The perfect party snack: Bacon Bites: the perfect party snack

Guilty pleasures. Every chef I know has them. When you spend years refining your knife skills and palette, countless hours training your staff to create at a specific level of quality, and limitless effort to ensure a memorable dining experience for your patrons, there are times when you just want… a hot turkey sandwich from the diner, with canned gravy on squishy white bread that sticks to the back of your teeth. Scratch a big-name celebrity chef and you’re likely to find a closet Beefaroni or Velveeta hound hiding somewhere underneath.

Not long ago, I was rooting around our recipe archive, and came across these gems: Bacon Bites. They had all the components of upscale bachelor food, and certainly fit into the guilty pleasure category. They combine simple cooking techniques with three of the greatest food groups imaginable rolled into one snack: bacon, cheese, and squishy bread. What a coup for the holiday entertaining season (not to mention football playoffs) to come! I was off.

The original recipe was an older one, and needed a little rearranging and updating, but the concept was brilliant. Spread cream cheese on soft bread, roll it up, wrap it in bacon, and bake. You can make your own sandwich bread, but the challenge of cutting it into 20 perfectly uniform slices steered me toward the grocery store-brand loaf.

First step? Make the filling. First, stir the cheeses together until no lumps remain.

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Drain some roasted red peppers well,

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Dice them up, slice some scallions, and stir them in.

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That’s the red/green holiday filling recipe, but please don’t stop there. You could mix chunks of smoked salmon and some chives into your cream cheese. Grated onion and horseradish with some shredded cheddar would be tasty. How about some diced shrimp and pineapple? Pepperoni and artichokes? Please feel free to put your favorite flavors inside. The shortcut version is to buy any flavored savory cream cheese you like: I picked up some low-fat veggie cream cheese at the supermarket, but more about that in a bit.

Assembly is pretty quick and simple. Trim the crusts off the bread (I used them to test a bread pudding recipe I was working on, so no waste there. You could also grind the crusts in a food processor for fresh bread crumbs.)

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Fastest way to do this is stack 3 or 4 slices and trim them all at once.

Now spread the filling on the bread

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And roll up from the short side.

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After making a few rolls and seeing some cracking from the bread as I went, I remembered a trick Sue Gray showed me once, when she was making exquisite tea sandwiches for a catalogue shoot. She went over the bread with a rolling pin, which made it more malleable and less likely to crack. Out came out my handy pastry roller; my test kitchen version is an older wooden one.

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And the next time I rolled the filled slices, voilà. Much easier.

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Wrap each piece in bacon, overlapping the slices like the stripes on a barber pole.

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You may have to use a bit of another bacon slice; if so, just tuck it under the end of the first, and trim the excess after the whole roll is covered.

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Freeze the rolls for 30 minutes to firm them up, then cut in thirds, and put on a baking sheet.

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Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the bacon is crispy.

Now, the folks who work here get to taste a lot of stuff. They can even get a little choosy over where they’re going to budget their calories: frankly, there are times when the sheer volume of baked goods for tasting in the employee kitchen gets a little intimidating. But savory things tend to attract a crowd, and when I retrieved the tasting sheet I’d put next to this recipe, this is what I found:

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Obviously, this one was headed for publication. So I sat down, did the nutritional analysis, and came away crestfallen. There had to be a way to make this less expensive in the Weight Watchers® points zone. I did a little reverse engineering in the nutritional program, and realized I could make a significant dent in the calories by using a lower-fat veggie cream cheese spread, leaving out the Parmesan, and wrapping with some turkey bacon. Everything went according to plan until I got to the turkey bacon part. The strips aren’t as long or as stretchy as real bacon, and there’s no fat to help it stick to anything.

When the turkey bacon strip was too short, I tried overlapping the slices like I did with the regular bacon. No dice. So I cut a notch in the end of the first strip, and a corresponding notch in the next one, and locked the two together.

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But the problem recurred at the end of the roll; this version was going to need a little help from some toothpick acupuncture, I could see. Here are the turkey bacon-wrapped versions next to their original recipe cousins, getting ready to go into the oven.

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After 15 minutes in the oven, things are starting to move. Notice that the turkey bacon roll without toothpick has decided to unravel itself. A teachable moment in action…

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At 25 minutes, the turkey bacon version is almost done: the bread on top is starting to brown.

