This Is the Best, Mess-Free Way to Make Crispy Bacon, per Our Food Editor

With an air fryer, bacon is a speedy, zero-fuss affair that takes about 10 minutes to cook.

Overhead view of Air Fryer Bacon
Serious Eats / Amanda Suarez

For as long as I can remember, my husband and I have started most Sundays with a pile of French toast or fluffy pancakes, big cups of coffee, a leisurely Scrabble game, and—when we really feel like treating ourselves—a plate of crispy, savory bacon. When bacon is on our Sunday morning menu, we almost always make it in our small but mighty air fryer. The handy appliance is the reason my family and I eat a proper meal most days; I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve chucked a handful of vegetables or some kind of protein into the air fryer when I need to get dinner on the table quickly. Though the air fryer isn’t the best appliance for everything—I certainly wouldn’t rely on it to bake a birthday cake—it is, hands down, my favorite way to quickly prepare bacon that’s both crispy and mess free. 


Like convection ovens, air fryers work by circulating hot air for efficient heating and cooking—and because they’re much smaller than standard ovens, air fryers require much less time to heat up. The excellent circulation means air fryers cook food incredibly quickly and does a stellar job of browning and crisping, making it ideal for many of our favorite dishes, like chicken wings, Brussels sprouts, and bacon.


There are plenty of other good ways to cook bacon, including on the stove, in the oven, and even sous vide. But as Daniel once wrote, the “best” method really depends on how many people you’re feeding, how you like your bacon, and whether you plan on incorporating it into another recipe, like a quiche or salad. If you’re cooking for a large crowd, it may make sense to do several trays of bacon in your oven. But if you’re only cooking for one or two people, the air fryer is a quick and easy way to make ultra-crisp bacon without creating a giant mess of greasy splatters: All the fat collects in the bottom of the basket, making it easy for you to scrape into the trash or into a jar to repurpose. (Bacon fat bread crumbs, anyone?)

The Best Temperature for Air Fryer Bacon

Both Kenji and Daniel have found 375º to 425ºF (190º to 220ºC) to be a good temperature range for cooking bacon in the oven. But because the air fryer is so much more efficient at generating and circulating heat than a conventional oven, you don’t need as high of a temperature to get crisp bacon. Our testing found that 350ºF (175ºC) was the ideal temperature for cooking bacon in an air fryer, producing tender-crisp bacon at 10 minutes and crunchier, more brittle bacon at the 13 minute mark. The lower temperature helps to effectively render the pork’s fat, making it less greasy.


Cooking at a lower temperature also reduces the risk of your air fryer smoking, as the bacon is less likely to burn. Even so, we still recommend removing any excess fat and wiping out the air fryer basket between batches to prevent smoking. (I’ll take this opportunity to add that the best way to prevent the appliance from smoking up is to clean it thoroughly after each use. Food that gets stuck on the heating element can burn, creating an unpleasant aroma and flavor that can permeate whatever you’re cooking.)

Does Preheating Your Air Fryer Make a Difference?

You’ll notice that we’ve called for preheating the air fryer here. In the past, we’ve found several advantages to starting bacon in a cold oven or pan, including the fact that it's efficient, allowing the fat to begin to render as the bacon heats up with the oven. But because the air fryer is so good at heating up quickly and so efficient at cooking and crisping, whether you start with a cold or preheated air fryer makes very little difference in the time it takes your bacon to cook. With that in mind, we’ve recommended preheating as it removes the question of how quickly different air fryer models heat up and whether that has an impact on timings. By starting everyone on equal footing, the recipe should work consistently for everyone.


With an air fryer, bacon is a speedy, zero-fuss affair that takes about 10 minutes to cook. And once you try it for the first time, I suspect you may not want to make bacon any other way.

Set air fryer to 350°F and preheat for 10 minutes. Place bacon in the basket, trying not to overlap (it’s okay if the bacon comes up the sides of the basket slightly). Cook, using tongs to flip halfway through, for 8 to 10 minutes for tender-crisp and 10 to 12 minutes for shattering-crisp bacon. (For thick-cut bacon, cook for 12 minutes for tender-crisp and 14 to 15 minutes for shattering-crisp, flipping halfway through).

