Bacon Jam: From "I don't get it" to " I can't live without it"

bacon-jam

Sometimes, not often but sometimes, my fellow employee-owners here at King Arthur Flour would like to murder me. Well, maybe not murder, but definitely toss me out the window in displeasure. Like the other day…

I was spending the day in the test kitchen, and I need to cook some bacon. Well, quite a bit of bacon. Like pounds of bacon. At 8 o’clock in the morning.

Can you imagine that? Arriving to work and the whole building smells like frying bacon? So, you check the tasting kitchen, ready to snag a few pieces of porky goodness to bring to your desk and… no bacon.  You’d be thinking dastardly thoughts about my well being too.

After the fifth or sixth person came to the kitchen to give me a sarcastic “thanks a lot” or glare daggers at my back, I sent this email, titled “Whasup with the bacon!?”:

“A batch of bacon jam in the making, and perhaps some maple bacon cupcakes.  I know it’s a killer, but the rewards will be great later today!”  Finally the hordes calmed down, knowing that eventually I would be feeding them their beloved bacon. Of course, from then on I was fielding questions instead of dodging bullets. “Bacon JAM? ”  “BACON Jam? ” “What the heck is BACON JAM?!”.

Bacon jam is the salsa of the decade so far. It seems to have started with a particular food truck out west, then it was featured on an episode of “Top Chef” and it’s been going like wildfire ever since. Bacon jam is a bacon and onion relish, cooked down to a syrupy goodness with brown sugar, maple syrup and a host of other sweet and savory flavors. The smoky bacon marries so well with the sweet onions and syrups and each chef has their own take on ingredients to add to give it their own twist.

My twist here? I couldn’t resist using our entrancing boiled cider as part of the liquid, and chef Susan Reid suggested some bay for complexity. It is a masterful combination and completely addictive.

Let’s get started on our Bacon Jam.

Ah, bacon. How do I love thee bacon, let me count the ways…

Cut 1 1/2 pounds of  nice thick bacon into 1 inch pieces and cook until crisp. I like to use a skillet for cooking my bacon, but some folks like to use the oven. Any way you like is fine, you just want the bacon on the crisper side.

Like this. Nice dark edges, fat rendered out. If you think it smells good now, just wait.

In the bowl of a 2 quart or larger crock pot, place:
the cooked bacon
2 medium onions, peeled and thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup boiled cider
3/4 cup strong brewed coffee
2 dried bay leaves

The onions will brown up and cook down, the bacon will soften slightly and the liquid will have cooked down.

If you are not a coffee fan, don’t worry. NO ONE could tell I had put coffee in this. It just gives a deeper, richer flavor.

Cover and cook on high for 3 to 4 hours. (thanks everyone for reminding me to add this important info!!!)

Pour the jam into a food processor or blender, removing the bay leaves, and pulse to a relish consistency. You may find that there is still a bit too much liquid for your liking at this point. Easily fixed…

By simmering the jam in a small saucepan over medium heat until the liquid reduces and the jam is thick and syrupy. By now the scent has practically driven you mad, so it’s time to start tasting.

When you make a vat of bacon jam in a building full of people and it is time to serve, you’d better have a lot of toast. Turn your oven on to 350°F and use your oven racks as giant toast racks. Monitor well, there will be a little smoking of crumbs and crumbles from the pieces of bread.

Turn the toast and move pieces about the oven as they brown up. Remove the finished pieces as they are done and continue to bake until all of the pieces are golden brown and ready to go.

I’m happy to say, after serving my co-workers piles of toast and bacon jam, they forgave me…for now. I hope your family and friends will do the same for you.

Please make, rate and review our recipe for Bacon Jam.

