Smoked Candied Bacon: Game Day Favorite

The ultimate finger food, smoked candied bacon. Caramelized strips of bacon ready in under an hour.

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Looking for an easy snack to cook for game-day and have a surplus of bacon? (if that’s even possible). 

This smoked candied bacon never lasts long at parties, requires minimal ingredients, and is ready in under an hour.

Tools to get the job done

What type of bacon to use?

You’ve got to go with streaky bacon for this recipe. Streaky bacon is taken from the belly portion of the animal where there is a high fat content in layers parallel to the skin along with the muscles hence the name ‘streaky bacon’.

Most commonly, pork belly is cured with a mixture of kosher salt, black pepper and pink curing salt also known as Prague powder. This is important for the nitrite content which helps prevent the growth of bacteria. 

Alternatively you could try making your own bacon first, and then use that for this recipe. 

How to make smoked candied bacon

1. Smoker setup

I used my GMG DB Prime pellet smoker for this recipe and decided to go with apple wood pellets as they pair well with pork.

If you want to get more adventurous try mixing some cherry wood with apple wood.

Get your smoker setup to cook at 365°F to get that streaky bacon nice and crisp.

2. Prepping the bacon

For this cook, I used 14oz of streaky bacon which gave me 14 slices. You can easily do more or less depending on how many people you are feeding. 

Remove the bacon from the packaging and place it on the chopping board.

Trim any excess dags of meat and rind away that may be undesirable. You want a nice uniform piece of bacon. 

Evenly lay out the bacon on your wire rack keeping a minimal distance between each piece being careful not to overlap.

white bowl with brown sugar, jar of seasoning
Keeping the seasoning simple.

First, apply a light even coat of rub to each side of the bacon. For this cook, I used Sucklebusters BAMM rub which has a nice Habanero hit, however, if you’re not a big fan of spice you can always substitute it for your favorite rub, or use our pork rub.

bacon strips with seasoning sprinkled on
Even just a good grind of pepper is great on these.

Next use around one teaspoon of light brown sugar per strip, coating as evenly as possible.

If you are using a rub with high sugar content, and you apply a heavy coating you might not need to use any extra sugar at all. You’ll see I only applied a light coating of rub, so the extra sugar was needed to get the caramelization.

raw bacon with brown sugar sprinkled on, on a rack
The brown sugar starts to melt with the moisture of the bacon making for even better coverage.

3. The cook

Once your smoker is at 365°F, place your prepped bacon on the grill rack. Keep it all on the wire rack to make it easy to transport. 

Place a tray below the rack to catch any drips.

bacon on a rack with fat drips into a foil tray
Putting a tray underneath saves a bit on cleanup.

After 10-15 minutes check how they are coming along and if they are cooking evenly. Rotate the rack if some pieces are cooking faster than others. 

Check the bacon 20 minutes into the cook, if they have a mahogany color, are reduced in size, and are almost crisp to the touch they are ready to come off the smoker, if not, let them ride a few more minutes and check again.

Using heat proof gloves remove the wire rack from the smoker and place the rack on your bench to cool down, don’t be tempted to try them at this stage as you will burn your mouth on the melted brown sugar.

cooked bacon on a wire rack
Don’t be tempted to dive in too quick, caramel stays hot for a while.

As it cools, the brown sugar that has been caramelizing on top will begin to harden and set leaving you with a deliciously crisp exterior locking in those flavors underneath on the bacon.

4. Serving your smoked candied bacon

Remove the cooled candied bacon from the wire rack and stack the strips on a plate or place them in a mason jar or glass depending on how you might like to serve your guests. Enjoy.

Other ways to use your candied bacon

Crumble the candied bacon into small pieces and use it on top of your eggs for that variance in texture and flavor.

Crumble the candied bacon and top your ice cream with a drizzle of maple syrup for a savory sweet twist.

Melt your favorite chocolate, then dip the strips halfway and leave to set in the fridge for a chocolate coated bacon delight.

If you enjoy a Bloody Mary drink then these candied bacon strips will help take your drink to the next level.

Let’s be honest, it’s bacon, the options are endless!

Candied Bacon F.A.Q

Q. How long can I store my candied bacon?
A. In a sealed container your candied bacon will last 3-4 days in the fridge

Q. How long after cooking should I put them in the fridge?
A. After 2 hours they should be moved to the fridge in a sealed container. Use baking paper in-between each piece to minimize sticking together

Q. Do I need a commercial rub?
A. No, add cracked pepper if you want to keep it simple or find a pork rub recipe you like. Or give pork rub recipe a go.

Q. Do you season both sides of the streaky bacon?
A. If you want to ramp those flavors up, apply your rub to both sides. However, the light brown sugar is best applied to only one side.

Smoked Candied Bacon

Caramlized strips of smoked bacon
5 from 3 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Appetizer
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Resting Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Servings: 5
Calories: 384kcal
Author: Justin Gradon

Ingredients

  • 14 oz streaky bacon
  • 3 tbsp rub
  • 5 tbsp light brown sugar 1 teaspoon per strip

Instructions

  • Set up your smoker to be running at 365°F.
  • Using your knife trim away any excess dags of meat and rind from the bacon strips.
  • Evenly lay out the bacon on a wire rack.
  • Apply an even coating of your chosen rub to each strip.
  • Apply one teaspoon of light brown sugar evenly onto each bacon strip.
  • Once the pit is at 365°F place prepped bacon on the top rack.
  • After 10-15 minutes check to see if the meat is cooking evenly, rotate if needed.
  • Twenty minutes into the cook, you are looking for the bacon to be a mahogany color, have reduced in size, and is almost crisp to the touch, if so they are ready. If not, check in a few minutes.
  • Using heat proof gloves remove the rack and place onto a bench to cool down.
  • Once completely cooled they are ready for serving.

Nutrition

Sodium: 529mg | Calcium: 38mg | Vitamin C: 1mg | Vitamin A: 93IU | Sugar: 12g | Fiber: 1g | Potassium: 190mg | Cholesterol: 52mg | Calories: 384kcal | Trans Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 11g | Fat: 32g | Protein: 10g | Carbohydrates: 14g | Iron: 1mg
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