20 Unexpected Ways To Use Leftover Bacon

There's no American breakfast side as delicious and utilitarian as bacon. According to Bacon Scouts, the Chinese were the first population to both domesticate the pig and start curing and cooking pork belly. The first "bacon" as we know it today referred to any part of the pig. It wasn't until the 17th century that Europeans started to exclusively refer to pork belly as bacon. According to Very Meaty, the average American consumes close to 18 pounds of bacon per person each year and spends close to $4.9 billion on the meat each year.

Bacon has a both mouthwatering aroma and a deliciously salty, fatty flavor. It is versatile in the kitchen and can be cooked in a frypan, baked in an oven, or poached in water. And if you find yourself with copious amounts of leftover bacon (by some stretch of the imagination), you can rest assured that there are tons of ways to incorporate bacon into almost any dish in your kitchen. Here are some of our favorite ways to use leftover bacon.

Add it to a milkshake

Combining sweet and savory is one of the most integral parts of cooking. And what better way to meld the saltiness of bacon together with the sweetness of ice cream than with a milkshake? If you're ordering at Five Guys, you can add bacon to your milkshake for free —  but you can also make a homemade bacon milkshake by adding pieces of chopped, cooked bacon as either a topping or flavorful addition to your milkshake. While a vanilla milkshake may complement the oakiness of the bacon, using a maple ice cream will take your milkshake a step further.

If you're going to add bacon to your milkshake, you're going to want to make sure the bacon is crispy. Applewood smoked bacon is our favorite type of bacon for milkshakes; the sweet undertones of the smoke provide a flavorful complement to the vanilla or maple flavor of the milkshake.

Incorporate it into cookie dough

Keep it sweet with bacon cookies! You can use leftover bacon as a salty flavoring agent in a traditional chocolate chip cookie recipe, or try a more unique cookie recipe that integrates nuts, caramel, and or other more unconventional flavors. We recommend adding bacon, chopped pretzels, and dark chocolate to your favorite tried-and-true cookie recipe.

If you're adding bacon to your cookie dough, you'll always want to use cooked bacon. Not only would raw bacon make your cookie dough even more unsafe to eat raw, but you won't get the same savory flavor as crispy bacon pieces. You'll also want to chop your bacon into very small pieces to ensure that every bite in your cookie has a bit of bacon, cookie dough, and your favorite toppings.

Wrap a meatloaf

Bacon provides the perfect amount of fat to keep your meatloaf moist and flavorful. If you have cooked leftover bacon, you can chop it into tiny bits and add it to your meat mixture directly. This method won't require too much modification in your recipe but will result in a much more flavorful meatloaf that complements sage, Italian seasoning, and the inclusion of moisture-inducing ingredients like Worcestershire sauce, fatty pork, and sausage.

If you have raw bacon hanging around, you can also use it to wrap your meatloaf before you put it in the oven. Glaze your bacon strips with a blend of ketchup, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, and cumin for an added sweetness and slightly caramelized flavor. Plus, you can make meatloaf for a Sunday dinner and transform those leftovers into a meatloaf sandwich for weekday lunches.

Make bacon jam

Bacon in spreadable form? That's bacon jam — and it's the spread you'll want on your breakfast charcuterie board. You'll need to start by chopping your raw bacon into tiny pieces and cooking the bacon down with onion. Then, the jam is flavored with sweet dark brown sugar and balsamic vinegar; this gives the jam its sweet flavor and makes the topping spreadable. Bacon jam can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to two weeks — but we highly doubt it will last that long.

There are numerous ways to use bacon jam in your kitchen. You can add a schmear of bacon jam to a toasted, buttered baguette for an easy appetizer. Or, include bacon jam with your breakfast sandwiches or wraps — you'll save a ton of time if you don't have to cook the bacon that same day.

Use it to wrap an appetizer

Although there's no combination like bacon and breakfast foods, adding bacon to appetizers comes a close second. You can use your leftover bacon to take your appetizers a step up and impress any party guest. Stuff jalapeño peppers with Gouda cheese and scallion cream cheese for tailgate-ready bacon-wrapped jalapeño poppers. This recipe requires raw bacon and is a relatively effective way to use up (almost) an entire pack of leftover bacon at once.

If you aren't a fan of spicy jalapeños, you can make a simple cheesy treat by wrapping mozzarella sticks with raw bacon and baking them in your oven until crisp. You can serve these sticks with marinara sauce, pesto, or barbecue sauce — the recipe is super kid-friendly and requires only two main ingredients.

Chop and mix it into pasta

If you have a few pieces of leftover bacon rather than an entire pack, you can chop up the cooked pieces and sprinkle them on your favorite pasta for texture and savoriness. If you need an easy, satisfying lunch idea, you can add the pieces to a chicken bacon ranch pasta. The sauce is made with a few simple ingredients including mayonnaise, parsley, and dried ranch seasoning — it's served cold so it's the perfect lunch for the office or when you're in a time crunch. You can also use leftover pre-cooked chicken breast to make this a repurposed-leftover recipe. If you're predisposed to warm pasta dishes, you can substitute your cooked bacon for pancetta in a spaghetti carbonara recipe.

