The best bacon cookers--whether for microwave, oven, or countertop--can make frying bacon an easier process. If you love bacon but hate frying it, a dedicated bacon cooker may be in your future.
But do these units work? Do they make good bacon? And if so, what's the best one to get?
Whether you want an easy way to cook small batches of bacon or want to avoid stovetop frying permanently, we'll show you the best bacon cookers for these tasks.
You may not get quite the perfection of the stovetop, but you can come close, and the ease of cooking might be a tradeoff that's worth it.
Best Microwave Bacon Cookers at a Glance
Here's a quick look at our favorite microwave bacon cookers.
How we chose: There are dozens of microwave bacon cookers on Amazon, so first we narrowed down the options by ratings and reviews. We weeded out bacon cookers with 4- and 5-star ratings less than 80%, and/or more than 10% 1-star ratings. Then we read reviews to see if there were any disqualifying features.
If the cookers passed these screening tests, we cooked bacon in them, rating them on overall quality, quality of bacon they made, size, ease of use and cleaning, and ease of storage.
And of course, all of the microwave bacon cookers we tested are BPA-free and use food-grade construction materials.
Nordic Ware Compact Microwave Bacon Rack
Best for: Small, quick batches
-9.7 x 8 x 0.8"
-Fits 4-6 bacon strips
-Handles are small and it's shallow, have to be careful not to spill grease.
Prep Solutions Microwave Bacon Grill
Best for: Small, quick batches w/out paper towels
-12 x 10 x 2" (with lid)
-Fits 6 bacon strips
-Lid with steam vents/recessed handle
-Dishwasher safe (lid and base)
-Lid prevents splatter, but bacon can be soggy
-Some users had chemical smell.
Makin Bacon Microwave Bacon Tray
Best for: Large batches
-9.2 x 8.8 x 1.6"
-Fits up to 18 bacon strips (but works better with less)
-35% less fat in bacon
-Made in USA.
-Not long enough for a full slice
-Can cook unevenly esp. if full
-Some complaints about melting.
Other Bacon Cooker Options at a Glance
Besides the microwave, you can get a dedicated countertop bacon cooker, or you can use your oven. We'll look at both of these options here.
There are a number of problems with these types of cookers, though. The problems vary with the type of cooker you have, but in general, the problems are:
- Poor controls/can't adjust heat
- Cooks unevenly
- Too small to cook for more than 1-2 people at a time
- Splatters grease
- Tough to clean
- Nonstick surface will wear out, stop being nonstick, and eventually become unsafe to use
- Take up counter space
- Are poorly designed and cheaply made
- Won't last
Also, some of the marketing is deceptive. From looking at the photo above, most people would assume that you can cook an entire breakfast at once, but you can't: you have to close the sides to cook the bacon, then cook everything else after the bacon is done.
Probably the best option for a small appliance bacon cooker is a smokeless grill. These tend to be higher quality than other small appliances, and will last longer--but most of these have nonstick coated grill plates, which will wear out and may become unsafe to use. (If you're read any of our cookware reviews, you know we're not fans of nonstick cookware.) They are also smallish, so if you're cooking for more than two people, you're probably better off using your stovetop.
If you love bacon but really hate frying it, you may already have discovered the oven for easier, less messy bacon cooking.
You can buy pans specially designed for cooking bacon in the oven like the Gotham Steel Bacon Bonanza Bacon Tray, pictured above.
Some people really love how these pans work, but many don't. In our testing, we found these racks frustrating for these reasons:
- Hard to fit bacon into the slots
- Bacon took a long time to cook and in many cases did not cook evenly, getting done on the top but not the bottom (the fuller the rack, the more unevenly it cooked)
- Kind of a pain to remove when done
- The grease tray is shallower than it looks and gets completely full if you fill the racks.
Also, these products are for the most part poor quality. There are probably some higher end ones available, but the ones we tested were cheap and flimsy.
Probably the easiest way to cook bacon in the oven is with a baking sheet and a cooking/cooling rack, like this:
If you want it to be even easier, line the baking sheet with aluminum foil first. A couple of layers works best here because the cooking rack can tear the foil.
Cooking racks can be tricky to clean, so if you want it to be really easy, skip the cooking rack altogether and line the baking with parchment paper to soak up the grease. Your bacon may get a little greasy if you don't use a cooking rack, but if it's going in a salad or sandwich, it's barely noticeable.
