Don't Waste Time Thawing Frozen Bacon Before You Cook It

Sometimes you have a potluck dish you were supposed to prepare for, need to get dinner on the table quickly, or simply have an urgent craving, but the protein you intended to use is firmly in the freezer. In many cases, you have to let it defrost, but when it comes to bacon, there is actually no reason to wait until it is completely thawed to use it. You can cook frozen bacon using whatever your preferred method is — whether that is on a sheet pan in the oven, fried in a skillet, or crisped up in the air fryer.

If you stored your bacon with the slices separated, you can just grab what you need and proceed. However, if you threw the entire package in the freezer, you now have an unwieldy frozen block. You can use a thin metal spatula or a butter knife to help separate the slices. Alternatively, if you intend to eat the bacon in small pieces, you can cut off what you need by slicing along the short side of your frozen bacon rectangle. That way, you can cut off a small portion of each piece of bacon, and stash what you do not need.

Thawing bacon improperly is a food safety issue

If you thought thawing bacon before cooking was necessary, you might have been tempted to run it under hot water or leave it out on the kitchen counter, but these methods are actually significant food safety mistakes. According to the USDA, safe thawing methods for bacon include using cold water, the refrigerator, or the microwave's defrost setting. The refrigerator method is the easiest, but also the slowest. The cold water method is quicker, but you need to change the water regularly to ensure the bacon's temperature doesn't rise above 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Additionally, there's a risk of spreading bacteria if the bacon's packaging is perforated.

If you're trying to cook bacon from frozen but struggling to separate the slices, using the microwave is probably your best bet. Place the bacon in the microwave on low power or the defrost setting, and microwave it in 30-second increments. There's no need to completely thaw it, though — after a short amount of time, you should be able to peel off the outer slices more easily.

Remember that bacon partially defrosted in water or the microwave must be cooked immediately. Even if the bacon is still mostly frozen, you cannot put it back in the freezer for storage.

Quick recipe ideas using frozen bacon

Bacon is an excellent way to add significant flavor to quick and simple meals. Since there's no need to waste time thawing, you can easily incorporate meatiness and depth of flavor into a dish without the need to prepare a larger piece of protein. Bacon is particularly useful in enhancing vegetable-heavy dishes with some extra oomph.

Cook up slices of bacon from frozen if you're craving a crunchy whole piece. Pan-fry the bacon, set it aside, then cook your egg in a hole toast in the bacon grease. Incorporate it into a grilled cheese, turkey club, or bacon, lettuce, and tomato sandwich. Save time on meal prep by cooking an entire sheet pan of frozen bacon slices for your breakfasts throughout the week.

If you prefer eating bacon in small pieces, render your bacon in a pan, and then remove the cooked bacon bits. Use some or all of the bacon grease — depending on the amount — to make fried rice or stir-fried noodles. Saute any vegetables you have until they are crisp-tender, add some kimchi for spice and tang, and then mix in your cooked rice or noodles. Alternatively, take your meal in a different direction by using the bacon fat to cook aromatics for a batch of beans, a pasta sauce, or a comforting soup. Sprinkle the crispy bits on top of the finished dish as a garnish.