17 Unexpected Ingredients That Pair Well With Bacon

Bacon is the sizzling star of breakfast tables across America — the secret ingredient that enhances countless dishes, and the panacea for pretty much any culinary disaster. Just add bacon, and everything will be ok. That's because bacon, in all its glory, goes with almost everything, including foods you never would have thought to pair it with. Just think of the most outlandish ingredient that comes to mind, and consider whether it might go well with bacon. The answer is probably yes.

To illustrate this idea, we propose a list of ingredients that you've probably never thought to cook with bacon. But first, let's be clear about a few things. In order for any bacon dish to truly work, you have to select a good quality piece of bacon. For most dishes, we recommend the center cut, which contains about 30% less fat than a regular cut and packs a stronger punch of pork flavor. You also have to establish a good cooking technique. Be sure to start with room temperature bacon and lay it on a cold skillet for more even cooking and to give the bacon fat enough time to warm up and act as a non-stick agent on the pan. Once you've got your method down, it's time to start experimenting with some unusual ingredients.


Start a dinner party with a bang by serving up an hors d'oeuvre of fresh banana, bacon, and Tabasco sauce. Guests won't know what hit them. Simply cut your bananas into 1-inch thick slices, drop a dash of Tabasco on top — or more, depending on how much spice you can handle — and wrap the banana slice in raw bacon, securing it with a toothpick. Then broil until the bacon is cooked and crispy, for about 10 minutes.

If you don't like spicy foods, you can try another variation of this recipe with soy sauce. Here, you'll want to whisk soy sauce and honey together, then marinate the banana slices in this mixture for about 30 minutes. Wrap the banana in bacon strips and dip everything back into the remaining marinade, then broil until crispy. In either case, you'll get a delightful combination of sweet and salty flavors alongside soft and crispy textures.

Balsamic vinegar

Now that we've established that bacon pairs well with sweet things, let's move on to something that is both sweet and acidic. Balsamic vinegar is an excellent complement to bacon's rich saltiness, especially when combined with brown sugar in a sticky glaze. Preparation is easy. Bake a half pound of bacon strips at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 20 minutes while you whisk together brown sugar and balsamic vinegar. Brush this mixture over the bacon strips and return them to the oven for 15 minutes until cooked to crispy perfection.

With this recipe, the better the balsamic vinegar you choose, the better the bacon will taste. According to Giada de Laurentiis, the best vinegar comes from its traditional homeland of Modena, in the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy, and will be labeled with the letters D.O.P., which means protected designation of origin, or I.G.P., which means protected geographical indication. These are likely to be the highest quality balsamic vinegar according to traditional methods.

Chocolate chip cookies

A little bit of salt goes a long way toward bringing out the sweetness in desserts. But what if that saltiness came from bacon? You don't even have to reinvent the wheel for this. Just use your favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe and when it's time to fold in the chocolate chips, add some chopped-up crispy bacon to the mix and cook as directed.

But don't stop there. Consider other desserts you like that might be a little too sweet. You can dial back that sweetness and counteract it with bacon, without harming the flavor. In fact, you may just enhance it. That's because, as science has discovered, our mouths contain a protein that helps us sense sweetness when combined with sodium. Just make sure you keep salt doses to a minimum, or they will overwhelm the sweet flavor you want to achieve in your desserts.


The pineapple and ham combination has been well established. Hawaiian pizza is ubiquitous and we've all heard of roast ham covered in pineapple slices. But what if you substituted the ham with bacon? While roasting bacon for hours isn't going to work out for anyone, you might consider using bacon instead of ham next time you make a Hawaiian pizza. If you think pineapple on pizza is an abomination, you can move right along, but if you like it, know that the salts in the bacon can act on the pineapple to make it more flavorful.

The best way to create this more perfect union is to briefly caramelize the pineapple in bacon grease with a bit of sugar. As long as your bacon has a nice fatty bent that cuts through the acidity of the pineapple, even Hawaiian pizza doubters will reconsider their approach once bacon enters the fray.

Oatmeal raisin cookies

We've seen how bacon interacts with the sweetness in chocolate chip cookies, and the effect is just as successful in oatmeal raisin cookies. To prepare this recipe, fry your bacon until crispy, then pat down the excess grease and chop them into bits. Make a standard oatmeal raisin cookie recipe and just fold those bacon bits into the batter along with your oats and raisins. To go one step further, heat some milk, add raisins and cookie chunks, and blend it all into the ultimate oatmeal raisin and bacon milkshake.

Now, you might be able to sense a pattern here. There are myriad ways in which you can add bacon to all your favorite cookie recipes. For a pancake-like experience, bake some sugar cookies, top them with a maple glaze, and then scatter some crispy bacon bits on top. This has all the best ingredients for a complete and filling breakfast.


