Bacon is a popular breakfast food that many people enjoy. However, it is also high in fat and calories. If you are watching your calorie intake, you may wonder how many calories are in a serving of bacon.
Calories in Bacon
The number of calories in bacon depends on a few factors:
- Cut of bacon – bacon can come from different cuts of pork, with varying fat contents
- Cooking method – frying adds more fat/calories versus grilling or baking
- Portion size – the calories add up quickly the more bacon you eat
On average, a slice of pan-fried bacon contains about 43 calories and 3.5 grams of fat. The number of calories is lower for bacon that is grilled or baked. Here’s a quick look at the calories in 2 slices of bacon prepared different ways:
|Calories (2 slices)
As you can see, grilled bacon has the lowest calorie count compared to frying or baking. But the differences are fairly small. In general, 2 slices of bacon will provide 60-90 calories, regardless of cooking method.
Nutrition Facts for Grilled Bacon
Now let’s take a more detailed look at the nutrition facts for 2 slices of grilled bacon:
|Amount (2 slices)
Two slices of grilled bacon have 68 calories and 5 grams of fat. About 40% of the calories come from fat. There is also 288mg of sodium, which accounts for 12% of the daily recommended limit.
Bacon is high in sodium even when grilled. The sodium comes from curing the pork belly with salt during processing. Grilling allows some of the fat to drip away, but the sodium remains.
Ways to Reduce Calories in Bacon
If you want to cut down on the calories but still enjoy the smoky, savory flavor of bacon, here are some tips:
- Choose center-cut bacon, which has less fat around the edges
- Opt for turkey bacon instead of pork – 2 slices has about 40 calories
- Blot cooked bacon with a paper towel to soak up excess grease
- Stretch it by crumbling bacon over salads or soups instead of eating whole slices
- Look for reduced-sodium bacon to cut down on the salt content
You can also try substituting bacon bits or bacon-flavored products made from soy or mushrooms. While not exactly the same, they provide a similar smoky, umami taste with far less fat and calories.
Health Benefits of Bacon
In moderation, bacon can be part of a healthy diet. Here are some of the benefits it provides:
- Protein – Bacon contains high-quality protein to support muscle growth and satisfaction.
- B Vitamins – Bacon is a good source of niacin, vitamin B6, and vitamin B12.
- Selenium – Bacon contains this essential trace mineral, which supports thyroid and immune function.
- Choline – This nutrient is important for brain, liver, and cardiovascular health. 2 slices provides about 10% of the recommended daily intake.
Of course, the benefits need to be weighed against the saturated fat and sodium content. But enjoyed in moderation as part of an overall healthy diet, bacon can be fine for most people.
Risks of Eating Too Much Bacon
While the occasional serving of bacon is unlikely to cause harm, regular overconsumption may increase your risk of:
- High cholesterol
- High blood pressure
- Type 2 diabetes
- Heart disease
- Colorectal cancer
The World Health Organization classifies processed meats like bacon as a Group 1 carcinogen. Frequent consumption is associated with a slight increase in colorectal cancer risk.
Eating too much bacon can also promote inflammation in the body and put stress on the kidneys due to the high sodium content. People with certain medical conditions like heart disease or diabetes should be especially cautious with bacon for these reasons.
Serving Size Recommendations
Here are some recommendations for moderate bacon intake:
- Healthy adults should limit bacon to 2-3 servings per week
- Children and people with medical conditions should eat even less
- When you do eat bacon, limit the portion to 1-2 slices
- Avoid eating multiple servings of bacon at one sitting
The occasional BLT sandwich or sprinkling of bacon bits on a salad is fine. But eating heaps of bacon every day or at every meal can quickly add up in terms of calories, sodium, and cancer risk.
To make the leanest bacon possible:
- Opt for center-cut bacon, as it has less surrounding fat
- Grill, bake, or microwave instead of frying
- Place bacon on a rack when baking so fat can drip off
- Blot cooked bacon with a paper towel to absorb excess grease
Avoid cooking methods like deep frying that submerge the bacon in oil. This adds a lot of extra calories and fat you’re better off without. Grilling, baking, or microwaving are healthier cooking methods.