Oven bacon is a game changer for a lot of people who hate frying bacon. It's easy, not too messy, and you can cook a lot at one time (you can fit a whole pound of bacon on a half baking sheet--18x13"--if you scrunch it together).
But there are some problems with making bacon in the oven, too, including:
- You have to plan ahead because it takes awhile to preheat the oven
- The texture is not going to be quite like pan-fried bacon, especially if you don't use a rack
- You have to keep an eye on the bacon, possibly turning the pan and/or removing finished pieces because it may not cook evenly, depending on your oven and how much bacon you're cooking
- Cleaning the cooking rack can be a pain (they rarely get clean in a dishwasher)
- It is a lot of hassle if you just want a few pieces of bacon for a salad or sandwich.
Even with all those drawbacks, oven bacon is probably the best option for those who hate frying it. But even if this is your preferred method, if you need a few pieces of bacon in a hurry, it's hard to beat a microwave bacon cooker.
How to Cook Bacon in the Oven
You don't need a recipe to cook bacon. You just have to put a tray in a hot oven and keep an eye on it.
But if you're new to oven-cooked bacon, here are some instructions.
- Preheat oven to 400F.
- Line a baking sheet or other pan with aluminum foil. If you have a cooking rack, place it on the baking sheet.
- Place strips of bacon on sheet or cooking rack.
- When oven is hot, put the bacon in it.
- Set a timer for 15 minutes. Check for doneness (it will probably need a little more time). If the bacon is cooking unevenly, turn the tray around.
- Set the timer for more time. Depending on how done the bacon was at 15 minutes, give it 5-15 more minutes.
- When the bacon is done to your liking, remove it from the oven. Drain on paper towels if you didn't use a cooking rack.
If you want to save the bacon fat, pour warm fat into a jar, straining out the particles (a paper coffee filter works well here).
Do I Really Need a Bacon Cooker?
We're not crazy about the small appliance bacon cookers and breakfast makers; these are "uni-taskers" (in the words of Alton Brown) and tend to be poor quality, short-lived, and frustrating to use (and anything with a nonstick coating is likely to wear out sooner rather than later).
And, we really prefer pan-fried bacon and oven-cooked bacon to microwave bacon (in that order). Neither of these requires any special equipment other than a skillet or a baking sheet.
But if you're having a bacon emergency--a last minute request for bacon cheeseburgers, want to add a little crunch to your salad, or are just having a strong craving--a microwave bacon cooker is a lifesaver.
It's even an option on lazy weekend mornings when you want a full breakfast, but don't feel like standing over a stove.
Microwave bacon cookers probably won't make the best bacon you've ever had, but they're hard to beat if you need some bacon in a hurry.
Sure, you can use a plate and paper towels too to cook bacon quickly in the microwave. But if you're going to use your microwave for bacon, having a tray that keeps the bacon out of the grease is a small investment with a huge payoff: actually crisp bacon that doesn't sit in its own grease while cooking.
So if you want to be prepared for a bacon emergency, the only question is which microwave bacon cooker to buy.
Pros and Cons of Microwave Bacon Cookers
What to Look for in a Microwave Bacon Cooker
Here are the important features to consider when buying a microwave bacon cooker.
Type: Tray or Rack
There are two basic types of microwave bacon cookers, trays and racks.
Trays are the simplest design, basically just a plate with ridges on it where the grease can drain off. Some have lids and some don't (more on lids in a minute). If the tray has no lid, you should cover the bacon with a paper towel to absorb splatter. Then, you simply put the bacon on the tray and set the timer for bacon (about a minute per slice, but it really depends on your microwave).
Trays are easy to use, but they don't hold very much bacon (microwaves are small).
Racks have a tray with elevated bars to hang the bacon on. These are harder to load up than a tray, and the bacon comes out bent in half, but if you don't mind that, there are advantages to this method. (Hint: if you remove the cooked bacon immediately, you can sometimes straighten it out before it fully crisps up.)
With racks, you can cook more bacon at once, and the bacon is completely out of the cooking grease, so it tends to get nice and crispy and have less fat (up to 35% less according to the Makin Bacon people).
The Makin Bacon can hold 18 slices of bacon, but we found that when fully loaded the bacon doesn't cook as evenly. 12 slices is a more realistic number.
Some rack designs come with a "lid" which is essentially a pitcher that holds the rack. It's less messy for sure, but the bacon can be soggy because it steams inside the container. Also, we found this style to be a pain to use: fitting full racks of bacon inside the pitcher was a huge hassle.
Upshot: If you just want to cook a few slices at a time, a tray is the easiest design. If you want to do more than that, a hanging rack is a better choice.
Whichever design you choose, make sure it fits your microwave. If your microwave has a revolving tray, the bacon maker has to fit inside it and still allow it to rotate.
If you want a hanging rack, make sure your microwave is tall enough to accommodate it, with at least a half inch of clearance at the top (or the bacon won't cook evenly).
Microwave bacon cookers are simple designs (most of them, anyway), but there are a few things to look for.
Ridges: On a tray design, the ridges should be deep enough that the grease fully drains away from the bacon.
Grease catcher/gutter: On both types, there should be enough room to catch the bacon grease without overflowing and without being so full that it's hard to handle without burning yourself.
Handles: A good microwave bacon cooker will have handles you can grab with ease. If they're too big, they take up room that could be better used for bacon, but if they're too small, or nonexistent, you are always going to have a hard time taking the hot cooker out of your microwave.
Simplicity for easy cleaning: A bacon cooker should be easy to wash. If it's a tray, it should have deep ridges, but not so deep that you can't easily fit a sponge in them. If it's a rack, the pieces should come apart easily and not have nooks or crannies that catch bits and are hard to clean.
Most microwave bacon cookers are plastic, but they should be a sturdy, durable plastic rather than a flimsy, cheap plastic.
One reason we like the Nordic Ware bacon cooker trays are because they're made with a hard plastic that feels like it will last for awhile.
The bars on hanging racks are can be particularly troublesome because they're not as durable. Be sure to handle them carefully and always allow them to cool down between batches.
We found one ceramic microwave bacon cooker, but it was small and the ridges were too shallow to keep grease away from the bacon. Ceramic is a nice idea if you're trying to avoid plastic, but they're also heavier, more expensive, and breakable. So plastic might be the right way to go in this case.
And of course, all plastic bacon cookers should be free of BPA and other toxic chemicals (all cookers sold in the US today meet this requirement).
A lid makes cleanup easier and prevents grease from splattering all over your microwave, so it seems like a good option. But lids also can cause bacon to steam rather than crisp, so unless you like your bacon soft and maybe a little soggy, a lid is a bad idea.
It's unfortunate, because your other option is covering bacon with paper towels to catch the splatter. This can seem like a pain, but the quality of the bacon is really much better when it's open to the air to get crispy and crunchy.
Any type of enclosed microwave bacon cooker is going to make cleanup easier, but the bacon isn't going to be as good.
Cleaning and Storage
The whole point of having a microwave bacon cooker is for easy cleanup. So you want to avoid bacon cookers with a lot of small parts, deep grooves, and/or nooks and crannies that will prove hard to clean.
At most, you want two parts: a tray and a lid, or a tray and a hanging rack. If the bacon cooker gets much more complicated than that, it may be hard to clean.
The bacon trays you can buy for your oven are a good example of a bacon cooker that would be hard to clean. (See the photo above to see what. we mean.)
Most bacon cookers are dishwasher safe, but if they're not, they should be easy to clean by hand. How water should dissolve most of the grease, and a little soap and a sponge should take care of the rest.
If a microwave bacon cooker isn't easy to clean, it defeats the purpose of having one.
The simpler a bacon cooker is, the easier it will be to store, too. This is another reason we like simple tray designs: there are no moving parts to get lost and the tray will easily fit in with your baking sheets, or wherever you want to store it.
The Makin Bacon tray plus hanging rack is almost as simple: the two pieces come apart for easy cleaning and storage--just make sure you keep the pieces together (one reviewer said she kept them in a plastic bag, which is a pretty good idea).
How to Cook Bacon in the Microwave
Most microwave bacon cookers come with a cooking time chart for different wattages. But if you don't know the wattage of your microwave, this isn't very helpful. (And even if you do, the chart may not be accurate.)
Whether you know your wattage or not, it's tricky to give exact times because everyone likes their bacon a little different. Our testers' preferences ranged from soggy to burnt around the edges.
A good starting point is one minute per slice of bacon, so if you're cooking three slices, give it three minutes; if you're cooking five slices, five minutes, etc.
If you know your microwave has a high wattage (greater than 1200 watts), start with 30-40 seconds per slice of bacon.
After this initial time, check the bacon. If it's not done, continue to microwave for 30 second increments until the bacon is cooked how you like it. If you can, turn the bacon (it's hot!) for more even cooking and better crisping.
If the bacon isn't cooking evenly, try to spread it out as it shrinks: the more room it has, the more evenly it will cook.
