How To Tell If Bacon Is Undercooked

While some protein options, like steak, may be safe to eat if they're not cooked to well-done, bacon isn't one of them. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), these tasty pork strips need to be cooked completely before you consume them, or else you risk bacteria contamination that could lead to foodborne illnesses. But because bacon is so thin, it can be tough to measure its temperature with a meat thermometer. So whether you're making breakfast for your family or ordering it at a restaurant, it's a good idea to know the signs of undercooked bacon.

The easiest way to tell is by the color of the pork. Just like with many other types of meat, uncooked bacon will be light pink with white strips of fat. When it's ready to eat, those rosy hues will have darkened to a reddish-brown color, and the fat will morph into a tan or golden shade. The other obvious giveaway that your bacon is done is its texture. The raw meat will be limp, flexible, and soft, while cooked strips will be stiff, crispy, and lightweight. Essentially, if you pick up a piece of bacon and it hangs off your hands, it needs to go back on the stove; if it holds its shape, you're heading in the right direction. 

Other signs your bacon is undercooked

Two other factors that tell you if your bacon is raw or cooked are the shape and feel of your meat. Raw strips will be much larger than crispy ones — as much as 40% larger, in fact. This occurs because when the pork cooks, much of the moisture evaporates. Frying the meat also renders the fat, which is essential to remove the water that allows bacteria to thrive. But it also means that your bacon will start to curl up and may produce squiggly edges — so if you want to keep track of when your pork is ready to eat, take note of its shape before you begin cooking. Likewise, your strips will feel moist when they are raw, while ready-to-eat ones will be much drier, especially after the grease has been blotted away.

It's worth noting that bacon is good to go when it's reached 145 degrees Fahrenheit, although as we mentioned, it can be tough to determine this with a meat thermometer. So when in doubt, refer to the appearance and texture to tell if your meat is ready to eat.