Bacon-Wrapped Water Chestnuts

published Nov 30, 2021
Bacon-Wrapped Water Chestnuts Recipe

These sweet, savory, smoky, and spicy retro appetizers are classic for a reason.

Serves8 to 10

Prep20 minutes to 25 minutes

Cook30 minutes to 34 minutes

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Bacon wrapped water chestnuts on a white plate, with toothpicks going through them, with a small bowl of brown sauce on the side. The plate is on a marble background and there is a blue and white striped napkin in the top left corner
Credit: Kelli Foster

Bacon-wrapped water chestnuts are certainly a blast from the past! Although these little texture bombs were super popular in the ’70s as a party appetizer, they have aged quite well. They make a spectacular seafood-free alternative to bacon-wrapped shrimp or scallops. But what I love most is their flavor and snap — they remain crisp even after being cooked! With smoky bacon and a sweet, sticky, and umami-filled sauce, they’re a surefire crowd-pleaser. 

Do I Need to Rinse Water Chestnuts?

For optimum taste, be sure to give canned water chestnuts a good rinse under cold water to remove the metallic flavor absorbed from the can.  

Credit: Kelli Foster

How to Make Bacon-Wrapped Water Chestnuts Ahead of Time

Bacon-wrapped water chestnuts are freezer-friendly. Bake them to completion, let them cool to room temperature, then freeze them on a baking sheet until solid. Transfer the frozen bites to an airtight container or freezer bag and freeze for up to three months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator and reheat in a 350°F oven.

Bacon-Wrapped Water Chestnuts Recipe

These sweet, savory, smoky, and spicy retro appetizers are classic for a reason.

Prep time 20 minutes to 25 minutes

Cook time 30 minutes to 34 minutes

Serves 8 to 10

Nutritional Info


  • 2 (8-ounce) cans

    whole water chestnuts

  • 1 (2-inch) piece


  • 2 cloves


  • 6 tablespoons

    low-sodium tamari or soy sauce, divided

  • 13 to 15 slices

    bacon (about 12 ounces), preferably center-cut

  • 1/4 cup


  • 3 tablespoons

    packed light brown sugar


  1. Arrange two racks to divide the oven into thirds and heat the oven 375ºF.

  2. Meanwhile, prepare the following, adding each to a small saucepan as you complete it: Drain 2 (8-ounce) cans whole water chestnuts, finely grate 1 (2-inch) piece ginger until you have 1 tablespoon, finely grate 2 garlic cloves, add 3 tablespoons of the low-sodium soy sauce, and toss to combine. Let marinate at room temperature for 30 minutes.

  3. Cut 13 to 15 slices bacon in half lengthwise, then in half crosswise, creating 4 thin strips per slice (you will need 1 strip for every water chestnut). Place in a single layer on 2 rimmed baking sheets and bake for 6 minutes. The bacon will start to render its fat but it’ll remain pliable and won’t brown. Transfer the bacon to a paper towel-lined plate to drain.

  4. Arrange a rack in the center of the oven and increase the oven temperature to 400℉. Reserving the marinade, wrap each water chestnut with a slice of bacon and use a toothpick to hold the bacon in place. Return to one of the baking sheets, spacing them evenly apart.

  5. Bake until bacon is browned, 20 to 25 minutes. Meanwhile, add the remaining 3 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce, 1/4 cup ketchup, and 3 tablespoons packed light brown sugar to the marinade in the saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, and cook until the sauce is thickened and can coat the back of a spoon, about 6 minutes. Remove the saucepan from the heat.

  6. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and brush the tops and sides of the bacon-wrapped water chestnuts with the sauce. Return the baking sheet to the oven and bake until the brushed-on sauce is bubbly and the bacon is crisp, 2 to 3 minutes more. Serve immediately with the remaining sauce for dipping.

Recipe Notes

Gluten-free substitutions: An equal amount of tamari can be used in place of the soy sauce.

Storage: Refrigerate leftovers in an airtight container for up to 2 days. Enjoy cold, at room temperature, or by reheating in a 350ºF for 10 to 15 minutes.