Bacon wrapped water chestnuts are so incredibly simple to make and are so addictive and delicious! The smokiness of the bacon and the sticky sweet flavour of the sauce is perfect with the crunch of the water chestnuts. This is an excellent and super popular appetizer for special occasions, Christmas, the holidays, get togethers with friends or for anytime really. It's always a hit in our house, and there are never any leftovers!
This is one of the most yummy appetizers you'll ever make!
I hope you enjoy this recipe! ❤️ If you give it a try, please let me know how it turned out for you in the comments section at the bottom of the page or share a pic of your om noms on Instagram and tag @dishesanddustbunnies! ❤️
*This post has been updated from an earlier version to include new photos and a few tweaks to the original recipe to make it even more scrumptious!*
What are Water Chestnuts? Are they nuts?
Water chestnuts are not actually chestnuts! Are you shocked? 😂
I was surprised too when I first learned this years ago!
Water chestnuts are actually a vegetable that grows in marshy areas of Asia, tropical Africa and Oceana. Before they became popular in America and Canada for use in the appetizer bacon wrapped water chestnuts, they were (and still are) commonly used in stir fry and Asian cooking! They're great for their crunchy texture and take on the flavour of whatever dish you're using them in.
What Ingredients are used to Make Bacon Wrapped Water Chestnuts?
Bacon wrapped chestnuts use simple ingredients that are easy to find in most grocery stores. The sauce is made with a combination of ketchup, sweet brown sugar, garlic powder, and Worcestershire sauce.
Whole water chestnuts are wrapped in cut smoky bacon strips, then secured with a tooth pick. the wrapped water chestnuts are then coated in the sauce mixture.
How to Make Bacon Wrapped Water Chestnuts – Overview
You can find the full recipe details, including ingredient amounts and the full instructions in the recipe card at the bottom of this post, but first, here's a quick overview of how to make homemade bacon wrapped water chestnuts!
The process for making the bacon-wrapped water chestnuts was very simple. Combine ketchup with brown sugar, garlic powder, and Worcestershire sauce then the water chestnuts are wrapped in (halved) bacon slices and secured with toothpicks.
I dropped each bacon wrapped chestnut into the sauce mixture in the mixing bowl and gently folded them into the sauce so that each little one was completely covered. I then cooked them in the oven on a broiler pan (no need to drain the bacon grease) and when they were done…
I almost have no words for how amazing they taste!
Serve immediately. The magic to these delicious little bites is in the sauce. A scrumptious combination of ketchup, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, and garlic powder give each bite a wonderful sweet and smoky flavour.
What should Bacon Wrapped Water chestnuts be cooked in?
For this recipe, I like to use a broiler pan, but you could also use a glass baking dish. If using a baking dish, you can carefully drain bacon grease by spooning excess out and discarding it.
Do you rinse canned water chestnuts?
Yes – before using the water chestnuts in the recipe, you'll need to rinse them. I do this by putting them in a small strainer and run some cold water over them. Before wrapping them with the bacon, please make sure to let them drain for a bit to get rid of any excess moisture.
Do you have to use water chestnuts?
If you can't find water chestnuts, you could also use button mushrooms or small pearl onions. Just keep in mind that the cooking time may need to be adjusted slightly.
Alternative Cooking Methods
Personally, I feel that bacon wrapped water chestnuts are best when cooked in the oven so that the bacon becomes more crip, however if you prefer, you can try other another cooking method, such as in a slow cooker or an instant pot.
If you do choose to cook them with these methods, you may need to finish them off in the oven under the broiler in order to get the right crispness for the bacon.
To make in a slow cooker:
Layer the bacon-wrapped water chestnuts in the slow cooker. Cook on low for 4 hours, or until the bacon is cooked to your liking.
To make in an Instant Pot:
Place the bacon-wrapped water chestnuts in the Instant Pot. Cook on high pressure for 3 minutes. Let the pressure release naturally for 5 minutes, then quick release any remaining pressure.
For a sweeter version: add some honey to the sauce ingredients!
For a spicier version: sprinkle some cayenne pepper on the bacon before wrapping it around the water chestnut.
Alternatives to bacon:
- try using different flavors of bacon
- Applewood smoked bacon
- Hickory smoked bacon
- Maple bacon
- Pepper bacon
- Turkey bacon
- try wrapping the water chestnuts in pancetta or Prosciutto for a different flavor.
- For a vegetarian version, you could wrap the water chestnuts in eggplant or portobello mushrooms.