Print just the recipe:

Show me the bacon! BLT Pizza; Maple-Bacon Biscuit Bake ; Bacon Bites

MaryJane Robbins
About

MaryJane Robbins grew up in Massachusetts and moved to Vermont 20 years ago. After teaching young children for 15 years, she changed careers and joined King Arthur Flour in 2005. MaryJane began working on King Arthur Flour's baker’s hotline in 2006, and the blog team ...

comments

  1. Lois

    Sounds yummy, and I’d like to try it. But how long do you cook the mixture in the crockpot – 8 hrs, overnight? Also, did you use the high setting or low setting.
    It’s 3-4 hours on high. Thanks to everyone for bringing my mind back from its trip, not sure where it went, but it sure wasn’t here that day!! ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  2. Helen

    So, I am not going to spend 11 bucks on a bottle of boiled cider, what can I use instead?
    Hi Helen! You can use some apple juice concentrate instead. It won’t have the same depth of flavor, but it will certainly work. ~Amy

    Reply
  3. kerry81480

    I made a large vat of bacon jam around Christmas to package up for gifts and now my husband and I both agree we will never again be without bacon jam. Our new favorite weekend breakfast is an egg and cheese sandwich with bacon jam and some good cheddar. Ridiculously good.

    It’s also good with sauteed Brussels sprouts, on baked potatoes with blue cheese, on burgers. It’s the perfect condiment.

    Reply
  4. Bridgid

    MJ,

    How do I love thee? Let me count the ways…. For your cake decorating skills, your snowflake cake, your pistachio goodness, your coconut scrumptiousness, and for the love of all that is good, your bacon jam! Have I had it yet? No. Does it matter? No. I know I will love it the way I love you!

    My friend is visiting KAF today. I put in an emergency call for boiled cider & grade B maple syrup. I will make this this weekend in between shows. (I am in a musical). (I do not cook during shows. This WILL be an execption!)

    I hope you liked the pistachio ice cream recipe I posted a few months ago.

    Oh, another singing, acting baker! I love it. :) ~Amy

    The pistachio recipe is one the top of my list for my next Sunday off. I will eat it all myself, MAYBE sharing a little with my DH. Would love to hear more about the musical. I have NO talent whatsoever in the acting/singing/dancing fields, but I can live vicariously through you, right?! <3 ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  5. leblanc75

    How long do you cook it in the crockpot?
    It’s 3-4 hours on high. Thanks to everyone for bringing my mind back from its trip, not sure where it went, but it sure wasn’t here that day!! ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  6. Rocky-cat

    Stop reading my mind! I was going to look for a bacon jam recipe this morning and here you are, my love. What would you suggest substituting for the boiled cider? I was going to cut the recipe in half, so I would only need 2 Tbs. of the substitute. More maple syrup, maybe?
    I would suggest using apple juice concentrate in place of the boiled cider. ~Amy

    Reply
  7. biobaker

    Hmmmm….very interesting. I don’t care for bacon myself (yes, I know), but many of my friends would adore this if I could stand being around the bacon long enough to make it for them. I’m wondering how this would can. Plenty of sugar there, but it seems too low in acid for hot water-bath canning. Any thoughts or recommendations?
    I’ll admit, I’ve only canned once or twice in my whole life, and it has always been tomato based. I’ll ask Susan Reid, an awesome hand at canning to offer advice. Thanks! ~ MaryJane

    Here’s what Susan had to say: Only way this would be safe to do would be in a pressure canner, following instructions for meat. Hope it helps! ~ MJ

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Store in the refrigerator up to 2 weeks, and in the freezer up to 4 weeks. Will it last that long? Happy Baking – or jam making! Irene@KAF

  8. CheriDawn

    Oh, how I LOVE bacon jam. We had it at a BaconFest at a friend’s house last year with corn fritters. Nummy-liscious! Thanks so much for the recipe!
    Holy cats! I never thought of having it with fritters. Must be my good karma that I bought a deep fat fryer last month. Thanks for sharing! ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  9. johndanks

    The blog is missing the step of “cover and cook over high heat for 3 to 4 hours” after adding everything to the crock pot.

