Do you really need olive oil to fry bacon?

Joined Sep 5, 2008
I keep hearing/reading heat your pan, add one or two tablespoons of olive oil and add the bacon.

Personally I find the bacon so fatty that whether I want to sauté it real fast or whether I want to render its fat really slowly, I don't see the need for adding oil. I just place the bacon in a dry pan, and never had any problems with it.

I understand that olive oil may add its own flavor to the dish, but then isn't it better added raw, at the end?
Joined Aug 4, 2000
I personally cure and smoke my bacon and the idea proffered sounds like a San Francisco yuppie idea, you know, where they'll pay $12 for 10 oz. of the stuff.
Joined Feb 13, 2008
The idea is to get the fat rendering before it starts to brown, and to prevent sticking. If you cook in a stick resistant pan like cured cast iron or carbon steel, at a reasonably low heat, oil is unnecessary. And, of course, if you're happy without it everybody else -- excluding the oil producers -- is happy too.

Also, it doesn't need to be olive oil, especially since olive oil adds its own taste. A neutral oil, like corn oil (which I use), is a better choice. And not much, just a little bit is enough.

Curious: Who suggested olive oil? Do you recall if it was for ordinary smoked American bacon, or pancetta?

Joined Aug 4, 2000
I simply make tiny knife cuts perpendicular to the rind in order to facilitate rendering. Works for me. And around 3/4 of the way thru cooking I nudge the slices to unstick them.
Joined Nov 6, 2004
Oh heck! If your worried about it just take a piece of raw bacon and rub the bottom of the cold pan. Your pan will be lightly coated with some fat, some delicious glorious fat.

Joined Feb 26, 2007
Depends if you are going for the bacon with fat on it or going with trimmed weight watchers bacon :D If so-add plain oil. But that kiind of takes away from the health/ calorie cutting side of it. Had to put this in.

Normally- no oil, start with cold pan.
Joined Aug 4, 2000
And then I add some maple syrup and, if feeling like adventerous, I add some crushed red pepper alongside of some black peppercorns. :laser::roll:
Joined Sep 29, 2009
I love peppered bacon.:thumb:

As for adding oil, just a quick rub down with salt pork rind(read: solidified love of mother nature) or, if I'm out of that, some sunflower or blended vegetable oil.
Joined Feb 1, 2007
The idea is to get the fat rendering before it starts to brown, and to prevent sticking.

Absolutely correct. And, for those actually concerned about this, a little water works just as well as another oil.

That, in fact, is how you start rendering fats, like lard.

The idea is to warm the pork so that the fat starts to render before you're actually cooking the meat and rind.

I never bother with a preheater like oil or water when cooking sliced bacon. With lardons, however, I sometimes do because if they cook too quickly the fat doesn't have time to render. But starting with cured cast iron, and working on a low flame, works just as well.
Joined May 26, 2001
Ah, so far you're all thinking of American bacon (cured and smoked pork belly) with mucho fat in it. But there are other bacons out there, like peameal (what we in the US think of as Canadian), various British bacons, and pancetta, that are a little bit to much leaner and may need some other fat in the pan first. When I'm making an Italian soffrito with pancetta (or guanciale if I'm lucky), carrots, celery, and onion, I always start the diced pancetta in a little oil.

I first learned to cook bacon by putting it in a cold, dry pan and turning the heat on fairly low. The fat renders out slowly and the bacon cooks gently. Once the bottom starts to brown, I turn it over, and keep turning it as necessary to get it deep brown and as crisp as possible.
Joined Sep 5, 2008
That's exactly how I've been doing it as well. And I see what you mean regarding pancetta. Some of the pancetta I see around here is just as fat (or even fattier) than american bacon, but some of it is mostly meat with very little fat, in which case oil of some kind might be necessary (or at least very helpful).

Joined Jul 21, 2006
I also cook bacon the same way as Suzanne. Sometimes I put it in the oven if I'm doing other more labor intensive things at the same time.
Joined Feb 1, 2007
I want to shop where you do, Suzanne, cuz the pancetta I get around here---both domestic and imported---is at least 50% fat.

I don't consider peameal (Canadian) to be bacon. For me, if it's bacon it comes from the belly or the jowls. Anything else might be very tasty, but it's something else.

I'd have trouble calling a cured loin bacon in any respect, because of the lack of fat running through it. A cured neck would be closer to bacon, IMO.
Joined Nov 5, 2007
I, too, start bacon in cold, dry cast iron, low heat. Once it gets going and I turn the heat up a notch or two, not too much. The stuff I usually cook doesn't stick, but sometimes if I get a thin sliced, name brand type it will stick. Too much high fructose corn syrup in the cure :smiles:

If doing more than one panful, would you believe I let the pan cool down, wipe it out dry and start over again? I didn't think so. I do pour off most of the fat from the previous batch, though.

Joined Mar 16, 2005
I'venever really used oil to cook bacon, though the best way is to just slap the strips on a parchment lined baking sheet and cook it at 400
Joined May 29, 2006
I don't know of 1 food facility in the business that cooks bacon in a frying pan. 95% cook in oven on parchment on sheetpans. 5 maybe on a grill. As far as olive oil? a drop of pam to start then in its own fat.
Joined Mar 21, 2008
I have seen several italian "chefs" on FoodTV claim the olive oil is needed even with american bacon. Personally if it is commercial pumped bacon it has so much water that it renders enough oil on its own to start cooking. If it is my own dry cured bacon that doesn't sit there and sweat a cup of water out before starting to fry I grab a little bacon fat from the jar in the fridge. I keep 2 jars, one I work from and one I ad too, usually the working jar gets empty about time the add jar gets full so I swap and rotate the use to keep it from going rancid.
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