How to cook perfectly crispy bacon

This world is crazy for bacon, and not just eating it—opinions on the best way to cook perfect, crispy bacon run deep in the blood of pork eaters everywhere. That's why the Epicurious Test Kitchen just spent a week cooking pounds and pounds of the stuff, in an attempt to cut through the bacon noise and crown a winning method. It was one salty, porky week.

This is what we learned.

Cast iron skillets mean crispy bacon.

Cast iron skillets mean crispy bacon.

Start your bacon in a cold skillet.

Trust us. When we tossed cold bacon into a hot skillet, it started to brown and crisp before the fat really started rendering out.

That leaves you with two choices: Keep sizzling your bacon until the fat's cooked through but the bacon burns, or take it off the heat and deal with fatty, flabby bacon. On the other hand, when we added it to a cold pan and then turned on the heat to medium, the fat had plenty of time to melt away, leaving us with crunchier (and less greasy) slices.

A cast-iron skillet cooks bacon faster.

For our first stovetop cooking test, we pitted a 12-inch cast iron skillet against a 12-inch stainless-steel skillet. When we started with cold bacon in a cold skillet and cooked over medium heat, the taste and texture were the same for the bacon from each skillet: nice and crunchy, with a lovely smoky depth of flavor, and some deeper browned and charred spots. But while the stainless-steel skillet took 11 minutes, the cast-iron skillet took only 8.

Who can resist a slice (or two)?

Who can resist a slice (or two)? (iStock)

Add water to the skillet if you want to crumble the bacon.

We’d heard from the folks over at America’s Test Kitchen that adding a bit of cold water to your cold skillet with your bacon yields better, crispier, bacon. So we gave it a go. It took a bit longer, but sure enough, all the water evaporated and then the bacon started crisping as it normally would. The result was thinner and crisper than the bacon cooked in the skillet without water: it shattered easily, and was very nice and crunchy.

It wasn’t as salty, and we actually missed the thicker crunch of traditional bacon, but this strategy would be perfect if you wanted to use the bacon as a crumbled topping for, say, salad.

See more tips on how to make the best bacon.

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