Two image collage of air fryer bacon
Serious Eats / Amanda Suarez

Transfer the bacon onto a plate lined with paper towels and allow it to drain. Serve.

Air Fryer bacon on a paper towel
Serious Eats / Amanda Suarez

Special Equipment

Air fryer, tongs

Notes

Depending on the air fryer you have (or how crispy you’d like your bacon), you may have to adjust the cooking time.

Make-Ahead and Storage

The bacon can be made ahead of time and reheated in the air fryer. If you plan to reheat the bacon, undercook the bacon slightly. To reheat bacon in the air fryer, preheat air fryer to 350ºF (175ºC), place bacon in basket, and heat until warmed through, about 5 minutes.

The Simple Trick for the Crispiest Air Fryer Roasted Potatoes

For the crispiest potatoes ever, toss them in your air fryer. There’s no preheating the oven, no dealing with rimmed baking sheets, and, most importantly, no waiting an hour for your potatoes to cook.

Overhead view of air fryer potatoes
Serious Eats / Jen Causey

I spent my early 20s feuding with the humble potato. Fearful of big, bad carbohydrates, I avoided the spud at all costs. My life was a joyless place, filled with nothing but green smoothies and kale salads. I yearned for the nightshade constantly—I dreamed of potatoes all day, every day. I wanted them in every way, shape, and form: mashed, baked, fried, boiled, roasted. I eventually came to my senses and decided that life was too short to live without carbohydrates, and today, potatoes are a permanent fixture in my kitchen. You’ll find me gorging on a bowl of delicious crispy potatoes at least once a week—something made much easier and faster thanks to my air fryer.


Like many of our readers, I’m a fan of Kenji’s famous crispy potatoes—it’s a foolproof recipe that needs no improvement. I’d be lying, though, if I said I wasn’t secretly hoping we’d publish an air fryer version at some point (my love of the potato is nearly matched by my love of my air fryer). Because air fryers are so much smaller than a conventional oven, they take significantly less time to heat up and cook food, and their ability to circulate air quickly and evenly makes them especially handy for crisping up foods. Since I got my first air fryer last year, I’ve used the appliance to cook bacon, roast broccoli, reheat pizza, and refresh stale croissants—to name a few of my favorite uses—and now, I rely on my air fryer to make the crispiest potatoes ever.

Why You Should Parboil Your Potatoes Before Air Frying

Just as in Kenji’s oven-roasted potatoes recipe, this air fryer recipe starts with parboiling the potatoes. Boiling your potatoes before tossing them into the air fryer may feel like an unnecessary step, but it’s a tried and true method for making extra crispy roasted potatoes, and one that Kenji swears by for good reason. We’re not just boiling in plain water, though—in true Serious Eats fashion, we’re using an alkaline solution of a half teaspoon of baking soda to two quarts of water. The alkalinity helps break down the outer layer of the potatoes, creating a starchy slurry that coats the chunks of potato when tossed in a bowl with some oil. As the potatoes roast or air fry, this slurry helps the exterior of the potatoes develop a crunchy, craggy crust. 

The Best Potatoes for Roasting or Air Frying

While you can cook any type of potato any way you want, the fact is some spuds are better suited for roasting and air frying than others. While waxy varieties like new potatoes or fingerlings are good for salads and home fries, they’re really not ideal for roasting. Their lower starch content means they don’t get as crispy as starchy varieties, nor do they maintain that crispiness particularly well; though they might be crisp fresh out of the oven, they soften and lose their satisfying crunch quickly.

Overhead vie of potatoes in air fryer
Serious Eats / Jen Causey


On the other hand, starchier potatoes such as russets (sometimes known as Idaho potatoes) and Yukon golds have a floury, low-moisture interior, which means they crisp up more easily than waxy potatoes and develop incredibly fluffy insides when cooked. They’re excellent for mashing, frying, and roasting; I like to use russets when making French fries or British chips, and they’re also my go-to potatoes for roasting, and now air frying.