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At 35 minutes, the original version is ready to serve. After a 5-minute rest on a plate, they were ready to unleash on my colleagues once again.

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When Jim Taylor, who codes a lot of our web pages had his first taste of Bacon Bites, he was pretty much transported. So much so that I had to grab my camera. See for yourself.

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His comment? “Foodie heroin.”

Let’s just say that if you’re looking for an easy appetizer to add to your holiday entertaining arsenal that you can make in advance and have whenever you need it, Bacon Bites will be happy to come to the rescue.

Please read, rate, and comment on our Bacon Bites recipe here.

Buy vs. Bake

Buy: TGIFriday’s Frozen Potato Skins stuffed with Cheddar and Bacon, $3.49 for 6 pieces, 58¢ each

Three-Cheese Bagel Bites, $4 for 18 pieces, 22¢ each

Bake at home: Bacon Bites, 18¢ each

Susan Reid
About

Susan Reid grew up in New Jersey, graduated from Bates College and the Culinary Institute of America, and is presently enjoying her fourth career after stints in advertising, running restaurants, and teaching at the New England Culinary Institute. She joined King Arthur in 2002 to ...

comments

  1. TracyT

    I have the great pleasure of working with Susan (and PJ) and get to sample many of their creations. From PJ’s cheese bread to Susan’s scallion pancakes. This recipe was amazing! I made it for my family on Christmas Eve. My sons (I have 5) “hoovered” the platter of Bacon Bites! They are very easy to make and are too yummy to put into words!

    Awwww…. thanks, Tracy! (FYI, without Tracy, you would never get an email newsletter from us… she’s the one who whips them into shape.) – PJH

    Reply
  2. Gretchen

    This sounds neat! Any idea how long you can keep the rolls frozen? I’m single, and would like to be able to prepare a bunch at one time and cook them in smaller batches, 5 to 10 at a time, say.

    You can freeze the bacon-wrapped rolls for up to 6 weeks; just take out what you need when you have company, slice, and bake for an extra 5 minutes. Elisabeth @ KAF

    Reply
  3. Robin

    How did the turkey bacon ones compare tastewise to the real bacon ones?
    They’re not quite as….sumptuous, but the smoky flavor comes through. Let’s just say none of them lay waiting around to be eaten at any point! Susan

    Reply
  4. Allie

    Could I do this with that fake vegetarian bacon, do you think? I would so love to try this recipe…
    Hi, Allie. Yes, I think you could, with the toothpick method. You might want to butter or oil the bottom of the bread slices before you spread with cream cheese; it will help keep the bread from getting too dry and give it a little crispy boost. Susan

    Reply
  5. ancameni

    I was looking around for some finger foods to bring to a New Years Eve Party tomorrow. This came in time and looks perfect.
    I will have enough time to do after work tomorrow.

    Thanks

    Alex

    Reply
  6. Susan

    These look fantastic! Just one quick question: when you’re going over the bread slices with the rolling pin, how much are you squishing them? Is it just a light roll that makes them more malleable, or are you pressing them flat? Thanks for all the great recipes and tips! Somewhere in between, actually. The bread was about half as tall after I rolled over it than it was when I started. Don’t go as far as Wile E Coyote after the steamrolle goes through ;-) Susan

    Reply
  7. Elizabeth

    I hate to be a wet blanket, but how did the calorie info come out on this one? Turkey bacon/ lowfat veggie cream cheese vs octane bacon/ real cream cheese? I figure if I know, then I won’t eat as many when I make them. :-)
    When I ran the nutritionals for the lower calorie version, they came out around 60 per piece; they scored as 1 point for Weight Watchers, which meant one could have one or two in the budget before switching back to the vegetables…Susan