    This looks amazing and I must make it.
    Thanks all, I’ve added the cooking instructions. Sorry for missing that “small” step! ;) ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  10. Anna

    Maybe I missed it in the above recipe, but how long does everything stay in the crockpot, and at what temperature? This looks delicious and I can’t wait to try it!
    Hi Anna,
    Well, one of us missed something, but it wasn’t you! I’ve added the cooking instructions from the recipe to the blog now. Cover and cook on high for 3-4 hours. ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  11. faddiss

    I have been making onion jam which everybody loves, I think I need to add bacon. Instead on the cider or apple juice I use balsamic vinegar.
    The balsamic sounds great. I have less than a teaspoon left in my stash, so time to shop! ~ MaryJane

    Reply
    1. Linda Rodolff

      I recently discovered Bacon Jam at a local farmers market and it was SO expensive…but delicious; I decided that “I can Make this!! I have a few recipes as reference and now I found yours to add as well. I have a nice collection of flavored Basalmics and my thought is that my maple flavored one will go great in this recipe! I too plan to make some as Christmas gifts!

  12. tillytootles1

    I can hardly wait to try this new recipe. I was sharinig the comments with my daughter – who also loves to cook. Neither one of us likes coffee. In fact, if you don’t like the taste of coffee that is all you can taste – the coffee flavor. My comment is – if you can’t taste it – then why put it in???? I am going to try it, but I most definately will not put the coffee in my bacon jam.
    You can definitely leave out the coffee and use water instead, remember it is YOUR recipe now. :) ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  13. yerkesd

    It sounds wonderful! Do you think this would freeze well?
    You can freeze it airtight for up to 4 weeks. But I bet you get up in the middle of the night just to thaw out a bite or two. ;) ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  14. cwcdesign

    So, cooking recommendations if you don’t have a crock pot? In a Dutch oven in the oven? On top of the stove? I have 2 sons that would love this! Thanks, Carol
    I’d go the oven route, in a slow oven. If you do stovetop, you run the risk of scorching all of those lovely sugars. ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  15. HMB

    How long will this keep in the fridge? Can it be frozen? I know, these may seem like ridiculous questions — when my boys were home I wouldn’t have to ask because this stuff would be inhaled within minutes, but now that we’re empty nesters …
    Keep in the fridge up to 2 weeks, freeze for up to 4 weeks. Invite the neighbors in for nibbles and wine, and it will be gone in no time. ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  16. emdh

    I am so glad I have some thick-sliced bacon in the freezer and boiled cider in the fridge — am making this tonight! One question, MaryJane, do you think I could freeze some of it? Not sure if we’d go through it in two weeks. Thanks!

    Emilie

    p.s. re: the comments about the boiled cider — for what it’s worth, I always keep it on hand because it’s a great way to make small quantities of apple cider for recipes. That way I never have to buy a big jug of cider that no one will drink. And someone at KAF told me some time ago that it basically never goes bad.
    Too right! And yes, you can freeze for up to 4 weeks. Enjoy! ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  17. Bridgid

    The musical is “The Secret Garden” and it is adapted from the book by Frances Hodgson Burnett. I play the dead wife (a ghost!) Lily, and I get to sing the most beautiful and haunting (really they are) melodies. I also get to wear a lacy lovely costume and waltz. (I love to dress up – ever since I was a kid.) The man who plays my husband is amazingly talented, and you can tell that I am loving this. Thank you for asking!
    LOVE that book, and you give me the shivers talking about haunting melodies. I’m sure it will be beautiful. We do all get to see pictures, right? ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  18. beejay45

    This would be excellent on a PB&J! Maybe add a little curry powder to a batch.
    Or do something marmalade-ish – bacon, onions and your basic marmalade recipe. That should give you enough acid to can, plus think how great that would be on a sandwich with ham or turkey, or just cheese!
    What a great springboard for ideas!

    Reply
  19. Jain

    I’ve been reading your column for several years now for baking ideas and helpful information, not for photos of dead pigs. Gross. Please return to your wheat-y roots.
    Jain, I’m so sorry that the photo was upsetting to you. I hope you’ve found inspiration in our other blogs and recipes instead. ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  20. sherylm

    Oh My Goodness you are killing me! I just looked at the picture and my mouth started watering.

