Last Updated Jan 2024 – Cooking bacon is messy. It’s not a thing that people talk about all the time, sure, but if you’ve ever gone straight to the kitchen and tried to cook bacon before waking up and putting on proper cooking clothes, you probably made a mess.
Getting splattered with bits of bacon grease for several minutes isn’t fun, and while things like lids, screens, and other tools can help catch the flying fat, you’re probably going to still get bits of bacon drippings on your stove or counter.
A microwave bacon cooker solves this issue by moving your bacon prep to a special-purpose microwaveable gadget. This means no mess, easy cleanup, and perfect bacon in minutes. In theory, anyway.
Should You Microwave Bacon?
Different methods of cooking bacon will give you different results. If you’re cooking a lot of bacon, the oven is the tool to use. A foil lined rack makes cleanup a total joke (you simply dispose of the foil when you’re done), and while it takes a while to preheat the oven and then wait for your bacon to cook, the process is totally hands free.
If you’re in a hurry, however, this 30+ minute process simply won’t do. It’s also a bit of a waste to drape a baking sheet in foil and preheat your oven if you’re only cooking a few strips.
Pan-frying bacon is messy, but it definitely has its upsides. I’ll frequently cook bacon in a pan and then save the fat for later use. This might involve frying an egg or a steak immediately after I’m done cooking the bacon. Alternately, I can pour off the fat and save it for use in a deep fryer. If I’m not using the grease, however, I find that microwaving bacon is often a better option.
The microwave really shines when you’re cooking small amounts of bacon in a hurry. Even without specialized equipment, cooking a couple of pieces of bacon to just the right level of crispiness takes just a minute or two.
Cleanup tends to be easy, too, although it starts becoming a hassle if you’re trying to cook a lot of bacon at once. That’s where bacon cookers come in – with a good bacon cooker for microwave ovens, you can cook upwards of ten strips of bacon at once without making a mess.
How To Microwave Bacon
First of all, it’s important to note that microwave oven cooking times vary and you might like your bacon more or less crispy than other people. You should experiment with the cooking times below and adjust them based on your equipment and tastes.
Microwaving bacon involves three steps.
First, you set up your bacon in a way that deals with the grease. Then, you put the bacon in the microwave for a few minutes. Finally, you wait for a couple minutes for the bacon to cool. This third step is extremely important, since your bacon (and often the container you cook it in) will be very, very hot. Letting it sit will help cook it more evenly and prevent injury.
There are multiple ways to arrange bacon before you microwave it. One favorite is to use a small curved bowl and a large plate, preferably one with a bit of depth to hold the bacon grease. Place the bowl upside down on the plate and drape the bacon on top of it. The grease will run off the bacon and fall onto the plate, where it will remain corralled and controlled. This method is perfect for heating up three or four strips of bacon as long as you don’t need them to be flat.
If flat bacon is required, the best thing to do is to use lots of paper towels. Lay about two paper towels down on a plate, then put several strips of bacon on top. Place at least one paper towel on top of the bacon and the microwave it. This method works best for two to four strips of bacon. Beyond this, the bacon tends to produce too much grease for the paper towels to work properly.
Other options include microwave safe racks and specialty bacon cookers. A bacon rack specifically designed for microwave use is the best solution for cooking large amounts of bacon in the microwave frequently. If you want lots of crisp bacon in a hurry, you’ll probably want to use one of the products below.
So what about the second step?
How long should you cook bacon for? Many recipes suggest putting your bacon in for about a minute per strip. This is a very good starting point when you’re cooking two to four strips. If you’re cooking more, I’d suggest checking your bacon every couple minutes. Not only will this keep you from burning your bacon, it will also give you an opportunity to clean out excess grease before it makes a mess in your microwave.
The third step involves patience. Once your microwave beeps, don’t take your bacon out right away! Instead, set a timer for at least sixty seconds and wait until that goes off before you try to move your platter of porky perfection.
This is a pretty hard step to follow, but it’s very important. You’ll avoid burns, you’ll ensure your bacon is cooked properly, and you’ll often make cleanup easier on yourself.
One final thing to mention: you don’t have to FINISH cooking your bacon in the microwave. One trick I sometimes use involves combining multiple ways to cook bacon. If you put your bacon in for thirty seconds per strip, for example, the bacon will be cooked about halfway. You can then put it in the oven or on the stove until it’s done.
This trick is great for people who prefer the texture of bacon that’s cooked in the oven or on the stove. You can definitely get crispy bacon out of the microwave, but some people still prefer the slightly more organic texture of stove or oven cooked bacon.
Best Bacon Cooker
The Emson Bacon Wave is pretty close to being the perfect bacon cooker. It’s a special-purpose tool that allows you to cook up to 14 strips of bacon at once with very little mess. It works by using plastic tongs to hold bacon vertically above a tray that collects grease. This keeps the bacon out of the fat while it cooks and helps prevent the bacon from coming out “rubbery.” In other words, it’s a nearly flawless tool for cooking flat, crisp bacon.
If you haven’t spent a lot of time cooking bacon in the microwave, you might not understand how important those last two words are. Bacon can definitely come out of the microwave nice and crisp, but it takes a bit of practice. Hastily throwing your bacon between a pair of paper towels will often result in an unappetizing, rubbery mess. This is often because you’re not dealing with the fat that renders off of your bacon. A paper towel or two might be enough for a single strip of bacon, but definitely not 14.
The Bacon Wave solves this by keeping the bacon elevated over a collection tray. As the bacon cooks, fat runs off of it and accumulates in an easy-to-clean tray below. It’s a simple solution that involves no moving parts and no added complexity. This means it won’t break or fail to work when something weird happens.
