Bacon is a wonderful and tasty treat, and it’s a staple of many dishes from hearty breakfasts to rich stews.
While bacon is a classic addition to many dishes as well as a standalone side dish itself, it’s not always simple to cook. Because of the salt and grease content in and on bacon, it can get very smoky very fast if not done carefully.
If you’ve had trouble with filling your kitchen with smoke or setting off your smoke alarm when cooking bacon, you’re not alone! And, there are a few things you can try to if you’re looking for how to cook bacon without smoke (note that we’re not referring to smoking bacon).
How to cook bacon without smoke
Bacon is high in fat content (especially cottage bacon), with both a lot of it being made up of animal fat itself, as well as those oils coating much of the strip.
Bacon fat and oils all have smoke points, which means that they begin to smoke when they reach a certain temperature or hotter.
Different oils have different smoke points, which in general with cooking, means you need to be mindful of which oils you’re using when you need to cook oven baked bacon at or above certain temperatures, so that you don’t fill your kitchen with smoke.
The fats in bacon, unfortunately, have a rather low smoke point, making it difficult to maintain heat without producing a lot of smoke, but there are a few things you can try.
Bacon cooking — low and slow
Cooking bacon on the stove without smoke means that you’ll need lower heat and just a little more patience. If you’re someone who cooks bacon in a pan on the stove or electric skillet, the first thing to look out for is the heat you’re using.
Bacon doesn’t need to be cooked at a very high heat, and while doing so will mean a tasty snack on a plate sooner, it is also much more likely to smoke up your house.
Instead, try lowering the heat. The exact level will depend on your stove and the pan you’re using; for something like reducing the amount of smoking happening, you’ll want to pay more attention to, you guessed it, the amount of smoke, rather than the actual heat output.
Reduce the heat until the smoked bacon is just barely smoking, keeping an eye on this throughout cooking (usually this level is somewhere around medium heat). It will take longer to cook the bacon, but it will taste just as great — without setting off the smoke alarm. You can use a press to make sure it cooks evenly.
Other than keeping an eye specifically on the smoke content, this method is exactly the same as you would normally cook bacon on the stove, which is to say: cook to your desired crispiness!
Cooking bacon in the oven
You may have tried everything to reduce smoking while cooking bacon in a pan, to no avail. Don’t take it personally!
This happens for a number of reasons, including the specific fat content of the bacon you have as well as different types of pan or baking sheet.
Fortunately, there’s another cooking method altogether that you can try, which is cooking bacon in the oven without smoke. Cooking bacon in the oven is actually some people’s preferred method, for a few common reasons.
Using the oven to cook bacon allows you to have more control over the cooking heat, and enables you to apply that heat more evenly over the bacon strips.
Note that this method doesn’t eliminate smoking entirely, but similar to closely monitoring the smoke point (rather than the heat setting) on the stove in the previous method, once you find the sweet spot here, using the oven will also reduce bacon smoking.
When cooking bacon in the oven without smoke, you’ll still need to be mindful of heat. Hotter temperatures like 450 degrees F. will lead to crispier bacon, but will still be above the smoke point of bacon grease — meaning they have the potential to smoke up the house.
Again, think lower and slower. A common starting point is 400 degrees F. for your preheated oven.
Also similar to the above method, these temperatures are guidelines — if you have the urge to experiment, you can try finding the sweet-spot baking temperature in your particular oven that nets nice, crispy bacon without adding a layer of smoke to your room.
Have an outdoor grill? Cook bacon outside!
This method could be subject to rainchecks, but cooking bacon on an outdoor grill is one way to cook bacon without worrying about setting off the smoke alarm.
This method technically doesn’t reduce the amount of smoke — it just eliminates the consequences of it.
You can use a shallow pan over the grill, or make something that mimics a pan from aluminum foil, and simply toss the bacon over the grill and cook as normal!
Have an air fryer? Cook the bacon low and slow inside!
Air fryers are all the rage for good reason. They allow you to effectively get cooked bacon quickly without dealing with a lot of the cook time, grease spatter, and clean up that comes with frying or baking bacon.
Lay out your bacon slices in your air fryer and follow your fryer’s directions. You’ll get near perfect air fryer bacon right away without the smoke. They are also excellent for handling bacon alternatives like tempeh and turkey bacon.
The main downside is the amount of bacon that you can cook…and that certain something flavor of perfect bacon that comes from the heated fats and oils…exactly the thing that causes smoke in the first place.
Every method has its tradeoffs.
Smoke points for fats and cooking oils
While you won’t need to use additional oils to cook bacon, all of the previous discussions are also relevant for cooking in general (they’re just the most obvious when cooking with high fat contents, like bacon!).
If you’ve struggled with cooking smoke in other areas as well — again, you’re not alone — you can apply the same thought process.
Namely, if your pan is aggressively smoking, then the heat you’re using is too hot for the oil.
This can be a common pitfall for people switching to new pans made from unfamiliar materials, like cast iron. Cast iron pans conduct heat more thoroughly than, say, Teflon pans, similar to the oven method of cooking bacon.
As with the “low and slow” method, you’ll want to pay more attention to the actual smoke, rather than the temperature knob.
If you’ve lowered to the smoke point, but your heat is now lower than you need it to be for cooking, consider using a different oil next time — specifically, one with a higher smoke point like a vegetable oil. Here are the smoke points for common cooking fats and oils:
- Bacon and other animal fat: ~325 degrees F.
- Olive oil: 325-375 degrees F.
- Butter: 350 degrees F.
- Ghee (Clarified butter): 450 degrees F.
- Avocado oil: 375-400 degrees F.
- Canola & Vegetable oils: 400-450 degrees F.
- Soybean, Sunflower, and Corn oils: 450-500 degrees F.