How to tell when bacon is done

Barbecue pals is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program,so some links on this page can be affiliate links which means that, if you choose to make a purchase, I may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you.

Last Updated on: 23rd October 2022, 12:52 am

Bacon is a go-to choice for many pitmasters for their breakfast because it doesn’t require much time to prepare but can be worth the effort

. Bacon is usually made from pork belly and can be delicious once it’s done.

Although it’s simple to smoke bacon, it’s not easy.

You may need to stand near the frying pan or smoker all the time when cooking bacon because a small mistake can result in overcooking or even burning of bacon.

There is a thin line between appropriately done bacon and an overcooked one. It is more complex than it sounds to cook bacon.

Temperature management is really crucial. Moreover, it’s difficult to tell when bacon is done.

checking the doneness of bacon is similar to some extent to checking the doneness of brats.

It is a common problem when you are new to smoking. I myself have struggled to decide if the bacon was done or required more time, and a small error can lead to disaster.

But over time, I have researched it and mastered it by experience. Today I am going to summarize all of my experiences in this article. So let’s get started

How to tell when bacon is done

You can tell if the bacon is done by examining its color, texture, shape, fat content, and foaming.

If the bacon is slightly dark or opaque in color, crispy, curved and has white foam all over it, Then you can decide that it’s done cooking.

But generally, there is no black and white answer to the question of whether bacon is done or not, because it depends on the personal choice of the pitmasters to decide how they want their bacon to be.

Most of the time, people prefer to have crispy and dark-colored bacon to be considered as done.

Some of the pitmasters prefer the bacon to be chewy with a lot of smokey flavor to be considered properly done.

So you must first decide what kind of bacon you would like.

Moreover, if you are cooking for a lot of people, then it might worsen the situation because not all of them are going to appreciate the doneness of bacon.

There is a famous story about Prince Harry that during a family dinner, the chef served him a couple of bacon slices like all the other guests.

Prince Harry called the chef and asked him to first broil the bacon and then cook it to make it more crispy.

So the point is, the definition of doneness of bacon can vary from person to person, but the ideal bacon should have an opaque or brown color, be crispy in texture but should not be brittle, and its fat should have rendered out.

Let’s have a look at these in more detail.


Like all other pork meat products, bacon also has a pink color when it’s uncooked. It is due to the presence of meat proteins and moisture inside it.

The pink color changes to brown or even dark when the bacon is done.

If you’ve been cooking bacon or any other type of meat for a while, you might be able to tell the difference between cooked and uncooked bacon.

The color becomes brown or opaque due to the evaporation of moisture.

It is not necessary for bacon to be dark to be considered done.

but you should consider it to have an overview of if the bacon is cooked for enough time or not. A bacon slice can be pink if done properly.

The reason is that bacon is often cooked at higher temperatures to increase the crispiness.

Due to the increased temperature, the bacon doesn’t have enough time to cook properly, so it might stay pink at some corners.

But if it’s cooked for enough time to be considered done, then it should have changed its color to at least brown, if not dark.

But you should not get overwhelmed at this step because we are going to take multiple other factors into account before making a final decision.


After you have examined the color of bacon, you should consider examining its texture to make sure if it’s done properly.

Usually, the texture of the bacon should be crispy to make sure it’s done.

But there is no restriction that the texture should be crispy because it’s a personal choice and some of the pitmasters like their bacon to be soft and chewy to consider them done.

You should consider evaluating it on the basis of your personal choice.

If you want your bacon to be crispy, then you will have to cook it at higher temperatures.

But while increasing their crispiness, you should consider checking them from time to time to make sure they don’t become brittle upon bending.

If you want your bacon to be soft, you should avoid overcooking it. the texture of bacon should be soft but it should not bend too much, rather it should give a feeling of firmness.


As mentioned above, the bacon comes from the pork belly, so it contains a huge amount of fat and moisture in it while uncooked.

But once it is cooked, it loses at least 40% of its size due to evaporation of moisture.

If you are checking the doneness of bacon, then you should take into account the size of the bacon along with other aspects.

If the size has shrunk, then it means that the bacon has been cooked for enough time to be considered safe to eat.

The cooking method and temperature

The temperature at which you are cooking your bacon also has a huge impact on deciding when the bacon will be done.

The temperature at which the bacon is cooking varies depending on the type of fat you are using.

If you are cooking the bacon by smoking, then it will require more time to be smoked properly because it is being cooked at a low temperature.

Due to the low temperature, it will take about 2 hours to cook bacon and the end result will be soft.

While in the case of frying, the temperature will be much higher compared to that of smoking.

