How To Quickly Thaw Bacon
Everybody loves bacon, right? It can take the most simple dishes and make them feel rich and indulgent. You don’t have to just eat bacon in the morning, I love it in sandwiches, on burgers, and I even love to wrap other proteins in bacon, like this bacon-wrapped pork tenderloin.
The problem with bacon is that I often buy a few pounds of it when it goes on sale, and then freeze it. Or, I only want a few pieces for breakfast and I end up freezing the rest in a freezer bag for later. I’ve learned how to cook chicken breasts, shrimp, and fish from frozen, so why not bacon?
There are several ways to cook or thaw bacon from frozen, and some ways are better for certain dishes than others. Let me tell you what I learned.
The Best Method For Cooking Frozen Bacon
This is my favorite way to cook bacon from frozen. It’s fast and the bacon cooks evenly. It’s perfect if you want to top a salad with bacon, or add bacon to a bake, casserole, or quiche.
A lardon is just a strip or cube of bacon cut into chunks and then cooked. If you have a very sharp knife (this is the one I used) carefully slice horizontally across your frozen block of bacon and place the little slices in a skillet to cook. They’ll separate into lardons as they thaw and then they’ll cook up perfectly. Instructions for how to cook them are below.
Here is a great tip! Keep a block of bacon in a zip top bag in your freezer. Whenever you want to add some bacon to a dish, take out the block and cut off a couple of slices from the block and cook them. Put the rest of the bacon in the freezer. This way you’ll always have bacon to quickly cook up and add to things. This is a particularly good technique when you’re making things that use chopped bacon, like this delicious bacon gravy recipe.
The Best Method for Freezing Bacon
Bacon freezes really well so if you want to just take a sealed package that you bought and put it into the freezer, it will do fine. Then you’ll use one of the thawing methods below. The problem comes in if you want to freeze bacon so that you can access just a few slices at a time. If you’ve frozen it as a full package, it’s impossible to just get a bit off. So, if you want to freeze bacon in a way that lets you just take out one or a few slices at a time, this is the method for you. This is seriously my favorite way to freeze bacon!
The Best Method For Thawing Bacon Slowly: The Fridge
If you’re not in a rush and planning ahead, defrost your bacon in the refrigerator. It takes some time, overnight or up to 24 hours, but you can move it from freezer to fridge and then not worry about it until you’re ready to cook. It can safely stay in the fridge for up to 5 days before cooking.
The Best Method For Thawing Bacon Quickly: In Hot Water
If you’re wanting whole strips of bacon, the best way to evenly and quickly thaw it is to submerge bacon that is still in packaging or in a zip-top bag in hot tap water. You heard that right. HOT tap water. It used to be frowned upon to defrost meat in hot water. However, recent studies have found that this is safe if done following certain guidelines.
First, you can only do this for cuts of meat that are small enough that they will defrost in the hot water quickly. For instance, individually frozen steaks, chicken breasts, chicken thighs, and packages of about 1 pound of ground meat are great defrosted in this way. Larger pieces of meat will take too long to defrost and thus will be sitting in the hot water for too long. That is when bacteria will start to form at dangerous rates.
Second, the maximum amount of time that raw frozen meat should be in hot water is 30 minutes. Longer than that allows the meat to start building bacteria too quickly.
Third, and this is very important, meat defrosted using this method should then be fully-cooked immediately so that any bacteria that has started gets killed and isn’t given the chance to grow more.
Finally, to keep the water hot and allow the meat to defrost quickly, drain and add more hot water a couple of times. The frozen bacon acts like an ice cube and will chill it too quickly otherwise, and then it will end up needing to be in the water for too long.
The Second Best Way To Thaw Bacon: In Cold Tap Water
It will only take a little bit longer, but a single 16 oz. package of frozen bacon will usually defrost in tap water in under 30 minutes. Simply fill your sink with cold water. Add the bacon in its original packaging or in a sealed zip top bag. Allow bacon to sit in the water until it is defrosted, flipping it over every now and then so that the defrosting is even.
Thawing Frozen Bacon In A Skillet
I’m not a huge fan of this method but I know people who do it all the time. If you forget to thaw bacon and you realize you want to cook some up, you can plop the whole pound or a piece right into a large skillet over medium heat. This skillet is big enough.
To thaw more quickly, cover it with a lid or foil and the steam will speed up the process. As the bacon thaws in the pan, you will be able to pull apart the strips using tongs. Make sure to flip the bacon over to thaw from both sides. It will be crispy in 15-20 minutes. If the outer pieces crisp up first, just remove them from the pan and transfer them to a cookie sheet. Put the cookie sheet in the oven at 250F to keep the cooked bacon warm while the rest cooks.
Thawing Bacon In The Microwave
I really don’t like thawing meat in the microwave. Whenever I seem to try, the outside of what I’m defrosting seems to start cooking and the center remains frozen. This doesn’t work well for bacon because the center pieces stick together and the pieces on the ends start to cook and shrivel. There’s nothing worse than microwaved bacon if you ask me.
But, if you must use it, decrease the power level to about 30% or use the defrost setting, and I find it takes about 5-6 minutes per pound of bacon. It’s always a good idea to check on the bacon halfway through and flip it so you do your best to cook it evenly. You should also stop the microwave every minute or so and remove any pieces from the outside that have defrosted, or are easy to remove. This way, those outer pieces won’t start actually cooking before the rest defrosts.
Podcast Episode About Cooking Bacon From Frozen
Listen to me explain briefly about how to cook bacon from frozen, along with some other great bacon tips, by clicking the play button below:
Ask the Chef: What is the Best Way to Thaw Bacon?
The United States Department of Agriculture has specific guidelines about thawing all meat. Here’s what they say about bacon:
“There are three safe ways to thaw bacon: in the refrigerator, in cold water, and in the microwave. Never defrost bacon on the kitchen counter or at room temperature.”
They recommend thawing bacon in the refrigerator as a best practice, but, of course, that requires planning ahead. Unless you have time to stop for a fresh package from the store, it’s okay to use COLD water, not warm.
Here are some tips:
- Keep the bacon unopened in its original packaging
- Place it in your sink with a grate or cooling rack underneath and run a consistent stream of cold water over it. The rack allows water to flow more fully around the package.
- Do not simply soak the package in a bath of water—keep the water flowing. The pressure helps, and there is less chance of leakage.
- Bacon should thaw in 30 minutes and should be cooked immediately. Do not refreeze.
- You can also defrost bacon in the microwave. Follow instructions for “defrosting meat” on your particular microwave. You can defrost in the original packaging for a few minutes at a time, but do not leave unattended as if the bacon gets hot there is a risk of plastic melting.
- Once the bacon is soft enough to separate, we recommend you lay out individual pieces on a parchment covered baking sheet and bake it in the oven until done to your desired crispness (generally 15 minutes or less).
There you have it, these are the best ways to defrost or cook bacon from frozen!