Find out how to make bacon bits easily in the oven at home. These easy bacon crumbles are great on top of salads, soups, breakfasts, and much more.
You may JUMP to RECIPE but you’d miss out on helpful tips in this post to make these Bacon Bits.
Bacon Bits. Bacon Crumbles.
Who doesn't love these crunchy, flavorful bits of treasure. Generously sprinkled over a baked potato or tossed in a delicious salad, these flavorful nuggets make a great addition to any meal.
Read on to learn how to make bacon bits (also known as my easy bacon crumbles) in the oven hassle-free.
Many years ago, I used to buy the prepackaged bacon bits all the time. It was always the most favorite choice of topping for any meal so it seemed like a totally reasonable thing to buy Costco-size packages of bacon bits.
But just one look at the ingredient label can put a damper on your bacon affection.
The truth is there's no real bacon in most store-bought bacon bits. In fact, many are labeled bacon-flavored bits in fine print. That's right, bacon bits don't even have real bacon in them. What's included however is soy flour, canola oil, salt, caramel color, natural and artificial flavor, yeast extract, and so forth.
Doesn't sound so appetizing atop that baked potato does it now?
The good news is that bacon bits are nothing more than cooked, cooled and chopped bacon. It really is an easy recipe with only 1 ingredient: bacon.
What bacon is best for Homemade Bacon Bits
One of the benefits of making bacon bits at home is that you have total control over the quality of the bacon. I always opt for pasture raised and organic bacon when available. If it's not or it's simply not in my budget this month, I just do without.
Because bacon is high in saturated fats and toxins accumulate in fatty tissue, it is one of the food items that have to unequivocally be of higher quality for me.
And if you're going to go through the trouble of making real bacon bits at home, you have start with real bacon.
Some of my favorite brands for pastured bacon are Applegate and Organic Prairie. And of course, local organic farms are always ideal for pastured bacon. Steer clear of labels that say "grass-fed" bacon because that's just a marketing ploy. Cows are grass-fed. Pigs are pastured.
Another label that you want to be aware of is nitrate-free. This has become a popular selling point for many producers. Nitrites are additives used as preservative in many processed meats, including bacon.
Nitrate free bacon may also be labeled as "uncured" or "naturally cured" bacon because sodium nitrite wasn't used in the process. Instead, bacon producers use celery juice or powder which is naturally high in nitrites.
The problem with this is that the use of celery juice as a source of nitrates is not regulated by the USDA. And as a result, higher quantities of nitrites are often found without any regulation in "naturally cured" bacon. This is particularly problematic in people who are ultra sensitive to nitrates and nitrites.
So just because a label says "nitrate free" doesn't mean it's healthy. Go further with higher quality bacon and stick to pastured or organic varieties. You're much better off with the regulated amount of sodium nitrates in organic bacon than unregulated "natural" nitrate in conventional bacon.
Cooking Bacon in the Oven
The easiest way to make bacon crumbles is to cook the bacon in the oven. There are plenty advantages to cooking bacon in the oven. For the most part, it's hands off. With the exception of initially arranging the bacon on the rack, there's no need to flip them over and to watch them closely so they don't burn. You simply pop the sheet pan in the oven and set the timer.
Additionally, bacon is cooked more evenly in the oven, so you can avoid super burnt ends and fatty mid strips. Oven-baked bacon does take a bit longer to cook in the oven than stovetop but the pros far outweigh the cons.
Making bacon in the oven is such a simple task. Arrange bacon on a rack in a sheet and bake. That's it! No aluminum foil is needed (more on that below).
For bacon bits, thick-cut bacon is optimal since we will be cooking it down considerably. The most important thing to remember is to select bacon that is uniform in thickness and preferably in size as well.
Can you double the recipe?
Absolutely, provided that you have two sheets and two oven-safe cookie racks available. When baking, place one sheet on the top rack and the other on the middle. Swap the sheets midway through cooking.
How to collect bacon grease
Pastured and organic bacon is not cheap. Why not stretch that dollar (or 8!) further by collecting that gorgeous bacon grease for other savory dishes.
Bacon fat is a terrific high-heat oil that is already bursting with flavor. Use it for frying eggs, stir frys or even to sautee veggies before soup.
I don't regularly use aluminum foil and don't recommend you use any either. But especially if you are collecting bacon grease, please do not line your pan with aluminum foil for health reasons. I take extra care to avoid having hot foods touch any aluminum.
Don't let the convenience deceive you into thinking that lining the pan is worth it. It's not.
To collect bacon grease from the pan: tilt the pan over a jar with a small sieve to catch small bits (optional). The bacon grease will collect at the corner of the pan and drip down into the jar. Be sure to do this while the pan is still hot and well before the grease solidifies. But take extra caution as it will be hot - use an oven mit!
Close the lid on the jar and set aside to allow the grease to become solid. Transfer to the refrigerator and use as butter or ghee in savory foods.
How to Use Bacon Bits
You can top pretty much anything with bacon bits and call it good. For some ideas, check out these:
Instant Pot Loaded Mashed Potatoes - top these with these oven baked bacon crumbles for an extra crunch.
Three Cheese Stuffed Mushrooms (Low Carb, GAPS, Primal) - add the bacon bits to the cheesy mixture for extra flavor.
Keto 5-Minute Egg Drop Soup (Paleo, Whole30, GAPS) - this would make such a supremely healthy breakfast.
How to Make Bacon Bits
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit to get that started. Arrange the bacon strips on a cooling rack that is set inside a baking sheet. Avoid using aluminum foil if you will be rendering the bacon grease for future recipes.
Bake for 20-22 minutes or until bacon is cooked through and crispy. Transfer bacon strips from rack onto a paper towel lined plate. Pat dry to remove as much excess fat as possible.
If you are saving the bacon grease, now is a good time to pour that into a jelly jar. See instructions on that above.
Cut the bacon strips lengthwise in half or threes. Then cut crosswise and continue chopping until desired size of bacon bits is achieved. Alternatively, you may pulse broken up bacon in a food processor until they are small in size.
Transfer bacon bits to a small jar and store in the refrigerator until ready to use in dishes.
Helpful Tools for these Bacon Bits
Large (16" x 12") Baking Sheet - I have a pair from many years ago. They are stainless steel and work great for everyday cooking. When looking for a good baking sheet, don't get one that is non-stick or made with aluminum. Stick to stainless steel.
Large Oven-Safe Cooling Rack - this 2-pack is inexpensive and fits a standard 16" x 12" baking sheet perfectly.
Chopping Board - you need a good board to chop all those glorious bacon strips into bits.
Large Chef's Knife - I use this for all my chopping needs.
Jelly Jars - feast your eyes on these tulip jars or simply use them to hold your bacon grease.
How to Make Bacon Bits (Easy Bacon Crumbles)
- 1 package pastured bacon (approximately 10 strips)
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Place an oven-safe cooling rack in the same size baking sheet.
- Arrange the bacon strips in a single layer on the rack, taking care not to overlap.
- Bake for 20-22 minutes in the middle rack, depending on the thickness of the bacon.
- Transfer bacon to a plate lined with paper towels and pat dry to absorb any excess fat. Allow bacon to cool. See notes on how to collect bacon grease.
- Working in batches, stack the cooked bacon strips directly on top of each other. Cut the strips in half lengthwise, then crosswise into chunks.
- Continue cutting them until you have the desired size of the bacon crumbles.
- Alternatively, you may transfer bacon to a food processor and pulse into smaller pieces.
- Transfer to a jar and store in the refrigerator until ready to use. May be kept stored in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.
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