Delicious bacon-wrapped asparagus brushed with maple syrup and oven-roasted. For success with this side dish, par-cooking the bacon first ensures a crispy texture.
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There are multiple ways to tenderize asparagus spears, like steaming, sauteing, broiling, and grilling. Although to enhance the flavor, try wrapping it in smokey bacon with a sweet maple syrup coating. The roasting process chars the vegetable’s surface while crisping the bacon wrapped around it. The subtly sweet glaze, paired with the savory seasonings, makes for a side dish that will disappear fast.
The biggest challenge in this recipe paring is preventing the asparagus from overcooking and turning to mush. The spears cook fast, but the bacon requires more time to cook thoroughly. An easy solution is to par-cook the pork first to start rendering, then wrap each spear and finish cooking. This method ensures crispy bites and perfectly tender asparagus.
American bacon has a high ratio of fat-to-protein that baste the vegetables for a rich and smokey taste. Since the asparagus cooks fast, it’s best to use a medium thickness, not a thick cut, as it will take much longer for the fat to render. The amount of meat to vegetables works well with a regular-sized slice.
Par-cook the bacon
If you wrap the asparagus in raw bacon, the vegetables will wilt due to its high moisture, and the meat will taste flabby instead of crisp. Par-cooking the strips on top of a wire set in a sheet pan helps jumpstart the rendering process. Elevating the bacon allows the air to circulate, leaving no raw areas.
Roast at 400ºF (204°C) until the bacon starts to turn red, some fat will drip down, but it should still be flexible for wrapping. We’re not looking for super crispy strips like when roasting bacon in the oven, at least not yet.
Asparagus is a versatile ingredient packed with healthy nutrients like fiber. You can typically find them year-round. However, their peak season is in the spring, from March to June. Look for firm stems and tips (scale leaves) that are tight, dry, with a slight purple coloring.
The stem should ideally be at least ½-inch thick. Avoid super-thin bundles as they will never hold up to the high roasting temperatures. I like a generous portion for a one person serving size, so about 5 to 6 stalks.
Trim the asparagus
Asparagus has tender leafy tips and stems with a fibrous root. Trim off the woody ends before roasting. They tend to be a light green, slightly brown shade, signaling a tough, chewy texture. You can find that spot to cut off by grabbing a stalk and locating the natural point where the stem snaps on the bottom.
I usually end up with about a 7-inch stalk after trimming. Keep it simple and season with olive oil, salt, and pepper before wrapping.
Wrap the asparagus
Evenly divide the two pounds of trimmed asparagus spears into bundles, about 5 to 6. Starting from just below the tip, tightly wrap the bacon around. It should cover the middle of the spears to hold them together. I use a toothpick to secure the ends to prevent unraveling.
As the fat renders, the proteins will tighten, firming up around the vegetable. There should be 8 bundles. This recipe is straightforward to scale down if you’re serving four people.
Glaze the bacon
To enhance the salty, smoky flavor of the bacon, I add some sweetness—the caramel notes in pure maple syrup balance the savory pork. Honey or brown sugar works well too. It caramelizes in the oven, creating a nice crust on the meat.
I also do this for bacon-wrapped shrimp and chicken as it adds a candied taste. I sprinkle some salt and pepper on top right before roasting for a savory touch. It’s okay to skip the glaze if you prefer an unsweetened side dish.
Roast in the oven at 400ºF (204°C) for about 13 to 15 minutes. This helps quickly render the fat, cook the meat, and tenderize the vegetables. The asparagus should be lightly golden brown on the tips but not overcooked when it completely loses its structure and become floppy and mushy. You want some bite! The bacon will become more crispy on the surface but have a hearty chew.
Serve this with
They were either not dried well after washing, or it was overcooked. Asparagus is over 90% water, so the moisture will soften the cell walls when cooked too long, making the texture limp and mushy. Cook them until crisp-tender, and the tips are lightly golden grown.
If you prefer a thicker piece of bacon, make sure that you par-cook for a longer time. It should still be flexible, about 10 minutes, depending on the thickness. This duration renders more of the fat so that it doesn’t take as long to cook thoroughly. Otherwise, the asparagus will get soft and lose its texture.
The bacon can be par-cooked on the baking sheet. I would replace the foil with a new piece before adding the bacon-wrapped asparagus. It will render a lot of fat, so make sure to drain the bundles on a paper towel before serving.
Rinse and don’t soak asparagus
It’s always good to wash produce before eating to remove dirt and debris. However, make sure to dry each stalk well. If the spears are soggy before wrapping, it will cause the vegetable and the bacon to steam instead of roast. This will prevent the bacon from crisping on the surface.
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Bacon Wrapped Asparagus
- 8 slices bacon, avoid thick cut
- 2 pounds asparagus, about 48 spears
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup, optional
- Pre-heat the Oven – Adjust the oven rack to the center position and the temperature to 400°F (204°C).
- Par-Cook the Bacon – Line a baking sheet with foil and place a wire rack on top. Evenly place the slices on the rack. Roast until the bacon just begins to shrink, some fat renders, and turns red, about 7 to 8 minutes. The pieces should be flexible, not crispy. Allow cooling until easy to handle.
- Prepare the Asparagus – Wash and thoroughly dry. Trim off the tough fibrous ends to give about 7-inch long spears. Evenly coat with olive oil, salt, and black pepper.
- Wrap the Asparagus – Divide the seasoned asparagus into 8 even-sized bundles. Starting from the tips, tightly wrap one slice of par-cooked bacon around each bundle, slightly overlapping in a downward spiral. Secure it with a toothpick.
- Glaze – Place the wrapped bundles on the wire rack used to cook the bacon. Brush the surface with maple syrup if using. Lightly season with salt and pepper.
- Roast – Cook until the bacon browns and crisps, and asparagus is tender, about 13 to 15 minutes.
- To Serve – Remove the toothpicks and serve warm.
- Baking Sheet
- Make-Ahead: The bacon-wrapped asparagus can be assembled, covered, and stored in an airtight container up to two days before roasting.
- Storing: Cool completely and store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
- Reheating: Loosely cover and reheat on the high setting in the microwave in 15 to 30-second intervals until hot. Alternatively, bake at 350ºF (177ºC) until hot.
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