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What Makes Bacon Sizzle?

Frying bacon makes the world go round! Here’s why the secret is in the sizzle.

Name one thing that doesn’t pair well with bacon… I’ll wait. 🙂

Bacon is a delicious treat, whether it’s a cold cut or a crispy hot strip fresh from the pan. As a side dish or the main course, bacon never fails to excite the palate and ameliorate the meal on the table. You can even wrap veg, fruit, and cheeses in it!

If you’re a bacon lover, then you may have wondered at some point why bacon sizzles when you cook it.

Bacon sizzles when you cook it because the hot, liquid fat of the pork belly in the pan causes the water droplets oozing from the meat to evaporate.

If you’ve ever listened to bacon sizzle, you’ll know just how satisfying that sound is. After all, it’s the iconic sound and smell of bacon that makes the anticipation of a meal that much more exciting.

The rest of this article will explore why bacon sizzles when you cook it, and how to listen to the sizzle to get the perfect crispiness on your bacon.

What Makes Bacon Sizzle

So, what makes bacon sizzle?

All cuts of bacon contain water, which evaporates during cooking, and fat from the pork belly, which renders in the heat. If you combine hot oil with water, you get sizzling.

Here’s how this works.

When you fry bacon in your pan, the fat from the pork belly renders and pools in your pan. Meanwhile, the proteins in the meat begin to sweat out the water.

Water is heavier than lard. So the tiny droplets of water that the meat oozes sink to the bottom of the pan, below the surface of the hot lard. That lard in the pan is much hotter than the boiling point of water, 212°F (100°C) though.

So these tiny droplets are almost instantly vaporized and shoot upward, making a sizzling sound and splattering the bacon grease all over the stove. The higher the water content of your bacon, the louder the sizzling and bigger the splatter.

With much of the water vaporized and much of the fat rendered in the pan, the bacon turns out nice and crispy as it should.

Why Do Some Kinds of Bacon Sizzle More Than Others?

If you’ve ever noticed that some brands of bacon sizzle more than others, then you may be curious why.

Generally, different types of bacon sizzle differently depending on the amount of fat and water they contain. Cheaper, fattier bacon with a higher water content sizzles more than leaner, higher quality bacon with a lower water content.

This water will come out during the cooking process, coming into contact with the liquefied fat and causing the water across the surface of the pan to hiss and vaporize, making the sound we associate with sizzling bacon.

How to Get the Perfect Sizzle on Your Bacon

Getting the right sizzle sound is an important indicator that you’re cooking the bacon perfectly.

Both undercooked and overcooked bacon can all be avoided by using the right equipment and listening for the right sound. As a matter of fact, the sizzle is the best indicator to let you know exactly when the bacon is done!

Bacon is, after all, pretty easy to burn.

Once it turns a golden brown, you should be listening for the sizzle. Don’t hear it sizzling? Your bacon is probably done, and it’s time to take them off the heat.

First, don’t heat the pan too quickly. Start cooking your bacon in a cold pan and turn the heat onto medium-low to start rendering the bacon. Cooking too quickly can cause the bacon to be unevenly cooked and won’t give you as much of a satisfying sizzle.

Overcrowding the pan may also be why your bacon isn’t getting that perfect sizzle. Make sure you’re not putting too much bacon in the pan so that each strip is properly cooked, and consider purchasing a cast iron or carbon steel pan, if you don’t already have one.

If you find your bacon sizzling too much and spitting all over the place, consider baking your bacon. Not only does it eliminate the risk of a flaming hot bit of fat jumping on your arm, but it may also reduce the amount that the bacon shrinks during cooking.

The Bottom Line

The bacon sizzle sound is one of the most recognizable sounds in the world, and just the sound of bacon sizzling can make someone eager for a taste of that crispy goodness.

The sound of bacon sizzling is the result of the hot, liquefied fat in the pan causing the water that’s oozing from the meat to evaporate. The evaporating water, on the other hand, is what makes the lard splatter all over your stove.

Once it starts to turn that golden brown color and stops sizzling, then you know it’s ready to pull from the heat. If you’re willing to sacrifice that sizzling sound for a little more ease in preparing your bacon, you can use the oven to back it at low temperature for 20 minutes.

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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.