How To Tell If Bacon Is Done (From Soft to Crispy)

Bacon is one of life’s luxury ingredients. 

It goes with EVERYTHING!

In a sandwich, in a salad, or with maple syrup and pancakes!

You get the point.

But for all you bacon lovers…

Do you know when it’s done?

What Do We Mean By ‘Done’?

The doneness of bacon depends on a few factors.

Broadly speaking ‘done’ is when the bacon is edible.

However, well-cooked bacon being edible is just the tip of the iceberg. You should also take into consideration the type of bacon you are using.

Are you using bacon as a seasoning? Or want it golden brown and crispy?

Do you know the ideal cooking temperature for thicker-cut bacon?

What Temperature Is Pork Done At? 

The ideal temperature of pork before consumption should be 145°F.

Bacon is usually cured with a lot of salt. This can mean that it’s sometimes edible before cooking.

Always check your packaging for raw meats and the cooking instructions.

You never want a risk of food poisoning. Raw pork is no joke!

Beautiful Bacon & The Different Types

So we know that bacon comes from pork. The cut is taken from the underside of the pig’s belly.

It is produced in a variety of different forms.

Usually cured with salt and smoked using hardwoods. It has a high-fat content and a natural umami flavor.

Below are the most common forms of bacon.

Thin Bacon Rasher

The most common form is in thin strips of meat. These bacon strips are very thin.

The color is pink to brown depending if it has been smoked. The fat is intermuscular.

Thick Cut Pork Belly

The thick-cut pork belly bacon is thicker than the bacon slices.

The bacon fat is a thick cap formation on meat. A thicker cut is more of a pinkish color. 

Bacon Pieces

Pieces of bacon are cut up into little cubes or chunks. They are thicker than a rasher but smaller than the belly bacon.

They will have a brown color from the curing process. Bits of bacon are great for getting crispy!

Note: Panchetta is the most commonly consumed type of bacon that is cut up into pieces.

Want to Smoke Your Own Bacon?

Prefer to smoke your own bacon? Here is our own tried and tested smoked bacon recipe.

It super simple and comes out perfectly everything time!

Or want to try bacon jerky? Another simple recipe that kids and adults both enjoy.

How To Know If Bacon Is Done

Fire up those cast iron skillets!

The aroma of bacon is about the fill the room. Adequately cooking bacon is a must for any cooking enthusiast.

Spoiled bacon will at best ruin your meal. Or at worst give you parasitic worms.

Yuck.

The Right Cooking Method, Temperature & Time For Bacon 

How are you going to cook your bacon? Can I expect a long cooking time?

Undercooked bacon will have a slimy texture. Avoiding this starts with the right cooking method.

Thin Bacon Rasher

Thin strips of bacon are best fried in a pan or skillet.

Have on medium heat to give time for the bacon grease to render down.

Turn them once. This should only take 5-7 minutes.

Thick Cut Pork Belly

Thicker cut bacon should be fried on low heat with the fat side down.

You will need time to render down the fat cap.

While allowing the heat to cook the raw bacon. This should take around 15 minutes.

Bacon Pieces

Bacon pieces should be fried fast on high heat. This will only take a few minutes.

Monitoring The Internal Temperature

Monitoring the internal temperature is tricky for bacon. Typically for other meat products, this is the best way to ensure it is done.

For thinner bacon pieces, an instant-read thermometer can’t work.

In the thicker bacon, put the probe in and monitor until 145°F.

Visual Evaluation

The color palette changes on bacon rapidly. This is one of the best ways to tell if it is done.

Uncooked bacon will still have a pink color. You have to be careful with pink pork products as they can still be undercooked. 

Note: Any type of bacon you choose to cook will lose around 30% of its original size.

Thin Bacon Rasher

The bacon rasher will be golden brown and crispy. 

Thick Cut Pork Belly

The thicker cut bacon should have a golden brown crust and rendered fat cap. 

Bacon Pieces

The bacon pieces should also be golden brown or even a little bit charred.

Texture Evaluation

The feel test is another great way to know if you have uncooked meat. Always be careful handling hot food and fat.

Tip: Transfer the bacon to aluminum foil and tap with a paper towel to remove excess fat.

Thin Bacon Rasher

Crispier bacon is best! Check that it isn’t slimy and if the intermuscular fat has rendered down.

You should be able to cleanly break it because of low moisture levels. There should be no stringiness or a chewy texture.

Thick Cut Pork Belly

The thicker bacon should also have a crust. The fat cap should be rendered and crispy. The meat will have a bit of bounce to it.

Bacon Pieces

Bacon bits will be hard to touch. The fat will be rendered.

How To Get Perfect Bacon – Done Right!

So now we understand what we are looking for!

But how do we get the absolute best out of bacon?

Choosing The Right Cut 

  • Understand what type of bacon you have.
  • Know what type of bacon your recipe needs.
  • Buy good quality from your butcher.

Should I Cure The Bacon? 

Uncured bacon will have it stated on the packaging. 

  • Check your packaging to see if it has been smoked.
  • Use a wood pellet grill and strong hardwood to add more smoke.
  • Thicker cut pork belly bacon can be brined.

Do You Season Bacon? 

Never season bacon with salt as it will already have been cured.

  • Add garlic or onion for seasoning.
  • Spices and aromatics can be added to the thicker cut because of more surface area.

Monitoring During The Cooking Process 

The thinner bacon and the bacon bits only take a few minutes. Stay with them the entire cooking time.

Or are smoking or frying a thicker cut? Use a meat thermometer to monitor.

Do You Need To Rest Bacon? 

You do not need to rest bacon meat.

But I do advise resting it with a layer of paper towels to absorb any excess fat and grease. 

Smoke On!

Charlie

Author: Charlie Reeves
Hi, I’m Charlie, I am head taste tester at Simply Meat Smoking! I love it grilling, smoking, and getting out in the yard with the kids! The family also love to test all my recipes (especially my EXTRA CRISPY pulled pork, smoky pork loin, and ANY SEAFOOD I grill)

You will usually find me playing with the kids, perfecting my brisket bark, or sipping beers with boys around the fire. Can’t wait to share all my delicious smoking and grilling adventures with you!

You can read more on our About Us page.

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