Bacon wrapped shrimp makes for an easy appetizer that’s guaranteed to impress. The best way to achieve crispy bacon is by par-cooking the pork first before wrapping. The marinated shrimp and a maple glaze make for an excellent sweet and savory combo.
Bacon wrapped shrimp are a bite-sized surf and turf combination that’s always a hit at gatherings. All you need is a few simple pantry items like seafood and smoky bacon. Marinating the shrimp first in savory spices, olive oil, and lemon ensures layers of flavor. Shrimp cooks very quickly, therefore choosing the right size and paying attention to cook time is critical.
Par-cooking slices of bacon in the oven ensure that there are no raw or chewy spots, and the process prevents the shrimp from overcooking. It only takes a few extra minutes and is a game-changer for the final texture. Glazing the bacon wrapped shrimp several times during the roasting process creates a sweet caramelized crust.
Selecting the right shrimp size
Selecting shrimp can be tricky. Too small and they cook too fast and turn into rubber, too big and you need a fork and knife to eat. Ideally, you want to purchase large shrimp that’ll give about a two-bite portion. Labels that range from small, medium, large, jumbo, to colossal vary by the vendor and aren’t standardized.
The only reliable way to buy consistent-sized shrimp every time is using count per pound and not by the indicated name. The general rule is the smaller the count size, the larger the shrimp because there are fewer pieces per pound. For this recipe, I use a 16/20 count shrimp. That means there are 16 to 20 pieces per pound. They measure about 3-inches in length, making it perfect for wrapping.
Shrimp tails on or off?
I prefer to buy shrimp with the tails on as it creates a nice little place to easily grab onto so no toothpicks are required when eating. If you prefer not to have tails piling up on plates, you can remove them. Hold the body with one hand and gently tug the tail with the other until it releases from the shell, being careful not to rip the bacon off with it.
Par-cook the bacon first!
Some recipes call for wrapping the shrimp with raw bacon. Sure, that’s easy to do, but I find that only the surface gets cooked and lacks the crispy texture. To fend off flabby bacon, par-cooking is the answer. The bacon slices are cut in half and cook at 400ºF (206ºC) on a wire rack. I use a similar technique when cooking bacon in the oven.
The bacon roasts until it begins to turn slightly red in color while still flexible. This may take longer if you use thick-cut bacon. Do not cook until fully crispy, just enough to render some of the fat and partially cook. Keeping flexibility is very important for wrapping the pork around the shrimp. This par-cooking technique is great for bacon-wrapping just about any food. Give it a try with asparagus, scallops, green beans, or a nice juicy filet.
Wrap the shrimp
Within 15-minutes, the shrimp has had ample time to marinate and tenderize, which will infuse more flavor from start to finish. Once the bacon is cool enough to handle, wrap each piece along the length of the shrimp, and secure it with a toothpick so it doesn’t unravel.
What temperature do you cook bacon wrapped shrimp?
Bacon wrapped shrimp gets two high-temperature treatments. It first cooks at 400ºF (206ºC) to ensure a high enough temperature to roast the meaty bacon. This bastes the seafood with the fat and cooks without making it tough. It’s then broiled on high to get the surface sizzling, turning the bacon deep red in color, resulting in a tight crust that locks around the shrimp.
How long do you cook shrimp wrapped in bacon?
To ensure even cooking, the shrimp cooks for 5-minutes then gets flipped over and glazed with maple syrup then cooks for an additional 5-minutes. To make the bacon extra crispy, the shrimp is flipped and glazed one more time, then broiled on high for about 3 to 5 minutes.
I like to serve these bacon wrapped shrimp with slices of lemon wedges and freshly chopped parsley on top. I also remove the toothpicks, but you can keep them in if the tails are not intact for easier grabbing.
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The benefit of par-cooking
Often times it can take up to 30 minutes to fully cook bacon. This doesn’t bode well with fast-cooking shrimp at 15 minutes or less. To ensure that the timing is just right for succulent shrimp and crisp bacon, par-cooking small strips of bacon before wrapping is key. At 400ºF (206ºC) for just 8 minutes, the bacon gets a kickstart, roasting on both sides and preventing raw, chewy bites.
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Bacon Wrapped Shrimp
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon chili powder
- 1 pound large shrimp, 16/20 count, peeled, deveined, tail on
- 12 ounces bacon, 10 slices
- ¼ cup pure maple syrup
- 1 tablespoon chopped parsley, for garnish
- Set the oven rack to the center position. Preheat to 400ºF (20ºC).
- Whisk olive oil, lemon juice, salt, paprika, garlic powder, black pepper, and chili powder in a medium-sized bowl.
- Add shrimp and stir to combine. Allow it to marinate for at least 15 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare the bacon.
- Cut bacon strips in half, about 4 to 5 inches in length.
- Line a baking sheet with foil and place a wire rack on top. Place the cut strips of bacon on the rack.
- Roast until the bacon just begins to shrink and turn slight red in color, about 8 minutes. The bacon should be flexible and not completely cooked or crispy.
- Allow the bacon to cool until it's easy to handle with fingertips, 5 to 10 minutes.
- Wrap each piece of shrimp with the par-cooked bacon strips, insert a toothpick to secure the wrap.
- Arrange the shrimp in a single layer on the same pan used to cook the bacon. Roast for 5 minutes.
- Remove the tray from the oven. Carefully flip the shrimp over and then brush each piece with half of the maple syrup. Roast the shrimp for 5 minutes.
- Remove the tray from the oven, flip one last time and brush the shrimp with the remaining maple syrup.
- Change the oven to the high broil setting. Broil until the bacon is deep red in color and crisp, 3 to 5 minutes. Carefully remove the toothpicks.
- Transfer bacon wrapped shrimp to a serving plate. Garnish with freshly cracked black pepper and parsley.
- If you do not have a wire rack, you can roast everything directly on a foil-lined sheet pan. Keep a close eye on cook time, as it might be faster due to the food directly frying in the oil.
- MAKE IT WHOLE30: Omit the maple syrup glazing steps.
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