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Whether it's a side dish for a special weekend brunch or savory layer on your tasty sandwich, bacon is the perfect way to add flavor to almost any meal. It's an art form to cook the perfect slice - crispy, but still retaining that satisfying chew. It lends both a delicious saltiness and an interesting texture to your dish. But how does a home chef achieve this perfect balance? The secret is to cook the bacon in your oven. It's a low-effort, less-mess way to get great results.

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It's less messy

If you've ever tried to cook bacon in a pan and added a few too many slices, then you know that dealing with a smoking, spitting pan isn't just stressful, it also creates quite a mess of your stovetop. On the other hand, when you cook bacon in the oven, cleanup is a breeze. Grab a baking sheet and line it well with aluminum foil. When you're done cooking the bacon, simply drain the oil, and toss your aluminum foil for a quick and easy clean up.

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It's easier to manage when making multiple dishes

Hosting a weekend brunch for friends or making breakfast for family members staying with you overnight? Getting all your components done at the same time is one of the most challenging parts when entertaining. If you're toasting bread and flipping eggs while you make fresh coffee, the last thing you want to juggle is a hot pan that can scorch, burning all that precious bacon. Instead, with the oven method, you can lay your slices on your lined pan, then pop them in the oven. Set a timer to check for crispiness, and you're good to go, allowing you more attention to give to your other dishes and more predictability about when everything will be done.

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You can make enough for a crowd

When cooking bacon in a pan or in the microwave, you're typically limited to maybe five or six slices due to size restrictions. This can be inconvenient if you're feeding a hungry group, or if you need a lot of bacon for a recipe. Cooking bacon in the oven solves that problem since you can easily fit up to twelve slices on your lined sheet pan. You can add even add a second sheet pan and double your slices without too much extra effort with this method.

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Don't forget to preheat your oven

If you're ready to try cooking bacon in your oven, the first step is to preheat the oven to around 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Since it can take a little while for some ovens to heat up to that temperature, don't forget to preheat as your first step. If you turn on your oven before you start prepping your pan, everything should be ready to go once you have your strips laid out. This is even more convenient when cooking another item in the oven like cinnamon rolls or a delicious French toast casserole.

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Prep your pan for better results and less mess

Choosing the right pan can make cooking bacon in the oven even easier. Since the bacon fat will render out while cooking, choose a sheet pan with a raised lip if possible to prevent any messy spills. Line your pan carefully with aluminum foil for easier clean-up when the cooking is done. Make sure to go up and over the edges of your pan too. If you like your bacon extra-crispy, try laying the bacon out on a wire rack over the lined pan. This allows air to circulate under the strips, ensuring a nice crispy result.

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Layer your strips correctly

Once your pan is ready, simply lay your bacon strips out in a single layer on the pan or the wire rack, if you chose to use it. A single layer is necessary to ensure that the bacon cooks evenly and that the pieces don't stick together. Another advantage of this cooking method is that the strips cook nice and flat instead of curling up or getting twisted in the pan, giving you results that look just as good as they taste.

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Set a timer

While making bacon in the oven is the easiest method, it's still possible to overcook your bacon if you don't set a timer. Once you have laid your stips out, pop your pan into your pre-heated oven and set a timer for about 10 to 15 minutes to check for crispiness. Your strips will need to cook in the hot oven for anywhere from 15 to 25 minutes total, depending on how thickly-sliced your bacon is, but you definitely don't want to let it burn because you got distracted with something else in the kitchen. Of course, take into account the way your oven cooks too - if you have a "hot" oven, you may need to check more often to avoid a bacon disaster.

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Drain the slices

Once your bacon strips are cooked to perfection, remove the pan from the oven. Use tongs to pop each slice onto a plate lined with paper towels in order to allow extra fat to drain off the slices before serving. This step is especially necessary if you don't use the wire rack, since the bacon slices will have been simmering right down in the rendered fat.

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Save the fat

Let the foil-lined pan cool while you enjoy your bacon strips, then pour the bacon grease into a storage container made of glass such as a mason jar. This is easier to do while the fat is still in liquid form. If you let it sit too long before transferring it, the bacon fat will begin to solidify and you'll need to use a spoon to scoop it off the foil instead.

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Strain the fat

When saving the bacon grease, it's a good idea to strain the little bits of bacon and other solids out of the fat before storing it. This helps the bacon grease to last longer without becoming rancid. Use a little strainer over the top of your glass storage container to make this job easier. Store your bacon fat in the fridge, and use to roast veggies, scramble eggs, or smear it on chicken skin before searing for an amazingly crispy result.

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