Question: What do ballers eat? Candied Bacon!
Not even lying. A few years back, I was at the Boston Bacon and Beer Festival at the House of Blues. The options were limitless. They had all types of gourmet candied bacon appetizers, various jars of bacon jam, even some uncured duck bacon. Seriously, uncured duck bacon. What an event! Most notable to me was the Chipotle Candied Bacon.
Anyway, this was the candied bacon recipe that was passed down from one of the vendors. I’ve made an adjustment or two over time as a way to experiment with it, but it remains largely the same. The chipotle gives the bacon a nice, smoky heat. The sugar sweetly balances the spice.
By the time you are done, your kitchen will smell like Patton rolling through Tunisia … VICTORY!
As the good general said, “If a man cooks bacon, what else is there?”
He didn’t actually say that, but he should have.
Candied bacon recipe
- 2 tsp. of chipotle powder. I use Los Chileros. You can use any chipotle powder.
- 1 lb. bacon – preferably small batch, locally sourced. I get mine from Chestnut Farms at the local Farmer’s Market. If you have the time and the money, but not the local source, go with Primal Pastures out of Temecula, CA. Otherwise, your local Whole Foods Black Forest bacon is tasty enough.
- 1/4-1/2 cup of light brown sugar, or at least enough to coat the bottom of the bowl. I don’t use fancy sugar. Maybe I should?
If I opt for a maple chipotle candied bacon, I use Fadden’s maple syrup. Fadden’s maple syrup is simply delicious and highly recommended.
Candied Bacon Quick Instructions
- Mix chipotle powder with brown sugar
- Rub it on the bacon
- Place bacon on a foil-lined cookie sheet
- Bake at 350 for 20 minutes
- Let the bacon cool on a cooling rack
Detailed Instructions for making Chipotle Candied Bacon
First, pre-heat the oven to 350. Then line a cookie sheet with foil.
Next, there are two ways to candy the bacon. The first is to make a rub. This can be as simple as combining the chipotle powder you purchased with brown or white sugar. If you are using brown sugar, make sure you knead it or beat it to get it to a more granular state. I prefer to dip the bacon in the bowl to ensure maximum coverage.
The second way is to make a glaze. You can do this with sugar, or you can do it with your choice of sweetener: maple syrup, honey, agave, etc. Combine your sweetener with your chipotle powder in a saucepan over low heat. You will want to warm it until it’s somewhat viscous and can be brushed or drizzled on to the bacon.
In either scenario, make sure to cover both sides of the bacon. Otherwise, you will miss out on flavor, and no one wants that. Also, use up the remainder of your mix, either sprinkling on the rub, or pouring the remainder of the glaze onto the bacon after you have placed it onto the baking sheet.
How to cook candied bacon in the oven
Set a timer for twenty minutes and clean up any mess you have already made. Also, make sure you get a cooling rack set up on another foil-lined sheet to catch the drippings. The cooling rack will help you to get rid of any excess grease.
If at the end of twenty minutes the chipotle candied bacon is not crispy enough, consider adding a few more minutes. Remember though, the bacon will cook even after you remove it from the oven. You should see a caramelization on the bacon at this point.
When the Chipotle Candied Bacon is cooked to your liking, you’re done and it’s time to serve. Add it to a plated dish, or eat it straight up.
Enjoy, it’s delicious.
What if I want to use the stovetop?
I am guessing that you probably don’t have a breakfast diner’s setup, or even a Guggenau cooktop. That’s ok. Just break out your favorite cast iron skillet or frying pan and repeat the cooking steps, substituting the instructions for baking in the oven with a medium to high heat on the stove top.
You may want to remove some of the bacon grease in real-time to help prevent the grease from overtaking the rub/glaze.
Can I use a grill?
That said, I do recommend bringing this delicacy to a college tailgate. You, along with beer, will be the star of the pregame show.
Does cut thickness matter?
Completely preferential. Thinly sliced bacon generally leads to crispy bacon, while thicker pieces lean toward chewy. Obviously, your cooking length and temperatures affect the overall crunch, as well as your drying tactics.
What not to do
Do NOT dry the bacon on a paper towel. That is a recipe for eating sticky paper towel, a lesson learned the hard way.
How long does the bacon candy last for?
Candied bacon lasts about a week, especially if stored properly. That is in theory.
In practice, candied bacon lasts the duration of the meal, maybe less. It’s just so tasty.
Cleaning up – what to do with the leftover bacon fat
You could store it in a mason jar for future use. Or, if you went the stovetop route, you could make some home-fried potatoes. Just cut up some potatoes and toss them into the pan with some fresh garlic and rosemary.
If you aren’t interested in saving the bacon grease for the future or cooking something else with it, then let it cool down for a bit. Before it hardens, soak it up with some paper towels, or find a container that is pre-destined for the trash, and pour it into that.
Do NOT pour it down the drain.
What about the nutritional value of this recipe? Is it low carb? Will it work for my paleo diet?
If that is a real concern, I suggest you find some information on bacon, and then you research the ingredients that are being added to the rubs, glazes, and cures contained here. Creating homemade rubs, spices, and cured meats allows for far greater control over the quality of the ingredients versus store-bought goods.
I am not a doctor or dietician. That said, I would wager most spices to be fine. However, when it comes to the sugars, bourbons, and honey, you better do your research, especially if you are banting or on the paleo diet.
How do I home cure bacon?
Ingredients for the cure
- 1.5lb of pork belly
- .5 tbsp. of black pepper
- 1/2 cup of salt
- 1/4 cup of brown sugar
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 3 oz. of bourbon (optional for a sweeter, wetter “brine”)
- remove the rind (skin)
- mix dry ingredients
- rub the mixture on the slab of pork belly. be thorough, you won’t hurt the pork belly
- place in a bag and put in the fridge. leave it there for 4-5 days
- turn it over every so often
- when complete, wash the mixture off the pork belly, rinse with cold water
- let it dry overnight, preferably on a rack, turning it over again
- fire up the oven to the lowest baking setting
- place the slab into the oven (~200 degrees) for about 2 hours
- let it cool on a rack
- wrap it up like a butcher in some parchment
How do I make my own chipotle rub?
Ingredients for the rub
- 3 tbsp ground dried chipotle pepper
- 1/2 tbsp paprika
- 1 tbsp mustard powder
- 1 tbsp ground cumin
- 1/2 tbsp salt
- 1/2 tbsp of black pepper
- 2 tbsp sugar (optional)
- simple, mix ingredients together in a bowl
Do I want my chipotle rub to be sweet or savory?
That is up to you. You can add smoke to your flavor by replacing regular paprika with some pimentón de La Vera, or you can amplify the sweetness with some molasses or bourbon. Mix and match each time you try it.
What does it pair well with?
- Breakfast – Caramelized bacon goes really well with scrambled eggs and a lemon pepper spinach and watercress mix. Breakfast is served!
- Lunch – An easy way to spice up your BLT or turkey club
- Dinner – Toss it on a chef salad, or, build a pizza around it
- Dessert – Candied bacon cookies just sounds dope
- Drinks – Bourbon and maple ale are natural pairings
Chipotle candied bacon pairs well with everyday life. No joke. Be a superhero and bring this candied bacon appetizer to the next Super Bowl party. Bring it to a baby shower and spice things up a bit. Careful though, people will talk more about the bacon than the baby.
Do you hike? Bring it along.
Camp? Even better.
Editor’s note – Remember, consuming raw or undercooked meats, poultry, seafood, shellfish, eggs or unpasteurized milk may increase your risk of foodborne illness.