Having too much cooked bacon is a good problem to have.
But what’s the best way to store your cooked bacon and keep it crispy?
To store cooked bacon, allow it to cool to room temperature then place it in an airtight bag. Squeeze all the air out of the bag and put it in the fridge for up to 5 days. You can also freeze the bacon for up to a month. To keep bacon warm and crispy before serving, place it in a 200ºF oven.
Storing cooked bacon in the fridge (short term storage)
- Cook the bacon to one level below how you would prefer to eat it (making sure its cooked all the way through).
- Blot off any excess fat or grease with paper towels.
- Leave the bacon to cool on a wire rack.
- Once cool, place the strips of bacon in a Ziploc bag or airtight container and put it in the fridge.
- Use the bacon within 5 days.
When you reheat the bacon, you can crisp it up to your ideal doneness.
Don’t worry if you’ve already cooked the bacon to your ideal crisp-level. You can always use a gentler method of reheating so it doesn’t overcook.
Or you can choose not to reheat the bacon at all to preserve the taste and texture you desire.
If you’re using an airtight container for storage, make sure it’s not too big.
If there’s lots of spare room in the container, put a cling film layer over the bacon to minimize air contact.
Pro tip: there’s some debate about whether cooked bacon needs to be refrigerated at all (I talk more about that later on in the article), but I always recommend keeping it in the fridge. It doesn’t have any negative impact of the bacon os why risk it?
Freezing cooked bacon (long term storage)
- Lay the bacon out on a parchment-paper lined baking tray and flash-freeze it for 1 hour.
- Transfer the semi-frozen it to a Ziploc bag or airtight container.
- For extra protection against freezer burn, you can group portions (2-3 rashers) and wrap them in plastic wrap. This creates a double barrier.
- Label the container and place it in the freezer.
- Use the bacon within a month.
Flash-freezing stops the bacon from sticking together, making it easier to grab however many rashers of bacon you want each time.
If you have lots of bacon, you can use a sheet of baking paper to create layers.
And if you’re using a Ziplock bag for storage, make sure you squeeze as much air as possible out of the bag before sealing it.
How to thaw cooked bacon
Because bacon is so thin, you can reheat it straight from the freezer without having to thaw it. If you do wish to thaw it, leave it in the fridge for a few hours. Or if you’re in a hurry you can use the defrost setting on your microwave.
Once thawed, the you can keep the bacon in the fridge for an additional 3-4 days before you need to eat it. If you defrosted the bacon in the microwave, you’ll need to eat it straight away.
How to keep cooked bacon warm
To keep cooked bacon warm and crispy for a couple of hours, place the rashers on a wire rack in a 200°F oven. Leave the oven door open slightly so any steam can escape.
Never cover your cooked bacon with a lid or anything airtight. This will trap steam which will leave you with soggy bacon.
If you don’t want to use the oven to keep your bacon warm, then leave it on the counter covered with a breathable towel.
How to reheat cooked bacon
If you’re storing your bacon, chances are you’re going to want to reheat it later. Here are my top four ways to reheat cooked bacon:
- Using a skillet: heat the skillet (ideally cast iron) on medium-low heat. Place the bacon strips in the pan and heat them for 1-2 minutes. There’s no need for any oil because the bacon will release some fat. This is my favorite way to reheat bacon.
- Use the oven: preheat the oven to 400ºF and lay the bacon out on a foil-lined baking tray. The foil will make the clean up much easier. Put the bacon in the oven and heat for 5-10 minutes depending on if you want to cook the bacon any further. The oven is best for reheating big batches of bacon.
- Use the microwave: line a microwave-safe dish with a paper towel. Place the bacon on the towel and cover with another layer of paper towel. Microwave for around 10 seconds per slice of bacon. The bacon will crisp up quickly once you take it out of the microwave.
- Using an air fryer: set your fryer to 350ºF then cook your bacon for 3-4 minutes. Keep an eye on it because bacon will burn very quickly in the air fryer!
How to store leftover bacon grease
Bacon isn’t the only thing you can store and re-use.
You can also keep the bacon grease and use it as you would any other cooking oil. Bacon grease makes really delicious fried potatoes.
To store your leftover bacon grease:
- Strain the fat while it’s still liquid to remove any solid bits
- Pour the liquid into a sealable glass container. Avoid plastic containers because hot liquids can warp plastic containers (something you should avoid generally)
- Leave the bacon grease to cool and then place in the fridge or freezer
The fat should last a good few weeks in the fridge, and a few months in the freezer.