    Reply
  8. Anne

    You might have been able to use a gadget that I have. It belonged to my grandmother, and I have no idea what it’s called. You use it to make thin slices of bread. It’s two pieces of metal with holes, hinged together at the bottom. The metal pieces have a sort of “lip” that goes around three sides, and they have holes punched in them. They’re curved at the top. You put a regular slice of bread between the two pieces of metal and close them–the bread is sort of held captive and upright by the punched holes. Then you can gently guide your bread knife down through the gap between the metal, using the same slicing motion you’d use to slice any bread. The result is two very much thinner, but very uniform, slices of bread. My grandmother couldn’t stand “bready” sandwiches, so she used this thing every day. She also made Melba toast with it. (And she wouldn’t have dreamed of serving a sandwich with the crusts on.) You could have used my grandmother’s (whatever it is) instead of your pastry roller. It really does make elegant sandwiches. :) Dear Anne: that sounds SO cool. If it’s not too much trouble, I’d love to see a photo of this thing. I’m always cruising antique shops for old food-prep toys. If you get a chance, could you send me a shot of it? susan.reid@kingarthurflour.com. Sounds like it would be a great portion control weapon for the loaves of bread I bake for myself. Susan

    Reply
  9. cindy leigh

    I gave these a try this afternoon. (half a batch)
    I used cheap old white bread (worked fine), lite Alouette cheese (herb and garlic soft cream cheese), and turkey bacon.
    I did not have anypeppers or scallions. I sprinkled some chopped pignoli nuts on some, and some grated low fat cheddar on others.
    I think I could have put the cheese a little thicker.
    The bacon crisped up nicely (I set the oven on convect)
    The bread was a bit crunchy. Flavor was good but the Alouette was overpowered by the bacon.
    Son says they’d be great with crab in them.
    I would definitely make again, making cheese layer thicker, and adding in the peppers, scallions, or artichokes (marinated). Maybe black olives.

    Reply
  10. ancameni

    I have made these last night for a party and it was a little more than 1 batch. I used 2 packages of bacon. Every store in town was sold out of green onions, so i used Philly garden spread and 1 pack regular Cream cheese, added 1 cup of Asiago-parmesan-Romano cheese and for good measure 2-3 Tbsp Ajvar(macedonian relish made principally from red bell peppers, with eggplant, garlic and chili pepper). They were really great. all those little bites were gone within minutes.
    Thanks I will keep this recipe in my file.Isn’t it great when you can add a surefire party food weapon to your arsenal? Glad they did the trick for you. Susan

    Reply
  11. SoupAddict Karen

    Oh, my goodness … I love the idea of using turkey bacon (anything that adds bacon flavor is good in my book…), especially for this post-holiday, gotta-get-off-the-sugar, guilt-ridden stretch of January. Hard to believe, but the Super Bowl’s right around the corner. More party goodies! (And you know how the guys love da bacon …)

    Reply
  12. kt

    I had intended to cook these up for new years… however, I left them in the freezer when I left for our host’s house!! worked out better in the long run… I was able to eat more for myself. I followed the original recipe making sure to get the flow down before opting for flavor exploration. when purchasing the bacon, do make sure that you have ample numbers of slices as I discovered that my pound of packaged bacon had only (15) slices, thus I had leftover bread and filling. I would definitely add more of the filling as the flavor was there, but muted by the cheese (not that that’s always a bad thing!). it was amazingly easy to bake these up direct from the freezer; I did an extra 7 minutes from the original baking time to account for their frozen state and I think it worked out well. my only issue was the bacon pulling away from the roll in a way similar to the turkey bacon from the photos above. I’m not sure if it was because they were frozen, or what. I may just use toothpicks next time to be sure. regardless, they were a huge hit and are now at the top of my go-to list for quick, easy, and fabulous appetizers. thanks!

    Reply
  13. Shirley

    Just made these and they were so easy to put together. All the little hints you give are so helpful to those of us who are not so savvy. I added some pistachio nuts I had in the freezer too. These will go right up there with the Jalapeno poppers I make with bacon wrapped around. We here in the South love our bacon! Will be great for the playoffs. Thanks!

    Reply
  14. DLA in OKC

    Made these for a card party Saturday night…. all 60 were devoured before the first hands were dealt….! Yum, yum, yum!

    Reply
  15. jami

    We used to make the easy version of these when I was a kid – we called them bacon puffs. Sprinkle cheddar cheese on the bread, roll up bread and cheese in bacon, skewer with toothpicks, bake on a broiler pan (the bacon grease drips through). Kinda ’70s, SO delicious!

