Do You Need Oil to Cook Bacon

Cooking, FAQs

Do You Need Oil to Cook Bacon?

Few things are more motivating to get you out of bed in the morning than the smell of cooking bacon. However, the best thing about bacon is that it is more than just a breakfast food. Its fatty goodness can be used in so many recipes.

As such, it may be surprising to know that many people don’t know to make the most of their bacon or how to cook it properly. So, let’s start with the basics to send you on your way to the best bacon you have ever tasted — does cooking bacon require oil? 

Bacon is a very, very fatty cut of meat. You do not need to add any oil or extra fat to the pan when you are cooking bacon, as its own fat will be enough to make it crispy. 

What Does Rendering Mean?

Cooking is full of odd terms and words for simple tasks, which is why many people avoid cooking certain dishes, as the fancy wording makes the dish sound harder of cooking than it is.

The word ‘rendering’, for example, is often written in bacon-based recipes. But what does rendering bacon actually mean? Well, chances are that you typically render your bacon without realising it anyway.

Rendering bacon means melting the fat on the bacon, a process that happens naturally as the bacon cooks in the pan.

Rendering Bacon

Once the bacon has been rendered and its fat melted, the bacon can then cook and get crispy in its own rendered fat. 

To render bacon properly, you need to take things slow. Turn your pan to low heat and wait for the pan to get hot. Add in your bacon and leave it to render, and then cook for around 10 minutes until crispy. 

When To Use Oil For Cooking Bacon 

With the rise of vegetarian and vegan diets, meat-free bacon is becoming increasingly popular, imitating meat-based bacon as best as it can.

However, depending on the ingredients used in this fake bacon, there may not be enough fat to cook the bacon.

Likewise, some bacon sellers have started selling slim-downed and lean bacon with as little fat as possible to make it healthier. Not only does this take away from the flavour of the bacon itself, but it also removes the exact thing you need to cook the bacon in; fat. 

As mentioned above, meat-based, traditional bacon does not require oil, as when the fat on the bacon is rendered down, the bacon cooks in its own fat. If bacon does not have that fat to render in the first place, you will need to add your own oil.

How Much Oil Should You Use?

Do not go over the top with the amount of oil you add, you only need enough to make the bacon crispy.

Only use 1 tablespoon of oil at most to prevent soggy bacon. Vegetable oil would be the best oil to use to fry meat-free bacon as its neutral taste will not change that of the bacon. Though you can use any mid-smoke point oil you like. 

Can You Use Leftover Bacon Fat? 

There is no reason to throw away the fat that is left in the pan once you remove your bacon rashers.

That fat is perfectly flavoured, smoky goodness that can add an instant burst of flavour to any dish you like.

In fact, some restaurants cook bacon purely to use the leftover fat (or drippings as some call it). 

So yes, you can use leftover bacon fat, and you should!

There are plenty of ways to make use of bacon fat. You never know when your dish could do with a little extra flavour. All you need to do is replace the fat you were going to use to sauté your vegetable, fry your pancakes, or cook your meat with the bacon fat.

Or you can mix the leftover fat into a marinade for other meats to provide a smoky, slightly salty layer of flavour. 

Do keep in mind that the type of bacon you cooked initially will affect the taste of the bacon fat. Smoked bacon will create a much smokier flavoured bacon fat, giving your dish more of a taste reminiscent of barbeque.

Pancetta, a type of bacon, is saltier than a lot of other flavours and has a more distinct pork flavour that may not pair well with a lamb-based dish, for example. So be smart with how you use your leftover bacon fat. 

Pancetta Strips

How To Save Leftover Bacon Fat 

Leftover bacon fat is not like olive oil or butter. It is a fat rendered and made from meat which means that you need to store bacon fat a little differently than you would other types of fat. 

Once you have removed your bacon from your pan, remove the pan from the heat. Then pour the rendered bacon fat into a clean glass or metal jar. You want to avoid using a plastic jar as the bacon fat will still be very hot and may ruin the shape of the jar with its heat.

Allow the bacon fat to cool entirely before securing the jar close. 

Bacon fat should be stored in the fridge. You can store it in the pantry if you wish, but it will only be suitable for use up to 6 weeks from after you originally cooked the bacon.

Keeping bacon fat in your fridge can make it last up to 6 months. 

Can You Freeze Bacon Fat?

Or, if you want, you can freeze bacon fat and save it until it ruins out. That is provided you do not defrost and then reuse the bacon fat, which will encourage bacteria growth.

Store the bacon fat in ice cube containers so that you only defrost as much bacon fat as you are likely to use. 

Cooking Bacon FAQs

Do you have more questions about cooking bacon and whether or not you should be using oil? Then check these out:

Should You Add Water When Cooking Bacon?

Adding water to cook bacon is a great way to help with rendering the fat. The simmering water will render the fat. Once the water evaporates, the rest of the bacon will cook in the rendered bacon fat.

Do You Cook Bacon With Butter Or Oil?

You use neither! Bacon contains enough fat that it will render out and cook in its own fat. This means you do not need to add other fats in the form of oil or butter.


Where we obtain our information and verify the facts in this article:


How to store and use leftover bacon fat.

The Spruce Eats

What is rendering and how to do it.

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