Why You Should Never Overcrowd Bacon

Bacon is powerful. It has spawned a religion, a camp, and even a dating app. According to NPR, the aroma of bacon sizzling in a pan has even proven itself strong enough to convert longtime vegetarians. The smell of protein, fat, and salt sizzling in a pan or over a fire seems to tap into our evolutionary instincts. Just because the taste and smell of bacon come naturally to us as a species, that doesn't mean that cooking it does.

There are a lot of different mistakes you can make with bacon. From using a pan that is too hot to neglecting your oven, it's not that hard to find yourself with a pile of bacon that's been charred to a crisp, or left rubbery and undercooked because of some screw-up. One mistake that is common by many an overzealous breakfast chef is to overcrowd the bacon in the pan.

Overcrowding leads to steamed bacon

We get it. More bacon is better than less bacon, and making the most of your cooking real estate seems like a great idea. Taste of Home reports that you may be setting yourself up to fail though by crowding your bacon onto a griddle or pan. My Recipes say this is because the evaporating moisture from the bacon will actually steam your tasty strips instead of frying them.

It's the same reason you don't want to overcrowd your vegetables too much when roasting them. That excess moisture prevents the Maillard Reaction (the key to all things crisp and delicious) from occurring. So, while your bacon is cooking from all that extra steam heat, it's not taking on any of the caramelized flavors that we want. Eat This, Not That! further notes that this will also cause your bacon to cook unevenly, which can lead to charred edges and undercooked fatty strips that won't quite scratch that bacon itch. To fix this, show some patience, and leave about one inch between each strip of bacon. It may take a little longer to cook, but it will be well worth the wait.