Bacon can go from raw to overcooked in the blink of an eye. However, if you don’t have much experience cooking bacon to the perfect level of doneness will be an uphill battle.
Ultimately the correct doneness depends on your preferences.
Some individuals like their bacon to be a little chewy, while others prefer their bacon nice and crispy.
This is why you need to know how to tell if bacon is done.
Can You Undercook Bacon?
Bacon is salt-cured meat that’s fabricated from the pig’s belly. This means it is just like any cut of beef.
Would you eat an undercooked Denver steak? If the answer’s no, then you should never eat undercooked bacon.
While no one likes overcooked bacon, you should always thoroughly cook your bacon.
Since bacon is raw, it will increase your chances of contracting foodborne illness.
How To Tell When Bacon Is Done
There are multiple ways to tell if bacon is done. For example, shape, color, and texture, as well as moisture levels, are ways to tell if bacon is done.
These tell-tale cooking signs will let you know when the bacon is just about ready. So be ready to pull the bacon off the stove.
The shape and size of the bacon are a great way to tell if bacon is done. Ever noticed how thick the strips of bacon looked when you took them out of the package?
Ever noticed how much bacon shrinks up when it’s cooked?
That’s because bacon can shrink up to 40% once it’s cooked. As the bacon cooks, it’s exposed to heat which causes the size of the bacon to shrink significantly.
Bacon consists of moisture and fat that evaporates and melts away as it cooks, leaving you with crispy meat.
Therefore, if the bacon has shrunk so much that it cannot shrink anymore, it’s just about done.
In regard to shape, the bacon will no longer be a flat strip of meat.
Because of shrinkage, the sides of the bacon will get wavier with the corners of the meat will curl up away from the pan.
That’s why you should make sure all of the bacon’s corners are uniformly curled before removing it from the pan.
Color is probably the easiest way to tell if bacon is done. Raw bacon has a light pink color with white strips of fat that are running through the surface of the bacon.
In the same way that brisket changes from a reddish, pinkish color to brown, bacon changes from pink to brown.
The bacon should turn golden brown. As soon as you notice the bacon’s color changes from pink to light brown, you should test the texture of the bacon for doneness since the bacon is almost done.
However, if you wait too long and the bacon develops a darker shade of brown, you overcooked the bacon.
Texture can be complicated when it comes to bacon. In a perfect world, bacon should be crispy enough that it doesn’t rip off as though you wear tearing a piece of cloth.
The bacon should break or snap into pieces when you bite it.
Cooked bacon should be able to be hoisted up from the cast-iron skillet without flopping.
Sadly, you cannot test bacon for doneness by biting into it.
First, you will burn your hands by touching the extremely hot bacon. Second, you will burn your mouth by eating hot bacon.
It’s best to use a fork or a spoon to test the bacon for doneness.
This rule applies to chewy, crispy, or well-done bacon. If the bacon drapes over the spoon or fork, it is too soft and needs to be cooked longer.
In any case, you should always keep an eye on your bacon, whether you are cooking it in a skillet on the stove, indoor grill, or griddle grill, even if it is still undercooked.
You may not notice when it’s done, and the bacon may burn.
Nevertheless, if you cook the bacon on the stove, the bacon will still be a bit floppy, even if it is overcooked.
So do not wait till the bacon is burnt to a crisp to take it off the heat.
Raw bacon contains moisture and grease, but cooked bacon does not. When you drain the bacon on paper towels, all that will be left are crispy, dry, light pieces of bacon.
While the bacon is cooking, the bacon will sit in foamy grease. It’s the fatty part of the meat that is being rendered away.
When the bacon starts foaming, it’s a sign that it needs to be flipped. However, if the foam begins to dissipate, it’s almost time to remove it from the stove.
I saved the thermometer method for last because, in most cases, it will not work with the average bacon.
Regular bacon or thin cut bacon strips are way too thin to get an accurate reading from a thermometer.
However, if your bacon strips are more than 1/2-inch in thickness, you can use an instant-read thermometer.
If you have an infrared thermometer, simply aim the thermometer at the bacon.
But if you are using a probe thermometer, insert it into each strip of bacon and keep it there for 5 seconds until the bacon has a temperature of 145°F.
Ultimately, the bacon should have a temperature between 145°F and 160°F. However, if it goes over this temperature, you will be walking burnt bacon territory.
Knowing when bacon is done is simple and easy. Best of all, learning these tips requires little to no effort, and once you get the hang of these tips, you will be making perfectly cooked bacon in no time.
Remember to pay attention to the size, shape, texture, and moisture levels.
The more you familiarize yourself with these signs, the more you will cook the bacon to your liking.
Therefore, there’s no excuse for undercooking, overcooking, or burning bacon anymore.
You might also be interested in the following:
- How To Tell When Lobster Tail Is Done
- How To Tell When Turkey Is Done
- How To Tell When Corn on the Cob Is Done
- How To Tell When Salmon Is Done
- How To Tell When Chicken Is Done
- How To Tell When Shrimp Is Done
I have been smoking and grilling meat from an early age and enjoy sharing my knowledge and expertise through the hundreds of articles I have written about BBQ. I hope to make everyone’s BBQ journey that little bit easier.