The deep, succulent flavor of glazed bacon makes for a great party snack
“Eggs, I love you. Honest, I do. But I need a little space!” So said the bacon at the back of my fridge.
OK, not really. But sometimes we need to be reminded that bacon is more than just a breakfast side dish or a faithful flavor enhancer. It can shine all on its own — as it does in this quick and simple recipe.
Add a bit of brown sugar to bacon, then bake until it’s crisply glazed. Result? A sweet-and-savory finger food that’s perfect for munching as a party appetizer or as a snack with cocktails.
Its piggy goodness would be a great addition to a Pupu Platter, that assortment of starters served in Tiki- and Polynesian-themed restaurants. And since August is Tiki Month here on Kitchen Riffs, what could be better than an appetizer recipe that’s platter-able?
This dish is a snap to prepare, you can make it ahead of time, and it’s beyond delicious. Magic, I’d say. Oh, and it has one other magical property: When your guests try it, it disappears.
Recipe: Candied Bacon
To make this dish, you coat each piece of bacon with brown sugar, then bake until everything is nice and crisp. Easy peasy. Want extra sweetness? Wait till the bacon is mostly done, then brush on a coating of maple syrup (see Notes). Want more spice? Add some cayenne pepper to the brown sugar coating (again, see Notes for more details).
Because bacon is the star of this dish, you want to use good quality. I use a pepper-coated bacon from Burger’s Smokehouse, a Missouri producer of smoked meats. Since I live in St. Louis, I can find it in some of my local supermarkets (you can also buy it mail order, but it’s a bit expensive that way). There’s probably another premium-brand bacon that’s available where you live; if you can’t find something that’s pepper-coated, a nice apple wood-smoked bacon would be excellent.
Recipes for this dish suggest oven temperatures ranging anywhere from 300 to 400 degrees F. I prefer 375 F. At that temperature, cooking time is about 20 minutes. (It can vary a bit though — so you have to keep your eye on the bacon as cooking nears completion.)
Prep time for this dish is about 5 minutes, so if you allow 30 minutes total, you should have plenty of time. You can make Candied Bacon several hours ahead — just keep it at room temperature in a serving dish. You can also make it a day ahead and store it in an airtight container at room temperature (no need to refrigerate); the bacon will probably be less crisp, however.
My recipe calls for a pound of bacon, but you can easily adjust the quantity up or down to meet your needs. Often when I want a snack, I’ll do just a few pieces.
- 1 pound sliced bacon
- ~½ cup dark brown sugar (more if needed)
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (see Notes).
- Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or foil (for easier clean up). If you have a wire rack that fits your baking sheet, you can use that as well. (For a pound of bacon, you may find you need 2 baking sheets.)
- Pour the brown sugar onto a plate. Dip each piece of bacon in the brown sugar, making sure to coat both sides thoroughly. Place the bacon slices on the prepared baking sheet(s). Repeat until you’ve used all the bacon (you may need to replenish the brown sugar). When placing bacon pieces on baking sheets, make sure they don’t touch (they can be close together, but if they touch they may fuse together while baking).
- Place the baking sheet(s) in the oven and set the timer for 15 minutes. You want the bacon to be fully cooked and crisp (I like mine on the dark side) without being burned. The bacon probably won’t be ready in 15 minutes, but I always check just in case. For me and my oven, it usually takes about 20 minutes to fully bake — but everyone’s oven is different.
- When the bacon is done, remove it to a platter (or a piece of parchment paper, or even a brown paper bag) to cool. Don’t put it on paper towels to drain — it will stick. Serve when cool. You can serve the bacon pieces whole or cut them in half. At parties where I have a whole spread of appetizers, I often cut the bacon into pieces so that people can fit other items on their plates.
- You can bake this dish at any temperature from 300 to 400 degrees F — your preference. Of course, the lower the temperature, the longer the bacon will take to cook. At 400 degrees, it will take less time than specified in my recipe.
- You may prefer to cook Candied Bacon in a skillet. If you go this route, pan-fry the bacon as you normally would for 5 minutes or so. Then remove it from the pan, pour off the grease, and return the bacon to the skillet (with a pound you’ll need to do 2 or 3 batches). Sprinkle the bacon with brown sugar (both sides), and continue to cook for another 8 minutes, turning the bacon every now and again. Eight minutes is just an estimate, BTW — it may take a few minutes longer than that. (Frankly, I think doing the bacon in the oven is much easier.)
- If you want to add a maple glaze to Candied Bacon, here’s how: When you check the bacon at the 15-minute mark, brush on a coat of maple syrup (the real stuff, please, not artificial), then return the bacon to the oven to complete cooking. You’ll probably need about ¼ cup or so of maple syrup.
- If you want to spice up Candied Bacon, add some cayenne to the brown sugar (about ½ teaspoon for me, but you might want a bit more or less). Mix well with the sugar, and then apply as directed in Step 3.
- If you aren’t using peppered bacon, you might want to add some black pepper to the brown sugar — probably about 2 teaspoons (again, my preference; you might want less, though it’s unlikely you’d want more than that).
“Yum!” said Mrs. Kitchen Riffs as she picked up another piece of Candied Bacon.
“Yum is right,” I replied, reaching for another slice of my own.
“These taste so good with Tiki cocktails,” she said. “Is Candied Bacon traditional on Pupu Platters?”
“There’s often bacon in some form,” I replied. “Bacon-wrapped grilled pineapple, or bacon-wrapped something.”
“Um hmm,” said Mrs K R, taking another piece.
“Though I actually like to think of Candied Bacon as a substitute for Chinese Spare Ribs, which are a Pupu classic,” I continued. “Bacon is less messy, since you have no bones to dispose of. And it’s a bit easier to prepare.”
As I finished my explanation, Mrs K R casually picked up the last slice of Candied Bacon. “Here’s another question,” she said. “Why did you bake only half the package? If you’d cooked the whole thing, you could have had another piece.”
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