Whether you're making a dessert or a cocktail, bourbon and bacon are going to come in handy, especially when used together. For example, next time you make peanut brittle, go crazy and add some bacon bits along with your vanilla, peanuts, and salt, right before adding the baking soda. For the extra kick from the bourbon, just brush the spirit over your bacon, along with some brown sugar, before baking it in the oven until crisp. Here you can also use pecans instead of peanuts, which also pair well with bourbon.

For something a bit more grown-up, use a nice, crisp strip of bacon as your garnish for a bacon-infused Old Fashioned. Just add your chopped, crispy bacon to your cocktail shaker with some brown sugar simple syrup, bitters, and ice. Once shaken, strain into a tumbler over ice, add the bourbon and garnish with your cooked bacon strip.


During the colder months, you can get into the spirit of the season by making this pumpkin maple and bacon cheesecake. The bacon will need to be prepared at the beginning and used at the end. Simply fry half a pound of bacon with some maple syrup, let it cool while you prepare the rest of the cake, and then crumble the cooked bacon on the dessert at the end. The bacon may seem like an afterthought, but its saltiness and crunch add complexity to the otherwise sweet and smooth cheesecake.

After all, the success of this pairing should come as no surprise. Bacon and cheese make a famously good pair, so why not bacon and cheesecake? And really, the only reason the bacon needs to go on top at the end is texture. A nice, smooth cheesecake may not lend itself well to an inner crunch. But if that's your thing, go for it! The flavor will certainly not be compromised. 


The magic of the chocolate and bacon combination occurs in the liminal space between the saltiness of the bacon and the bittersweet flavor of the chocolate. So feel free to add bacon to pretty much any of your favorite chocolate desserts. With summer in full swing, an appropriate first step might be to include a slab of chocolate in your s'mores. Spread some peanut butter on your graham cracker so that the bacon bits will stick to it, then layer on some banana slices and chocolate, and don't forget your warm and gooey marshmallow at the end.

Another idea is to put bacon bits on the frosting for these simple chocolate cupcakes with cream cheese and maple frosting. Just candy the bacon in the oven along with some freshly ground black pepper and brown sugar. Then chop up the result and press it into the frosting after spreading it over your cupcakes.


There are many different ways in which you can successfully add bacon to your movie night popcorn bowl. For one, instead of drizzling melted butter on your kernels, you can sprinkle some freshly fried bacon grease. Another trick is to make bacon salt and sprinkle it over your popcorn. To prepare this seasoning, just crumble your cooked bacon into very small pieces and zap it in a food processor with some coarse sea salt and smoked paprika.

For something a little heartier, you can add some chopped cooked bacon bits directly to your popcorn, so that each handful contains a bit of corn and a bit of meat. Change things up a bit by cooking the bacon in nothing but its own grease, or cooking it with some maple syrup or brown sugar for a sweeter version. Most people tend to eat their popcorn savory, with salt, cheese, and now, bacon. But a sweet popcorn snack really hits the spot once in a while.

Baked apples

The only thing better than a nice, crisp apple is a soft, baked apple filled with nice, crisp bacon. In this apple, oats, bacon, chocolate, and raisins recipe you'll need to combine cooked bacon with the rest of the ingredients alongside a bit of bacon fat and Calvados, a unique apple-based brandy that originates from the French region of Normandy. Core the apples and stuff them with this formidable concoction, top with some maple syrup and butter, and bake for 25 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Baste with apple juice and additional Calvados, and bake for another 20 minutes.

The combination also works well in savory applications. Bacon and apple dumplings, for example, are relatively easy and fairly impressive. A win-win situation. First prepare the filling by sautéing apples, thyme, pepper, allspice, and salt in the bacon fat rendered from the already-cooked bacon. Then prepare the dumpling dough, add the filling, seal shut, and fry the dumplings until golden brown on both sides.

Peanut butter

If peanut butter and bacon sandwiches are good enough for a king, they're good enough for us. Specifically, Elvis, the King of Rock and Roll, was the "royalty" we had in mind. It has been widely reported that one of Elvis' favorite meals was a peanut butter, banana, and bacon sandwich. Legend has it that he somehow housed this sourdough-based sandwich made with a whole jar of peanut butter, a whole jar of jelly, and a whole pound of bacon. He discovered the meal at a restaurant in Denver, and in later years, often substituted banana for the jelly. This is probably wise since as we already know, bacon and banana make an excellent combination. 

But you don't have to go to Denver — or Graceland, for that matter — to sample this delicacy. Bake your bacon in the oven until crispy, reserving the resulting grease. Combine that grease with a peanut butter and cheese mixture and zap it all in the food processor. Spread your delicious concoction on your bread of choice, add the banana and bacon slices, and fry the whole thing in butter. Not for the faint of heart.


