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How to cook bacon. It’s a topic of hot debate for anyone who loves its porky, salty goodness, and everyone has their preferred method. Today I’m going to share what I think is the best way to cook bacon, which is ridiculously simple and requires minimal effort. It’s exactly the kind of food prep I (and many of you) appreciate.
The title’s a bit of a giveaway, but yes, I’m going to show you how to cook bacon in a steam oven. Whether you want to cook whole slices for breakfast or small diced pieces to stir into another dish, using a combi steam oven to cook bacon is fast and gives the best results I’ve ever had.
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Why cook bacon in a steam oven?
You might wonder what the benefit of cooking bacon in a steam oven is, when you could just pan fry some and be done with it. Pan frying is arguably a little faster, but I prefer the steam oven for a few reasons.
Firstly, bacon cooked in the steam oven becomes ultra crisp without any additional fat. You can achieve this with pan fried bacon (or, I’m told, microwaved bacon, if you also like a slightly odd metallic taste along with the porkiness). But where the steam oven version outdoes both of these is in the ratio of crispiness to tender meat.
When you pan fry bacon until it’s very crispy, the meat tends to become dried out and a little leathery. This means you generally have to make a choice between crispy and tender. Steam oven bacon, however, retains the moisture where it counts, giving you bacon that’s crisp and snappy in some parts and tender with just a little chew in others. In short, it’s the best of both worlds.
The other reason I love to cook bacon in my steam oven is because of the low mess and minimal clean up needed. With pan frying, there’s always a halo of grease spatter requiring a full wash and wipe down of my cooktop, plus a fry pan to wash. I have a fry pan which is amazing to cook with but needs to be hand washed, while in the steam oven I use pans which can go through the dishwasher just fine. Dishwasher pans = less clean up effort = winning. If there’s grease splattered around the inside of my steam oven after cooking bacon it’s usually minimal (most spatter stays inside the pan), and a quick wipe with a damp cloth sorts it out.
Should you start bacon in a cold oven or a preheated oven?
Whether you start cooking your bacon in a cold oven or one that’s already hot is down to preference and what’s most convenient for you.
I prefer to put my pan of bacon into a cold oven, where it heats as the oven does. Starting cold helps the fat to render out a little more gently (although it’s less noticeably different than you might think compared to the ‘start hot’ method). It also keeps bacon slices flatter than if you put them into a hot oven.
If I’m cooking diced bacon, or if I’ve been cooking something else and already have the oven on, I just put the pan into a hot oven and don’t worry about it. It’ll cook faster and unless the bacon is very thick cut it’ll still come out tender and fairly evenly cooked.
What to do with steam oven bacon
Though I’m sure you can already think of plenty of ways to use a pan of crispy, salty, bacony delight, here are a few of my favorite uses for it:
Cook slices to put into the sous vide egg bites I shared a few weeks back.
Have a pile of bacon ready to go (it keeps for several days, already cooked, in the fridge) and warm it gently in a regular oven while you make some steamed scrambled eggs.
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Steam Oven Bacon
- Thick cut slices of bacon or diced bacon
- Line a perforated pan with baking paper (a solid pan will do if you don’t have a perforated one, but it may take a minute or two longer to cook the bacon).
- Lay the bacon out in the pan, making sure it’s single layer with no overlap. If you’re using diced bacon, just spread it out as best you can and make sure there isn’t too much bacon in there. In either case you’re better to use two sparsely covered pans than one over filled one.
- Put the pan into a cold oven and set to 400°F/200°C, combination steam setting. If your oven has variable steam settings, use 50% (if not, don’t worry! Just set to combi or convection steam at the correct temperature and the oven will sort out the steam level for you).
- Cook the bacon until it’s sizzling and golden, around 12-15 minutes for thick slices or 8-10 minutes for diced pieces. Go for the right color rather than a set time. It may not seem very crispy when you take it out of the oven, but will crisp up as it cools slightly.
- Either use or serve the bacon immediately, or cool and store in a covered container in the fridge for up to 4 days. If I’m storing it, I like to drain the bacon on a paper towel for a minute or two before putting it away. Stored bacon can be reheated in a dry oven at around 300°F/150°C for a few minutes, just until it’s hot.
- I find this method works best with thick cut slices of dry-cured bacon (or the same bacon diced into pieces) Very thin pieces or those with a lot of moisture seem to cook away to almost nothing, and the margin of error between crisp, golden bacon and overcooked burnt pan scrapings isn’t great.
- You will need to work out the timing which suits you best. There are so many variables in the types of bacon available, their moisture content and how thick they’re cut, as well as combi steam oven types and pans, that exact cooking times are impossible to give. I’ve given my usual timings but be aware yours could vary somewhat.
Over to you – if you try this recipe I’d love to know about it! Share your comments below or on Facebook, tag @steamandbake on Instagram, or pin all your favourite Steam and Bake recipes over on Pinterest!
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