Caramelized bacon is crispy, candied bacon made with a pecan, brown sugar, and maple syrup paste—it’s the first thing to go at parties!
The title says it all, doesn’t it? This was the first recipe I saw when I bought Ina Garten’s cookbook, Foolproof, and I knew it had to be on the menu for our annual Christmas party (at that time, our 2012 party). While the recipe itself is pretty easy to make, putting the paste on the bacon is kind of a pain but so worth it. People talked about this bacon for an entire year and I swore to all of them that I would never make it again, but of course I lied and had it on the menu again last Christmas.
Last Christmas, the only appetizers I served were cheese straws and this caramelized bacon. Let me tell you, people love this bacon. It is crispy and chewy at the same time…sweet, salty…a little heat from cayenne pepper…and it’s BACON.
How to Make Caramelized Bacon
You need a food processor for this recipe so if you don’t have one then now’s a good time to treat yourself! I use this one and love it, but you could certainly use a smaller one.
You place everything in the food processor and pulse until a paste forms. Have the bacon laid out on the racks and use a spoon or your fingers to spread the paste on the bacon. Don’t spread it too thickly or the bacon won’t get crisp. I usually spread it with my fingers because it’s a little easier, but if you use a spoon be sure you have a cup of hot water to dip the spoon in.
The trick is to cook the bacon until it’s very dark but NOT burnt! Since ovens cook differently, start with the time on the recipe but if the bacon isn’t dark then leave it in there a bit longer. And remember that it will take a while after you take it out of the oven to get crispy.
- 1/2 cup light brown sugar packed
- 1/2 cup chopped pecans
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
- 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
- 1/2 pound thick-sliced applewood-smoked bacon
Preheat oven to 375. Line baking sheet with aluminum foil and place wire rack on top.
Combine brown sugar and pecans in food processor and pulse until pecans are ground. Add salt, black pepper, and cayenne. Pulse a few times.
- Add maple syrup and pulse until mixed and paste forms.
- Cut bacon slices in half crosswise and place pieces on the rack without touching.
- Get a cup of hot water for dipping the spoon.
- With the back of a spoon or your fingers, spread pecan mixture on each piece of bacon. Cover each piece but don't spread too thickly. Dip spoon in water if difficult to spread.
- Bake 30-40 minutes, until topping is very brown but not burnt. Bacon must be very brown to get crisp as it cools.
- While hot, remove bacon to plate lined with paper towels and allow to cool.
- Serve at room temperature.
I usually quadruple this recipe since we have a large gathering. The bacon can be prepared and baked early in the day.