Having too much cooked bacon is a good problem to have. Bacon is a versatile ingredient that can be used in various dishes. After all, bacon isn’t just for breakfast.
Maybe you got ambitious and cooked way too much bacon for yourself. Or, maybe you made a big family breakfast, and there’s plenty of cooked bacon left.
So, how do you store cooked bacon? 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. The bacon will last 4-5 days in the fridge.
How to store cooked bacon and keep it crisp
The good news is that there are a few different ways to store bacon. The best way depends on how long you need to store the bacon and when you plan to use it.
You can store cooked bacon in either the fridge or the freezer. In the fridge, cooked bacon can be stored for up to 4-5 days without issue. If you don’t plan on using the cooked bacon within that time frame, you’ll want to store it in the freezer. Bacon can last for a month in the freezer.
How to store cooked bacon in the fridge
To keep 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). When you reheat the bacon, you can crisp it up to your ideal crispiness. If you want to eat the bacon cold, then cook it to your desired level of crispiness before you store it
- 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.
Don’t worry if you’ve already cooked the bacon to your ideal doneness. You can always use a gentler method of reheating so it doesn’t become overcooked. Or you can choose not to reheat the bacon at all to preserve the taste and texture you desire.
For smaller batches of bacon, it’s best to fry it. But if you’re planning to cook larger portions of bacon, opt to bake it. Baking is a much easier method of batch cooking bacon, and it cuts down on the washing up afterward.
Check out this recipe for baking bacon.
How to reheat cooked bacon
If you’ve cooked your bacon to a level below your desired crispness, reheating will allow you to get it just right. If your bacon is already cooked how you like it, then reduce the reheating time so you’re only warming the bacon rather than cooking it further.
There are several ways to reheat bacon, here are my recommendations:
- Using a skillet. Cast iron is preferred, but any skillet will suffice. Heat the skillet with medium-low heat. When it’s warmed up, place the bacon strips in the pan. Leave the strips to cook in their own juices until heated through. It should only take 1-2 minutes of heating on both sides.
- Use the oven. The oven is best for big batches of bacon. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and lay the bacon out on an aluminum foil-lined baking tray. The foil will make the clean up much easier. If you want to stop the bacon from crisping up too much, you can also put a foil layer on top of the bacon. Put the bacon in the oven and heat for 8-10 minutes.
- Use the microwave. The microwave is best when you’re in a hurry. Line a microwave-safe dish with a paper towel, place 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.
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%.
Therefore, unless your bacon has been properly treated to be room temperature stable, you should treat it as you would any other meat.
It is best not to take any chances with meats. Food poisoning is not fun. Take my word for it.
Bacon also contains a lot of fat that can go rancid quickly if it’s left out at room temperature for too long. 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 can cooked bacon sit out?
Two 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 substantially.
Why does this happen? Because the temperatures will have reached the infamous “danger zone” for bacteria to grow, which would be above 40°F.
Because bacon has some added preservatives, you might be able to leave it out for slightly longer. However, this isn’t advised.
If you’re finished with the bacon, go ahead and refrigerate it in order to be safe.
How long will cooked bacon last when stored in the refrigerator?
When properly stored, cooked bacon will last up to 4-5 days in the fridge.
If you’re thawing from frozen (to be covered later), then that period decreases to 3-4 days.
If the bacon smells odd or has a slimy texture, it’s probably gone bad and you should throw it out. Trust your instincts and don’t risk food poisoning.
Can cooked bacon go bad?
Due to the low moisture and high sodium content, cooked bacon is unlikely to get moldy in the refrigerator. These, along with the cold temperatures, make cooked bacon inhospitable for bacteria.
The real concern is the fat going rancid. Rancid fat isn’t harmful, but it will make the bacon taste bad.
How to freeze cooked bacon
If you plan on storing the bacon for longer than 5 days, it’s best to store it in the freezer.
The best way to freeze cooked bacon is to:
- 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 (ideal for portion control or meal planning purposes), however many rashers of bacon you want
- If you have lots of bacon, you can use a sheet of baking paper to create layers
- 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
How long does cooked bacon last 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.
Wrap it tightly in an airtight container to maximize its life. Freezer burn is more likely to affect unprotected food.
How to thaw cooked bacon
Because bacon is so thin, you can cook it straight from the freezer without having to thaw it. If you do wish to thaw it, use a microwave, cold water, or leave it in the refrigerator. Do not leave bacon on the counter to thaw.
If you thaw the bacon in the fridge, take it out of the freezer a few hours before you want to eat it. This is the slowest method. Once thawed, the bacon will stay good for 3-4 days.
If you want to use the cold water method, place the bacon in a plastic bag, and submerge the bag in water. The bag will keep the bacon from getting soggy. Eat the bacon immediately once thawed.
The microwave is the quickest out of the three methods. Once thawed, you should eat the bacon immediately.
How to keep cooked bacon warm
The main thing to do when keeping bacon warm is to avoid steam. Steam will make the bacon floppy, and it’ll lose its crispness. Covering the bacon with foil or paper towels will produce steam so don’t do this! Instead, follow the instructions below.
The best way to keep bacon crispy is to use the oven:
- Set the temperature to 200°F
- Lay the strips on a cooling rack and place the rack on a cooking sheet before sliding it into the oven
- Prop the oven door open 1-2 inches and leave the bacon. This method can keep bacon crispy for a couple of hours.
How to store leftover bacon grease
Bacon is not 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.
How to store cooked 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
Bacon is a very dynamic ingredient that can be used in a plethora of dishes, savory and sweet. Bacon can be the main star of a dish or an important supporting piece. Chances are you know a lot of ways to incorporate bacon into your cooking. However, if you are stuck for ideas about using leftover bacon, we have some suggestions for you.
- Use bacon bits in soups (like a potato cheddar)
- Use it in sandwiches like the BLT (bacon lettuce tomato) or the classic club sandwich
- Add it to your next homemade pizza, or a quiche or salad
- Bacon is an excellent addition to any serving of mashed potatoes
- Sprinkle some bacon bits onto pasta for that extra kick of taste as well as texture
- Incorporate the bacon into scrambled eggs or omelets
- Put bacon in your burger to add more protein and really dial up the taste
Either way, store it safely according to your needs and keep eating!
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.