Caramelized bacon is crispy, candied bacon made with a pecan, brown sugar, and maple syrup paste—it’s the first thing to go at gatherings!
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 the next Christmas.
Last Christmas, the only appetizers I served were my Southern 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.
My favorite tools for this recipe:
A food processor is essential to get the nut and syrup mixture blended. I like this one because it’s plenty big enough to get any job done!
You’ll also need a wire rack that will fit in your baking pan. I like these wire racks and these baking pans—I have about 8 of these pans!
Ingredients for Candied Bacon
Want the printable recipe? Just scroll down!
- Brown sugar
- Salt and pepper
- Cayenne pepper
- Maple syrup (not imitation)
How to Make Caramelized Bacon
Step 1. 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.
Pro Tip: Don’t spread the paste 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.
Step 2. Bake! The trick is to cook the caramelized 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–but soon you’ll have a plate of caramelized bacon and you can watch your guests fight for each piece!
Can you freeze Caramelized Bacon?
I have never tried to freeze this bacon because we’ve never had leftovers, but my guess is that the texture would not be crispy after freezing and thawing. Just eat it!
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- 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.
More appetizer recipes you’ll love:
Here are some of my favorite Ina Garten appetizers:
- Creamy Green Herb Dip – this is a slightly adapted version of Ina Garten’s Green Herb Dip and is wonderful with crudites
- Pan Fried Onion Dip – Ina’s version of French Onion Dip, this is much better than the packets mixed with sour cream!
- Baked Fontina – grab some bread and get ready to swoon…this melted cheese dip is amazing!
Update Notes: This post was originally published February 19, 2014, and on May 13, 2019, was updated with one or more of the following: step-by-step photos, video, updated recipe, new tips.