Brace yourselves, bacon lovers. From brunch to cocktail hour and even dinnertime, you'll want to slather this savory and sweet bourbon bacon jam on everything in sight. No matter how you serve it, everyone is sure to gobble up this irresistible bacon spread.
What Is Bacon Jam?
Oh, if you've never tried bacon jam, you're in for a treat. Bacon jam is a relish made from slow-cooked bacon, caramelized onions, garlic, brown sugar, maple syrup, vinegar and spices. Not all bacon jam recipes include bourbon, but my version does for two simple reasons: cooking with liquor is just plain fun, and it's delicious.
Of course, if you're not a bourbon fan, you can always leave it out. This bacon jam is perfectly delicious bourbon-free, but as a bourbon lover, I adore the flavor it adds.
After cooking our bourbon bacon jam, the final result is a complex spread with savory, smoky notes; a touch of sweetness; and a slightly spicy kick. While making bacon jam does take some time, the process is simple. So let's walk through that process to show you how easy it is to make your own bourbon bacon jam.
Related: If you love this spread, make sure you also try my smoked bacon-wrapped jalapeño poppers.
Now let's organize our ingredients to make the cooking process as simple as can be. Here's what we need to make this delicious bacon spread.
- Bacon (thick cut or you could even prepare your own homemade bacon)
- Dark brown sugar
- Maple syrup
- Apple cider vinegar
- Cayenne pepper
- Fresh thyme
To start, we chop up plenty of bacon --- a pound and a half --- and cook it in a large pot. Rather than heating the pot first, the bacon goes into a cold pot, and then we turn it to medium. This helps render the fat before the bacon cooks for a crisp texture.
Every so often, we give the bacon a stir, and we keep cooking until the bacon crisps up and the fat turns foamy like so.
Now we remove our bacon along with most of the grease and add sliced onions. We stir the onions occasionally, but for the most part, it's best to leave the onions untouched to allow the caramelization process to work its magic.
Once the onions perfectly caramelize, we briefly cook a touch of garlic and then add our cooked bacon, dark brown sugar, maple syrup, apple cider vinegar and cayenne pepper. I like adding a bit more cayenne pepper than some other bacon jam recipes. The end result isn't necessarily spicy in my opinion, but it does have a kick, which I love to counter the sweet. That said, if you're sensitive to heat, just add a little bit at a time.
We let the mixture cook for about five minutes, turn off the heat and stir in the bourbon, fresh thyme and salt. From here, we throw everything into a food processor and pulse until it's somewhat smooths out while remaining chunky. Basically, we go from this ...
... to this.
And that's it! Seriously, how easy was that? Cooking the bacon and caramelizing the onions takes time, but it certainly isn't difficult. Just take the time to enjoy the process.
How to Serve
So many ways! In the photos, I served this bacon jam on lightly toasted bread slices, but that's just one way. Here are a few other ideas.
- Spread over your burger.
- Spoon over a biscuit.
- Use as a pizza topping.
- Add to your grilled cheese sandwich.
- Upgrade your BLT.
- Use in favorite pasta dish, like an Alfredo or mac and cheese.
- Stir into scrambled eggs.
- Spread over avocado toast.
- Top on a bagel with cream cheese.
- Spoon over baked Brie.
- Add to a charcuterie and cheese board.
Soon I'll share another recipe using this bourbon bacon jam so stay tuned. I also wouldn't judge if you simply ate this bourbon bacon jam by the spoonful. Been there.
How Long to Store
You can store this bacon jam for about four to five days. This, of course, means you can make this bacon jam before serving, which makes it perfect for entertaining. Just make sure you store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
A bourbon cocktail --- obviously! Fortunately, I have plenty of options for you. Try my peach-maple bourbon smash, chai-cranberry bourbon smash, apple cider old fashioned, gingered bourbon-apple cider cocktail or cherry bourbon smash.
A nice coffee stout is also perfect with this bourbon bacon jam. I always love coffee stouts with bacon --- not only are those roasted notes perfect with the smoky bacon but it also reminds me of drinking an iced coffee with my bacon.
For a wine, grab a bottle of pinot noir. I just love how the earthy pinot noir flavors work with the smoke and fresh thyme, and the fruity backbone work well with dark brown sugar and maple syrup.
Whether you need a versatile appetizer or an instant way to upgrade your brunch game, I hope you try this bourbon bacon jam. You'll fall in love just after one bite. Please let me know how you enjoyed this bourbon bacon jam recipe in the comment section and don’t forget to sign up for my newsletter. You can also catch me on Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook and Twitter.
Looking for More Appetizers? Try These Burrata and Bubbles Recipes.
- Herbed smoked trout spread
- Whipped ricotta dip
- Baked Brie with fig and Kahlua sauce
- Crab cake sliders with basil-avocado aioli
- Beer mussels in chorizo-tomato sauce
Bourbon Bacon Jam
- Large pot
- Food processor
- 1 ½ pounds thick-cut bacon cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1 large sweet yellow onion halved and sliced
- 2 garlic cloves minced or grated
- ⅓ cup pure maple syrup
- ¼ cup packed dark brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
- ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper (see note)
- Leaves from 3-4 thyme sprigs
- ¼ cup bourbon
- Pinch of salt
- Add the chopped bacon to a large cold pot. Turn heat to medium. It might look like too much bacon at first, but it will cook down. Stir well every few minutes to help the bacon cook evenly. Cook until the bacon turns crispy and the fat renders and turns foamy. Once the bacon finishes cooking, move to a paper towel-lined plate with a slotted spoon. If some pieces finish cooking sooner than others, go ahead and move those over.
- Remove most of the bacon grease, leaving about 2 tablespoons in the pot. Reduce heat to medium-low. Add onions and give them a stir. Cook the onions until they caramelize. Only stir occasionally to allow the onions to caramelize.
- Bring heat back to medium. Add garlic and cook for 30 seconds and then add the bacon back to the pot along with the maple syrup, dark brown sugar, apple cider vinegar and cayenne pepper. Scrape the bottom of the pan to release those cooked bits. Allow the mixture to bubble and cook for a few additional minutes to thicken. About five minutes should do.
- Turn off heat. Stir in fresh thyme leaves, bourbon and a pinch of salt.
- Add the bacon mixture to a food processor. Pulse until it looks like ground meat. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator until ready to serve. Enjoy!
- While I don't find this bacon jam spicy, the cayenne does give it a kick. If you're sensitive to spice, add a little bit at a time to taste.
- Reserve the bacon grease. It's great for cooking, especially in this andouille sausage-chicken gumbo.
- Nutritional information is only an estimate. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed.