Sweet & Savory: How To Make Candied Bacon

Food & Drink Hands On

If you’ve never had candied bacon, you’re in for a life-changing culinary experience. Candied bacon is the culmination of sweet and savory bliss. My husband and I like to go big or go home, so we made TWO candied bacon recipes—traditional and Millionaire’s. Let me just tell you, if heaven had a flavor, this would be it.

The first thing you should know when you jump the candied bacon train is to actually do what the recipes say and get yourself the thickest cut bacon you can find. We skipped this step entirely and paid for it when we cracked open our bacon box and were met with slices that could have doubled as translucent tracing paper. But we were not deterred!

Nor were we deterred when we realized we didn’t have a fancy way of draining the fat. Accordion tinfoil to the rescue! If you don’t have a drip rack for your oven, this makeshift version works just fine.

These are the exact recipes we (very loosely) followed that you should definitely follow:

Traditional Candied Bacon

  • 1 pound thick cut bacon
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  1. Place the bacon on a wire rack on a foil lined baking pan, brush the top of the bacon with maple syrup and sprinkle on some brown sugar.
  2. Bake in a preheated 400°F oven for 15 minutes, flip the bacon, brush with maple syrup and sprinkle on the brown sugar and bake for another 15 minutes or until it reaches the desired level of crispiness.

Millionaire’s Candied Bacon

  • 1 lb. thick-cut bacon
  • 1 Tbsp. lower-sodium soy sauce
  • 1/4 tsp. Chinese five-spice powder
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar (light or dark)
  • 1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  1. Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 400°F.
  2. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil and set a rack over the foil. Arrange the bacon in a single layer on the rack, leaving no space between the slices.
  3. In a small bowl, combine the soy sauce and five-spice powder, and then brush the mixture over the bacon.
  4. In another small bowl, combine the brown sugar and red pepper flakes. Evenly sprinkle the mixture over the bacon, covering each slice completely.
  5. Bake, rotating the sheet halfway through, until the sugar is melted and the bacon is brown and shiny, 30 to 40 minutes. Let cool on the rack for about 5 minutes, then loosen the slices from the rack with a metal spatula. Continue to cool for another 5 minutes before serving; the bacon will crisp as it cools.

Now this is what we actually did:

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. bacon
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup coconut sugar

Traditional Candied Bacon

  • 1/2 lb. bacon
  • 1/2 syrup/sugar mixture

Millionaire’s Bacon

  • 1/2 lb. bacon
  • 1/2 syrup/sugar mixture
  • 1/2 Tbsp. gluten-free soy sauce
  • 1/4 Chinese five-spice powder
  • 1/4 Chipotle powder
  1. Crack open your bacon and wonder out loud if it’s bacon or parchment paper
  2. Prepare your makeshift accordion tinfoil drip rack
  3. Mix your coconut sugar and maple syrup in a bowl without any care in the world that you only made enough for one recipe, but are about to split it between two
  4. Dunk your first set of bacon in your mixture and lay it in your first pan
  5. Mix in your GF soy sauce, five-spice powder and chipotle powder
  6. Dunk your second set of bacon in your mixture and lay it in your second pan
  7. Realize you don’t have enough sugar and syrup and chuck some extra in without measuring
  8. Liberally sprinkle coconut sugar on top of your bacon before putting it in the oven
  9. Toss both pans in your preheated 350°F oven for 20 minutes
  10. Then turn down the heat to 325°F for 10 minutes
  11. Then turn it down again to 275°F for 45 minutes
  12. Know that in the end, there’s bacon coming, so all is well in the world

The liberal “sprinkle ” (aka DUMP) is really what it’s all about. Just know that if you’re expecting the extra sugar on top to harden, it definitely won’t if your floppy bacon is anything like ours.

No, but really. Get yourself the thick cut, kids.

In case you’re wondering why we got temperature-happy and kept turning it down, the answer is because we do what we want. My husband DID say that he would have slow-cooked the whole thing at 325°F if he could do it over again because low and slow is a bacon Jedi tip. While our masterpieces baked, we got an overwhelmingly delicious whiff of the five-spice from the Millionaire’s bacon about halfway through. Trust me, it was only a preview of the deliciousness that awaited. And on that note, I may or may not have been eyeing The Bacon Crate during our wait just to devise a MORE BACON MASTER PLAN in my life.

And then the moment arrived. We came. We saw. WE TASTED LIFE CHANGE. You truly can’t screw up candied bacon—even the ghost-thin kind we were rocking. We expected more of the salty bacon flavor to come through on the traditional recipe, but since it didn’t, liked the Millionaire’s better. It has a much more complex and savory taste due to the salty aspect of the soy sauce. Water was also a must during our tasting adventures—especially with the Millionaire’s—but that’s just because it was so rich.

Ba-domp! Overall, candied bacon is a win no matter how thick you slice it.

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