So what is a “Bacon Press” anyways?
The idea behind a bacon press is to use the weight of something to keep the strips of bacon flat while they are frying up in your pan. If you’ve noticed, when you just throw bacon into a pan and cook it, it has a tendency to curl up, or otherwise become not straight. It also cooks better on some areas, and not so much on others. In other words, it cooks unevenly.
Now for your home made breakfast, this isn’t a big deal. But if you’re a restaurant, or maybe a small B&B and want your breakfasts to look “professional”, you will probably want your bacon to stay a little flatter while it’s cooking. Or you may just want your kids to have a perfectly made BLT with the strips of bacon evenly spaced across the lettuce and fill up the entire space on the bread rather than having to play around and break up the bacon and add it to your sandwich like a mosaic.
So enter the bacon press.
What a bacon press really is, is just a regular press you’d use for hamburgers or any other food you want to press in order for it to cook faster or hold a specific shape.
So yes, you can use your bacon press as a hamburger press, or what ever other food you don’t want contorting in to some abstract art on your plate.
So why have one of these for just bacon?
Simple, so you’re not adding other flavors to your press, or you just love bacon as much as we do.
Most presses are made of cast iron. The reason is simple, cast iron lasts forever, it’s very heavy, and it’s very easy and cheap to produce. And again, it will last forever if you treat it right and take care of it. It’s literally something you should be able to pass on for generations to come.
Taking proper care of your bacon press isn’t difficult at all. Just make sure you start with a solid well built one and all should be easy after that.
I’m surprised at how many bacon presses there are to choose from. And I’ve listed my favorites below with some pros and cons. But these presses are extremely inexpensive. So seriously, get two if you want.
Now understand when you’re buying a bacon press from Amazon or Walmart or whaerever, you will usually have the option to buy a seasoned” or non-seasoned press.
I suggest you buy a seasoned press since that should mean the company making your new press has oiled and “cooked” it already.
But…whether I buy a seasoned or un-seasoned press, I always season it myself as well. Now why would I do that?
Well, I have found that even though companies “say” they seasoned the press, “their” seasoning process is often pretty lame. Like a speck of oil and some heat. That’s all. And that’s not at all the best way to season your new press.
So, here’s what I personally do…
But a seasoned press. Then rinse it off under warm water to get any factory packaging debree off of it.
NEVER SCRUB YOUR BACON PRESS!!!!!
Nor use soap. Your press is like a cutting board, it should never be washed with soap.
Once my brand new press is dry, I grab some left over bacon grease and rub it generously all over the metal parts of the press. Now you can use lard, coconut oil or flaxseed oil if you don’t have any bacon grease on hand. But why use something that isn’t the exact thing we want, bacon flavors!
Once my press is well greased, I place mine on my outdoor grill with the cover down and “cook it” for around 45 minutes.
WARNING: If you do the grill technique, make sure you do NOT have a plastic handle! Yes, I have seen presses with plastic handles. Why they would do that I have no idea!
Once you have it cooked, turn off the heat and wait for it to completely cool off.
If you don’t have a grill, then you can do the same thing with basically the same results in your oven. Just cook it at 350 degrees for about an hour. Then the same, just turn off the oven and let it cool off completely.
Now I’m a bacon fanatic, so that means my bacon press has a nice little home of it’s own. I simply took one of the Danish Cookie tins and placed a few paper towels on the bottom of it. Then I took one paper towel and added a little regular cooking oil on it and placed it in the can with the others. Then when I am done with my press, I just lay it face down on the oiled paper towel. This way it is always oiled and never rusts or has any other problems. Just place the lid on it and store.
If you use you press at least once a week, then the tin isn’t even needed. It’s just a good idea to use it if you store the press for weeks at a time.
So how do you use it?
Like I said, the idea behind any press is weight. This goes for any food. If you’re using a press, you either want to control its shape, like with bacon, or you want to make it cook quicker, like with a hamburger.
And yes, you can use a press for any type of food you want. There are no undercover “Press Police” around that’ll fine you for using a bacon press for your hamburgers too, lol!
So to use your press, simply cook as you always would, just right when you place the bacon in your pan, place (lay on top of) the press on top if it. You don’t need to push down or hold the press. The weight of it will do the job. That’s the point of the press, its weight.
If you just placed a flat piece of something on your bacon and it didn’t really weigh much, it may make your bacon a little straighter, but it won’t give you the same results as a press will.
Cooking the perfect bacon
Here are a few tips for cooking great bacon…first, take your bacon out of the refrigerator at least 20 minutes before you will cook it. This is the same if you want to cook a great steak, and it helps with the way the fat cooks within the meats. And yes, it really does make a difference.
