Can you brown bacon in a slow cooker?

So here’s what happened… PDX is in the middle of a long, long stretch of over and (very) slightly under triple digit temps. I’m not particularly heat sensitive, but even I couldn’t really face the prospect of browning lots of bacon, as I realized as I stared at the stove. Here’s the brilliant idea I came up with! :slight_smile: (It does seem brilliant, although that could be part of heat exhaustion… :P) Cutting up bacon, putting just enough in a slow cooker to almost cover the bottom in one layer, turning it on high, and letting it cook until it browns! However long it takes! Will this work? (It’s in the slow cooker now, and just got started…)

If not that, an electric skillet would work nicely and heats the kitchen far less than using the stove.

Never tried it, but betting against it. I don’t think it will get hot enough.

Do you have a propane torch? That will work.

You could just microwave it.

Yup. Sandwich the strips between double layers of paper towels on a plate, microwave for 4 minutes to start, check it, and go another 30 seconds at a time until it’s done to your liking.

Oven is my preferred method.

UPDATE: It worked!! :slight_smile: at least for the purposes of the particular recipe, which was Mexican beans. I don’t know how well it would turn out for crispy breakfast bacon, but it just needed to be cooked along with onions and spices for flavoring. Ovens and propane torches and electric skillets… it wasn’t going to happen. O.o.

If anyone else ever wants to try this, cut the bacon into fairly small pieces and add it in only one layer. Cook on high for about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Then add a finely chopped onion, chili powder, berbere powder, and paprika. Cook for about 15 minutes more.

For the original recipe, I then added the soaked uncooked pinto beans, beef broth, and beer. (I used Lagunitas Hop Stoopid Ale.) After a couple of hours, add a can of chopped tomatoes with green chilis. If you start out with cooked canned beans, the process will take less time. Serve over hot rice with shredded cheddar cheese, yogurt, and salsa. Yay and yum! :slight_smile:

Yeah, you just put the bacon on a cooling rack over a sheet pan, and bake. 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes will do the trick, I think.

You end up with a bunch of NON-crinkled bacon that’s uniformly browned and rendered, and a sheet pan full of bacon grease that’s relatively clean and devoid of most of the bits of crud you end up with if you do it in a pan.

But yeah, if you’re doing a pot of beans in the crock-pot, you can just throw it in raw and let it render as everything cooks down.

You could have just used a salt pork and got the same affect.

Also, no need to precook the bacon, just throw all the ingredients in and let her rip. That’s what’s so awesome about slow cookers.
Borracho beans are the shit!

Nitpick: it worked in the sense that the bacon was cooked (not raw) and rendered flavor and fatty smokiness into the final product. But your question was whether or not it would brown, and my slow cooker doesn’t get hot enough to do that well. Did yours?


The OP most likely got bits of boiled bacon.

Not that there is anything wrong with that!

I haven’t cooked bacon in years, but IMVHO nothing beats a proper microwaving, once you have the technique and timing down. Ovens aren’t bad but take a lot of time and power to get to the useful heat.

Most slow-cookers have the heating around the sides, meaning any heat on the bacon would be indirect. I’d guess it would cook from the heat inside the cooker but not brown in any way, which is where a lot of the flavor comes from. Sort of hot-rendered but not “cooked” as bacon should be.

Cooking beans with bacon I’m after the bacon fat getting absorbed by the beans so real browning isn’t all that necessary. Usually I dice the bacon and brown it crisp in the pot before adding the beans, there will be more flavor that way from the Maillard reaction. Of course if I’m making duck I’ll go for the Mallard reaction. And for French food I’ll use the Mouliere reaction.

Hey! Those little bits of crud are there so the eggs can pick them up. It’s a feature, not a bug.

If you have to stir occasionally, seems like it defeats the purpose of using a slow cooker, which is to set it and forget it. You could do the same thing in a sautée pan on med-low heat on the stove.

Also, as someone else mentioned, I’m sure that bacon will cook in a slow cooker but to brown you have to have enough heat to produce a maillard reaction which you’re not going to get in a slow cooker, which is usually at or below the boiling point.

I would say that it did brown. Not exceptionally so, but it sizzled and smelled bacon-y. If you like crispy bacon, it was kind of like if you cooked bacon about half as crispy as you normally would on a stovetop. I was careful to not have more than one layer of bacon at any point, to leave a little space around each small bacon clump, and to also break it up with a spatula every 10 minutes. It did take about 45 minutes. I think that if it cooked long enough under those conditions, it would probably brown in a conventional sense. I wouldn’t do this if it made any sense to use other methods that would save all the bacon grease (frying pan, oven, wok, blowtorch, campfire…) But it was 96 degrees, and it just wasn’t going to happen. :eek:

I know, but if you’re looking to do something with the bacon grease, sometimes you don’t want the crud.

I’ve used a slow cooker to make pork and duck confit. If the rendered fat was deep enough you may have made bacon confit.