It’s Worth Taking the Time to Infuse Your Oil With Herbs

How many times have you tossed your potatoes with oil, garlic, and herbs, only to have all your aromatics burn in the oven or air fryer? The truth is, the temperature you need to make ultra-crispy potatoes in the oven or air fryer is also one that’s a little too hot for fresh herbs and garlic. You could add these flavorings to the potatoes after they’ve roasted, but you wouldn’t get their full flavor potential. The solution sounds fussy but is actually quite simple: Cook the garlic and rosemary in olive oil or whatever fat you’re using just until they’re fragrant, strain them out, then toss the parboiled potatoes in the infused oil. (Save the strained garlic and rosemary pieces to fold into the potatoes when you’re ready to serve—no burned bits necessary.)

Overhead view of tossing potaotes with herbs
Serious Eats / Jen Causey


After you’ve tossed the potatoes in the oil all that’s left to do is roast the potatoes in the air fryer. Unlike our method for oven-roasted potatoes—which takes about an hour to cook—these roasted potatoes require a rapid 20 to 25 minutes in the air fryer. Just give them a shake every now and then, and that’s all there is to it. There’s no preheating the oven, no dealing with rimmed baking sheets (you just have to plop your potatoes into the air fryer basket!), and, most importantly, no waiting an hour for your potatoes to cook. It’s your favorite roast potato recipe—but faster.

In a large pot, bring 2 quarts (2L) water to a boil over high heat. Add potatoes, baking soda, and 1 tablespoon salt and stir to combine. Return to a boil, then reduce to a simmer over medium-low. Simmer, adjusting heat as needed, until a knife meets little resistance when inserted into a potato chunk, 8 to 10 minutes.

Overhead view of boiling potatoes
Serious Eats / Amanda Suarez

Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, cook garlic, oil or other fat, rosemary or thyme, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper over medium heat, stirring and shaking pan constantly, until garlic just begins to turn golden, about 3 minutes. Immediately strain oil through a fine mesh strainer set over a large bowl. Reserve the strained garlic and herb solids for later.

Two image collage of cooking rosemary and straining
Serious Eats / Jen Causey

When potatoes are cooked; drain well. Place back into the pot and let rest off heat for about 30 seconds to allow excess moisture to evaporate. Transfer potatoes to the bowl with the reserved infused oil. Add remaining 1 1/4 teaspoons salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and toss while shaking bowl roughly, until a thick layer of mashed potato–like paste has built up on potato chunks and seasoning is evenly distributed, 15 to 20 seconds.

Two image collage of tossing potatoes
Serious Eats / Jen Causey

Set air fryer to  400°F (205℃) and preheat for 10 minutes. Add potatoes to basket in even layer, and cook until potatoes are golden brown and crisp all over, removing and shaking the basket a few times during cooking, 20 to 25 minutes.

Overhead vie of potatoes in air fryer
Serious Eats / Jen Causey

Transfer potatoes to a large bowl and add parsley and reserved garlic-herb mixture. Toss to coat and season with additional salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.

Overhead view of tossing potaotes with herbs
Serious Eats / Jen Causey

Special Equipment

Air fryer

Notes

The potatoes will be cut into quarters, sixths, or eighths depending on their size.


If using Yukon gold potatoes, cook them for 1 to 2 minutes longer so they are softer when tossed, which helps create the starchy slurry so essential to the potatoes’ crispiness.

The 3 Easiest Ways to Make a Better Turkey Club Sandwich

A perfect club sandwich requires careful consideration of every possible detail: the bread, the thinness of the bacon and poultry, and squeezing in just the right amount of filling so each mouthful is delicious yet manageable.

Side view of a turkey clube
Serious Eats / Fred Hardy

Say the words “club sandwich” and the only thing I can think about are the enormous sandwiches my dad ordered at a poolside restaurant each summer: Layers of lettuce, tomatoes, bacon, and turkey between three slices of bread, all precariously held together by a dinky little cocktail toothpick with its colorful cellophane sticking up in the air. As a kid, I didn’t think it was possible to eat something so big, so tall, and so very architectural. I watched as my dad polished off every single bite, and I’m still not sure if what I felt was fear or wonder.