Make bacon salt

You may have heard of smoked salt, but have you heard of bacon salt? This seasoning is made from small pieces of cooked bacon combined with coarse sea salt and smoked paprika. Combine your ingredients in your food processor and pulse until fine. The powder can be stored for a couple of months in an air-tight container for a few months.

There's no wrong way to use bacon salt in the kitchen. You can sprinkle the salt on avocado toast with a soft-boiled egg or mix the season with scrambled eggs to impart a more savory flavor. Use bacon salt as an ingredient in chowders and soups that can benefit from the smokey, bacon undertones of the salt. Or, add a sprinkle of bacon salt on the popcorn for a meaty flavor.

Candy your bacon for a sweet treat

Bacon ... candy? While you can add cooked bacon to homemade fudge, you can also candy the fatty meat for a salty and sweet snack. This leftover bacon hack works best for raw bacon; you'll need to roll your bacon in the brown sugar, cayenne, and cinnamon to the bacon before pan-cooking it. While you can snack on the bacon alone, you can also chop up the bacon and add it to spicy roasted green beans for the perfect twist on a classic Thanksgiving side.

If you're making candied bacon to snack on, you can also consider baking it in the oven. Elevating the bacon on a wire rack will ensure that all sides of the bacon cook evenly, resulting in a crispy, thick bacon slice that marries savory with the sweetness of a brown sugar glaze.

Cover it in chocolate

If you're looking to upgrade your sweet snacking experience, you may consider covering your bacon in chocolate. Before chocolate-ifying your bacon, you'll need to make sure the bacon is thoroughly cooked and crispy first. For ease of preparation, we recommend using a wooden skewer to pierce the cooked bacon and coating your chocolate on a wax-paper-lined space. Then, you can add brush microwaved candy coatings on the bacon directly, allow some time for the candy to harden, and then eat. Candy coating can be a good option for party favors since candy melts come in numerous colors.

If you want to go a little more complicated, you can use melted chocolate to brush your bacon slices. You can melt chocolate with a double boiler or a microwave; we recommend adding a bit of coconut oil or butter to keep the chocolate smooth.

Mix it into mac and cheese

Bacon and cheese are a great pairing, so it's not surprising to see recipes that include bacon in macaroni and cheese. If you have cooked bacon on hand, you can easily upgrade your boxed mac and cheese by adding a sprinkle of bacon before serving. You can also make your mac and cheese breakfast inspired by adding chopped cooked bacon, cooked chorizo, and a cooked egg on top.

If you're looking to make your own bacon crumbles for mac and cheese, you can cook thick-cut bacon in the oven for about 20 minutes until crispy. Once the bacon is finished cooking, crumble the bacon into fine pieces and stir it into your mac and cheese for a more pungent bacon flavor.

Include it in fried rice

Fried rice is one of the easiest meals to make with leftover food. If you have leftover scrambled eggs, crumble the protein and stir it in with the rest of the ingredients. Two scallions left in the bundle? Chop them up and stir them in for a fresh garnish. Cooked bacon leftover from your morning breakfast? Chop the pieces on a cutting board and add them to your fried rice.

If you want to instill more bacon flavor into your fried rice, you can cook the bacon slabs until crispy and use the rendered fat to cook your vegetables. Day-old, leftover rice works best for fried rice because it does not have as much moisture. This means that your fried rice won't clump and plate like a gelatinous mess.

Upgrade your grilled cheese

Grilled cheese is the perfect homestyle lunch. And how else to make it better than adding bacon? We're not just adding bacon to the melty American cheese — we're wrapping the entire sandwich with bacon. You'll need to start making your sandwich — add sliced cheese to the inside of the bread and close. Then, layer five strips of raw bacon on one side of the sandwich and allow the ends to drape over the side. Buttering the bread can help the bacon stick into place. Then, flip the sandwich and repeat on the other side.

You'll need to cook the sandwich on the skillet for about four minutes on each side to ensure the bacon is crispy. The resulting sandwich is heavenly — but not exactly health-conscious.

Freeze it for later

The logical solution, if you have too much leftover bacon with no way to use it, is to freeze it. If you have raw bacon, you'll want to place the slices on a parchment-paper-lined baking sheet and freeze. Once the strips are frozen solid, you can transfer them to an airtight plastic bag. This method, rather than freezing the entire pack of bacon, will allow you to grab a couple of slices at a time for cooking. To thaw your bacon, place slices in the refrigerator overnight or run the slices under cold water before cooking. 

Unopened packages of bacon can stay fresh in the freezer for up to three months (via the National Center for Home Food Preservation) while unopened bacon will last in your refrigerator for a maximum of about two weeks (via Kitchen Community).

