5 Fun Ways to Flavor Bacon

5 Fun Ways to Flavor Bacon

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Kelli Foster
Mar 30, 2016
(Image credit: Kelli Foster)

I think we can all agree that bacon is pretty irresistible as is. That crispy, crunchy texture and smoky flavor can liven up breakfast plates and add an extra oomph to salads and sandwiches. Which is precisely why it's time to up the ante on your next batch of bacon with the help of a few rich, sweet, spicy, and savory upgrades.

5 Fun Ways to Flavor Bacon

Even though it doesn't necessarily come with a mild flavor, bacon is a total blank canvas. With the help of some extra ingredients, you can take its original savory, salty, and smoky flavor and enhance it with things like chili powder and coffee, Sriracha, maple syrup, brown sugar, or honey.

I typically stick with cooking bacon on the stovetop in my favorite cast iron skillet, with two exceptions: when I'm cooking big batches of bacon, and when I flavor my bacon with some extra ingredients. In those special cases, I turn to the oven. With the bacon lined single-file across a baking sheet, it proves easier to coat the strips with seasoning. Plus, the bacon doesn't need to be flipped during cooking.

No matter how you flavor your bacon, each of these batches will cook up extra crispy (getting more so as it cools). Be sure to transfer the cooked bacon to a wire rack to cool after it finishes cooking in the oven to prevent it from firming up against the foil on the baking sheet.

(Image credit: Kelli Foster)

1. Maple-Chipotle Bacon

Makes 1/2 pound of bacon

This is just the kind of bacon I'd love to eat alongside a stack of fluffy buttermilk pancakes. It's super crispy, with just a hint of spice and smokiness to complement the sweet maple flavor.

Preheat the oven to 400°F. In a small bowl, combine 1/2 cup maple syrup and 1 teaspoon chipotle chili powder. Stir to blend. Lay 1/2 pound of bacon (about 10 pieces) in a single layer on a foil-lined baking sheet. Cook for 15 to 20 minutes, until the fat is rendered and the bacon browns. Remove the baking sheet from the oven. Drain the fat and use a pastry brush to spread the maple mixture on both sides of the bacon. Cook for another 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and immediately transfer the bacon to a wire rack to cool.

(Image credit: Kelli Foster)

2. Coffee and Cocoa Bacon

Makes 1/2 pound of bacon

Here's how to get your bacon fix and an extra dose of coffee at the same time: Soak uncooked bacon in a mixture of strong black coffee, cinnamon, cocoa powder, and brown sugar for a rich, smoky flavor with a subtle hint of sweetness.

In a wide, shallow baking dish, mix together 1 cup strong black coffee, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder, and 1 tablespoon brown sugar. Arrange about 1/2 pound of uncooked bacon (about 10 strips) in the baking dish so they're covered with the liquid. Soak for at least 1 hour or overnight.

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Lay the strips of bacon in a single layer on a foil-lined baking sheet. Cook for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the fat is rendered and the bacon browns. Remove from the oven and immediately transfer the bacon to a wire rack to cool.

(Image credit: Kelli Foster)

3. Sriracha-Sesame Spiced Bacon

Makes 1/2 pound of bacon

Sriracha brings the heat, honey the sweet, and sesame oil a nuttiness in this crispy, sticky, ultra-savory batch of bacon.

Preheat the oven to 400°F. In a small bowl, combine 2 to 3 tablespoons Sriracha, 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil, and 1 teaspoon honey and stir to blend. Lay the strips of 1/2 pound of bacon (about 10 pieces) in a single layer on a foil-lined baking sheet, and cook for 15 to 20 minutes, until the fat is rendered and the bacon browns. Remove the baking sheet from the oven. Drain the fat, and use a pastry brush to spread the Sriracha mixture on both sides of the bacon. Cook for another 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and immediately transfer the bacon to a wire rack to cool.

(Image credit: Kelli Foster)

4. Roasted Garlic Bacon

Makes 1/2 pound of bacon

Garlic lovers — this one's for you! The only thing better than a few super-crisp strips of bacon is when they're coated, front and back, with sweet roasted garlic.

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Squeeze the cloves from 1 head of roasted garlic into a small bowl and mash together. Lay the strips of 1/2 pound of bacon (about 10 pieces) in a single layer on a foil-lined baking sheet. Cook for 15 to 20 minutes, until the fat is rendered and the bacon browns. Remove the baking sheet from the oven; drain the fat. Use a pastry brush to spread the roasted garlic on both sides of the bacon. Cook for another 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and immediately transfer the bacon to a wire rack to cool.

(Image credit: Kelli Foster)

5. Balsamic-Brown Sugar Bacon

Makes 1/2 pound of bacon

This sweet and tangy balsamic vinegar and brown sugar combo might just be the ultimate match for a smoky batch of bacon.

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Combine 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar, 2 tablespoons brown sugar, and 1 teaspoon fresh-ground back pepper in a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture has thickened slightly. Lay the strips of 1/2 pound of bacon (about 10 pieces) in a single layer on a foil-lined baking sheet. Cook for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the fat is rendered and the bacon browns. Remove the baking sheet from the oven; drain the fat. Use a pastry brush to spread the balsamic-brown sugar mixture on both sides of the bacon. Cook for another 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and immediately transfer the bacon to a wire rack to cool.

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