Then grab a pan that has enough room to hold all of the bacon you want to cook without needing to crowd your strips or overlap them. You should be using a heavy pan, cast iron skillets are great for this and heat evenly and at a good rate of speed.
Place your pan on the stove and then add your warmed bacon to your pan. Both things should be around the same temperature.
Now add the bacon press on top of the strips and light/turn on your stove. Don’t make the temperature too hot, use a medium flame or a medium temperature. Personally I love natural gas for my cooking.
Once your strips are finished cooking, take them out and for best results, place on a wire rack to let them cool off and allow any fat to run off of them.
Let cool a little and then devour! You now have beautiful bacon ready to decorate any sandwich or plate whether a greasy spoon diner or a 5 star hotel.
Tip: If you want to make bacon bits, it’s a lot easier to use flattened bacon than the normal cooked bacon you get from just throwing it in a pan.
Other ways to use your press
A door stop? Nah, just kidding. But…you can use it like I said before for any meat you want. Maybe you want to drain a little of the grease out of a hamburger before you take it out of the pan, take your bacon press and place it on your burger and push down for about 30 seconds, you just made a healthier option burger. Or use it to make tortillas. Bacon presses (or any for that matter) come in round, square and even pig shapes. So perfect for tortillas.
Or use it to make pininis. Or any grilled sandwich you want. Great for grilled cheese sandwiches!!! Just add a few bacon strips and YUM!
How to clean it?
Never use soap or anything that could scratch the surface of your press. First off, soap takes away the “seasoning” that all presses should have done to them. So don’t do it. Also, there should be no real reason to need to give it a serious clean. Just run it under hot water and use a normal kitchen sponge to clean it off. if it feels like it still has a little grease on it, good! If you’re super paranoid about germs or whatever, just pre-heat your pan next time with the press in the pan by itself. I promise, anything on it will die.
And you never want to scratch the press, even if it’s tiny little scratches, because each scratch will allow food to stick to it. And taking a press off of your food and half your food sticking to the press is really annoying. So keep it nice and smooth.
Which Press to buy?
I’m surprised how many presses there really are available just on Amazon alone (which is where I bought mine). I have a few different presses, the pig one I bought just because I thought it was cool. But otherwise, the others I bought to use, and even abuse.
So which one is the best press?
To be honest, practically any press should do fine. I mean, they are a hunk of flattened metal. And that’s about it.
But just in case you’re dying to have only the very best, or you just want my opinion or recommendation, here are a few presses that I know if you purchase, they will last you and most likely 5 generations of your family. And they are really inexpensive, like usually under $20 for the really top shelf ones. Okay, so here are a few recommendations…
The first one is actually the one I least recommend. Simply, it isn’t as heavy as I’d like, but it is really cute looking which is why I bought one. But I use it more for decoration than I do to cook with. Yes, it’s usable, but the other ones I will show you are more built for being used like everyday. It’s the picture on the top of the post. But if you want your own, go here to buy one on Amazon.
Lodge Cast Iron Bacon & Grill Press: This is without a doubt the one press I know you should get. And here’s why…first, it is completely metal. All of it, including the handle. It’s also heavy and is built to last forever. It measures 6-3/4 by 4-1/2 inches which is plenty large enough to cover all of your bacon. And you can pre-heat this so that when you lay it on your bacon, it is cooking from both sides at the same time, a real time saver. And in case you’re not familiar with Lodge, the company has been around for over 100 years. So they are a pretty safe bet.
The only downside to this particular model is that you need to assemble it yourself, meaning put on the handle. But a screwdriver and a few screws and you’re done. Very simple really.
Another press I want to let you know about, although I do not own this one, is the Carol Wright Clear Glass bacon press. Yes, see through glass. So you can see how it is cooking. Pretty cool idea and all, I just don’t know if there is enough weight to it. I’m sure there is, but I prefer the cast iron ones.
And lastly, I want to mention the round bacon press options. These are round so they obviously fit your round pan and are a great idea. Although I don’t own one, I have a buddy that does and I used it at his place. And yes, it works great and I was impressed. I’ll probably grab one sooner or later. I think they are worth it for sure if you’re doing a lot of pan frying.
If you want a round press, then the one I saw that I liked was the Norpro 8.75-Inch Cast Iron Bacon Press. My only reservation is that it has a wooden handle, wich is fine really. I just sometimes use it in the oven as well and am always a bit afraid of having something wood in my ovens. But a good, solid choice.
And that’s about it as far as bacon presses go. I think I have covered their use, how to use them and which ones are worth owning. If you have any questions or comments, I’m always willing to chat with a fellow baconer! So just leave a comment below.