Bacon is widely considered to be one of the tastiest common breakfast foods that people eat. Some people eat it every single morning while others just eat it on occasion as a treat.
No matter how often you eat it, you’re going to want it to turn out great every time you cook it. Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon to run into problems from time to time.
For example, you might notice that your bacon shrinks as you cook it. Is there a good way to keep this from happening?
Read on to learn about how you can keep bacon from shrinking. This should make it easier for you to enjoy it to the fullest when you want to make a special breakfast for your family.
Cook the Bacon in the Oven
When you think of cooking bacon, there’s a good chance that you think of making it on the stovetop. A lot of people make it in a skillet on the stove, and that’s fine to do if you prefer to make it that way.
You should know that the bacon will be less likely to shrink if you bake it in the oven, though. Frying it in a skillet leads to significantly more shrinkage than baking it in the oven.
Therefore, you might want to just go ahead and bake the bacon on a baking sheet. You can lay the strips out on a baking sheet and then place it in the oven.
To cook the bacon, you’ll want to set the temperature of the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. This will ensure that it cooks properly.
It’ll only take around fifteen minutes for it to be done cooking. You should be left with crispy, tasty bacon that hasn’t shrunk too much overall.
Note that the bacon will still shrink a bit when you bake it like this. There really isn’t a way to prevent it from shrinking completely.
Rinse Bacon with Cold Water
Rinsing bacon with cold water before cooking can prevent it from shrinking so much. If you don’t do this, you’ll likely notice that it’ll shrink a lot when you cook it.
If you go ahead and rinse it with cold water first, it’ll reduce shrinkage by as much as fifty percent. That’s a significant difference that you will certainly appreciate.
Another idea that is in the same ballpark involves adding it to a cold pan rather than a hot one. It can help to reduce shrinkage in a similar fashion.
Your bacon should be bigger if you take the time to do this. However, it’s worth noting that this might not be the best thing to do.
Why Rinsing the Bacon Might Not Be a Good Choice
When you rinse bacon with cold water, you’re going to be rinsing off any spices and rubs that have been applied to the meat. This is going to be detrimental to the overall taste of it.
You’re not really doing much to help the bacon taste better when you choose to rinse it with cold water. Many would say that this is a fruitless endeavor.
Honestly, it isn’t worth worrying about the fact that bacon shrinks when you cook it. This is just a normal thing that you don’t need to work to try to prevent.
To better understand this, you’ll need to learn exactly why it shrinks in the first place. This will help you to better appreciate the situation so that you can just enjoy the bacon.
Why Bacon Shrinks
There are a few reasons why bacon will shrink when you cook it. Bacon contains fat, and the fatty bits of it will wind up melting during the cooking process.
If something melts away, it makes sense that the size would be reduced. This is a totally normal thing that you can’t do anything about.
It’s true that running cold water over the bacon can prevent a certain amount of shrinkage, but it isn’t really helping. You’re not making the bacon better by doing this.
Most types of bacon that you can buy at a standard grocery store will contain lots of fat. These types of bacon will shrink more than others.
It’s also true that many types contain a lot of water. Water is used during the curing process, and excess water will wind up evaporating or cooking away.
So, you’ve learned that a lot of bacon will shrink quite a bit when you cook it. What can be done to ensure that it doesn’t shrink too much then?
Buy High-Quality Bacon
Buying high-quality bacon is going to be in your best interests. If you want to have bacon that doesn’t shrink all that much when you cook it, the only real thing to do is to buy a better version.
You can buy bacon that doesn’t contain quite as much fat as the less expensive grocery store bacon. Better bacon will also be far less likely to contain excess water from the curing process.
Generally, you can find the best bacon when you go directly to a butcher shop. You’ll be purchasing it directly from a trusted and respected local source.
Local butcher shops are committed to quality. They’re going to give you better cuts of meat than you can get at big grocery store chains, for the most part.
If you are someone who loves bacon, it’s worthwhile to seek out a local butcher. You should be able to get better bacon that will be less likely to significantly shrink.
It should be noted that even the high-quality bacon is going to shrink a little bit. All bacon will contain fat and you should expect it to shrink some when you cook it.
Can You Keep Bacon From Shrinking in the Microwave?
Sometimes it seems like bacon shrinks especially badly in the microwave. If you want to reheat some in the microwave, you might be worried that it will shrink way too much.
There is a trick that can help you to keep the shrinkage to a minimum, though. It involves lining the plate with paper towels first.