    I have had the good fortune to have had “The Bacon Jam” – yes, the original – and it is fabulous! I have had this condiment in my “someday” list. Your’s sounds equally amazing, and I think the apple and bay flavors will go exceptionally well together. I think you’ve just kicked it up to first place!

    Question, can I take apple cider that I have and cook it down to syrup myself? Would it give me a similar result?

    Boiled Cider is an 8:1 reduction. At home, that is going to release enough steam to peel wallpaper, I don’t recommend this. And it’s really easy to scorch. An easier substitute is using the same amount of frozen apple juice concentrate to replace the Boiled Cider. Give it a try. Frank @ KAF.

    Reply
  21. Amy

    I have to put in a plug for the boiled cider……it’s the best stuff ever and a little goes a long way! It really bumps up the flavor of crisps and pies and all sorts of stuff…..defnitely worth it! The suggestion of coffee in the jam recipe is brilliant too…..I’m sure you can’t identify it seperately…..it would just give a depth of flavor to it. Love all your posts!

    Reply
  22. blackthumb

    I don’t have any coffee or even a pot, though I realize the importance of its flavor. Can I use your expresso powder?

    Sure give it a try. I suggest about 1/2 teaspoon of Espresso powder blended with 3/4 cup of water to replace the coffee. Taste for strength before added, adjust as needed. Frank @ KAF.

    Reply
  23. Sally

    After you cooked the bacon, do you keep all the fat and put it in the crock pot or the you scoop out the bacon pieces into the crock pot and leave the fat out?

    See step 1. You’ll want to drain the bacon after frying. Frank @ KAF.

    Reply
  24. emdh

    Well I made this last night and all I can say is it is AMAZING! And that’s just putting it on what I had on hand — a Ritz with some cream cheese. Can only imagine how good it’s going to be on some bruschetta or my next grilled cheese. My takeaways from it were: 1) it takes a good bit longer than I expected to cook it down to a jam-like consistency (however in my case, that worked well, since I needed that time to pick out all the tiny pieces of bay leaf that I forgot to take out before running it in the food processor); 2 — be sure to take the bay leaves out of the crock pot!!!; and 3) I made the recipe as written and couldn’t detect even the faintest hint of coffee (which I can’t stand). I’m going to take this to a meeting tomorrow with some Boursin cheese and Vinta crackers, and can already hear the groans with the first bites. Thanks MJ!

    Reply
  25. jlrs64

    I would love to make this recipe but am allergic to bay leaf. What could I substitute forn the bay leaf?
    I would just leave the bay leaf out, there really isn’t a comparable substitute. You can also choose a herb that you like. I might choose sage or rosemary for instance. You really can’t make a mistake.

    The bay in this recipe was inspired by our chef Susan Reid. The first batch we made did not have any bay in it and is still amazing without it, so go ahead and leave it out, no worries. ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  26. aoifeofcheminnoir

    Oh no! Vidalia onions are coming soon…I’d sorta planned on doing Pineapple Onion Marmalade. Guess I’ll have to add this, too!!
    The Pineapple Onion sounds FAB! Are you willing to share the recipe here? ~ MaryJane

    Reply
    1. Margo Haynes

      I love vidalias but my greatest love is sweet Texas 1015’s but they have such a short growing season. I am going to get me some onion sets for them when I go back home this Christmas. Guess I’ll have to try with both types! This is great, today I got this lovely jam recipe & am grumbling to myself for not writing down the tip from the lady using dalmatian sage & her additions, now I can’t find it !lol The triple onion tart is right up my alley, when I was a teen, I loved onion sandwiches! Thanks KAF and all of the lovely people that post here!

