Bacon dehydrates better in a food dehydrator than in a conventional oven. To dehydrate bacon, cut it into strips or slices and cook it in a skillet until crispy. Dab excess grease off the bacon slices and dry them at 160°F for 6-8 hours in a dehydrator.
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How to Dehydrate Bacon in a Food Dehydrator
The best way to dehydrate bacon is to use a food dehydrator to slow-cook it for a long time using a stable temperature. Here’s how to make bacon jerky in a dehydrator:
- Choose high-quality bacon cuts with minimal fat for better-textured dried bacon.
- Preheat a clean food dehydrator to 200°F or its highest temperature to avoid placing the bacon in a cold dehydrator.
- Cut the bacon into long strips or small square pieces.
- Cook the pieces or strips of bacon in a skillet until cooked through and crispy. The cooking time will depend on the thickness of the pieces or strips.
- Drain the cooked bacon and pat it dry with clean paper towels to remove excess fat and oils to prevent them from going rancid during dehydration.
- Season the bacon with your favorite dried herbs or spices. You can use cracked black pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, dry BBQ rub, or Cayenne pepper. The addition of brown sugar or maple syrup makes excellent candied bacon.
- Line the dehydrator trays with mesh sheets to drain the fat from the drying bacon. Depending on your dehydrator, you can place a wire baking rack over the trays to place the bacon on for better drying and fat drainage.
- Lay the sliced bacon on the rack or lined trays in a single layer. Leave ½-inch between the slices for proper aeration.
- Dehydrate the bacon at 160°F for 6-8 hours until dry.
- Monitor the drying process every few hours and use paper towels at least twice to dab off any visible oils or fat. Turn the pieces or strips halfway during the process to dry both sides.
- Check the bacon for dryness after 6 hours. Cool a few pieces to room temperature and bend them to 90° to see if they produce oils or moisture. Continue dehydrating if needed.
- Once all the bacon has dried, remove it from the dehydrator and pat off the excess grease using paper towels. Cool the bacon to room temperature.
- Store the dried bacon at room temperature in airtight containers like Mason or glass jars. Keep the containers in a cool, dry, dark place. Monitor them for a week, watching for evidence of moisture or condensation to ensure dryness before long-term storage.
How Do You Dehydrate Bacon in a Conventional Oven?
Dehydrating bacon in a conventional oven is faster, but you may overcook the bacon. It is harder to maintain steady drying temperatures in an oven. Here’s how to oven-dry bacon without ruining the texture:
- Preheat the oven to 200°F.
- Cook the bacon strips or slices in a skillet until crispy. Add seasonings of your choice, if preferred. You could season the bacon with a dry rub before putting it in the oven.
- Drain the bacon and soak up surface oils with paper towels to remove excess fat.
- Line a baking sheet with foil for even heat distribution and to contain oil drips.
- Place a wire rack over the foil-lined cookie sheet. Spread the cooked bacon directly on the rack.
- Dehydrate the bacon for 2-3 hours at 200°F until crispy. Monitor the dehydration process every 30 minutes and check for doneness after the second hour by bending a few cooled pieces and watching for moisture or oils. Keep dehydrating if necessary.
- Remove the fully dried bacon from the oven and dab it with paper towels to remove excess grease. Let the bacon cool to room temperature.
- Store dried bacon at room temperature in airtight containers. Condition it for seven days and monitor for condensation or moisture before moving it to long-term storage.
What Temperature is Best for Dehydrating Bacon?
160°F is the best temperature for dehydrating bacon. Cooked bacon dehydrates best at low temperatures, while raw bacon dehydrates better at higher temperatures to kill bacteria and parasites. Use a food thermometer to monitor the internal temperature of the bacon and maintain 160°F during drying.
What Temperature Should Bacon Be Cooked to Before Dehydrating?
The USDA recommends cooking bacon to reach an internal temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit before drying it in a food dehydrator or oven. Once the bacon is ready to dry, stick to these drying temperatures for regular or thick-cut bacon:
|Type of Bacon
|160°F for 4-6 hours
|200°F for 2 – 3 hours
|160°F for 6-8 hours
|200°F for 3 – 4 hours
What Type of Bacon is Best for Dehydrating?
Not every piece of bacon is ideal for complete dehydration. When choosing bacon to dehydrate, choose thicker slices because they dehydrate better. They produce thicker bacon jerky slices with a chewy texture.
- Choose bacon with more fat when making jerky for a chewier texture
- For a bolder flavor, try smoke-flavored bacon to make bacon jerky
- Higher fat content in bacon may cause rancidity, so dab away excess oil and grease
- Use regular-cut bacon for crunchier bacon jerky that’s easier to chew
How Do You Dehydrate Bacon for Backpacking?
Both ovens and food dehydrators are ideal for dehydrating bacon for backpacking. Your preferred method will depend on your preference and the bacon jerky recipe.
Can Raw Bacon Be Dehydrated?
Raw bacon should be dehydrated at high temperatures. The parasites and bacteria in bacon may survive low temperatures and cause food spoilage and poisoning.
What are the Benefits of Dehydrating Bacon?
- Dehydrating bacon increases shelf life
- Dried bacon is a delicious snack that is portable and shelf-stable
- Dried bacon is a versatile protein that can be used as a topping or in recipes
- It contains only what you put in; no artificial additives or preservatives
How Long Does it Take to Dehydrate Bacon?
The total time it takes to dehydrate regular-cut bacon in a food dehydrator is 4-6 hours, or 6-8 hours for thick-cut bacon at 160°F. If you use an oven heated to 200°F instead, the drying times will be 2-3 hours for regular cuts and 3-4 hours for thick-cut pieces.
What is the Shelf Life of Dehydrated Bacon?
Dehydrated bacon can be kept in airtight containers at room temperature or in cold conditions in the freezer or refrigerator. The shelf life will depend on the storage method and container:
- 1-2 months at room temperature in airtight containers in a cool, dark, dry place.
- 1-2 years in the freezer in airtight containers with an oxygen scavenger.
- A few days to weeks in freezer zip lock bags at room temperature.
- Several months in the refrigerator in unopened vacuum-sealed containers with oxygen absorbers.