Sometimes the best techniques are the counterintuitive ones, and our simple stovetop method of cooking bacon in water is just that. It may sound weird, but it will produce crispy and tender bacon every time.
America’s Test Kitchen’s bacon innovation has always been top notch. 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 the idea of using water to cook bacon is definitely one of our best.
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Why Does Cooking Bacon in Water Work?
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. Plus, since the water helps render the fat, there will be significantly less splatter as your bacon finishes in the pan.
Also, by the time the water reaches its boiling point, the bacon fat is almost completely rendered. This will help keep the meat bacon from burning, since you now don’t have to wait for the fat to cook off like you would if you cooked it the traditional way, instead of in water.
Now your bacon is tender and crisp, not dry and brittle—perfect for your next BLT.
How to Cook Bacon in Water
- Start the bacon in a cold pan. This allows the fat to render slowly.
- 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.
- 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.
- Transfer bacon to a paper towel-lined plate to drain, and serve.
This America’s Test Kitchen bacon 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 making bacon in the oven.