a condition in which the the fun of cooking bacon has faded and your domicile is dealing with the decisions it made the morning before.
There’s a way to avoid the Bacon Hangover though. Cook your bacon in the oven. On a rimmed sheet pan.
Sheet-tray bacon is all pros and no cons. To start, you avoid the splattering grease and smoke that emanates from your skillet. That’s the root of the whole your-kitchen-smells-like-a-Waffle-House-for-many-days problem. With the oven method, there’s no risk of rendered fat splattering on your skin (ouch) or accumulating on your stovetop and other kitchen surfaces (yuck).
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But the real win with sheet pan bacon is that it’s so much less involved than frying it in a skillet. You put your slabs of bacon on the pan, without any oil (they can even be overlapping, since they shrink). You put the pan in a 350 degree oven, which doesn’t even need to be preheated (although it will take less time if you do). You flip the bacon once, when it’s halfway through cooking. You take the bacon out. You rest it on your splatter-free stove. Then, you eat the bacon. That’s called efficiency.
Cooking bacon in the oven takes 25 to 30 minutes, a bit longer than in the skillet, but you cook so much more bacon at once, and it's almost completely hands-off, meaning you have plenty of time to take care of all of your other breakfast needs in the meantime. Toast your bagel. Scramble your eggs. Sautee your greens. Make some pancakes. And when you're finished with all of that, a whole sheet pan full of crispy bacon emerges triumphantly from the oven. If that ain't breakfast magic, we don't know what is.
And the oven-baked bacon you eat with your pancakes will taste just as good (if not better) than the fried bacon you’ve been eating for years. Ovens provide a gentle, even heat which fries the bacon in its own fat, minimizing the possibility of burnt pork. And you’ll know when it’s ready. You look for all of the same stuff you’d look for in a pan: rendered fat, browned edges, and that bacon-y smell. Plus, once you’ve pulled the slices of the pan, you can save that fat for toasting croutons, roasting vegetables, or making refried beans.
Sure, this might make you feel uncomfortable. You’ve been frying bacon since forever. Your mom and dad both did it. It’s always been done this way. But your mom and dad didn’t have the internet, and look at them now, plastering Facebook walls with comments and texting you nonsensical strings of emojis at 6:13 a.m. on a Tuesday morning. If they can adopt something new, so can you. Sheet pan bacon is worth it.