- to a bit more body (or umami flavor) to your sauce, you can try adding a little soy sauce to the recipe. I personally find that the bacon gives enough saltiness to the recipe without the soy sauce, so if you plan on adding any do so in small amounts. Maybe try about 1 tsp, if you plan on adding any.
- Instead of using ketchup, try using your favorite barbecue sauce in the recipe! I like sweet baby rays BBQ sauce!
- For a different flavor experience, try using teriyaki sauce! 😋
Can they be Prepared Ahead of time?
Yes! You can make bacon wrapped water chestnuts ahead of time!
If you'd like to make them ahead of time, or even the night before just follow the recipe at the bottom of the page and instead of placing them on your baking sheet to cook, keep them in the mixing bowl along with the sauce, cover and store in the fridge until you're ready to make them.
For best results, make sure you take them out of the fridge at least 30 minutes before cooking so they're not super cold… you want them to be about room temperature when you start to cook them.
Can you freeze uncooked bacon wrapped water chestnuts?
Yes! This is actually a great way to prep ahead for parties or other events. Simply wrap the water chestnuts in bacon, then place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Freeze for 1-2 hours, then transfer to a freezer bag.
When you're ready to cook, bake according to the recipe instructions. You can cook these from frozen, but add about 15 minutes of extra cooking time.
Should Bacon Wrapped Water Chestnuts be served Warm or Cold?
Bacon wrapped water chestnuts are best when served warm, but they're fine at room temperature. If you'd like to keep them warm when serving for a special occasion, you could try putting them in a small crock pot to keep them warm.
In all honesty though, these have been so popular when I've served them that they're usually devoured by everyone before they have a chance to cool down! ❤️😂
Leftovers – How to Store and how long are they good for
Leftover bacon wrapped water chestnuts, when stored in an air tight container, in the fridge will be good for 3-4 days. When stored in the freezer, they'll be good for 2-3 months.
Can you reheat Bacon Wrapped Water Chestnuts?
When I make these, it's incredibly rare that there will be any leftovers to heat up later!
If you do find yourself in a situation where you do need to reheat them, I recommend placing them on a baking sheet and heating up in the oven at 350°F for about 15 minutes.
What to Serve with Bacon Wrapped Water Chestnuts
These yummy little appetizers can be served with just about anything really! They're great as appetizers along with other party food for special occasions like Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter or really any time.
For more appetizer ideas, be sure to check out these posts:
- 1 cup ketchup
- ¼ cup brown sugar
- ½ tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
- 2 (7oz/227ml) cans of whole water chestnuts, drained and rinsed
- 1 lb smoky bacon, cut into thirds
- Preheat oven to 425°F.
- Combine ketchup, brown sugar, garlic powder and Worcestershire sauce in a mixing bowl. Make sure everything is combined well.
- Wrap each water chestnut with a bacon strip (which was cut bacon into thirds) and secure with a toothpick and drop into the mixing bowl with the sauce mix.
- Once finished wrapping the bacon and water chestnuts, GENTLY fold the sauce over them in the mixing bowl. Make sure to evenly coat each piece with the sauce.
- Using tongs, gently remove the wrapped water chestnuts from the mixing bowl and place them onto a broiler pan over a foil lined baking sheet. (I find that the clean up is much easier when using a foil lined sheet). If you don't have a broiler pan, you can try just using a baking sheet – just make sure you remove the cooked water chestnuts quickly, so they don't sit in the fat for too long.
- Using a spatula remove any of the remaining sauce from the mixing bowl and drizzle over the wrapped water chestnuts.
- Place the prepared water chestnuts into the oven to cook for about 45 minutes or long enough to crisp the bacon to your liking.
- Using tongs, remove the appetizers to a serving plate.
To Make Ahead of time: To make ahead of time, or even the night before, follow the recipe as usual, but instead of placing them on your baking sheet to cook right away, keep them in the mixing bowl along with the sauce, cover and store in the fridge until you're ready to make them. For best results, make sure you remove them from the refrigerator at least 30 minutes before cooking so they're not super cold… you want them to be about room temperature when you start to cook them.
If your bacon is really fatty or you want it more crisp: In the last 15 minutes of cooking, you can place them on a wire rack over the baking sheet and set your oven to broil. This will allow the fat to drain more as it crisps up – just be sure to watch closely so they don't burn. If you look at the photos in this post, you'll see that I used this method to crisp them up more – I don't always have to do this.. it just depends on how fatty my bacon is! 😊
- Prep Time: 15 minutes
- Cook Time: 45 minutes
- Category: Appetizer
- Method: Oven
- Cuisine: American/Canadian
Keywords: bacon wrapped water chestnuts, Christmas appetizer, holiday appetizer