There’s nothing better than the smell of bacon cooking in the morning. The smell wafts through the air, capturing your attention. And if it’s not you cooking the bacon, it soon will be.
But is bacon actually good for you? How should you cook it to make it taste as good as it smells? Is it better to fry it or bake it?
We’ve got answers to those questions and more.
Is Bacon Good for Health?
Most of us can agree that bacon is good for our taste buds, but is it actually good for our health? Some say that the protein in bacon is good for you. Others say that there’s too much fat. According to an article in Time Magazine, “You need to cool it on the bacon.” Here’s why.
An average serving of thick-cut bacon usually consists of three to four slices. That serving size contains around 240 calories, 10 to 12 grams of protein, and 10 to 12 grams of fat. About half of that fat comes from saturated fats.
Then there’s the salt content. Because bacon is a highly processed meat, it contains high amounts of sodium. About 40 percent of the government recommended daily values.
Clocking in around 880 milligrams of sodium, it’s no wonder bacon tastes so good. And no wonder that when looking at it via numbers, it’s not generally considered a healthy food.
However, just as with any food, if eaten and enjoyed in moderation, bacon can be good for your taste buds and waistline.
What Is the Healthiest Way to Cook Bacon?
Speaking of waistlines and wondering if bacon is healthy, it can be a bit better depending on how you prepare it. And yes, you can still fry the bacon. Whether you fry or bake it, the key component to making bacon not so bad for you is getting rid of some of the fat.
And the easiest way to do that is to soak up the fat while cooking or when done cooking. For example, if you cook bacon in the microwave, place the slices on a paper towel to soak up some of the fat. Then pat it down with an additional paper towel when done.
If you prefer frying your bacon instead, cook it until crispy (not burnt), to allow the fat to cook off the meat and into the pan. When done, place the bacon on a brown paper bag or paper towel. These will soak up even more of the fat, leaving you with flavor, not grease.
Another way to enjoy healthy bacon is to go with an alternative, such as turkey bacon. This usually has less fat and fewer calories. However, because turkey bacon is even more processed than bacon, it could have twice as much sodium — around 1,900 milligrams per serving.
If you crave bacon, eat bacon. In the long run, eating it in moderation may be better for you than consuming an alternative. Because ultimately, you’ll probably find yourself eating the alternative and then still craving the real bacon — and then eating that, too.
Is It Better to Fry or Bake Bacon?
Great! Now, you know that you can make bacon a bit healthier by soaking up the fat, but is there a better way to cook it? And how does that affect the taste? Most of us want to eat a healthy diet, but we also want that healthy diet to have good flavors.
Good news! Bacon tastes the same whether it’s fried or baked. And surprising news; baking bacon is the best way to prepare it for health reasons and appease your taste buds.
Using an oven or an air-fryer actually makes it easier to cook the bacon uniformly. This means that all of your slices will cook perfectly. You won’t have one portion burnt to a crisp and another almost raw, as it so often seems to happen when using a frying pan on the stove.
When using an oven-safe rack that keeps the bacon on top and has a pan at the bottom, you can evenly cook your bacon and make it healthier. With this method, the fat drips off the bacon and collects in the pan below, leaving you with perfectly crisped bacon.
By baking it, you now have a much healthier version with all the good flavors still intact. Additionally, you also don’t have to worry about grease spitting everywhere. And you don’t have to man the stove. The oven does all the work.
How Do Professional Chefs Cook Bacon?
Still not sold on baking the bacon instead of frying it? What if we told you that chefs bake their bacon? Would that change your mind? Because chefs bake their bacon. It’s the best way to ensure that it cooks to the crispiness they desire, depending on the dish they serve.
Once baked, some chefs will also layer the bacon on paper towels to soak up any unwanted grease further. The bacon can then be refrigerated and heated up briefly on the stovetop to bring back the desired crispness right before serving.
To cook your best chef-prepared bacon, start with a good cut of thick sliced pork. Then preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Use either a sheet tray with parchment paper or a tray with a rack to catch the grease.
Next, lay the bacon flat and let the oven do the work. It’s done when it gets to the crispiness that you deem perfect. Want to get creative? Brush some maple syrup across the slices, or try adding different spices. Chefs get creative, so maybe try it out.
Should the Pan Be Hot Before Adding Bacon?
If you still want to cook your bacon on the stovetop, go for it. There is something to be said about the sound of bacon frying just as much as the smell of it. But is there a better way to get the bacon started? Should the pan be hot or cold when adding the bacon?
For the best cooking to occur, just like you would preheat an oven, you should also preheat the pan. Medium heat works fine. If you start too hot, you’ll end up with smoke and grease filling your kitchen.
Do You Oil or Butter a Pan for Bacon?
And the same goes for whether or not you should oil or butter the pan before cooking the bacon. You want to smell the bacon, not burning oil, correct? We thought so.
You don’t need butter or oil when cooking bacon in a pan. Preserve the wonderful smells wafting through the house, but more importantly, bacon has plenty of its own grease.
Is Bacon Actually Pig?
When it comes to cooking bacon, there’s nothing extra needed — no butter, oil, spices, or other additives (unless you’re getting creative). It’s full of flavor all on its own. That wonderful smell of bacon is like no other. But how can something that smells so good come from an animal that smells so bad?
Yes, bacon comes from a pig. And most of it comes from the belly, hence, the name pork belly. But to make bacon from this, the pork belly gets cured with seasonings and then often smoked to add more flavor. Once cured and smoked, it is pressed into a rectangular mold and then cut to the desired shape and length to send to consumers.
Bacon may start from a pig, but ultimately it ends up on your plate as an accompaniment to sandwiches, breakfasts, brunches, and even ice cream. So, the next time you plan on cooking up some bacon, you may know where it came from, but you also know how to cook it up, making one of the most beloved breakfast smells around. Mmmm! Bacon!
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