For my experiment, I took two slices of bacon and cut them in half. Placing them on three paper towels on a dinner plate, I slipped it into a microwave oven.
I also placed three strips of bacon on a large frying pan.
Finally, I spread out four strips on an aluminum foil lined baking sheet (for ease of clean up).
Method 1: Microwaving
I ran the microwave on high for 3 minutes. After three minutes, I checked to see if the bacon was done (should be crispy). In my case, it was. If it's not done, give it another 30 seconds and look again. Repeat until crispy. Nothing could be easier.
I placed the cold pan with bacon over a medium-low heat. The heat should be high enough that it cooks the bacon, but low enough that you can cook the bacon for a long time without burning it. If the bacon starts to look like it's going to burn (little bits of black start forming at the edges), turn down the heat. Cooking the bacon over low heat will render the most amount of fat out of the bacon. If the fat collects too much (1/4 in. depth), then spoon off the excess fat. Since I was only cooking three strips, there wasn't much danger of this.
Keep turning the bacon over to evenly cook both sides. When the bacon reaches a deep brown color, it's done. Mine took about fifteen minutes.
Method 3: Broiler
After placing the baking sheet directly under the broiler, I turned it on. Every couple minutes, I pulled out the rack and flipped the bacon over.
Unfortunately, it was very difficult to control the cooking of the bacon under the broiler. As the bacon curled up, the fat started to scorch and burn. After about eight minutes, I pulled it from the oven to prevent the rest of the pieces from burning.
Microwaved - The bacon came out extremely crisp throughout both the fat and meat of the bacon. It felt a bit thicker than I expected from a thin cut piece of bacon. Examining the fat collected in the paper towels leads me to believe that very little fat was rendered out in comparison to the pan fry method. The technique is simple and hands free, but a problem that I have is that the paper towel stuck to several of the pieces of bacon. This may have been because I allowed the bacon to rest and drain on the same paper towel it was cooked on. Another issue is the limited number of bacon strips you can cook in a microwave oven at one time (but the time savings probably more than makes up for this).
Pan fried - The bacon felt the thinnest and lightest of the three. The bacon fat was crispy while the meat was slightly chewy. I actually prefer my bacon this way (not totally crunchy and crispy, but with some texture to it), but others may not. All in all, a good method to cook bacon but time consuming.
Broiled - The bacon was burnt in some spots and the meat felt undercooked. The areas need the burns were bitter in taste and the texture was soft and soggy throughout (except for the blackened parts). Not much fat was rendered off either. I would not recommend this technique.
So, microwaving is king if you're looking for bacon that feels thicker than what you purchased and crunchy throughout. Pan frying is great for a thin, light bacon with a little chew in the meat.
In the future I will test other methods of cooking bacon including baking on a rack (a favorite for many). For now I need to recover from eating nine slices of bacon in an evening. (See Cooking Tests: Bacon (Part II) for more ways to cook bacon.)
An aside: Earlier in this article, I cooked the bacon directly on some paper towels. There might be some possible health concerns when doing this. There was once a popular internet chain mail scam/hoax claiming that microwaving Saran Wrap (or other plastic wraps) will release a chemical contaminant called dioxin into the food you are cooking. This was not true if you are using plastic or plastic wrap products labelled microwave safe (in the United States) as these do not contain any dioxins. A supporting e-mail later went on to encourage the use of paper towels instead for microwaving. As part of the backlash against this e-mail hoax, it was put forth that using paper towels might contribute more dioxins into your diet because the bleach used to produce paper towels contains chlorine and chlorine and wood form dioxins. There are plenty of websites that claim that dioxins are formed during the production of the paper towel or that microwaving creates dioxins, but I haven't found one that doesn't make a scientific error in their claim or discussion of the process. To my knowledge, dioxin is produced during combustion, which is not a part of the paper towel making process. The conclusion? I don't know. The Federal Drug Administration (FDA) just says to use products marked microwave-safe.