Bacon-wrapped chicken breast brings excitement back to the dinner table. The recipe is easy, just season the meat, cover it with slices of cured pork, and roast until tender and juicy.
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Serving chicken breast can get boring and sometimes unbearable if dried out and bland every week. The solution is to wrap it in smokey, cured pork, which renders its flavor onto the chicken. The bonus- each serving stays super juicy when covered with the bacon layer.
A savory seasoning blend coats the chicken, and then the bacon is glazed with maple syrup for a caramelized crust. The key is thoroughly cooking the bacon and poultry at the same time. The size of the chicken and the thickness of the pork is crucial for optimal doneness.
Use boneless skinless chicken breasts about 8 ounces in size. They are a leaner cut and benefit from being wrapped in fatty bacon. They must be similar in weight and thickness for even cooking.
I notice that grocery stores often sell jumbo pieces, so I usually trim off the tenders to get closer to half a pound. You can always use them later to make crispy chicken tenders. If desired, you can use chicken thighs, but keep an eye on the cooking time as they are much smaller.
Grab your favorite type of bacon, but make sure it’s not thick cut. Otherwise, it will take too long to render the fat and thoroughly cook. American-style bacon has a high fat-to-meat ratio, which yields crispy sections full of flavor.
The slices of bacon are thin and pliable, making it easy to stretch and wrap. The fat coats the chicken, creating a protective layer to lock in the moisture.
Season the chicken
It’s essential to season the chicken to add dimension to the dish. I use my go-to savory blend; a mixture of salt, pepper, smoked paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, and dried Italian seasoning. I often sprinkle it onto my baked chicken breast to make it instantly more flavorful.
It’s easy to modify the seasoning with sweet or spicy paprika and any other dried herb you have on hand like herbs de Provence, basil, oregano, rosemary, or thyme. If you have fresh herbs, feel free to use that instead. Dry the surface of the chicken with paper towels, so it’s easier for the seasoning to stick.
Wrap the chicken
Depending on the size, you’ll need at least two or three pieces of bacon. Start at the widest and thickest part of the breast, wrapping around and down until it reaches the tapered end. The bacon slices will be slightly stretchy, so try your best to cover it with just two strips, so it’s not too greasy.
Slightly overlap the edges and make sure the ends of the bacon are covered so they don’t unravel during the roasting process. To save time, you can do this prep a few days ahead and cover it until you’re ready to cook.
Add some sweetness
Brush on maple syrup to balance the bacon’s super smokey and savory flavor. The sweetener is sticky, and as it cooks, it concentrates and caramelizes, creating a delicious glaze. You can even add a little more syrup right before serving.
Honey and brown sugar make good swaps. You can sprinkle on dark brown sugar for extra molasses flavor and let it dissolve on top of the bacon. If you prefer an unsweetened dish, it’s okay to skip this step.
Roast the chicken
Place the bacon-wrapped chicken pieces on a foil-lined sheet pan. I find this is the most straightforward clean-up. I typically roast bacon at 375ºF (190ºC), but I increased it to 400ºF (204ºC) for this recipe. The chicken will release moisture as it cooks, so slightly elevating the oven temperature ensures that the bacon will not steam. We want a nice browned, slightly crisp surface.
Testing for doneness
The chicken is fully cooked when it reaches an internal temperature between 160 to 165ºF (71 to 74ºC). I like to use an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the meat to test.
The bacon will have rendered most of the fat, and the meat will be a deep, brownish-red color. If you want the bacon more crispy, once the chicken reaches 160ºF (71ºC), broil it on high for about 2 to 4 minutes. But don’t overcook!
Serve this with
If you like a more crispy bottom, you can cook the bacon-wrapped chicken on a wire rack set on top of the pan. This process helps the fat and juices drip down, not directly contacting the moisture.
Yes! Just make sure to use regular-cut bacon for wrapping the poultry. Thick-cut products will take too long to cook, causing potential dried-out chicken if done before. If needed, you can broil the pieces at the end of cooking to render more fat and create more crisp bacon if thick-cut is your only option.
Sure! Just don’t overfill the center with stuffing so that it stays inside instead of oozing out. You may need a longer cook time to cook through into the center since the filling will be cooler. Make sure to test both the top and bottom of the chicken for doneness.
Why is the fully cooked chicken still pink?
If you notice a slight pink hue of the chicken and juices after cooking, it can be caused by a few things. When hemoglobin in the muscle proteins reacts with oxygen in the environment, this can cause a pinkish tint. The nitrites and nitrates in most bacon products, used for curing and a preservative, can slightly color the meat as it cooks.
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Bacon Wrapped Chicken Breast
- Preheat the Oven – Set the oven rack to the middle position and preheat to 400ºF (204ºC). Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil.
- Make the Seasoning – In a small bowl, combine salt, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, black pepper, and Italian seasoning.
- Season the Chicken – Thoroughly dry each chicken breast with a paper towel. Evenly sprinkle both sides with the seasoning mixture.
- Wrap with Bacon – Start at the wider end of the chicken. Gently stretch and wrap a piece of bacon around and down towards the middle. Slightly overlap the edges to secure it on the chicken. Use the second piece of bacon to finish wrapping down towards the tapered end. A third piece may be needed if the chicken is large. The seams should be beneath the breast to prevent unraveling. Repeat with the remaining pieces. Transfer to a foil-lined sheet pan.
- Glaze (optional) – Brush the surface of the bacon-wrapped chicken with maple syrup if using. Sprinkle with black pepper, if desired.
- Roast – Cook until the internal temperature reaches between 160 to 165ºF (71 to 74ºC), about 25 to 30 minutes, depending on the thickness. The bacon should be fully cooked. If desired, brush with the rendered bacon grease and maple syrup.
- Serve – Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to drain off any excess grease on the bottom. Allow the chicken to rest for 5 minutes before serving.
- Baking Sheet
- For a Crispier Surface: Broil on high after the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 160ºF (71ºC) until the surface is crisp, about 2 to 4 minutes.
- Large Chicken Breasts: Three pieces of bacon may be needed for wrapping.
- Storing: Cool completely and store in an airtight container for up to 5 days.
- Reheating: Reheat in the microwave on high in 30-second intervals until hot. Alternatively, bake on a foil-lined sheet pan at 350ºF (177ºC) until warm.
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