    2. The Baker's Hotline

      We’re so glad you’re excited about this recipe, Margo! Let us know how you like it. Barb@KAF

  27. iceegirl98

    Sounds yummy! I would also love the onion jam and the pineapple onion marmalade recipe. Are you sharing?!
    Can’t find those recipes, do you remember where you saw them? Maybe you can create them and share! betsy@kaf

    Reply
  28. aoifeofcheminnoir

    The Pineapple Onion Marmalade recipe is one I found in an issue of Better Homes And Gardens a few years ago and is still on their website along with another recipe that has become a big favorite with my son, Ultimate Triple Onion Tart. The Tart is one of those “rustic” formed ones and is out-of-this-world” good. I know KAF can put their own spin on both of these recipes. God, I love googling recipes!

    Reply
  29. gpyrocat

    Exquisite timing! I was just running through email before I went grocery shopping and I have a dinner party next weekend. I will blow their socks off with this!! I’ve already served them your fudge cake with chocolate ganache frosting and they think I am a total baking goddess (their term, not mine.) I can’t wait to hear what they gave to say about this. ;-)

    Reply
  30. clairenowacoski

    Some one at my old job use to cook bacon in the microwave every morning for their breakfast, and we all hatred her, because she never shared!!! At least you were nice to you coworkers.

    I’ve tried bacon jam before with balsamic and rosemary… but the apple cider is making me want to try it again!!!

    Reply
  31. lambchop18

    I have a crockpot of this going now and wish I could fast forward the day by 4 hours. I have a suggestion as to how not to waste the yummy goodness in the pan after frying the bacon. I drained the bacon on a paper towel and discarded the fat in the pan. I took some of the cooking liquid and added it to the pan to deglaze the bottom and scrapped up the bits, then added it back into the crockpot. Waste not want not! My son is looking forward to this being done, we are looking forward to a great BLT sandwich with some Green Mountain sweet and hot mustard! Also this concoction would be great on a baked potato! Heather

    Reply
  32. Cindy Leigh

    I have to disagree about making boiled cider at home. It couldn’t be easier.
    Put a gallon of real cider in a large crock pot and cook on high overnight with the lid OFF. Stir before going to bed, and stir in the morning. It will cook right down. It may look foamy or like it has particles, but once you funnel it into a bottle and shake gently, there’s no foam or pieces. I have been making this ever since buying my first bottle of boiled cider. Figured I could try it myself and it comes out identical to the purchased boiled cider- just less expensive.
    Remember that the liquid thickens as it cools so don’t take it down too thick. If you do, just add back a bit of hot water.

    Thanks, Cindy – do you know how much you get from a gallon of cider? I tried this once on the stove top, and was surprised at how small an amount a gallon boiled down to… I’ll have to try it in the crockpot sometime. PJH

    Reply
  33. AliceBlue

    Made it today, and this stuff would make cardboard taste great! I made sandwiches with it for dinner: spread some on kaiser rolls, then topped with sliced roasted chicken breast, lettuce, tomato, and avocado. Delicious!

    Reply
  34. Cindy Leigh

    Hi PJ, a gallon cooks down to about a pint, more or less. I put mine in a recycled maple syrup bottle.

    Yeah, I think that’s what I got on the stovetop, too. Will definitely try in the crockpot – thanks, Cindy. PJH

    Reply
  35. dwgentry

    Great reviews from friends this morning. Best line, “Bacon jam is a gateway drug for vegetarians.”
    Too funny! Thanks for the morning laugh. ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  36. PJColeman

    Our local farmers’ market has a butcher that always has a pile of bacon ends from his home cured bacon. I use them for great hot bacon dressing but they would be perfect for this recipe. Did I mention that the ends are far cheaper than his sliced bacon?

    Now I have to wait until the market opens on Thursday. Sigh.
    Ready for my address to mail me a boxful…? ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  37. sarahh

    YUM!!!

    Can you give a ballpark volume amount for the sliced onion? I can’t eat onions, but shallots are okay. Are we talking 1 cup, 2 cups…just an estimate would be helpful. Thanks!

    Can’t wait to make this!!

    I would substitute 2 shallots per one onion even if it’s not an exact. Shallots have a stronger less sweet flavor.