The other important word here is “flat.” While there are other bacon cookers that will give you crispy, delicious bacon, many of them do so by hanging the bacon over pegs (or draping it over a bowl). These types of cookers simply can’t give you perfectly flat bacon. This isn’t a big deal if you’re crumbling your bacon and adding it to a salad, eating it straight, or making a towering burger, but if you want a flat BLT sandwich, you’ll definitely want the Bacon Wave and not one of these imitators.
These features are great, but they’re not the thing that makes the Bacon Wave the best. The biggest advantage of the Emson Bacon Wave is capacity. Other bacon cookers top out at three or six or eight strips of bacon. A large tray might hold ten strips, although you’ll probably have some overlap that will affect how the bacon cooks. The Bacon Wave holds 14. It achieves this improvement by simply re-orienting the bacon to be vertical. Plastic spacers ensure that there’s more than enough room in between each strip of bacon for air to flow, ensuring each strip cooks evenly and individually.
Now, there are a few downsides to the Bacon Wave. The first has to do with longevity. The small plastic columns used to hold bacon in the advantageous vertical position are thick enough to last for a while, but they will probably break eventually.
Hardcore bacon lovers might get a year out of this tool before they need to replace it. It’s quite affordable, however, so it’s more of a hassle than a cost issue. Besides, this is a “might,” not a “will.” There are many happy customers who report using a Bacon Wave for more than a decade with no issues.
The second downside is that the Bacon Wave takes a little bit of effort to load. Hanging-type cookers and trays can literally be draped with bacon willy-nilly. The Wave requires you to load bacon in between plastic pillars. It’s not hard by any means, but you will get your fingers a bit greasy.
If you want to cook lots of bacon at once in the microwave, the Bacon Wave is your best bet. It’s affordable, simple, and has several advantages when it comes to cooking bacon in microwave ovens. Its large capacity ensures you can cook lots of bacon at once, while the fact that it keeps bacon straight is perfect for party trays and sandwiches. It’s definitely the go-to choice if you want a microwave bacon cooker.
This inexpensive gadget is a close competitor to the Emson Bacon Wave. It’s a simple tray with elevated prongs that you can hang several slices of bacon off. This allows fat to drip off the bacon and onto the tray, ensuring you avoid the rubbery texture of improperly microwaved bacon.
The big advantage of this tool over the Emson is how easy it is to load and clean. The Bacon Wave isn’t difficult to clean by any stretch of the imagination, but you do have somewhat limited access to the drip tray. The Makin’ Bacon bacon cooker has a clear, open design that enables your sponge to go wherever it wants.
The other advantage is obvious when you load bacon onto either device. The Makin’ Bacon doesn’t require any complex maneuvers – you simply drape the bacon over the prongs and throw it in the microwave! This means it’s a bit nicer for people who don’t need flat bacon and people who don’t necessarily need to cook a while 14 strips at once.
Speaking of capacity, it’s worth noting that this bacon cooker also does a pretty good job of cooking a lot of bacon at once. It’s pretty easy to load up each of the 6 prongs with 2 slices of bacon each, giving this tool a capacity of about 12 strips, give or take. Note that this does depend somewhat on the length of your bacon. You may have to cut long packages in half (the Bacon Wave also has this problem, although to a somewhat smaller extent).
Some users report that this cooker was made from cheap plastic that can melt in the microwave. This appears to be limited to 2016. Reviews from both before and after that specific year are much more positive.
This suggests that while there WAS an issue with the quality of the materials used in this bacon cooker, it’s been corrected. Still, you should not expect this inexpensive bacon tray to last for more than a couple of years.
If you prefer to cook smaller quantities of bacon, this bacon cooker might be a better choice than the Bacon Wave. It’s easier to load and clean. If you don’t mind the fact that your bacon won’t be straight and you’re willing to work with the smaller capacity, the Makin’ Bacon cooker might be the right choice for your kitchen.
This simple ridged tray is a brilliant tool for any kitchen. Not only is it great for cooking bacon in the microwave, the ridges also help drain fat from other meats, sausages, and even pizza. It’s a perfect tool that will give your microwave a lot of added versatility.
The practicality of this robust, dishwasher safe tray makes it a safe bet for any kitchen, not just one where lots of bacon gets cooked. Two sides ensure that you can use it for all types of cooking. As far as bacon goes, it can handle about 6 strips at a time. The bacon comes out crisp, flat, and totally delicious.
The biggest downside to this sturdy tray is the size. It’s a bit large for smaller microwaves, meaning that you’ll have to disable your turntable and rotate it manually. Nevertheless, this sturdy NordicWare tray is still probably the tray to choose. Options from other brands tend to be flimsy, cheap, and short-lived in a real kitchen.
Just like the other options on this page, this bacon rack is pretty cheap. While NordicWare’s American craftsmanship tends to hold up for a while, it’s not the end of the world if you find yourself replacing this tray after a year or two. Again, customer reports indicate that this is one of the sturdier bacon trays on the market, so this isn’t likely.
If you’re after a tool that cooks more than just bacon, this easy-to-load NordicWare tray is one of your best bets. It’s big, sturdy, and easy to clean, making it perfect for cooking a few strips of bacon in a jiffy. The large cooking surface, multiple surface types, and simple design make it perfect for heating up leftovers, too.
If you want to cook bacon in a hurry, the microwave is a perfect tool to use. Whether you use a bacon rack like the ones above or simply use paper towels or a bowl, you’ll have crispy bacon in minutes. Be sure to experiment with various combinations of cooking time and power setting in order to find out what works for your microwave and setup. With a bit of practice, you’ll be able to make bacon in mere minutes with a minimum of mess!