Peaches have a delicate, almost ethereal flavor and a smooth, buttery texture. Bacon is rough and tumble, and the exact opposite in every way. But you know what they say. Opposites attract, especially in this tasty, summery grilled peach salad with bacon vinaigrette. Cook the bacon, remove it from the pan, and then sauté the onion and garlic in its grease before adding the vinegar and reintroducing the cooked bacon along with some grapeseed oil. Then simply grill your peaches until lightly caramelized, add Romaine and Manchego cheese, and toss with your bacon vinaigrette.

For a heartier combination, try a grilled pork belly with peach salsa. Grill your pork belly to perfection and then just dress it up with a mixture of lime juice, onions, cherry tomatoes, fresh cilantro, olive oil, mint leaves, a white peach, a red bell pepper, and salt to taste. This is the ideal way to appreciate a heavy dish like pork belly even in the hot summer months.


Nutella has a flavor profile that is complete enough to stand on its own. But that doesn't mean adding extra ingredients will hurt it. Quite the contrary. You can come at it with something just as strong and flavorful. The ingredient we have in mind is bacon.

We recommend our classic fennel cake recipe for this combination. Mix the dry ingredients and wet ingredients in separate bowls before combining the two, then fry your batter after pouring it through a funnel to form its signature shape. Then sprinkle it with powdered sugar as you do at the state fair, or go big or go home, and drizzle Nutella on top along with some crumbled bacon. Although this combination is not widely used, it should be no surprise that it works: bacon and chocolate are thick as thieves, while the other main ingredient in Nutella is hazelnut. As we've seen, bacon pairs well with peanuts and walnuts, so let's go ahead and extend that invitation to all nuts.


We love coffee, and we love bacon. So of course we must combine the two — because drinking a cup of coffee alongside your breakfast bacon isn't enough sometimes. The pairing works: stir some maple syrup into your prepared coffee, fry up your bacon, and then brush the coffee glaze on top before it cooks completely. You get a beguiling interplay of bitterness from the coffee, saltiness from the bacon, and sweetness from the syrup. Serve the bacon with pancakes or eggs.

Another option is to use some of your leftover brewed coffee in a batch of bacon jam. Most bacon jam recipes do not specifically call for this, but you won't regret adding it. Although you won't taste the coffee with the bacon and sugar taking on center stage, the brew gives the jam a deeper layer of flavor by making the onions taste sweeter and the bacon smokier.

Ice cream

By now you should know that there is nothing bacon can't do. It can go with cookies, chocolate, coffee, and now even ice cream. If you don't believe us, just pick up your favorite pint of vanilla ice cream and sprinkle some freshly fried bacon bits on top. And don't be afraid to experiment with other types of ice cream flavors. It may not work with all of them — we'd steer clear of lemon, as its freshness could be undercut by the richness of the bacon — but it will work with dozens of flavors, if not more.

Chocolate chip or chocolate chip cookie dough are shoo-ins for this combination, given the effectiveness of the bacon-chocolate-cookie team-up. Any other chocolate-based ice cream, such as rocky road, is also a great choice. But don't be afraid to use your freshly-gained knowledge to branch out. Consider topping your peach ice cream with bacon bits, or if you can find it, creamy banana ice cream.


Time and time again, bacon has proven itself to be the ideal recipient of a strongly-flavored glaze. We've looked at coffee glazes and bourbon glazes, and now we'll take a look at how to use oranges. And just as with the other glazes, the execution is simple: just fry your bacon in your favorite bacon pan, and toward the end of cooking, brush it with a mixture of orange juice and honey. The tangy citrus will provide a pop of flavor, while the honey will make sure the sweetness in the oranges holds firm and creates a bona fide glaze.

Another way to combine oranges and bacon is in a simple salad. Peel your orange, dice it up, and throw it into a salad with cooked and chopped bacon pieces. Use mild, sweet lettuce so as not to overpower the flavors, and keep your star ingredients company with diced avocado, Bermuda onions, and toasted almonds.


Many of the bacon-related desserts we've mentioned involve the bacon being sprinkled on top. Not so with this fudge recipe. Here you get bacon goodness all the way through, as the bits get folded into the mixture before cooking.

You can try this hack with any of your favorite fudge recipes. But we also invite you to try this Kahlua, espresso bean, and bacon fudge. Melt a chopped-up chocolate bar with a can of sweetened condensed milk, Kahlua, and chopped chocolate-covered espresso beans. Once the mixture has fully melted, add the bacon and stir it in evenly. Then pour out the fudge and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. If that doesn't work for you, or if it seems like too much effort, you can always go back to sprinkling the bacon on top at the end. Either way, you'll get the salty crunch needed to bring that fudge to the next level.