The Bacon Express is basically just a kind of toaster, but one that is specifically for cooking bacon.
Knowing Your Bacon
Now one thing to bear in mind is that there are different kinds of bacon. In the US there’s predominantly just one kind, but if you’re from somewhere like the UK, this would be known as ‘streaky bacon’. However, in the UK the most popular kind of bacon is a different cut called ‘back bacon’ which is not usually found in the US.
Is the Express able to cook both kinds? Let’s find out…
There is a control to allow you to control the heat applied. There are presets for thin or thick cuts and a setting for ‘crispy’.
In the middle of the unit is a heating element and then metal trays are draped over the top. This is where you lay out your rashers of bacon for cooking. Underneath there is a drip tray for collecting any fat that drips out. All of the trays can be removed for easy cleaning and the whole thing wraps up into a neat little unit.
You can preheat the unit to the desired temperature and then it will alert you that the temperature has been reached with a beep.
You then lay your rashers over the top, close up the unit and press start. It will beep again when done but of course you can open it up to check up on it if you like.
Let’s take a look at the official video to see it in action:
When you first purchase it, you’ll probably need to spend some time experimenting with the temperature setting for different kinds of bacon. The thicker your rasher, the higher temperature you’ll need to use.
One thing to bear in mind, and this is common sense really, is that it is most effective when all the bacon you put in the unit is of the same thickness – don’t mix them up or you’ll end up with some undercooked and others overcooked!
What’s The Point?
It’s not difficult to cook bacon on a grill or in the oven so one question that comes to mind is, is there actually any need for a specialist appliance just to cook bacon? What is special about it?
Well there are a number of advantages over using standard cooking methods:
The unit is fully contained and all fat is directed down to the drip tray. A grill can spit hot grease all over the place and burn you which is not only messy but it is dangerous!
The fat can be poured out and all of the trays in the unit are non stick and pull out which makes them easy to clean. Also, the middle section can be put in the dishwasher.
If you’re somebody that hates cleaning the grill pan after a big batch of bacon then you’ll love how easy this is to clean by comparison! And no more having to clean up all the grease spots that usually end up half way across your kitchen after frying up a large batch!
Won’t Burn, Smoke, or Catch Fire
Sometimes when using a grill your bacon can go from just under-cooked to burnt in a matter of seconds! The Bacon Express takes much longer (which could be considered a downside) and so it is very difficult to burn it.
The unit is contained and the fat is rendered away from the heating element so it will not smoke like hot fan in a pan often does. Plus, because the meat never directly touches the heating element it is much safer and cannot catch fire.
Healthier & Non-Greasy
This point is really one of taste and some people may not see it as an advantage. Due to the way in which the bacon cooks more slowly, and in a vertical orientation, the fat is slowly rendered out which means that more fat will be drawn out from the meat than would be when cooked more quickly under a grill.
Because the bacon is not sitting in its own fat like when cooked in a pan, the end result is much less greasy. There are some people who really enjoy that ‘pan-fried’ taste and if you are one of them, then this machine is not for you!
However, if you enjoy eating bacon but worry that it is too greasy, fatty and too high in calories then the Bacon Express is a great option because it cooks it in such a way that leaves you with a much leaner end result.
If you usually cook bacon in a pan or under a grill you have to watch it like a hawk. Not with this! You may have to check on it a couple of times but that is all. This means you can get on and do other things in the kitchen (or anywhere) while your bacon happily cooks away.
With this machine you can leave your bacon in there and once it is finished it just turns itself off and keeps the bacon warm. You don’t have to worry about burning or setting the house on fire by neglecting a pan full of hot fat!
Can Collect Dripping
If you like to cook with bacon grease this is perfect because all the fat is collected in a handy drip tray. You can pour this off, and allow to cool which will separate out any water and leave you with perfect drippings for cooking with.
One thing to be careful with though – the drip tray does not hold very much and if you try and use it with very fatty bacon it could actually overflow which would be both messy and dangerous!
Great For Non-Cooks
Not everybody is a whizz in the kitchen and for some people having a machine that just does the cooking for you is a godsend! This is great for people who ether can’t cook or just don’t want to!
You Can Make Bacon Tacos!
