Cooking Tips
Want Crispy, Tender Bacon? Add Water.
Counterintuitive, yet highly effective.
Mari Levine

We’ve always been at the forefront of bacon innovation. We’ve put it in burgers, candied it, turned it into jam, and made our own. We’ve also tasted several types, from turkey to artisanal, to determine the best-tasting.

But one bacon-related discovery stands above the rest: the seemingly counterintuitive technique of adding water to a skillet of bacon.

It’s the key to bacon that’s crisp and tender instead of dry and crumbly. The addition of water keeps the initial cooking temperature low and gentle, so the meat retains its moisture and stays tender as the fat renders.

Here’s how to do it:

1. Start the bacon in a cold pan. This allows the fat to render slowly.

2. Add some water. Cook’s Illustrated editor in chief Dan Souza is a fan of a tablespoon or two because it doesn’t add much time to the cooking process.

3. Cook over medium heat until the bacon is crisp tender, flipping after the first side has crisped. The timing will depend on the thickness of the bacon.

4. Transfer bacon to a paper towel-lined plate to drain, and serve.

This technique works with bacon of any thickness that’s in strips or cut into pieces. We like to use it when we’re making a smaller amount of bacon; for larger quantities, we prefer the ease and even cooking of the oven.

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