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What to Do If Your Bacon’s Too Salty?

Crispy bacon, unbearable salt? Dust off the stove and whip out that frying pan because we’re about to help you make your bacon right!

Bacon is a delicious food that people love eating for breakfast, brunch, lunch, and dinner in many parts of the world. But it can be really—and we mean really—salty!

Whether you’ve cured the bacon yourself or bought it from the supermarket, you might be finding that the salt is overwhelming and you want to dial it back a bit. So what’s the best way to do that?

Bacon is salty because it is cured, either by brining or packing it in salt. To tone down the salt, you need to reverse that process. You can do this by soaking the bacon in water and refrigerating it for 1-2 hours, then rinsing it off and cooking it.

A lot of people are conscious of how much sodium they consume per day—and the dangers of high-salt diets are well known, so we won’t go into these right now. The good news, though, is that you don’t have to give up bacon entirely to keep your salt intake low.

Read on to find out how.

Things to Do When Your Bacon’s Too Salty

There are several things you can do to reduce the quantity of salt in your bacon, but the approach needs to be varied depending on whether you are dealing with cooked bacon or raw bacon.

As you can probably guess, raw bacon is easier to remove salt from, whereas cooked bacon is more challenging.

To remove the salt from uncooked bacon, you can simply:

  1. Place the bacon in a bowl.
  2. Pour cold water over it until it is fully submerged.
  3. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, then put it in the fridge.
  4. Wait for 1-2 hours for the water to soak the salt out, then remove the bowl from the fridge.
  5. Rinse, drain, and dry the bacon. Cook a couple of strips (or a small piece) to test whether you have reduced the salt enough.
  6. If it is still too salty for your tastes, repeat the process for another 1-2 hours to reduce the salt to the degree that you enjoy.

This process is sometimes called reverse-brining.

With reverse-brining, you are essentially undoing the process that was completed to make the bacon salty (and to preserve it) in the first place. Be aware that once you have done this, your bacon is not likely to keep and will need to be cooked immediately, so only reverse-brine the meat you are ready to use.

This is because you are taking out the salt (a preservative) and adding in moisture, which can lead to rotting and decay. You must therefore use the meat up much more quickly, as you would other fresh meats, rather than leaving it in your fridge the way that you can do with salty bacon.

Can You Remove the Salt From the Bacon More Quickly?

If you are in a hurry to make some breakfast, that two-hour reverse-brining process might sound like a major hassle. So maybe you’re looking for a quicker way to lift the salt out of your bacon.

Fortunately, there is one! But be aware that this may alter the texture of the bacon somewhat.

To remove salt from bacon quickly, you should:

  1. Place the raw bacon in a heat-proof bowl.
  2. Boil some water and pour it over the bacon so that it’s fully submerged.
  3. Stir gently and wait for 2 minutes.
  4. Rinse and drain.
  5. Boil some more water and submerge the bacon again for 1 minute.
  6. Rinse and drain, pat the bacon dry, and cook it.

This works more quickly because the hot water will make the meat swell faster, releasing the salt trapped in its structure. The salt is then washed away with the water. You don’t have to do the second soak if you prefer your bacon with more salt rather than less, but it does help to reduce it further.

This method might change the texture because the heat will partially cook the bacon before it hits the pan.

Usually, however, it will make minimal difference.

Can I Make Cooked Bacon Less Salty?

It isn’t easy to make cooked bacon less salty.

Soaking it will ruin the texture and make it soggy. The only thing you can try involves cooking less bacon, or using it as a small component of a larger dish.

For example, if you are making a creamy recipe, you could chop some bacon into it. The cream will dilute and spread out the salt, making the overall taste better.

More often than not, the only way to deal with cooked bacon that’s overly salty is to balance out the salt by mixing it with something sweet and creamy. This includes mayonnaise, burger sauce, fry sauce, and cream.

Is It Good to Remove the Salt From Bacon?

Cutting back the level of salt can make your bacon better for you, although it still wouldn’t count as a healthy option in most cases.

There is a secondary advantage to removing the salt, however: it allows the flavor of the meat to come through more. This means that if you’re buying high-quality meat, you should taste it.

Many people prefer the flavor of good pork to the flavor of salt, so this can be a major benefit to the reverse-brining process.

Does Removing the Salt From Bacon Ruin Its Taste?

Some people will not enjoy the flavor of desalinated bacon, because it is different from standard bacon.

Like all changes, it can take some adjustment before you can make up your mind. However, removing the salt should not spoil the taste, and if you find bacon is too salty for you, it should actually enhance it.

This is particularly true if you have purchased high-quality bacon.

If you buy low-end meat that depends heavily on the salt to produce its flavor, you may find that removing some of the salt makes it taste strange and bland. For most good pork, however, the salt should be a secondary taste, with the meaty notes taking the center stage.

To Wrap It Up

If your bacon is too salty for your tastes or your health needs, don’t worry; a good soak in hot or cold water before you cook the meat will solve the problem.

If you have already cooked it, try using it in chunks in a bigger meal, preferably one that’s on the blander and/or sweeter side, where the salt will be mixed with other flavors.

Know your author

Written by

Jim is the former editor of Home Cook World. He is a career food writer who's been cooking and baking at home ever since he could see over the counter and put a chair by the stove.