    Reply
  38. Natalie

    This was amazing! With no boiled cider on hand, I moved the cooked bacon to the crockpot, drained the fat, and then deglazed the bacon pan with a cup of apple cider. Stirring constantly, I brought the cider to a boil and reduced it to about 1/4 cup. Thick and syrupy, it was added to the mix. An extra (sticky) step, but the results were satisfactory!
    Perfect, and quick thinking. Thanks for sharing! ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  39. glpruett

    Oh, good grief, MaryJane…you’ve just made me fall in love with you (AGAIN!)!!! I sent my hubby out to get a couple of pounds of bacon the night I saw this blog, but then one thing and another came up and I just made it last night. We both HATE coffee, but knowing what it does for chocolate baking, I decided to go ahead and put it in. For those of us who are non-coffee drinkers, what exactly does “strong” brewed coffee mean? I decided to brew the coffee with 1.5 Tbsp. ground coffee per cup of water, instead of the usual 1 Tbsp. I guess it worked okay…I CAN HARDLY STOP SHOVELING SPOONFUL AFTER SPOONFUL OF THIS STUFF INTO MY MOUTH!

    I discovered when I was in the middle of mixing it up that I didn’t have any apple cider vinegar, so I substituted white vinegar and it doesn’t seem any worse for the substitution…see all caps above! I had one piece of cornbread leftover from a baking over the weekend, so this morning I gently heated the cornbread in the microwave, dropped a spoonful ( or TWO!) onto the split cornbread, and it was out of this world.

    Only problem was that in my haste to get the bacon jam into the food processor for chopping, I forgot to take out the bay leaves…I see that another commenter had the same mental lapse! Oh, my, the things that happen in the kitchen to keep us humble! I needed to simmer my jam in a saucepan for an hour and a half, though, so I had plenty of “bay-leaf-picking” time!

    This recipe will be my “wow the family at Christmas with what comes out of my kitchen” this year! Thanks, again, for all you do for US!
    I’m so glad you are lovin’ the jam. Sinful, ain’t it?! I hope the leaf pickin’ goes well. I’ve heard of people tying bright baker’s twine around the bay, but I’ve never remembered to do that ahead of time. ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  40. glpruett

    GOOD IDEA with the baker’s twine, which I have in stock! I think I might go and tie up a bundle or two, put them back into my bay leaf container, and then next time I’ll be ready to go. Thanks again!

    Reply
  41. plvannest

    I really want to try this, but I flat-out can’t abide the taste of maple. Is there something that can be substituted for the maple syrup?
    You may want to try honey. Often honey and maple syrup are interchangeable and I think honey would do well in this recipe. Let us know if you try it! Elisabeth

    Reply
  42. alucas

    I made a batch of bacon jam a couple months ago. Didn’t use boiled cider, but instead a little cider vinegar. It’s wonderful. We love it. I canned a batch, using a pressure canner. This is a low acid food and all meat needs to be pressure canned. Takes forever to can meat. Follow your canner’s instructions for meat, and pay attention to altitude adjustments. Make sure to allow a tiny extra bit of headspace. Even though that’s a hot and time-consuming job, canning this recipe is so worth it. Great gifts plus you can have some whenever you want. I used 8-oz and 4-oz jars. So good!

    Reply
  43. dmoore1

    I cure and smoke my own bacon using pork shoulder roasts. It tastes like Canadian style bacon. Would this be a good choice for this recipe?

    Don’t see why not – sounds yummy! PJH

    Reply
  44. Lynda

    Would this be good with buttermilk scones?
    Yes, it would. As long as they aren’t too sweet, as the jam itself has sweetness to it. Enjoy! ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  45. PeteH

    Could you heat-process this — i.e. really CAN it — to make it shelf-stable without refrigeration ?

    If so, it would make a terrific Christmas gift.

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Sorry Pete, we would not suggest to heat processes this recipe to can it. It will still require refrigeration. Jon@KAF

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