What? If you layer your bacon such that the rashers are overlapping slightly and set it to cook until crispy, you’ll end up with one solid piece which you can lift out and flip over to use as a taco! It’s easier to show you than to explain it so take a look at the video below to see this in action!
What Are the Downsides?
Every product has it downsides, and unfortunately this is no exception! Let’s have a look…
Power Cord on the Short Side
The power cord is about 3 feet long which might be too short for some kitchens depending on the layout of your kitchen.
Slow to Pre-Heat
With the word ‘express’ in the name you’d think it would cook super fast and indeed once the unit is sufficiently pre-heated then it will cook each batch in around 10 minutes but you also need to factor in an extra few minutes for the first batch for the unit to come up to the required initial temperature.
Some people are tempted to skip the pre-heating step but this always leads to chewy bacon that just doesn’t come out right. You need to get that sizzle when you first lay your raw rashers on the rack in order to ensure a good outcome.
Only Cooks Small Batches
The thicker the rasher the longer it will take to cook, but even with fairly thin rashers it can take around 10 minutes to complete. This is actually pretty fast in comparison to pan or oven methods but the problem is that you can only cook 6 slices at a time.
This might be fine if you are cooking for just one or two people, but if you are cooking up a large amount for many people it would simply take far too long.
Along the same lines, if you happen to have slices that are very long, you’ll need to cut them in half otherwise the ends will bunch up and will definitely not cook properly, so this would double the cooking time in this case.
Cumbersome to Use
You have to carefully open up both sides of the unit to access the center platform over which the bacon is laid. Sometimes it can be a bit fiddly and as you’re trying to pull down one side, the other one will flop open when you weren’t expecting it.
Also you have to be particularly careful when opening the unit as the plates will be hot. You have to take care to only use the ‘cool touch’ handles and not accidentally touch the plates or you would risk burning yourself.
Some people have also reported that the sides of the unit fell open which of course is dangerous! This appears to be a manufacturing defect with some units. If you decide to buy one and you get this product, ask for a replacement immediately.
Bacon Needs Turning
The part of the rasher that is touching the plates will get cooked more quickly. If you just leave it to cook on it’s own without tuning you will end up with a somewhat chewy result with one side being done more than the other.
The problem here is that the product has as part of its advertising “no need to flip!” when in fact if you do turn it at least once during the cooking you’ll end up with a much better result. This is especially true if you are cooking thicker slices.
You’ll often find that you need to turn the bacon a couple of times and quite quickly into the cooking time while it is still soft and pliable. If you leave it too long the bacon will harden to the shape of the rack and then you’ll have a very difficult time trying to flip it!
Takes Practice To get Good Results
There are a great many people who purchased one of these units, tried it a couple of times and ended up with either raw or burnt bacon and just sent it back asking for a refund!
Then there are other people who love it! What’s going on? The problem is that the heat control simply says ‘thin’ or ‘thick’ and ‘crispy’. But as we mentioned at the start of the review there are many different kinds of bacon and all will behave differently.
You’d probably need to cook quite a few batches to really get a feel for what is the best setting to use for your chosen brand and your preferences. A lot of people simply don’t have the patience for this.
It isn’t helped by the fact that the unit is fully enclosed so you have no visual feedback when cooking. This makes the experimentation more cumbersome because you need to keep opening it up to check on it, which again, is not how the product is advertised!
Must Be Careful Cleaning
If abrasive cleaning utensils or products are used, the non-stick coating can start to chip and peel which will then cause the bacon to stick and at that point it becomes more difficult to use and to clean.
The coating is not very tough and you will need to be careful and gentle when cleaning in order to preserve it as long as possible. Some people have reported it starting to chip within just a few uses. But of course there are others who have been using it frequently for months without issue.
You can of course ask for a replacement if the unit is still under warranty but it is a nuisance to have to do that.
It has to be said, this is not a cheap product considering it does only one thing! Any frying pan, toaster oven, grill or oven can be used to cook a wide variety of foods but with this, it’s bacon or nothing!
So it’s certainly not for the casual user. If you cook bacon every day (or would like to!) then perhaps the healthier result and the easy cleanup will make the investment make the money but if you only cook it maybe once a week, then the price it might be a little on the high side.
Of course money is subjective; what is expensive to one person is cheap to another!