Eating a club sandwich is no simple feat, and, it turns out, neither is making one. A perfect club sandwich requires careful consideration of every possible detail: the bread, the thinness of the bacon and poultry, and squeezing in just the right amount of filling so each mouthful is delicious yet manageable. Only by striking the right balance of each component can you climb the greatest turkey club heights—not by building it ever higher, but by combing to understand just what makes a great turkey club so special. Here are the three easiest ways to make a better turkey club sandwich.

The Club Sandwich, Defined

Today, most iterations of the club sandwich involve three slices of bread, each slathered with mayonnaise on one side. There’s a slice or two of tomato, some lettuce, crisp bacon, and cooked poultry, be it chicken or turkey. But does a club sandwich have to be a triple-decker? 

Apparently not. A quick peek into old cookbooks and newspaper clippings tells us that the sandwich wasn’t always a triple-decker, and it wasn’t always made with poultry. The Club Woman’s Book, published in 1911, advised using tongue—though it doesn’t say what kind—instead of ham if one wanted “a really delicious club sandwich.” The Woman’s Club Cook Book from 1903 involves just two slices of bread, toasted and buttered while hot, with slices of white meat, bacon, and a “firm” slice of tomato, along with a piece of lettuce coated in salad dressing. 

Though it’s difficult to pinpoint when exactly the club sandwich grew by an entire slice of bread to allow for two stories of fillings, recipes suggesting three slices of bread don't seem to appear until the 1940s. In Ernest M. Fleischman’s 1947 book The Modern Luncheonette, he noted that the club sandwich “may be made with 2 slices of bread, open or closed, or on toast—or 3 slices of toast, closed, trimmed, and cut in three sections.” What really seems to define the club sandwich is the presence of the hallmark ingredients of a BLT, plus some kind of meat (usually poultry). 

It’s also unclear where and when exactly the club sandwich was created. According to a popular rumor, the sandwich first appeared on a menu at the Saratoga Club House in Saratoga Springs, NY circa 1894, but there's no definitive proof this was where it was invented. Regardless of the sandwich’s origins, it continues to be a mainstay on menus today.

Side view of turkey clubs
Serious Eats / Fred Hardy

1.) Get the Bread Right

A lot of white bread options, like milk bread or brioche, are pillowy and ultra-tender. Those make poor choices for the club sandwich, which requires bread that’s sturdy enough to maintain its structural integrity under the weight of all the toppings. The bread has such an important structural role in a club that we also want to avoid any type of bread that has large holes due to an open crumb structure—you wouldn't construct a building with gaping holes in the floors and neither should there be on a club sandwich—which means taking a pass on those beautiful homemade sourdoughs we were all making during the pandemic.

At the same time, the thickness of the bread is important in a sandwich as tall as a triple-decker club. Using rustic and thick hand-sliced bread will create an overly starchy, overly tall, and overall hard-to-eat sandwich with an out-of-balance bread-to-fillings-ratio. When we have a 50% increase in the number of bread slices compared to a typical two-slice sandwich, each of those slices needs to be on the thinner side.

As is probably apparent from its looks and the fact that it requires a toothpick to hold together, a club sandwich is not easy to bite through; humans, after all, can't unhinge their jaws like snakes to take it all in with ease. Loaves with a thick and substantial crust, therefore, are also less than ideal for the club—it's hard enough to take a bite, we don't want resistance when we do. Proving you have the strength to break through a stack of boards is better left to a taekwondo class, not a sandwich. 

All of this adds up to a very specific set of criteria: We need a load that's tender yet structurally sound, with a tight crumb and tender crust. It also needs to come in relatively thin slices. All of this adds up to a hearty white or wheat sandwich bread, something along the lines of a pullman loaf or a heartier white sandwich bread like Pepperidge Farm Farmhouse bread (they did not pay us to write this). 

Lastly, lightly brushing the bread with rendered bacon fat and toasting it well on both sides is a critical step, as it not only develops flavor but also firms up the exterior of each slice to help the bread hold its shape.

Overhead view of cutting sandwiches
Serious Eats / Fred Hardy

2.) Meaty Matters: Pick the Best Bacon and Turkey for Club Sandwiches

I've made club sandwiches with both thick and thin rashers of bacon, and as much as I love thick-cut, I don't feel it's the right choice here, and our testing supports that. Once again, this comes down to a question of texture and architecture. Like too-thick bread, too-thick bacon creates too much resistance when biting through so many stacked layers.