Make pancake dippers

Looking for a high-protein, kid-friendly breakfast idea? Look no further than pancake dippers. You can make your pancake batter or opt for a store-bought version for this simple recipe. Place a few slices of cooked bacon on the griddle spaced a few inches apart. Then, pour your batter onto the sides and top of the pancake and allow the bacon to cook until it starts to bubble and brown. Once the pancake batter is cooked on one side, flip and finish cooking in the pan.

You can serve these pancake dippers with maple syrup, peanut butter, or your favorite breakfast spreads. One of the best parts about this recipe is that you can make the pancake dippers ahead of time and either reheat them later (or eat them cold — we won't judge).

Use it for a dip

Tailgates and bacon can be best friends — especially in the case of dips. If you want to impress your guests, you should try to make a cheddar bacon ranch cheese ball. This dip is made by combining cooked bacon with cheddar cheese, cream cheese, sour cream, chives, and ranch seasoning before being shaped into a ball and covered in a thick layer of bacon crumbles. Serve your bacon cheese ball with crudités, chips, or pita.

If you want a smoother dip, incorporate chopped cooked bacon into a pimento cheese dip with cheddar, mayonnaise, cream cheese, and a jar of pimento peppers. This dip can be cooled and served with crackers or potato chips at holiday parties or tailgates.

Sprinkle it on popcorn

If you're looking to take your movie night snacks a step up, you should try adding bacon to your popcorn. Not only can you add chopped, cooked bacon bits to your popcorn, but you can also pop the popcorn in bacon grease for a more profound bacon flavor. Sprinkle with a bit of salt and toss in a paper bag to remove leftover grease for a delicious, savory movie snack.

If you like to combine a lot of snacks into one, you might try making a popcorn mix with cooked bacon and a spice blend made with Worcestershire sauce, paprika, cayenne, and bacon fat. Coat your popcorn, along with pretzels, pumpkin seeds, and pecans in the spice mixture and bake the entire mixture for 45 minutes until crisp.

Use it as a cocktail garnish

Bacon is a food that tastes just as good as it looks. If you need to upgrade the aesthetics of a cocktail, you may consider using your leftover bacon. One of those cocktails is a variation on the traditional Old Fashioned called Benton's Old Fashioned, named after bacon producer and distributor Allan Benton. Bacon-infused bourbon is the selected spirit along with Angostura bitters and maple syrup for sweetness. The bourbon is infused via fat-washing, which is when the fatty meat residue is combined with bourbon and frozen for a few hours to impress the bacon notes on the alcohol. 

This cocktail is garnished with a piece of bacon spiraled on a wooden skewer — which can be translated to other types of cocktails that would benefit from a salty garnish like bacon.

Incorporate it into Elvis' favorite flavors

Elvis' favorite sandwich was the Fool's Gold Loaf — made with a hollowed loaf of bread filled with a jar's worth of grape jelly and peanut butter and topped with fried bacon. So why not celebrate the King of Rock and Roll and use your leftover bacon to recreate some of his favorite dishes with your leftover bacon?

Besides the Fool's Gold Loaf, Elvis was impartial to the combination of banana, peanut butter, and bacon (via the New York Times). You can use these flavors to craft an Elvis grilled cheese with cooked bacon slices, slivered bananas, and a mixture of peanut butter and goat cheese for filling. If you're feeling wary about mixing cheese and peanut butter, you can add a slather of peanut butter, slivered bananas, and chopped bacon to a sweet stack of French toast.

Make a bacon ice cream

Everyone should try to make homemade ice cream at least once. You'll need to combine a custard made of a couple of staple ingredients like heavy cream, whole milk, egg yolks, and sugar. After you've added the custard to your pre-chilled ice cream machine, you can add your favorite toppings, like leftover cooked bacon, for a savory twist. For extra bacon emphasis, don't forget to sprinkle extra bacon crumbles on your cone before enjoying it.

Homemade ice cream can take a lot of time, so there are some hacks you can employ to speed up the process. You can make ice cream with two ingredients — heavy cream and sweetened condensed milk — by just freezing the mixture with your favorite crunchy add-ins. No ice cream machine is required.

Include it in a cupcake recipe

Cupcakes are portable, sweet desserts that can be customized to almost any flavor palate. Bacon can provide a bit of reprieve from the sickeningly-sweet buttercream on top of a cupcake, but it can also be used to flavor the base of the cupcake itself.

You can use boxed cake mix to make the base of the chocolate bacon cupcakes; we recommend a devil's food cake or double chocolate mix. We also recommend making cream cheese frosting infused with maple extract to complement the flavors of the candied bacon on top. Regular-cut bacon, mixed with a bit of brown sugar, is the perfect topping for these cupcakes. If you're making the candied bacon with raw leftover bacon, you should try to remove as much of the fat as possible from the bacon before topping the cupcakes; you can do this with a towel or by placing the cooled pieces in a paper bag.