10 Things Hardcore Bacon Lovers Need to Know

If you loved bacon before bacon was cool, or even if you're a bacon bandwagon jumper, you've gotta try these bacon recipes, tips and tricks.

1. Caramelized Bacon

Bacon, the candy of meat, gets even sweeter with a sprinkling of brown sugar that caramelizes as the bacon cooks. Serve it with French toast or pancakes, or crumble it over salad. For easy cleanup, cover the rack while it’s still warm with wet paper towels and a drizzle of dish soap.

8 slices thick-cut bacon
8 teaspoons packed brown sugar
4 teaspoons chopped pecans
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar

1. Heat oven to 400°F. Line rimmed baking sheet with foil; top with cooling rack. Place bacon on rack; sprinkle with brown sugar, patting lightly to adhere. Top with pecans, patting lightly. Sprinkle with cayenne pepper; drizzle with vinegar.

2. Bake 15 to 20 minutes or until crisp.

8 slices

PER SLICE: 90 calories, 6 g total fat (1.5 g saturated fat), 4.5 g protein, 5 g carbohydrate, 15 mg cholesterol, 280 mg sodium, 0 g fiber

2. Bacon Buying Tips

Look before you buy.

Bacon ranges from mediocre to fantastic, so look closely before you make a selection. Vacuum-packed bacon often has a flap on the back side that you can open for a closer peek at the contents. Here are some clues to choosing the best:

  • Bacon slices should have an equal ratio of meat to fat. They should be streaky, without large areas of fat.
  • The fat should be ivory-colored. If you can touch the bacon, the fat should be firm and fine-textured.
  • Depending on how the bacon was cured, the color of the meat can range from pinkish-red to dark reddish-brown or mahogany.
  • With most packaged bacon, it’s easy to count the number of slices per pound. The fewer slices there are per pound, the thicker each slice will be.

3. Bacon Flattening Trick

If a recipe calls for thin bacon but all you have is thick, simply use a rolling pin to flatten it. Marble rolling pins work well because the bacon won't stick to the pin. If you use a wooden rolling pin, cover it with plastic wrap.

4. Bacon Weave

Bacon on top of turkey helps keep the meat moist, basting it as it cooks. Lay the strips in a crisscross pattern on top of the turkey, as shown.

5. Maple Bacon Marmalade

Caramelized onions, crispy bacon, orange juice and maple syrup create this addicting, versatile spread. Try it served over crackers, buttered toast rounds, sharp cheese, slices of hard-boiled egg or fluffy pancakes. It's also perfect on sandwiches, steaks and hamburgers, or tossed with potatoes, green beans and other vegetables.

12 oz. bacon, chopped
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 large sweet onion, chopped (3 cups)
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
2/3 cup orange juice
1/3 cup pure maple syrup
2 tablespoons lemon juice

1. Cook bacon in large nonstick skillet over medium to medium-high heat 12 to 15 minutes or until browned and crisp, stirring frequently. Remove bacon with slotted spoon; drain on paper towels. Reserve 1 tablespoon bacon drippings in skillet; discard remaining drippings.

2. Add oil to drippings in skillet; stir in onion to coat. Cover and cook over medium heat 5 to 6 minutes or until softened. Stir in sugar; cook, uncovered, 10 minutes or until golden brown, stirring frequently and adjusting heat to medium-low as necessary.

3. Return bacon to skillet; stir in all remaining ingredients. Simmer over low heat 15 minutes or until juices are slightly thickened and syrupy, stirring frequently. Store in refrigerator; serve warm.

About 2 cups

PER TABLESPOON: 35 calories, 2 g total fat (.5 g saturated fat), 1 g protein, 3.5 g carbohydrate, 5 mg cholesterol, 70 mg sodium, 0 g fiber

6. Makin' Bacon: Pro Tips from the Test Kitchen

Our passion for the classic BLT sandwich led to an interesting discovery: Each of us used a different method for cooking bacon. We decided to put our techniques—baking, frying and microwaving—to the test.

While each method produced crisp results, our favorite was baking. There’s no need to turn the bacon or remove the grease as it accumulates, and it cooks evenly and releases without sticking. To bake bacon, heat the oven to 400°F. Place bacon slices on a rimmed baking sheet, and bake 15 to 20 minutes or until brown and crisp. Place on paper towels to drain.

Bacon cooked in a skillet (we started with a cold skillet, to keep the bacon from curling) cooked unevenly and spattered over high heat; it stuck slightly to the pan when cooked over medium-low heat. Microwaving, which is best for just one or two pieces of bacon, cooked the bacon unevenly. —Test Kitchen Staff

7. Rack It Up

To keep bacon crispy, use a cooling rack. After the bacon is cooked, lay it on the rack. You can put the rack on a baking sheet to catch any drippings. (This works for fried chicken, too, but we're talking BACON, here, people.)

8. One Piece at a Time

If you have to freeze bacon (you just bought a pound and now you're going on vacation for 2 weeks), open the package and roll up each slice. Freeze the rolled slices in a heavy-duty freezer bag. When you get back, you'll be able to remove whatever amount you want and the pieces won't be all frozen together.

9. Fun Facts

If someone tries to tell you that bacon is too high in fat, tell them this:

One uncooked, meaty thick bacon slice (about 1 oz.) has approximately 126 calories and is 12 percent fat. That same slice, when cooked (about .25 oz.), has about 36 calories and is 6 percent fat. So there.

10. Feel the Love

Hearty Bacon

  • Cut bacon slice in half
  • To form heart, press together two ends of bacon halves.
  • Curve the slices around to make a heart shape and overlap the bottom ends.
  • Bake in a 400°F. oven, 15 to 20 minutes or until crisp.