Much better for this sandwich are thinner, leaner center-cut strips of bacon, which produce satisfyingly crisp slices that shatter with ease when bitten. That crispness must not be overlooked—if the bacon is cooked less and retains some chewy bits, it can fail to break cleanly, threatening to pull the whole sandwich apart. 

There's a strong argument when making a BLT to press the bacon as it cooks so that the strips are as flat as possible. In a turkey club, though, we already have the very flat layers of sliced turkey (assuming we're using deli turkey very thinly sliced on a meat slicer), so flattening the bacon doubles down on this tightly-packed format, which can feel overly dense when you eat it. It's arguably more pleasing to leave the bacon with some waviness—those natural corrugations create space in the sandwich so that as you bite through it, you can feel the sandwich gently compress and yield. Our favorite way to achieve the perfect bacon for a club is to bake it on a sheet tray lined with parchment paper, where it can crisp in its own rendered fat.

The club sandwich is an excellent vehicle for using up leftover roast chicken or turkey, and I wouldn't dissuade you from doing that, especially, say, the day after Thanksgiving. But unless you can expertly slice the meat thinly, I'd recommend using quality roast turkey from the deli that is sliced uniformly on a meat slicer. The thin slices are just one more small detail in the larger architectural blueprint of a great club sandwich, as thin slices are inherently more tender than thicker ones, since slicing thinly shortens the natural muscle fibers in the meat. In a sense, thin slicing is like pre-chewing: A lot of the work of breaking the meat down is already done for you so that biting through the sandwich takes even less effort.

3.) Don't Forget About the Lettuce and Tomatoes

As noted above, a club sandwich is, practically speaking, a BLT with meat, and the importance of the L and the T in that little formula should not be underestimated. That said, because the tomato doesn't take up quite as much of the club sandwich's spotlight as it does in the BLT, one doesn't have to be quite so religious about their quality here. Do they need to be juicy, decently ripe, and not mealy? Yes. Must they only come from the hills surrounding Mount Etna between the dates of August 7th and September 18th? No. A great tomato will, without question, make this a greater sandwich, but you can still make a worthy turkey club even when the tomatoes aren't at their absolute peak.

A small but important step for the best tomatoes is to season them with salt and pepper before adding them to the sandwich. This ensures the sandwich is evenly seasoned throughout and there are no bland elements in the mix.

As for the lettuce, romaine is a great choice, with a crisp and juicy bite not unlike iceberg , but with a bit more flavor, which helps given that it has to stand up to the turkey, tomato, and bacon. Last note: don't skimp on the mayo, it's the lubrication that helps get this towering achievement of a sandwich from your mouth to your stomach, which is, after all, the goal.

Adjust oven racks to upper-middle and lower-middle positions. Heat oven to 400°F (205℃). Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper. Arrange bacon slices in a single layer (slightly overlapping if needed) on prepared baking sheets. Bake bacon, switching and rotating baking sheets halfway through, until browned and crisp, 15 to 20 minutes. Use tongs to transfer cooked bacon to a paper towel–lined plate to drain and reserve rendered fat. Heat broiler.

Overhead view of transferring bacon to a plate
Serious Eats / Fred Hardy

Brush bread slices very lightly on both sides with reserved bacon fat, then arrange on 2 clean baking sheets. Working one baking sheet at a time, broil on the upper-middle rack (about 6-inches from broiler), flipping bread slices halfway through, until bread is light golden brown on both sides, 1 to 2 minutes per side. Set aside.

Overhead view of bread toasted
Serious Eats / Fred Hardy

Sprinkle tomato slices all over with salt and pepper; set aside.

Overhead view of sprinkling tomatoes with pepper
Serious Eats / Fred Hardy

Using a butter knife or offset spatula, spread 1 tablespoon mayonnaise evenly over 1 side of each bread slice. Place 4 prepared bread slices on a clean work surface, mayonnaise side up. Layer 2 cut lettuce leaf halves, 2 tomato slices, 2 cooked bacon slices, and 2 turkey slices—in that order—on the prepared bread slices arranged on the counter. Slightly overlap the ingredients as needed to fit within the parameters of the sandwich bread.

