It’s easy to learn how to cook bacon on the grill, and the you’re going to LOVE the smoky flavor of this cooking method. When the tasty strips are cooked outside over an open flame, bacon gets wonderfully crispy and even more delicious from exposure to the smoke of the grill. Plus, the heavenly aroma is going to have everyone within five miles running over for tasty bacon.
Read our secrets and tips for grilling bacon, and enjoy a whole new level of smoky deliciousness!
Why You’ll Love Cooking Bacon on the Grill
Better Flavor – You’ll love the smoky taste of bacon cooked on the grill.
Less Grease – The fat cooks off while grilling, so the bacon never cooks in its own grease.
No Messy Pan – Clean up is a breeze. Just cook and serve!
Best Bacon for Grilling
If you’re cooking the bacon over indirect heat, you can use regular, center-cut or thick-sliced bacon.
For direct heat grilling, we recommend a nice, thick-sliced bacon. The savory strips will cook more evenly, and thicker slices are easier to turn and less likely to slip through the grates.
For your reference, a pound of regular sliced bacon will generally contain between 16 and 20 slices.
A pound of thick-sliced bacon will usually have about 12 to 16 strips.
If you have a good butcher (or an uncut slab of artisan or homemade bacon), you can have it cut in even thicker slices that will be ideal for grilling.
Pro Tips for Grilling Bacon
Start with a clean grill, so that your bacon doesn’t stick while cooking.
We prefer indirect heat for cooking bacon, as the low-and-slow approach results in more evenly cooked strips.
If you’re grilling over lump charcoal, pellets, wood or briquettes, the smoke imparted during cooking will make your bacon taste even better.
If you’re using a smoker to cook bacon, its savory flavor pairs especially well with apple, cherry and pecan wood.
Grill Temp for Bacon
For best results we like to heat the grill to a moderate temperature, around 325 degrees F (163 degrees C).
Keep a close eye on the bacon as it can cook quickly. With practice you’ll learn the best temperature and timing for your grill.
If you’re cooking over charcoal, let the coals die down a bit before cooking the bacon. With a charcoal grill, move the skillet or griddle away from the coals before laying your bacon on it. With a gas grill, turn down the burners to medium-low once you add the bacon.
Helpful Grilling Equipment
A grilling basket with a handle is perfect for cooking thick slices of bacon, and makes it nice and easy to turn the bacon over. Just use an insulated mitt to hold the handle and give it a flip.
If you’re cooking a roast or meat wrapped in bacon or covered with a bacon weave, you can use deeper grilling basket as we’ve shown in this photo. The basket makes it easy to keep the bacon in place on the meat and allows for more even cooking and control.
Disposable aluminum pans are handy for cooking smaller things like jalapeno poppers and bacon-wrapped chicken thighs, making them a great choice for tailgating. A pan will also help contain the fat and juices and reduce smoking and flames. When you’re done cooking, just fold up the pan and recycle or discard.
A large cast iron skillet is great for camping, tailgating, and cooking large quantities of bacon for a crowd. This Lodge 17-inch seasoned cast iron skillet has two handles which makes it easier to handle on a hot grill or fire.
Cooking bacon over a fire in a cast iron skillet is a time-honored way to cook bacon when camping. (Why does everything taste so much better when it’s cooked outside?)
Pro Tip: Be sure to bring heavy oven mitts for moving the pan and a long-handled fork or spatula for flipping the bacon, as the skillet gets very, very hot.
If you’re in a hurry, preheat the skillet before adding the bacon and it will cook faster. Otherwise, you can arrange the bacon strips in a cold skillet and heat it over the coals at a more leisurely pace.
Pro Tip: If you pack along an empty resealable can (a coffee can is perfect), you can easily drain off the bacon drippings to use later. (Here’s a handy guide about What To Do with Bacon Grease.)
Grilling Bacon Over Direct Heat
If you’re going to cook thick-sliced bacon strips directly on the grill, make sure the grill is nice and clean. To keep meaty bacon slices from sticking, brush the grate with a light coating of oil with a high smoke point such as canola oil or grapeseed oil before grilling.
Thick-cut bacon may be placed directly on the oiled grill grate. Watch the bacon very carefully and turn it using tongs or a large metal spatula.Turn the bacon several times until it’s nicely browned.
If the flames flare up, put the lid on and close the top vent halfway. Alternately, you can move the bacon to an area of the grill that’s not quite as hot.
Another technique is to thread bacon on a metal skewer, going under and over the strip every inch and a half or so, to secure the bacon for grilling.
If you want to use bamboo skewers instead, soak them in water for an hour first to prevent the skewers from burning during cooking. (You might also be interested in these oven-baked bacon skewers.)
The total cooking time will depend on the heat of your grill and the thickness of the bacon. If you use a moderate cooking temperature (about 325 degrees F) and indirect heat with thick-sliced bacon, it will take about 10 minutes (give or take a few minutes) to cook the bacon.
Yes, you can cook bacon directly on the grill grate (brush with a neutral oil that has a high smoke point such as canola or grapeseed oil) or on a grill basket, griddle or skillet. Just be sure the grill is heated to a moderate temperature and not too hot, so the bacon doesn’t overcook or burn.
Serve your delicious direct cooked grilled bacon nice and hot, and enjoy the fact that you don’t have to clean up any grease!
How to Cook Bacon on the Grill
- barbecue grill
- wire brush
- silicone brush
- Long handled spatula
- paper towels
- 2 tablespoons canola or grapeseed oil, for brushing
- 12 strips thick-cut bacon
- Clean the grill grates thoroughly with a wire brush to prevent sticking.
- Brush the grate with a light coating of canola oil or grapeseed oil.
- Heat the grill to moderate heat, about 325 degrees F.
- If you're cooking over charcoal, let the coals die down a bit before cooking the bacon.
- If you’re using a gas grill, heat the burners on either side of the area where you’ll cook the bacon, while leaving the burner directly underneath that area off. Close the lid until the temperature reaches 325 degrees F.
- Lay the thick cut bacon strips on the oiled grill grate, perpendicular to the grate lines. If you’re cooking on a gas grill, turn down the burners to medium-low once you add the bacon.
- Watch the bacon very carefully and turn it several times using a long handled metal spatula, until it's nicely browned.
- Drain on paper towels and serve.
If you use Pinterest to save and share ideas, here’s a handy pin!
Note: This article was updated on December 5, 2021. It was originally posted on February 23, 2021.
Photos used with permission: Ted Murphy, grill image; Rex Roof, bacon slice; Crosa, grill basket; Greg Hayter, skillet image.