Get a plate that is safe to use in the microwave and then line it with paper towels. It’s recommended to use three or four paper towels for this.
You want to place the bacon on the plate now and ensure that it isn’t touching the actual plate. Put another paper towel on top of the bacon so that you won’t have to deal with the microwave getting messy due to splatter.
The bacon should turn out pretty good and it won’t have shrunk too much. It’ll still likely shrink a bit, but it shouldn’t be so pronounced if you take these precautions.
Can You Keep Bacon From Curling?
Another thing that happens to bacon that some people don’t like is that it curls. Cooking the bacon in a specific way should help to keep this from being a big issue.
Try lining a sheet tray with parchment paper (or an alternative). Place the bacon on the tray while ensuring that it stays in a single layer.
You don’t want the strips of bacon to touch each other. Now place a cooling rack upside down on the bacon before placing it in the oven.
The oven should be set to 400 degrees Fahrenheit for this. Cook for approximately fifteen minutes. The bacon should come out completely flat and you’ll be able to use it however you want to.
If you’re someone who really prefers to have totally flat bacon, this little trick should be extremely helpful. The cooling rack pressing down on the bacon will keep it from curling and it should still be delicious.
This is definitely worth doing when you want to use bacon as an ingredient. For example, if you’re trying to make some bacon strips to be used in bacon, lettuce, and tomato sandwiches, this method will be perfect.
It’ll also be great for getting straight bacon strips that you can put on top of hamburgers. Truly, baking it in the oven is a great choice.
How Often Should You Eat Bacon
Most nutritionists say that you shouldn’t eat bacon all the time. Of course, it’s up to you to decide what you want to eat.
Just know that too much has the potential to be bad for you. You aren’t supposed to eat too much red and processed meat in one day.
If you want to keep things safe, you could enjoy it every few weeks. Eating it for breakfast every single day might be a bit too much.
Of course, many people love bacon so much that they wouldn’t want to start the day without it. So long as you understand that it isn’t the healthiest food, you’ll be able to make your own choices.
It’s said that eating it every single day can raise your risk for certain types of cancer, though. Since there are consequences for eating it too often, it might be best to err on the side of caution when it comes to bacon consumption.
Bacon is something that some people like so much that they have started to eat it along with desserts. To some, the idea of pairing it with sweets will seem absurd.
Others might think that the idea is intriguing. There are entire recipes that use bacon to make interesting sweet treats.
One such dessert is the bacon pecan bar. Anyone who loves desserts such as pecan pie will be interested in trying this one out.
Another interesting option involves using bacon bits as a topping for vanilla ice cream. The contrast between bacon bits and sweet things will be something that many people will enjoy.
It might not be for you depending on your sensibilities, though. Either way, it’s an interesting thing to look into if you’re looking for new ways to enjoy bacon.
Learning more about this topic should help you to feel more at ease. You can’t truly prevent bacon shrinkage completely no matter what you do.
This doesn’t mean that you can’t reduce the shrinkage by taking certain steps, though. Cooking it in the oven instead of using a skillet is wise.
This method is far more likely to keep the bacon from shrinking very much. You can also use a cooling rack turned upside down to help keep it from curling up if you want to.
It’s also recommended to line the baking sheet with parchment paper. It’ll help the bacon to turn out the best that it can in the oven.
You can reduce shrinkage by up to fifty percent if you decide to run cold water over it. This might not be worth doing, though.
Many bacon enthusiasts have pointed out that this would wash away the spices of the bacon. This makes it a less-than-ideal solution to the shrinkage issue.
Truly, bacon shrinkage is a natural thing that you shouldn’t worry about too much. It’s going to shrink because it contains fat that will melt away during the cooking process.
More of the fat melts away when you cook it in a skillet. Also, bacon will shrink because it contains water from the curing process.
Buying high-quality bacon can do a good job of keeping the shrinkage to a minimum. High-quality bacon will be a bit less fatty and it won’t contain so much water.
You can get such bacon from your local butcher shop. It’s certainly worthwhile to seek out the best bacon in town if you consider yourself to be a bacon connoisseur.
After learning everything about bacon, you’ll be able to decide how you want to approach things. Hopefully, you’ll be able to enjoy it to the fullest with your family sometime soon.
Just be sure to enjoy it in moderation. It’s a great food to eat from time to time, but it’s likely not the best food to have on a daily basis.
Sarah is the founder of Baking Kneads, LLC, a blog sharing guides, tips, and recipes for those learning how to bake. Growing up as the daughter of a baker, she spent much of her childhood learning the basics in a local bakery.