Four image collage of building turkey club
Serious Eats / Fred Hardy

Top the 4 sandwiches with 1 prepared bread slice each, mayonnaise-side down. Press gently to secure. Repeat layering 2 lettuce leaf halves, 2 tomato slices, 2 cooked bacon slices, and 2 turkey slices on top of the bread slices of each prepared sandwich.

Placing turkey on second layer of sandwich
Serious Eats / Fred Hardy

Top with the remaining 4 bread slices, mayonnaise side down. Press gently to secure and insert 4 toothpicks into each sandwich, spaced evenly to create 4 quadrants. Use a serrated knife to cut each sandwich on the diagonal to create triangular quarters. Serve.

Two image collage of putting toothpicks into sandwiches and cutting into fourhts
Serious Eats / Fred Hardy

Special Equipment

2 rimmed baking sheets, wire rack, butter knife or offset spatula, toothpicks, serrated knife

Notes

Center-cut bacon, such as Smithfield brand, produces uniformly cooked slices that are evenly shaped to fit on the bread nicely. Using regular-cut bacon, as opposed to thick-cut bacon, ensures the bacon turns very crisp and breaks easily when biting into the stacked sandwich. 

A sturdy, thinly sliced sandwich bread, such as Pepperidge Farm Farmhouse Hearty White Bread, is ideal for this recipe. It’s sturdy enough to stack and hold the larger amount of ingredients in this club sandwich and not so thick that it will create an overly bready club sandwich.

How to Give the Classic Turkey Club Sandwich the Glow-Up It Deserves

A perfect club sandwich requires careful consideration of every possible detail: the bread, the thinness of the bacon and poultry, and squeezing in just the right amount of filling so each mouthful is delicious yet manageable.

Side view of a turkey clube
Serious Eats / Fred Hardy

Say the words “club sandwich” and the only thing I can think about are the enormous sandwiches my dad ordered at a poolside restaurant each summer: Layers of lettuce, tomatoes, bacon, and turkey between three slices of bread, all precariously held together by a dinky little cocktail toothpick with its colorful cellophane sticking up in the air. As a kid, I didn’t think it was possible to eat something so big, so tall, and so very architectural. I watched as my dad polished off every single bite, and I’m still not sure if what I felt was fear or wonder.

Eating a club sandwich is no simple feat, and, it turns out, neither is making one. A perfect club sandwich requires careful consideration of every possible detail: the bread, the thinness of the bacon and poultry, and squeezing in just the right amount of filling so each mouthful is delicious yet manageable. Only by striking the right balance of each component can you climb the greatest turkey club heights—not by building it ever higher, but by combing to understand just what makes a great turkey club so special. Here are the three easiest ways to make a better turkey club sandwich.

The Club Sandwich, Defined

Today, most iterations of the club sandwich involve three slices of bread, each slathered with mayonnaise on one side. There’s a slice or two of tomato, some lettuce, crisp bacon, and cooked poultry, be it chicken or turkey. But does a club sandwich have to be a triple-decker? 

Apparently not. A quick peek into old cookbooks and newspaper clippings tells us that the sandwich wasn’t always a triple-decker, and it wasn’t always made with poultry. The Club Woman’s Book, published in 1911, advised using tongue—though it doesn’t say what kind—instead of ham if one wanted “a really delicious club sandwich.” The Woman’s Club Cook Book from 1903 involves just two slices of bread, toasted and buttered while hot, with slices of white meat, bacon, and a “firm” slice of tomato, along with a piece of lettuce coated in salad dressing. 

Though it’s difficult to pinpoint when exactly the club sandwich grew by an entire slice of bread to allow for two stories of fillings, recipes suggesting three slices of bread don't seem to appear until the 1940s. In Ernest M. Fleischman’s 1947 book The Modern Luncheonette, he noted that the club sandwich “may be made with 2 slices of bread, open or closed, or on toast—or 3 slices of toast, closed, trimmed, and cut in three sections.” What really seems to define the club sandwich is the presence of the hallmark ingredients of a BLT, plus some kind of meat (usually poultry). 

