Candied Bacon-Wrapped Little Smokies
I wasn't quite sure how much bacon I was going to need to make the turkey pinwheel recipe I was developing this past fall, so I doubled up on the packages and ended up having a whole pound, plus a little extra, leftover. I froze that all for later consumption, but just a couple weeks later I was already devising new creations for a Halloween cookout where I decided to go all-in on the savory-sweet category. That had me thinking of making a batch of candied bacon, but then I figured why not level-up and toss a tiny hot dog in the mix for candied bacon-wrapped little smokies.
Besides having the bacon on hand already, another attractive thing about this dish was how simple it would be to put together. In essence, it needs only to be three ingredients—bacon, little smokies, and brown sugar, although I ended up adding barbecue sauce as well. They're also super easy to put together, starting by wrapping the little smokies in a third of a slice of bacon each and securing them closed with toothpicks.
Then comes the application of brown sugar, which I did by placing about a cup of dark brown sugar in a little bowl and tossing the bacon-wrapped smokies in that, using my hands to pat the sugar on to ensure it adhered well. Although pretty straightforward, just one word of caution that I learned the hard way—you'll want to apply the sugar shortly before grilling, because done too far in advance, the sugar acts as a brine and draws moisture out from the meat and just becomes a liquid, which results in the loss of that desired sugary crust.
To cook these, I placed all the bacon-wrapped little smokies on the cool side of a two-zone fire running at high heat, then covered the grill and waited until the bacon looked well cooked and browned in spots. For me, this took about 20 minutes total, but it could take shorter or longer depending on the heat of your fire, so it's always good to not wander too far from the grill to keep an eye on how the cooking is going.
I wavered back and forth on the introduction of any further complexity into this recipe, but I had some of my special Meatwave competition barbecue sauce on hand and thought this would be a really good use of that. That sauce strikes a balance between sweet and spicy that I really love, and I thought that would only make these all the better in the end, so I brushed it all over the smokies without hesitation, then re-covered the grill and waited until the sauce had set, about another 5 minutes.
This was the last thing to come off the grill at this particular cookout, and often by the time I reach the final dish, I've already so overstuffed my guests that the ultimate offering only gets some polite nibbles. In the case of these little smokies though, they completely disappeared. It's not hard to understand why because they're merely combining a few already delicious things, plus the form factor makes them super easy to keep popping one after another. I personally thought the barbecue sauce was key in really delivering a full flavor experience, but most recipes for this ubiquitous appetizer stops at sugar, so I'm sure they'll be totally amazing still if you opt not to apply a finishing sauce layer. As we're in prime party season, I'm glad I have yet another killer appetizer in my arsenal for usage that's tested and sure to deliver the goods.
Candied Bacon-Wrapped Little Smokies
- Yield 6-8 servings
- Prep 10 Minutes
- Cook 25 Minutes
- Total 35 Minutes
- 2/3 lb regular cut bacon
- 12 oz package little smokies
- 2/3 cup dark brown sugar
- 1 cup barbecue sauce
- Cut bacon slices into three equal pieces widthwise. Wrap 1 little smokie in 1 piece of sliced bacon and secure close with a toothpick. Sprinkle bacon with brown sugar. Repeat with remaining little smokies and bacon slices.
- Light one chimney full of charcoal. When all the charcoal is lit and covered with gray ash, pour out and arrange the coals on one side of the charcoal grate. Set cooking grate in place, cover grill, and allow to preheat for 5 minutes. Clean and oil grilling grate. Place bacon-wrapped little smokies on the cool side of the grill, cover, and cook until bacon has cooked and browned in spots, about 20 minutes.
- Brush bacon-wrapped little smokies all over with barbecue sauce, cover grill, and let cook until sauce has thickened, about 5 minutes more. Transfer little smokies to a serving platter and serve immediately.