Read next: what to use instead of bacon grease
How to store bacon bits
Bacon bits are great for adding some flavor to a dish that needs a little boost.
It’s best to store bacon bits in the freezer so they last longer. Because they’re so small, they thaw almost immediately and you don’t need to worry about taking them out in advance.
To store the bacon bits:
- Spread them out on a baking tray and flash-freeze them for 30 minutes or so
- Transfer the flash-frozen bits into an airtight container, label, and store
- Take the bits out whenever you need them. They’ll last for a few months stored in this way.
You can also keep bacon bits in the fridge. They’ll last around 4-6 weeks in the fridge before the fat starts to go rancid.
How to use leftover bacon
If you’re stuck for ideas on how to use your leftover cooked bacon, here are some suggestions for you:
- Crumble the bacon up and use the bits as a soup topper (bacon bits are delicious on potato soups)
- Use it in sandwiches like BLT’s or the classic club sandwich or make a bacon cheeseburger!
- Use the bacon as a topping for a homemade pizza or stir it through some pasta added crunch. Or replace the croutons in your salad with bacon.
- Use the bacon in a quiche or scrambled eggs for a tasty brunch.
- Bacon is an excellent addition to mashed potatoes, or mac and cheese. YUM.
Does cooked bacon need to be refrigerated?
This is a debated topic, but I would recommend refrigerating your bacon if you plan on keeping it out for longer than a few hours.
Most store-bought bacon is high in salt and has added nitrites that help preserve it. And once cooked, bacon has a very low water content. Because of the low water content, bacteria will struggle to survive on the bacon.
Hence, bacon has a longer storage life when compared to most meats.
However, the added preservatives aren’t meant to make the meat room temperature stable. They’re only added to prolong its shelf life.
Most commercial curing methods (wet curing) are done quickly and focused on quantity rather than quality, so the curing may not be 100%.
Unless your bacon has been properly treated to be room temperature stable, you keep it in the fridge as you would any other meat.
Bacon also contains a lot of fat that can go rancid quickly if it’s left out at room temperature. Storing it in the refrigerator slows this process down.
If the bacon you purchased is labeled as shelf-stable or dry-cured, then, according to the USDA, you can leave it out of the fridge for up to 10 days.
How long does cooked bacon last?
Cooked bacon will last different amounts of time depending on how you store it.
- Room temperature: 2 hours is considered a safe time for cooked bacon to sit out at room temperature. After this, the risk of bacteria growing on it increases. Because bacon has some added preservatives, you might be able to leave it out for slightly longer. But I prefer not to take the risk.
- In the fridge: up to 5 days. If the bacon was previously frozen, then that period decreases to 3-4 days.
- In the freezer: the USDA says that cooked bacon can last one month in the freezer. It will be safe if you store it for longer, but the taste and texture may have been affected.
How To Store And Freeze Cooked Bacon
- 1 portion cooked bacon
To Store Cooked Bacon In The Fridge
- Cook the bacon to one level below how you would prefer to eat it (checking it’s cooked all the way through).
- Blot off any excess fat or grease. Paper towels are ideal for doing this.
- Leave the bacon to cool on a wire rack.
- Once cool, place the strips of bacon in a Ziploc bag or airtight container.
- If you're using an airtight container, make sure it's not too big. If there's lots of spare room in the container, put a cling film layer over the bacon to minimize air contact.
- Stored in the refrigerator this way, bacon will keep for 4-5 days. This is ideal if you already know when you’re next going to use the bacon.
How To Freeze Cooked Bacon
- Lay the bacon on a baking tray and flash-freeze for 2-3 hours. Flash-freezing stops the bacon from sticking together, making it easier to grab however many rashers of bacon you want.
- If you have lots of bacon, you can use a sheet of baking paper to create layers and separate the bacon.
- Once you've flash-frozen the bacon, transfer it to a Ziploc bag or airtight container.
- If you use a bag, you can use a straw to suck all of the excess air out of the bag. Also, feel free to use a food saver if you own one. Less air around the bacon means there is less chance of freezer burn.
- For extra protection against freezer burn, you can group portions (2-3 rashers) and wrap them in plastic wrap. This creates a double barrier – the wrap and the container.
- Make sure to label the container and place it in the freezer.