It’s also unclear where and when exactly the club sandwich was created. According to a popular rumor, the sandwich first appeared on a menu at the Saratoga Club House in Saratoga Springs, NY circa 1894, but there's no definitive proof this was where it was invented. Regardless of the sandwich’s origins, it continues to be a mainstay on menus today.

Side view of turkey clubs
Serious Eats / Fred Hardy

1.) Get the Bread Right

A lot of white bread options, like milk bread or brioche, are pillowy and ultra-tender. Those make poor choices for the club sandwich, which requires bread that’s sturdy enough to maintain its structural integrity under the weight of all the toppings. The bread has such an important structural role in a club that we also want to avoid any type of bread that has large holes due to an open crumb structure—you wouldn't construct a building with gaping holes in the floors and neither should there be on a club sandwich—which means taking a pass on those beautiful homemade sourdoughs we were all making during the pandemic.

At the same time, the thickness of the bread is important in a sandwich as tall as a triple-decker club. Using rustic and thick hand-sliced bread will create an overly starchy, overly tall, and overall hard-to-eat sandwich with an out-of-balance bread-to-fillings-ratio. When we have a 50% increase in the number of bread slices compared to a typical two-slice sandwich, each of those slices needs to be on the thinner side.

As is probably apparent from its looks and the fact that it requires a toothpick to hold together, a club sandwich is not easy to bite through; humans, after all, can't unhinge their jaws like snakes to take it all in with ease. Loaves with a thick and substantial crust, therefore, are also less than ideal for the club—it's hard enough to take a bite, we don't want resistance when we do. Proving you have the strength to break through a stack of boards is better left to a taekwondo class, not a sandwich. 

All of this adds up to a very specific set of criteria: We need a load that's tender yet structurally sound, with a tight crumb and tender crust. It also needs to come in relatively thin slices. All of this adds up to a hearty white or wheat sandwich bread, something along the lines of a pullman loaf or a heartier white sandwich bread like Pepperidge Farm Farmhouse bread (they did not pay us to write this). 

Lastly, lightly brushing the bread with rendered bacon fat and toasting it well on both sides is a critical step, as it not only develops flavor but also firms up the exterior of each slice to help the bread hold its shape.

Overhead view of cutting sandwiches
Serious Eats / Fred Hardy

2.) Meaty Matters: Pick the Best Bacon and Turkey for Club Sandwiches

I've made club sandwiches with both thick and thin rashers of bacon, and as much as I love thick-cut, I don't feel it's the right choice here, and our testing supports that. Once again, this comes down to a question of texture and architecture. Like too-thick bread, too-thick bacon creates too much resistance when biting through so many stacked layers.

Much better for this sandwich are thinner, leaner center-cut strips of bacon, which produce satisfyingly crisp slices that shatter with ease when bitten. That crispness must not be overlooked—if the bacon is cooked less and retains some chewy bits, it can fail to break cleanly, threatening to pull the whole sandwich apart. 

There's a strong argument when making a BLT to press the bacon as it cooks so that the strips are as flat as possible. In a turkey club, though, we already have the very flat layers of sliced turkey (assuming we're using deli turkey very thinly sliced on a meat slicer), so flattening the bacon doubles down on this tightly-packed format, which can feel overly dense when you eat it. It's arguably more pleasing to leave the bacon with some waviness—those natural corrugations create space in the sandwich so that as you bite through it, you can feel the sandwich gently compress and yield. Our favorite way to achieve the perfect bacon for a club is to bake it on a sheet tray lined with parchment paper, where it can crisp in its own rendered fat.

The club sandwich is an excellent vehicle for using up leftover roast chicken or turkey, and I wouldn't dissuade you from doing that, especially, say, the day after Thanksgiving. But unless you can expertly slice the meat thinly, I'd recommend using quality roast turkey from the deli that is sliced uniformly on a meat slicer. The thin slices are just one more small detail in the larger architectural blueprint of a great club sandwich, as thin slices are inherently more tender than thicker ones, since slicing thinly shortens the natural muscle fibers in the meat. In a sense, thin slicing is like pre-chewing: A lot of the work of breaking the meat down is already done for you so that biting through the sandwich takes even less effort.

