Is Boiling Bacon Actually Healthy?

Ah, bacon: a crispy, savory delicacy we can’t get enough of. The best way to cook it has been debated for a long time by foodies. We’re sure it’s the best breakfast meat of all them. Pan-frying is the old-school way to cook a few strips. You don’t have to watch it closely while it cooks, and the heat is more evenly distributed in an oven than in a pan, so the results are crisp all the way through. Baking it may be the new favorite.

Recently, one viral method that we’d never heard of before came across our Instagram feed: boiling. We were skeptical…though we couldn’t help but bite. Read on for the technique, our test and the results.

We first came across this hack in a viral video by Roice Bethel, the brains behind @noflakeysalt. Bethel starts the Instagram post, which has more than a million likes since June, by saying, “If you want perfectly crispy bacon, you need to boil it. I know that sounds like it wouldn’t work, but it does.” ”.

He says that bacon is made up of muscle (the dark part) and fat (the white part). Muscle cooks quickly, but fat takes longer to crisp up. He then places bacon strips in a cold pan and adds just enough water to cover them.

He says, “The water keeps the temperature from rising too high, which gives the fat time to render out.” “So, the meat and the fat finish cooking at the same time. When all the water is gone, the bacon is nice and crispy, the meat isn’t overcooked or burned, and the fat is just right. ”.

The comments are, understandably, divided. A lot of people who leave comments say they love baking bacon and that the oven always gives them great results with no trouble. Some, however, sing out in support of Bethel:

“Big momma neva added water & she cooked it right err time. Y’all can have this….”

We understand why Bethel did what he did, and the results looked great, but isn’t moisture the enemy of crispness? We tried this unusual method to see if it really works.

Bacon is a beloved breakfast food for many but the typical cooking methods like frying or baking allow the bacon to sit in its own fat, which can make it unhealthy. Some argue that boiling bacon is a healthier cooking technique. But is that really true? Let’s take a closer look at the potential benefits and downsides of boiling bacon.

Overview of Boiling Bacon

Boiling bacon involves cooking it in simmering water much like poaching chicken or eggs. The bacon is added to a pot of water which is then brought to a gentle boil and cooked for several minutes. This allows the bacon to cook through gradually without crisping or sitting in grease.

Proponents of boiling bacon claim it reduces the fat content since the water helps render out some of the fat. The softened texture is also said to be easier to chew and digest. But others argue boiling leaches out flavor and nutrients.

Potential Benefits of Boiled Bacon

Here are some of the touted benefits of boiling bacon rather than frying or baking it:

  • Less fat and calories – Simmering in water helps render out fat from the bacon rather than it just soaking in its own grease. This can reduce the overall fat and calorie count.

  • Fewer carcinogens – Frying and grilling bacon at high temperatures can create carcinogenic compounds. The lower heat of boiling may limit this.

  • Saturated fats stay in water – Much of the less healthy saturated fat drips into the water when boiling. Some healthier fats may remain in the bacon.

  • More tender texture – The gentler boiling helps breakdown collagen for a softer, more tender texture that may be easier to chew and digest.

  • Retains more nutrients – Unlike frying, nutrients like protein and vitamins aren’t degraded by high temperatures.

Potential Downsides of Boiled Bacon

However, there are also some notable downsides associated with boiling bacon instead of cooking it by conventional methods:

  • Less flavor – Boiling leaches out salty, smoky, umami flavors instead of caramelizing and browning for rich flavor.

  • Less crispy texture – The soft texture isn’t as satisfying. Baking or frying allows crispy edges.

  • Nitrate safety unclear – Boiling may reduce some carcinogens like HCAs and PAHs formed at high temperatures. But the impact on nitrates is less established.

  • Nutrient loss into water – Some B vitamins and minerals like zinc and iron may leach out into the boiling water.

  • Shrinkage – Bacon can shrivel and shrink more when boiled due to water penetration and rendering of fat.

  • Uses more water – Boiling is less energy-efficient and uses more water compared to dry cooking methods.

Health Impact Depends on the Bacon

Importantly, the potential health impacts of boiling bacon depend heavily on the type of bacon being cooked.