Grilling bacon helps render out some of the fat while adding delicious smoky flavor. Follow these tips:
- Preheat grill to medium heat, 350-450°F
- Place bacon slices directly on grill grates
- Cook for 2-4 minutes on each side until crispy
- Use tongs to flip – don’t pierce with a fork, which causes fat loss
The grill marks add visual appeal while locking in flavor. Just watch closely to avoid overcooking or burning. Grilled bacon should be crispy but not burnt to a crisp.
Baking bacon in the oven avoids the splattering mess of frying while producing crispy, evenly cooked results. Here’s how:
- Preheat oven to 400°F
- Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil or parchment
- Arrange bacon slices in a single layer without overlapping
- Bake for 15-18 minutes until crispy, flipping halfway through
Baking gives you crisp, flat bacon strips without the need to watch closely or flip each piece. The fat drips away on the baking sheet for an easier cleanup too.
The microwave produces surprisingly decent bacon with minimal mess or prep. To microwave bacon:
- Place 2-3 bacon slices between paper towels on a microwave-safe plate
- Microwave on high for 2-4 minutes until crispy
- Remove and blot with more paper towels
- Discard the soaked paper towels
The paper towels absorb grease for crisp bacon without the splatters. Cooking time varies based on your microwave wattage, so keep an eye on it.
Healthy Recipes with Bacon
You can still enjoy the rich, smoky flavor of bacon while limiting less healthy cooking methods and portion sizes. Here are some recipe ideas:
Rather than a BLT sandwich, chop bacon into bits to top a hearty salad of lettuce, tomato, avocado, onion, and whole grain croutons. Drizzle with a light vinaigrette instead of mayo.
Brussels Sprouts with Bacon
Roasted Brussels sprouts and bacon are a match made in heaven. Toss halved sprouts with a little oil, salt, and pepper, then roast in the oven until browned. Top with crumbled bacon for a delicious low-carb side.
Clams with Bacon
Saute a few chopped bacon slices in a skillet. Add fresh clams and white wine, cover, and simmer until clams open. Serve with the bacon pan juices for an easy, flavorful appetizer.
Baked Potato with Bacon
Top a baked russet potato with crumbled bacon, chives, and a sprinkle of shredded cheddar for a satisfying meaty meal. Serve with a side salad for a lighter take on a bacon cheeseburger.
For a low-carb pasta alternative, saute spiralized zucchini noodles in olive oil and mix with sauteed diced bacon, peas, and Parmesan. Toss with egg yolk for a quick noodle-free carbonara.
Should You Eat Bacon?
Bacon can be part of a healthy diet, but it’s best enjoyed in moderation. The occasional serving of 2-3 slices is unlikely to cause harm. However, eating bacon every day or multiple times a day raises health concerns.
If you have certain medical conditions like heart disease or diabetes, you may need to further restrict or avoid bacon due to the high sodium content and saturated fat. Check with your doctor about specific recommendations based on your health status.
When cooking bacon at home, choose healthier preparations like grilling, baking, or microwaving instead of frying in oil. Look for center-cut or turkey bacon to reduce fat and calories. And be mindful of portion sizes – 1-2 slices is plenty for a single meal.
The Bottom Line
To answer the original question – 2 slices of grilled bacon contains about 68 calories and 5g of fat. While bacon does contain some beneficial nutrients, it is high in sodium and saturated fat if consumed in excess.
Bacon can be enjoyed as part of a healthy diet, but limit intake to 2-3 servings per week. Opt for grilling, baking, or microwaving instead of frying. And stick to recommended serving sizes of 1-2 slices per meal.
With sensible portions and cooking methods, you can still enjoy the signature taste of bacon as part of an overall balanced diet. Just be mindful that eating too much bacon too often may raise potential health risks.