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5 Spot: Easy steps to bake crispy, tasty bacon that won’t smoke out the house

Baking bacon in the oven cuts down on mess and smell. Special to The Forum

Editor’s note: “5 spot” is a weekly feature that focuses on quick tips, ideas, activities and more – all in bunches of five.

FARGO – I love the smell of bacon – just not three days later, when the lingering odor of this delicious pork product still stinks up the kitchen.

That’s why I’ve embraced baking bacon in an oven as a simple, efficient way of getting the crispy slices I crave without the grease splatters, plumes of smoke or long-lasting stench that seem to come up when I cook it on the stove.

It’s easy to prepare and clean up, and the results are just as good, if not better, than cooking it the old-fashioned way. Here are the five steps to bake the perfect slices at home.

1. Preheat to 400 degrees: Some recipes recommend putting the bacon into a cold oven, turning to 400 degrees and baking for about 20 minutes. But I’ve had better luck getting the crispy slices I like if I preheat the oven for about 10 minutes first.

2. Prepare: Any large baking sheet will do. It’s easiest to line the sheet with foil, which makes cleanup a breeze, though that isn’t necessary. I prefer to use foil and put the slices on a metal cooling rack that fits into the sheet – this lets it cook from all sides, cutting down the cooking time and resulting in crispier slices – but fans of less-crispy bacon can just arrange the meat directly on the foil.

Don’t let the bacon overlap, but fit as many slices as possible onto the sheet. I usually have to bake a pound of bacon in two batches, though thicker slices might all fit on one baking sheet.

3. Bake: Place the baking sheet on the middle rack in the oven and bake until golden brown, about 10 to 20 minutes. It’ll take longer to cook if the bacon is directly on the sheet, or if starting with a cold oven. I start to check on it after about 10 minutes, then look every minute or two until it’s baked to perfection.

Because the bacon isn’t frying itself in all the grease like it would be in a pan, the slices won’t get as dark as they would on the stove. Instead, I check its crispiness to determine if it’s done.

4. Cool and serve: Take the bacon off the baking sheet immediately so it stops cooking, and place the slices on a paper towel-lined plate to absorb the extra grease. It’s best to serve this bacon within a few minutes, though leftovers can be refrigerated and reheated in a microwave for as long as a week.

5. Enjoy without a mess: Serve the freshly baked bacon with just about any meal, and simply throw away the foil and wipe down the baking sheet and cooling rack to clean up. The bacon grease will accumulate in the bottom of the baking sheet, so it can be poured into a jar and refrigerated if desired, otherwise let it cool to room temperature and throw it away.

Following these steps will result in perfectly done bacon without the mess – you’ll never want to pan fry bacon again!

Ryan Johnson

Ryan Johnson has been a Forum reporter since 2012 and previously wrote for the Grand Forks Herald.

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