    Reply
  16. Isabella

    Awesome recipe. But please tell Frank, whom I asked on your instant messaging site how to find the low cal version on the blog, he said no low calorie/low fat version available.
    Had also complimented KA on the email sends.
    Just when I thought I had read everything on appetizers, etc., along you come with Bacon Bites. Thank you for continuing to amaze us. Izzie

    Reply
  17. Pat

    I am going to make these for an upcoming party. It’s nice to see something a bit different. I will use the real bacon for it’s extra flavor as opposed to turkey bacon. I will look for the extra thin slices which should make a lb. last for all 20 slices and maybe have a few less calories in each bite. I will go with the lite cream cheese and try 60% whole wheat bread. I’m sure it will work as I have done some mushroom/bread rolls with the 60% whole wheat before. This will add a bit more “health” to these! Thanks for the great recipe.

    Reply
  18. Nancy

    About the thin bread slicer that Anne (Dec. 31) spoke about . It is called Slice-A-Slice from Duncannon, Pa. Mine is from about 1954. These can be found on ebay. Handy gadget.

    Reply
  19. Emma

    My husband cannot eadt red peppers, what would folks recommend in place of red peppers? thanks!!!

    The sidebar suggests trying pineapple and shrimp. How does that sound to your DH? I guess anything that goes well with bacon could be placed in the filling. Seeded and diced tomato would be rather like a BLT, I think. mmmmm! Happy Experimenting! ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  20. Donna

    Susan
    Did you ever get a picture from Anne of her Grandmother’s breadslicer? I would love to see it. I’ve been trying to find something that would slice bread thinly.Please send via email if that is possible. Thank you.

    Reply
  21. John Johannes

    I did not make as neat bacon wrap as described, but it did eat good. I tried the recipe as a way to use up some bread. But the spread is out standing on crackers. I had never given cracker spread much thought but now I have a place to start from.
    I sure do enjoy KA‘s web site keep it up…

    Reply
  22. Maureen

    I have a party coming up and these will be making an appeaance!
    You are right when you say they are a “guilty pleasure”: one that everyone I knows will enjoy.
    Keep the goodies coming!

    Reply
  23. Amber

    Hey – Great recipe! I’m trying it this week for a Football Season Kickoff party. Do you think it could be any easier to assemble these if you put the spread on the bread, roll up, freeze, Cut into thirds, Then wrap with say half a piece of bacon? As opposed to wrapping with bacon – then cutting. Just a thought – I may try it … either way – I’m sure these will be a hit this week! Thanks! That sounds like it should work. Have fun with it. Mary @ KAF

    Reply
  24. Rebecca

    This recipe sounds fantastic, and easy. I plan on using it for a New Years Eve party tomorrow. My only question is what type of cheeses did you mix together besides cream cheese? Or was that the only cheese you had used? Thanks!

    Rebecca, Susan’s not here this week, so I don’t think she’ll be able to answer this. I’d think you could mix up any soft cheeses you like… PJH

    Reply
  25. Amy

    I made these a few years ago for an appetizer contest party – really it’s just a fun Christmas time party a friend of ours has every year. I came in second place but the winner was stiff competition – she was serving a jumbo shrimp appetizer thing that was pretty amazing! But my first batch of these bacon bites did not last very long on the serving platter that’s for sure… they were a huge hit!
    So this weekend I’m hosting a “tapas” like party at my house and was wracking my brain trying to think of a great finger foody appetizer to make. How I had forgotten about these little nuggets, I don’t know – but I’m glad they came back to me and I saved this page under my favorites! I’m ooking forward to whipping these little beauties up tomorrow for my guests! YUM!!!

    Reply
  26. KT

    have made these a number of times and I definitely prefer the full out version. For a spicier version try replacing the green onions with three finely minced jalapeno peppers. Even people who aren’t that fond of spicy foods seem to like these (all the cheese and bread tends to tame the spice down to a level most can tolerate).
    Great idea! Sounds delicious! ~Mel

    Reply
  27. Lucy

    Can you make and bake the night ahead? I have to send these for a brunch the night before. I am wondering how long they maintain their yumminess?

    You can, Lucy – they won’t be nearly as good baked the night before, refrigerated, then served at room temperature, though. Any chance you could bake them right at the brunch? You could certainly get them all ready ahead of time and pop in the freezer, then go from freezer to oven, as the recipe indicates… That would be the best choice, if at all possible. PJH

    Reply

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