Best Tray Style Microwave Bacon Cooker: Nordic Ware Compact Bacon Rack
See Nordic Ware Bacon Rack on Amazon (no lid)
Nordic Ware's other bacon cooker/defrosting tray got slightly better reviews, but we liked this one better, mainly because it has handles that make it easier to pull out of the microwave when it's full of hot bacon grease.
However, this one is smaller at 9.7 x 8 inches; the other one is about 12 x 10 inches. So you can fit more bacon on the other one, and it's also reversible, so you can use it to defrost meat, cook hot dogs, and make frozen pizzas, though it won't brown the crust.
The problem with the larger one is that it may not fit into your microwave. So even if you want a bigger tray, make sure it will fit your microwave before you buy.
This bacon cooker is very simple: it's just a plastic tray with ridges to keep the bacon out of the grease while it cooks. But it works: it makes good microwave bacon that's crispy and pretty evenly cooked.
You'll probably have to cut the bacon or scrunch it up because a whole slice probably won't fit (depending on brand). We just scrunched up the slices to fit the tray, and they shrunk down to size beautifully while cooking.
You may prefer a bacon cooker with a lid, but we do not because a lid causes the bacon to steam more than brown, so with a lid, your bacon will take forever to crisp up, if it ever does.
The downside of that is that you have to use paper towels to catch the grease splatter. Yes, this may be a pain, but trust us: the quality of the bacon is so much better than bacon microwaved with a lid on it.
There were some complaints that this bacon cooker is not dishwasher safe as it says on the Amazon write-up. We don't like the false advertising, but we found this cooker very easy to wash even by hand: Most of the grease washes off with hot water, then you can use a little soap to get the rest of the residue. The ridges are a little deep, but easy to wipe off with a sponge or dishrag.
If you want a microwave bacon cooker for those times when you just want to crisp up a few slices and don't want the hassle of pan frying or heating up the oven, this is a simple, affordable product that works.
(If you do want a tray with a lid, the Prep Solutions MIcrowave Bacon Grill is a good choice. It gets great reviews and has ridges deep enough to drain away grease.)
- Simple tray that fits 4-6 bacon strips
- Deep ridges to catch grease and keep bacon above it
- No lid so your bacon won't steam
- Cooks the bacon evenly
- Made in the USA.
- Small: fits just 4-6 bacon strips, and may not quite long enough to fit a whole raw strip
- Have to cover with paper towels to avoid splatter
- Technically dishwasher safe, but instructions say it may "warp or discolor"
- Gets very hot when cooking
- Handles are small so it's a little hard to remove from microwave when hot.
buy nordic ware bacon rack:
Best Hanging Style Microwave Bacon Cooker: Makin Bacon Bacon Tray
If you want to make a larger quantity of bacon, then the Makin Bacon Tray is the way to go. It says it can fit up to 18 slices, but 12 is a more realistic number because the more bacon you pile on it, the less evenly the bacon cooks.
In our testing, we found that 12 slices of standard (not thick-cut) bacon cooked well; any more than that could take forever and not get properly done.
But with 12 slices or less, this bacon cooker produced some of the best microwave bacon of all the models we tested: crispy, crunchy, and evenly cooked.
12 slices is also better for the grease catcher, which is fairly deep, but with too much grease could be tricky to pull out of the microwave without burning yourself.
In fact, until you get the hang of using this cooker, be careful taking it out of the microwave so you don't burn yourself or make a mess. Make a note of how much bacon it can handle without getting too full of grease.
Don't worry if the slices are too long when you load them up because they'll shrink in the first few minutes of cooking and won't stand in grease.
Be sure to cover the rack with paper towels--at least 2 for best results--to soak up grease splatter.
When you're done, this cooker is easy to clean. You just take it apart and put the pieces in the dishwasher, or you can even wash them by hand easily. There are no tricky nooks and crannies that are hard to reach, and the bacon grease comes right off.
There were some complaints about the cooker melting and feeling cheaper than previous models. Since this is the first one we've used, we can't speak to that. But to make sure you don't melt your bacon cooker, let it cool down between batches.
Finally, as with all bacon cookers, measure your microwave to make sure it will fit. The Makin Bacon cooker is 9.2 x 8.8 x 1.6" and needs at least a half inch of clearance on the top or the bacon won't cook properly.
- Makes a lot of bacon at once (up to 18 slices, but it won't cook as evenly when it's loaded up)
- Up to 35% less fat because it drains off
- Easy to load and unload the bacon
- Cooks the bacon to a nice crispy crunch
- The handle makes it easy to maneuver
- Easy to clean
- Made in USA.
