How good does that look? Very, very. Yep, that was our stomach growling in agreement, too. But there's little room for error when making candied bacon. Too dry. Under-seasoned. Over-seasoned. Unevenly coated bacon strips. We'd be lying if we said we'd never wound up with candied bacon that seemed more three parts gritty jerky and one part chimney soot than roasted, salty maple delight. No more!
Pete Taylor, executive chef and CEO and co-founder of Spiceologist, a gourmet spice, dried herbs, and dry-rub company, shares his favorite recipe and explains how to nail it in three easy steps.
Smoky Honey Habanero Candied Bacon
- 2 slices thick cut bacon
- 2 teaspoons equal parts smoky paprika with ground honey crystals or honey, or Spiceologist Smoky Honey Habanero rub
Sprinkle seasoning on the bacon, bake for 15–20 minutes at 375°.
1. Use thick-cut bacon. If you can get your hands on it, we won't argue with triple thick, hickory-smoked perfection, but any dense slab will do. "Thick-cut bacon will help create that firm-textured strip you want," says Taylor. This is especially ideal when you're serving candied bacon as a snack or using it to spike a cocktail. "It won't turn to bacon bubble-gum in your mouth like thinner, flimsy bacon strips often do."
2. Use honey. Maple syrup? Brown sugar? Granulated crystals? Skip other sweeteners and opt for honey: "Honey contains fructose, which caramelizes at a lower temperature than glucose. If you’re cooking your bacon at a higher temperature and it’s a thicker cut of bacon, it will most likely burn on the outside and remain rubbery on the inside," says Taylor. So be sure not to crank up your oven above 375°.
3. Use a wire rack. While roasting your bacon (thick slabs, right, guys?), you'll want to do it over a wire rack (put one directly on top of a sheet pan to cut down on clean up), with the bacon strips laid individually on top of the rack. "The mesh openings of wire racks allow fat to escape the strips, creating a flawless crisp," says Taylor.
And indeed, many opt to use these fine slabs to kick up your average BLT with an element of smoke, spice, and sweetness. But why not dunk a spear in your next bloody mary, up your accoutrements game, and call it a day?
Spicy Bloody Mary with Candied Bacon
Makes 2 servings
- 3 cups spicy tomato juice (like Spicy V8)
- 1 tbsp horseradish powder
- 1/2 tsp Worcestershire or Maggi
- 4 oz vodka, or to taste
- cracked black pepper, to taste
- squeeze of fresh lime
- hot sauce, optional
- candied bacon (see above)
- chili salt (combine 1 tbsp kosher salt and 1 tbsp crushed chili flakes in a small bowl and mix)
- pickled green beans
- lime wedges
- celery stalks
In a large pitcher add all of the ingredients (tomato juice through hot sauce). Stir to combine. Rub the outer edge of 2 glasses with a lime wedge and roll in chili salt. Add a few cubes of ice to each glass and pour the tomato mixture over. Garnish with the candied bacon, pickled green bean, lime wedge, and radish. Serve immediately.