There’s something nice and nostalgic about bacon sizzling in an iron pan on the stovetop, isn’t there? Well, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but that nostalgia is a farce. This isn’t an argument against cast iron pans per se, because there are many things that cast iron pans are good at doing (hello, perfectly seared steaks). But if you want bacon that crisps and cooks evenly, you’re better off sticking it in the oven.
The problem with the stovetop is that your standard burner is a measly three inches in diameter, whereas slices of bacon are much, much longer than that. This means that any pan that’s wide enough to fit an entire strip is never going to be as hot at the edges as it is at the center (this is especially true of cast iron, which is terrible at conducting heat). So if you lay your bacon out flat in a skillet, you’ll inevitably wind up with pieces that are dry and crunchy in the middle while still being chewy and rubbery at the ends.
Ovens, however, do a much better job of distributing heat evenly and gently, making it easier to get the entire slice to the exact crispiness that you like. Baking may take longer, but since you’re not shocking the bacon with heat, you’ll get smoother, less wrinkled strips in the end (direct high heat, like that from a skillet, causes fat to shrink and shrivel up quickly). We recommend cooking the slices at 350 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes—the longer they stay in the oven, the crunchier they’ll be.
Another benefit to making bacon in the oven is that you can cook a ton of it at once. An entire package will easily fit onto a standard sheet pan. Even if you don’t plan on eating it all right away, you can save some to put on sandwiches and salads, or to use in one of these bacon-y recipes.
Oven bacon is stupid easy: just pop it in and wait! This recipe, however, asks that you up the effort, calling for a whole extra step: brushing the slices with maple syrup and brown sugar. Is that one step too many? Nah, if it results in a deliciously good, salty-sweet treat. Get our Bacon Candy recipe.
And you thought that meat had no place in guacamole? Think again: this recipe, which also includes tomatoes and chipotles, takes the avocado dip to the fully-loaded extreme. Get our Bacon and Tomato Guacamole recipe.
If you wrap bacon around a vegetable, it’s healthy, right? Okay, maybe not, but this pairing of buttery sweet squash with savory bacon is still pretty amazing. Get our Bacon-Wrapped Squash Bites recipe.
The B.E.C. sandwich contains one of the holiest ingredient trinities, so it only makes sense that the combo could be immortal elsewhere, too. Here, it morphs into a party or brunch-ready hors d’oeuvre that gets extra-bacon-y from the rendered fat that’s folded into the yolks. Get our Bacon and Cheddar Deviled Eggs recipe.
If you like things that are crunchy as well as things that are sweet, we’ve got a recipe for you: bacon and cashews encased in amber brittle. It might just be your latest candy crush. Get our Toasted Cashew and Bacon Brittle recipe.
These buns look all guileless and innocent until you discover their sinful secret: loads of bacon crumbles dripping in a brown sugar glaze. Grab some napkins for this one. Get our Bacon-Maple Sticky Buns recipe.
If you’ve just cooked a load of bacon, chances are you also have a load of rendered bacon fat. There are so many ways to use up the drippings, but our favorite might just be bacon mayonnaise, where the fat takes the place of regular oil. It’s perfect for adding that bacon-y aroma to sandwiches, dressings, and more. Get our Bacon Mayonnaise recipe.