These bacon wrapped water chestnuts are crunchy marinated water chestnuts covered in bacon and a sweet and savory sauce, then baked to perfection. A quick and easy appetizer option that’s always a big hit!
Growing up, my mom always used to serve bacon wrapped water chestnuts at parties. This is a simple dish, but has the perfect blend of textures, and let’s be honest, you can never go wrong with bacon!
What are water chestnuts?
Water chestnuts are not actually a nut, in fact, they are vegetables. This veggie grows underwater, hence the name, and are typically grown in Asian countries. In America, water chestnuts are typically sold in cans, although it is possible to find fresh water chestnuts in some markets. I typically used canned chestnuts, as they are readily available in almost all grocery stores.
How do you make bacon wrapped water chestnuts?
Start by letting the water chestnuts marinate in a mixture of soy sauce, brown sugar and garlic powder. Cut bacon strips in half. Wrap a piece of bacon around each chestnut, then secure with toothpicks and bake. While the chestnuts are in the oven, prepare the sauce. Whisk together ketchup, brown sugar and Worcestershire sauce. Remove the partially cooked chestnuts from the oven, then pour the sauce over the top. Bake for a while longer until the bacon is crispy and sauce has thickened and caramelized. Serve and enjoy.
Tips for the perfect bacon wrapped water chestnuts
- Be sure to use whole chestnuts; the sliced version will not work.
- Do not use thick cut bacon. The thicker bacon will take a lot longer to cook and get crispy.
- The water chestnuts should marinate for at least 30 minutes, or up to 2 hours.
- I find that this dish is best served immediately when hot. Any leftovers can be reheated in the oven until warmed through.
- You can leave the toothpicks in for serving, or remove the toothpicks for a more elegant presentation.
- I like to add a little fresh parsley to dress up the dish, but this is an optional step.
This combination of bacon and brown sugar actually works with a number of different ingredients if you don’t have water chestnuts on hand.
- Pineapple: Instead of the water chestnuts, substitute large chunks of pineapple. There’s no need to marinate the pineapple, simply wrap with bacon, bake, then add the sauce halfway through.
- Chicken: Cut boneless skinless chicken breasts or thighs into 1 inch pieces. Marinate, then follow the rest of the recipe as written.
- Little Smokies: Skip the marinating, then wrap the smokies in bacon and bake. Top with sauce halfway through the baking time as directed in the recipe.
- Shrimp: No need to marinate the shrimp! Wrap in bacon, then broil for 10-15 minutes until bacon is crispy. Top with sauce, then broil for another 2-3 minutes and serve.
These bacon wrapped water chestnuts have it all – they’re crunchy, smoky, sweet and savory, all wrapped up in one delectable little package!
More appetizers to try
Bacon Wrapped Water Chestnuts
Bacon Wrapped Water Chestnuts
- 3 8 ounce cans whole water chestnuts drained
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon brown sugar divided use
- 1 pound bacon sliced cut into thirds
- 3/4 cup ketchup
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tablespoon chopped parsley optional
- cooking spray
- Place the water chestnuts, soy sauce, garlic powder and 1 tablespoon of brown sugar in a bowl or resealable bag. Toss to combine. Cover the bowl or seal the bag and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or up to 2 hours.
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Place a rack on top of a sheet pan. Coat the rack with cooking spray.
- This recipe can also be made without the rack if you don't have one, I just find the bottoms get crispier this way.
- Wrap each water chestnut with a piece of bacon. Secure each one with a toothpick.
- Arrange the water chestnuts in a single layer on the rack.
- Bake for 25 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the remaining brown sugar, ketchup and Worcestershire sauce.
- Brush the sauce mixture all over each chestnut. Return the pan to the oven and bake for another 20 minutes or until bacon is crispy and sauce has caramelized.
- Sprinkle with parsley, then serve immediately.
- I recommend using regular or thin cut bacon, as thick cut bacon will take longer to cook.
- If you are sensitive to salt, feel free to use low sodium soy sauce.