Higher quality bacon from pasture-raised pork with no nitrates or sugar cure would be more nutrient-dense and have a better fat profile. Boiling this type of bacon may better retain nutrients.

But for mass-produced bacon full of preservatives, the nutritional downsides of boiling may outweigh any small benefits from reduced AGEs or fat.

Tips for Boiling Bacon

If you want to try boiling bacon, here are some tips:

  • Choose higher quality, uncured bacon with no added nitrates/nitrites, sugar, etc.

  • Use a large pot and lots of water to allow the strips to move freely.

  • Bring the water to a gentle simmer – boiling too vigorously can cause sticking and shriveling.

  • Cook for 2-5 minutes depending on thickness. Check often to avoid overcooking.

  • Drain and lightly pat dry to remove excess moisture before eating.

  • Pair boiled bacon with crispy roasted potatoes or use in another dish to add texture.

Healthier Bacon Cooking Tips

If you find that boiling leaches out too much flavor and nutrients from bacon, here are some other cooking suggestions:

  • Bake bacon on a rack over a sheet pan to allow fat to drip off.

  • Fry over medium-low heat to limit nitrosamine formation.

  • Grill or air fry using little to no oil for crispy texture without char.

  • Microwave in short intervals to cook gradually without added fat.

  • Cure your own bacon using natural ingredients to control quality.

The Bottom Line

While boiling bacon may seem like a healthier cooking method, the results are mixed. For poor quality bacon, boiling reduces some harmful compounds formed from high-heat cooking. But boiling may also leach out lots of flavor, texture, and nutrients. For higher quality bacon, dry cooking methods may be preferable to better retain benefits. Moderation and choosing less processed bacon are most important for health.

is boiling bacon healthy

How We Tested the Hack

We followed Bethel’s instructions to a T. We put four cheap strips of thick-cut bacon in a big, cold skillet and then added just enough water to cover the bacon. The man didn’t say how hot to make it, so we set it to medium and waited for the water to begin to bubble.

We did the same thing he does and kept doing it as the water started to evaporate. He flips the bacon many times before it even starts to brown. (It fully evaporated after about 15 minutes. Once the water was gone, we kept cooking the bacon for another 27 minutes, or until the strips looked crispy all the way through. We cooked them for three more minutes just to be safe. We finally transferred the strips to a paper towel-lined paper plate to drain and cool.

is boiling bacon healthy

The results were surprisingly delicious. The bacon was cooked all the way through and was crispy all over. The fatty parts were a little softer than the meaty parts, but not so much that they were chewy. Many people had said they thought the water would make the bacon taste less good, so we were surprised by how good it was.

That being said, the process is kind of…unappetizing to watch. The fat separates and floats around in the water before it renders. When the cloudy, fat-infused water is almost gone, you can hear the bacon really begin to sizzle. Once the water is gone, it’s business as usual. The bacon didn’t spat out hot grease, and the water made it easy to scrape off the bits that stuck to the pan when we were done. If the whole bubbling-pan-of-fat-and-smoke thing intimidates you, boiling may just become your favorite method for cooking bacon. ).

The main con? It took 30 minutes from start to finish. Depending on how thick the bacon is, baking takes 10 to 20 minutes. Pan-frying takes 10 to 12 minutes. In the end, boiling is more time-consuming, but arguably less stressful and foolproof for beginners. If you’re cooking for a crowd, baking is easiest. For breakfast in a hurry, pan-frying is definitely your best bet.

But still…that was pretty cool. Science, right?

Taryn Pire is PureWow’s associate food editor. She used to work as a bartender and barista, and since 2016, she’s been writing about all things tasty for Food52, New Jersey Family Magazine, and Taste Talks. There, she writes recipes, reviews restaurants, and looks into food trends. She eats popcorn for dinner and posts about it on Instagram (@cookingwithpire) when she’s not testing TikTok’s newest hit recipe.

is boiling bacon healthy

I Heard The BEST Way To Cook Bacon Is To BOIL IT ? So Let’s See If That’s True…

Leave a Comment