Due to this, it will require less time (5–10 minutes) for bacon to be cooked properly and the texture will be crisp due to higher temperatures.


As mentioned above, bacon contains a huge amount of fat when it is uncooked.

These fats are naturally present within the pork belly and help in enhancing the flavor of bacon while cooking.

While considering the doneness of bacon, you should also make sure that all of the fats have been rendered out.

It usually results in a 30% reduction in bacon size and helps to enhance flavor.


Another factor in determining the doneness of bacon is that it should have white foam throughout its surface.

This foam is generated due to the evaporation of moisture and the rendering of fats. It is a good indicator of the doneness of bacon.

According to my experience, there is no way that bacon is done and does not contain foam on its surface.

This foam can be less or more, depending on the fats present within the bacon. But it should be taken into account with other factors to decide doneness.


If you’ve been cooking bacon for a long enough time, you might be able to tell the difference between cooked and uncooked bacon.

An experienced pitmaster can distinguish between cooked and uncooked bacon with just a glance.

You can also use the color of the bacon as a guide to determine doneness.

If the bacon is pink, it is uncooked; if it is brown, it is done; and black bacon indicates that it has been overcooked.

Moreover, the cooked bacon will have a curvy or zigzag shape. The reason is that when the fats are rendered out, the bacon shrinks in size.

Due to this, the bacon rises at some points and gains a curvy shape. It’s a good indicator of when the bacon is done.

Check every piece separately

When checking the doneness of bacon, you should consider checking the doneness of each bacon slice separately because the temperature is not unique throughout the cooking chamber.

The area near the firebox is hotter, while the area away from the firebox has a lower temperature.

While checking for doneness, you should consider avoiding making the decision after analyzing a single slice of bacon.

You should consider examining the bacon separately and taking out those that are done while allowing the uncooked ones to be cooked for a while.

Precautions while cooking bacon

To make sure the bacon is done with a good flavor, you should consider taking these precautions.

Although these will not be effective in telling you whether the bacon is done or not, they can be helpful in avoiding the overcooking of bacon.

Unequal temperatures

If you are smoking the bacon in a smoker, then the area near the firebox is called the “hot zone” due to the higher temperatures.

The temperature is higher in this zone because it is close to the firebox and heat enters the cooking chamber from here.

While the area on the opposite side of firebox is known as cold zone because it has lower temperature than the hot zone.

The reason for the lower temperature is that the heat rises up and is absorbed by the food before reaching the other end.

You should consider smoking your bacon in the cold zone because cooking it in the hot zone can result in burning.

In addition, you should also consider rotating the racks after some time to make sure that the bacon is done.

While checking for doneness, you should consider checking the doneness of each slice separately because there is a higher chance that each slice will be done at a different time.

So you should consider taking out those that are done and placing those that are still uncooked back into the smoker.

In the case of frying, you also face the same situation because the area near the middle of the pan is hotter than that on the sides of the pan.

So you should consider checking each piece separately and making the decision accordingly.

Cooking at higher temperatures

Although bacon is cooked to be crispier, it should not be cooked at an extremely high temperature.

Some people are in a hurry and just heat up the bacon to a burning hot temperature and put the bacon inside.

Although this way you will be able to cook your bacon much quicker, the bacon will not taste good when eating.

The bacon cooked at higher temperatures is gummy in texture because the fats are not rendered properly.

For a good and delicious flavor, you should always start your bacon in a cold pan and increase the temperature gradually while cooking.

Cooking bacon low and slow ensures that the fats are rendered out when cooked properly.

Cooking in a thin frying pan

The build of the frying pan also has a huge impact on the flavor of the bacon. When it comes to frying, there are hundreds of frying pans out there, but not all of them are made equal.

So you should consider selecting an appropriate pan for cooking bacon.

The most suitable option for cooking bacon is the cast-iron skillet. These are effective for cooking bacon because they have a huge bottom which helps in even conduction of heat.

Using a cast iron skillet helps in making the bacon tender and avoids burning.

The Final Verdict

When it comes to checking the doneness of bacon, you should consider taking multiple factors into account before making the final decision.

A properly cooked bacon will have a crispy texture, a brown color, a curved shape, and foam all over it.

You should keep in mind to not make decisions on the basis of a single factor, because it will lead to a wrong decision most of the time.

For example, if you make a decision of doneness on the basis of color alone, then you may overcook bacon because properly done can also have a pink color.

if you are interested in digging deeper into checking doneness ,then don’t forget read our article on How to tell when sausage is done

Jakob miller
Latest posts by Jakob miller (see all)