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 it. The marinated shrimp and maple glaze make for an excellent sweet and spicy combo.
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Bacon-wrapped shrimp is a bite-sized surf and turf combination that’s always a hit at gatherings. You only need 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 no raw or chewy spots and prevent 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, and jumbo to colossal vary by 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 them perfect for wrapping.
Shrimp tails on or off?
I prefer to buy shrimp, peel and devein, and leave 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 cooked at 400ºF (206ºC) on a wire rack. I use a similar technique when cooking bacon in the oven.
The bacon roasts until it turns 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 shrimp with a piece of bacon
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.
Bacon-wrapped shrimp gets two high-temperature treatments. It first cooks in a preheated oven at 400ºF (206ºC) to ensure a high enough temperature to roast the meaty bacon. This bastes the seafood with the fat and cooks it without making it tough.
The pieces then broil on high to get the surface sizzling. This process turns the bacon deep red in color and results in a tight crust that locks around the shrimp.
How long do you cook shrimp wrapped in bacon?
To ensure even cooking, place the shrimp in the oven and cook for 5 minutes, then stop and flip them over and glaze them with maple syrup. Continue to cook 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 if the tails are not intact for easier grabbing.
More appetizer recipes
The benefit of par-cooking
Often 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. Par-cooking small strips of bacon before wrapping is key to ensuring that the timing is right for succulent shrimp and crisp bacon. 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
- Preheat the Oven – Set the oven rack to the center position, and preheat to 400ºF (20ºC).
- Season the Shrimp – In a medium-sized bowl, whisk olive oil, lemon juice, salt, paprika, garlic powder, black pepper, and chili powder. Add the shrimp and stir to combine. Marinate for at least 15 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare the bacon.
- Partially Cook the Bacon – Cut bacon strips in half, about 4 to 5 inches in length. Line a baking sheet with foil and top it with a wire rack. Place the cut strips of bacon on the rack.Roast until the bacon begins to shrink and turn slightly red, about 8 minutes. The bacon should be flexible and not completely cooked or crispy. Cool until it's easy to handle, 5 to 10 minutes.
- Wrap the Shrimp – Wrap each shrimp with a par-cooked bacon strip. Insert a toothpick to secure it. Arrange the shrimp in a single layer on the same pan and rack used to cook the bacon.
- Bake and Flip – Roast for 5 minutes, then remove the tray from the oven. Carefully flip the shrimp over and brush each piece with half of the maple syrup. Continue roasting for another 5 minutes.Remove the tray from the oven. Flip the pieces one last time and brush with the remaining maple syrup. Change the oven to the higher broil setting, and cook until the bacon is crisp, 3 to 5 minutes.
- To Serve – Transfer to a serving plate. Carefully remove the toothpicks. Garnish with freshly cracked black pepper and parsley.
- No Wire Rack?: You can roast everything on a foil-lined sheet pan. However, keep a close eye as it might cook faster due to the food directly frying in the oil.
- MAKE IT WHOLE30: Omit the maple syrup glazing steps.
Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000-calorie diet. All nutritional information is based on estimated third-party calculations. Each recipe and nutritional value will vary depending on the brands you use, measuring methods, and portion sizes per household.
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