When you hit those stock-up-and-save sales at the butcher’s counter, don’t forget to bring home the bacon—and stash it in the freezer. You can thaw the cured pork product quickly in the microwave whenever bacon is a last-minute inspiration. Whether pairing up with eggs in the morning, or lending a smokey, crispy component to warm spinach salad, defrosted bacon comes to the rescue as a quick-cooking ingredient.

Prepping the Pork

Some freezer-to-microwave brands have instructions that specify that the strips stay in their plastic packaging while you defrost or cook them. It’s always best to follow these guidelines when using specialty products. Otherwise, use a microwave-safe plate and paper towels. A double layer of paper towels goes on the plate first. Next, peel the frozen bacon strips apart and set them at equal distances from one another on the plate. If you’re having trouble separating the pieces, putting the frozen bacon in the microwave at 30 percent power, at 10-second intervals, will help soften the frozen hunk enough for separation. Set the strips in a single layer. Finally, cover the bacon strips with another paper towel.

The Right Setting

How you defrost the bacon depends on your microwave brand. Your model may have a by-weight Defrost setting. You can weigh the strips on a kitchen scale, if you choose, but it’s not difficult to estimate weight by how much of the package you’re using. For example, one-fourth of a 1-pound package of frozen bacon equals 0.25 pounds. If your microwave doesn’t have a Defrost setting, set the power to about 30 percent.

Timing Is Everything

A by-weight Defrost setting will set the thawing time automatically. If you’ve set the microwave to a manual defrost by programming it for 30 percent power, use the standard estimate of about 5 minutes for defrosting 1 pound of frozen food. For a 0.25 pound of bacon, for example, thawing will take about 1.5 minutes.

Checking In

Many microwaves’ Defrost settings set the appliance to beep at regular intervals after you press Start. That is the signal for you to move the strips to different sections of the plate, while also turning them over. Re-cover the bacon with a paper towel before re-starting the microwave. If your brand does not have a rotating carousel, rotate the plate by about half a turn each time you adjust the bacon strips. If you’ve set the microwave to a manual defrost, stop it once or twice after hitting the Start button in order to adjust or remove some of the bacon.

Now You’re Cooking

Once you’ve thawed your bacon in the microwave, you can also cook it in the same appliance. Replace the paper towels with fresh ones, again arranging them on the plate so that the bacon strips are resting on paper towels and are also covered by them. Figure on cooking bacon on High for at least 30 seconds for each strip of bacon. Cook them for a shorter amount of time if the bacon seemed to have slightly cooked during the defrosting stage. Allow microwave-cooked bacon to sit for another 5 minutes, per batch, before uncovering and serving them. Of course, you can opt for cooking defrosted bacon in a skillet or in the oven instead of in the microwave.