Bacon-wrapped dates might not win a beauty pageant, but trust me, they will disappear from the buffet spread before you can say, "Come on in." The combination of salty, crispy bacon with sugar-sweet dates and creamy cheese in the middle is absolutely irresistible. Here's how we make them — what's your secret?
Bacon of any thickness will work in this recipe, but I like using regular bacon — not super thin, and not too thick. I find that this gives the best amount of bacon-y goodness to the bite without either feeling flimsy or over the top.
This said, you can't really go wrong with this appetizer. Use the bacon you have in your fridge or that you love the best. This is potluck fare at its best, so no need to get too fussy.
Look for large, thumb-sized Medjool dates in the produce section at the grocery store, not the baking aisle. As best as you can assess through the packaging, try to pick ones that look soft and plump, not shriveled and dry.
Slice these dates open, remove the pit (if the dates are unpitted), and you've got yourself the perfect pocket to fill with a spoonful of cheese.
Note: If you're not in the mood for dates, figs make a fun alternative.
The Cheesy Middle
You can make a legitimate claim for using just about any kind of cheese in this appetizer, but I'm rather partial to goat cheese. I love its creaminess once baked, as well as the slight tartness it gives the whole ensemble. Blue cheese is another favorite, but you can also go really off-script with a nub of Asiago, smoked cheddar, or Gouda.
Provided none of your guests has nut allergies, I also recommend stuffing an almond or two inside the date along with the cheese. Smoked almonds are particularly fantastic here.
Put It All Together
Assembling bacon-wrapped dates is like the grown-up version of playing with your food, so set up your assembly line and go to town. Stuff a date, wrap it in bacon, stick a toothpick in it, and you're done. Repeat as needed until baking sheet is filled and you've run out of ingredients. You can assemble everything the day before you plan to bake them and keep them covered in the refrigerator until needed.
To make sure the bacon gets nicely crispy, lay each date on its side, then flip to the other side midway through baking. Drain them on a baking sheet for a few minutes so they're not too greasy, then transfer to a serving plate.
The recipe here makes enough for a small party, but you can scale everything up (or down) to the size of your gathering. Make extra because, trust me, they'll be gone in a flash.
How To Make Bacon-Wrapped Dates
Makes 20 to 24 bites
What You Need
20 to 24
Medjool dates (12 to 16 ounces)
goat cheese or blue cheese
12 to 16 ounces
bacon, preferably of medium thickness
20 to 24
toasted almonds, optional
Parchment or nonstick baking liner
Heat the oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment or a baking liner and set aside.
Cut open the dates: Use a paring knife to cut a slit in the side of the date. Use your thumbs to open the date slightly. Remove the pits if your dates still have them inside.
Stuff with goat cheese: Use a spoon to stuff a little goat cheese or blue cheese into each date. Use the back of the spoon to press the cheese into the date. If you're adding almonds, press an almond or two into the cheese. Press the date closed.
Wrap the dates with bacon: Cut the strips of bacon in half. Wrap each date with a half-strip of bacon. Secure the end of the bacon with a toothpick.
Arrange the dates on the baking sheet: Space the dates a little apart and lay them on one side.
Bake for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, flip the dates to the other side.
Continue baking for another 15 to 20 minutes: Keep an eye on the dates and remove from the oven as soon as the bacon is as crispy as you like it.
Transfer the dates to a plate with a paper towel to drain. If the dates seem greasy, blot the sides as well as the bottoms.
Serve warm or room temperature.
Make ahead: The dates can be prepped and refrigerated for up to a day before baking. Keep covered.