- Gets very hot and can melt if you overheat it (let it cool down between batches)
- You have to cover bacon with paper towels to catch grease splatter or your microwave will be a mess
- A little harder to store than a single tray.
We also liked the Presto Microwave Bacon Cooker, but the Makin Bacon was a little more durable.
buy makin bacon microwave bacon tray:
Other Bacon Cookers We Looked At
Emson Bacon Wave: About $23. Vertical tray with skewers to hold bacon. Holds a lot, but skewering the bacon takes forever, and it's hard to clean (lots of nooks and crannies).
Joie Piggy by MSC International: About $17. Tray style with lid. Gets great reviews, but the ridges are too shallow and the bacon cooks in its own grease. You might as well use a dinner plate and paper towels.
Lekue Microwave Bacon Cooker: About $25. Tray style with lid. Too small to fit a whole slice of bacon, pour spout leaks, bacon cooks unevenly, and the lid didn't stay on during cooking.
Nordic Ware Microwave Bacon Tray and Food Defroster: Tray style without lid, reversible for defrosting and cooking other foods. Gets great reviews, but it's pretty big and may not fit most microwaves.
Presto Microwave Bacon Cooker: About $19. Hanging rack style. Good reviews, narrowly missed our criteria w/79%. Holds 12 pcs of bacon, dishwasher safe, easy to wash. Several complaints about base cracking and the cooker not lasting more than a few months. This cooker was initially our recommendation for a hanging rack cooker, but the Makin Bacon felt a little more durable to us (not a lot, but a little).
Sistema Microwave Bacon Cooker: About $25, made in New Zealand. Tray style with lid. Ridges aren't deep enough to keep bacon out of grease, and the lid handle is awkward to use and retains water after washing.
WowBacon: Made in USA, about $22. It's a hanging rack style that fits inside a "pitcher" that catches grease so no splatter. Cooks up to It's tricky to get the bacon inside the pitcher and it gets really hot in the microwave. Worst of all, the bacon steams because it's inside a container, so it comes out soft and un-crunchy. Some complaints of melting and cracking early on. Some people swear by this maker, but it had too many 1-star reviews for us to recommend.
ZFJ Ceramic Microwave Bacon Maker: About $30. Ceramic tray with ceramic lid. Too small, makes soggy bacon, lid does not hold in grease spatter. Way too many 1-star reviews for us to recommend.
Zak Designs Zakwave Microwave Bacon Grill Tray: About $15. Tray style, no lid, plastic. Pouring spout is nice, but it's shallow without handles and you can spill hot bacon grease on yourself.
Bacon Cooker FAQs
Is Microwave Bacon Any Good?
Most people think fried bacon and oven cooked bacon are tastier and have a better texture than microwaved bacon. But microwave bacon is fast, easy, and convenient, and there is less mess to clean up after cooking, so a lot of people are willing to make that tradeoff.
How Long Does Microwave Bacon Take?
Most makers recommend one minute per slice of bacon, but it really depends on your microwave and how you prefer your bacon. Some bacon makers may take longer than others too, especially if the design has a lid or otherwise encloses the bacon.
Are Microwave Bacon Cookers Messy?
Microwave bacon cookers are not messy, which is what makes them one of the easiest ways to cook bacon. If they don't come with a lid, use paper towels to catch grease splatter.
Sometimes, bacon cookers can leak or the lids can come loose during cooking, so be sure to keep on eye on your bacon as it cooks if you want to avoid bacon grease getting all over your microwave.
Are Microwave Bacon Cookers Safe?
Yes, microwave bacon cookers are safe. They are made from BPA-free plastic and are free of other toxin, as well.
You should always allow your bacon cooker to cool between batches, as the plastic can melt if it gets too hot.
Final Thoughts on Bacon Cookers
While traditional pan frying is still the tastiest way to cook bacon, the oven comes close and is a lot easier. But even easier is microwave bacon, which is pretty much hassle free, and a great way to cook bacon, especially if you just want a few slices for a sandwich or salad.
You can use a plate and paper towels, but microwave bacon cookers are inexpensive, and a good design keeps the grease away from the bacon and can reduce fat intake as much as 35%.
Trays are the simplest design, but hanging racks remove more grease, can handle more bacon at once, and can get the bacon crispier. Either design is a great shortcut for any bacon emergency.
Thanks for reading!
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