3.) Don't Forget About the Lettuce and Tomatoes

As noted above, a club sandwich is, practically speaking, a BLT with meat, and the importance of the L and the T in that little formula should not be underestimated. That said, because the tomato doesn't take up quite as much of the club sandwich's spotlight as it does in the BLT, one doesn't have to be quite so religious about their quality here. Do they need to be juicy, decently ripe, and not mealy? Yes. Must they only come from the hills surrounding Mount Etna between the dates of August 7th and September 18th? No. A great tomato will, without question, make this a greater sandwich, but you can still make a worthy turkey club even when the tomatoes aren't at their absolute peak.

A small but important step for the best tomatoes is to season them with salt and pepper before adding them to the sandwich. This ensures the sandwich is evenly seasoned throughout and there are no bland elements in the mix.

As for the lettuce, romaine is a great choice, with a crisp and juicy bite not unlike iceberg , but with a bit more flavor, which helps given that it has to stand up to the turkey, tomato, and bacon. Last note: don't skimp on the mayo, it's the lubrication that helps get this towering achievement of a sandwich from your mouth to your stomach, which is, after all, the goal.

Adjust oven racks to upper-middle and lower-middle positions. Heat oven to 400°F (205℃). Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper. Arrange bacon slices in a single layer (slightly overlapping if needed) on prepared baking sheets. Bake bacon, switching and rotating baking sheets halfway through, until browned and crisp, 15 to 20 minutes. Use tongs to transfer cooked bacon to a paper towel–lined plate to drain and reserve rendered fat. Heat broiler.

Overhead view of transferring bacon to a plate
Serious Eats / Fred Hardy

Brush bread slices very lightly on both sides with reserved bacon fat, then arrange on 2 clean baking sheets. Working one baking sheet at a time, broil on the upper-middle rack (about 6-inches from broiler), flipping bread slices halfway through, until bread is light golden brown on both sides, 1 to 2 minutes per side. Set aside.

Overhead view of bread toasted
Serious Eats / Fred Hardy

Sprinkle tomato slices all over with salt and pepper; set aside.

Overhead view of sprinkling tomatoes with pepper
Serious Eats / Fred Hardy

Using a butter knife or offset spatula, spread 1 tablespoon mayonnaise evenly over 1 side of each bread slice. Place 4 prepared bread slices on a clean work surface, mayonnaise side up. Layer 2 cut lettuce leaf halves, 2 tomato slices, 2 cooked bacon slices, and 2 turkey slices—in that order—on the prepared bread slices arranged on the counter. Slightly overlap the ingredients as needed to fit within the parameters of the sandwich bread.

Four image collage of building turkey club
Serious Eats / Fred Hardy

Top the 4 sandwiches with 1 prepared bread slice each, mayonnaise-side down. Press gently to secure. Repeat layering 2 lettuce leaf halves, 2 tomato slices, 2 cooked bacon slices, and 2 turkey slices on top of the bread slices of each prepared sandwich.

Placing turkey on second layer of sandwich
Serious Eats / Fred Hardy

Top with the remaining 4 bread slices, mayonnaise side down. Press gently to secure and insert 4 toothpicks into each sandwich, spaced evenly to create 4 quadrants. Use a serrated knife to cut each sandwich on the diagonal to create triangular quarters. Serve.

Two image collage of putting toothpicks into sandwiches and cutting into fourhts
Serious Eats / Fred Hardy

Special Equipment

2 rimmed baking sheets, wire rack, butter knife or offset spatula, toothpicks, serrated knife

Notes

Center-cut bacon, such as Smithfield brand, produces uniformly cooked slices that are evenly shaped to fit on the bread nicely. Using regular-cut bacon, as opposed to thick-cut bacon, ensures the bacon turns very crisp and breaks easily when biting into the stacked sandwich. 

A sturdy, thinly sliced sandwich bread, such as Pepperidge Farm Farmhouse Hearty White Bread, is ideal for this recipe. It’s sturdy enough to stack and hold the larger amount of ingredients in this club sandwich and not so thick that it will create an overly bready club sandwich.