Guests and hosts alike love bacon-wrapped dates — they're impressive little bites that are super easy to make. This 3-ingredient appetizer requires minimal cook time and the result is mildly addicting, making it a fun snack for any gathering. For Christmas dinner, a casual cocktail party, or a game day snack, this is an appetizer for the masses!
The ingredients come together with just pitted dates, your favorite soft cheese, and crispy bacon. Simply stuff the cheese in the dates, wrap them in bacon, and pop them in the oven. As they bake, the cheese melts, the dates become tender, and the bacon fat renders from the outside moving in to meld all the flavors together. The final product is soft, savory excellence with smoky tones from the cheese and bacon that are intensified by the sweetness of the dates.
This recipe is a gluten-free favorite that you can have ready for a dinner party appetizer in less than 30 minutes. However, you can also serve the dates as a side dish, along with a big green salad or soup for a simple weeknight meal. They're kid-approved in the taste department and filling enough that you don't need to eat too many to feel satisfied.
'Devils On Horseback' Origin
The term "devils on horseback" is a head-scratcher, but with a little research, we found a couple of theories on how bacon-wrapped dates got the name. One guess is that it stems from Cornwall in the south of England. The legend is that Norman raiders would disguise themselves in suits of armor made with layers of thin slices of bacon. The idea was to frighten villagers and afterward the armor could be cooked and eaten. "Devils on horseback" was allegedly the nickname of these warriors dressed in bacon.
A more popular (and believable) theory is that it's a British play on the French dish "angels on horseback," which swaps the original oysters for dates (or prunes). The date derivative was a popular party food in the 1970s and '80s, but we're happy to say that it's made a comeback.
Parmigiano Reggiano And Prosciutto For an Italian twist on this recipe, try trading Parmesan for the soft cheese and using prosciutto instead of bacon. Use a whole slice of prosciutto for each date since it’s so thin, and break off chunks of Parmesan with a knife before sticking them into the dates.
Almond Butter And Bacon It may sound a little funky, but this combo is hard to beat. The salty, sweet, and smoky flavors come together for a creative take on the classic. Stuff each date with a small spoonful of almond butter, then wrap in a slice of bacon.
Rolled In Brown Sugar Prepare the dates as directed but roll them in brown sugar before baking to get that crispy, crunchy bacon with a caramelized effect. It adds an extra sweetness, without being excessive.
Cream Cheese Stuffed Dates Instead of a regular soft cheese, try stuffing your dates with cream cheese if you prefer milder flavors. Follow the same method, and the result is equally creamy and delicious.
You'll end up with pretty crispy bacon using this recipe, but if you want even crispier bacon, partially fry it or cook it in the microwave beforehand. The bacon pieces typically wrap around the dates 1 1/2 times. If it wraps more than twice, you can trim your bacon slices so they’re a little shorter. If the bacon layer is too thick, it may not cook all the way through. If you'd like to prepare these ahead of time, cover and refrigerate for a few hours or up to one day before baking. Soft cheese works best, and the sharpness or tanginess of certain varieties like blue cheese or goat cheese complements the sweetness of the dates.
- 16 pitted Medjool dates (large)
- 4 ounces cheese (blue cheese, Stilton, fontina, or Gruyere)
- 8 strips bacon
- Preheat the oven to 375° F.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- With a sharp knife, make a length-wise slice down the center of each date, taking care to not cut all the way through. Cut the cheese into 16 cubes, a scant 3/4” each. Cut each strip of bacon in half crosswise.
- Place a piece of cheese in the center of each date, and pinch the sides to close the date. Wrap half a bacon strip around each date, with the seam falling on the opposite side from the slit.
- Arrange the dates seam side down on the baking sheet.
- Transfer the baking sheet to the preheated oven.
- Bake the dates for 22-27 minutes, until the bacon is browned and crispy.
- Remove the baking sheet from the oven. Allow the dates to cool on the sheet for 5 minutes.
- Arrange the dates on a plate and stick a toothpick through the top of each. Serve immediately.