Bacon is one of the most beloved foods in America. The salty, smoky, crispy pork product has developed a cult-like following, with people finding ways to incorporate it into everything from breakfast sandwiches to desserts.
Though bacon makes a tasty addition to many dishes, it truly shines as a side dish. The rich, fatty flavor of bacon complements and elevates vegetables, grains, and other sides into irresistible creations.
Keep reading for ten delicious bacon side dish recipes to try at your next meal.
Best Practices for Cooking Bacon
Before diving into the recipes, let’s go over some tips for cooking bacon properly. Your method can make a big difference to the final texture and flavor. Here are some best practices:
- Start with high-quality, thick-cut bacon. Thinner slices will burn and dry out faster.
- Bake it in the oven. This allows the bacon to cook evenly without curling up. Place bacon slices on a foil-lined baking sheet and bake at 400°F for 15-20 minutes.
- Let it cool on paper towels. This will absorb excess grease for crisper bacon.
- Save the drippings! Bacon grease adds tons of flavor when cooking other foods. Store it in the fridge for up to 1 month.
Baking the bacon is the easiest way to prepare it because it allows for a more consistent cook and minimizes the mess caused by splattering when frying in a skillet. If you’re intrigued by this method and need a step-by-step guide, check this guide on how to cook bacon in the oven for more detailed instructions.
10 Satisfying Side Dishes for Bacon Lovers
Now, let’s explore some irresistible side dish recipes to enjoy alongside your favorite bacon breakfasts, sandwiches, salads, and more.
1. Loaded Baked Potato Salad
Give traditional potato salad a makeover by loading it up with everyone’s favorite pork product. Crispy bacon bits, shredded cheddar cheese, scallions, and a creamy dressing take this picnic staple to new heights. Red potatoes hold their shape better when boiled than russets. Serve this satisfying salad alongside grilled chicken or burgers.
2. Brussel Sprouts with Bacon and Balsamic
Brussel sprouts get a bad rap, but roasting them brings out their sweetness. Adding bacon lends a smoky crunch, and balsamic glaze provides a tangy finish. For the best texture, trim and halve the sprouts before roasting in the oven until caramelized. This veggie side pairs perfectly with a bacon-wrapped pork tenderloin.
3. Cheesy Bacon Ranch Potato Wedges
Potato wedges coated in zippy ranch seasoning and bacon bits make for an addictive game-day snack or party appetizer. For extra decadence, top them with shredded cheddar before baking until crispy. Serve the wedges with sour cream or ranch dip. The possibilities are endless when you combine bacon and potatoes.
4. Bacon Cornbread Stuffing
For a down-home southern side dish, look no further than bacon cornbread stuffing. Day-old cornbread, chicken broth, sautéed veggies, eggs, and bacon come together to form the ultimate Thanksgiving accompaniment. For a variation, add oysters or sausage. This stuffing pairs well with any poultry or pork main course.
5. Bacon Jam and Goat Cheese Crostini
Crostini topped with savory bacon onion jam and tangy goat cheese makes a stellar appetizer. Toast the bread until crispy before topping with the sweet and salty jam and creamy cheese. The bacon jam also stores well in the fridge, so you can use it on sandwiches and burgers.
6. BLT Pasta Salad
For a fun spin on a classic sandwich, turn it into a pasta salad. Toss penne with crispy bacon bits, cherry tomatoes, shredded romaine, shredded cheddar, and a mayo-based dressing. The bacon and tomato provide saltiness and acidity to balance the rich, starchy pasta. Bring this crowd-pleasing salad to barbecues and potlucks.
7. Bacon Green Beans
Green beans sautéed with bacon are a simple, delicious side dish. Cook the bacon first until crispy. Then remove and sauté the green beans in the rendered bacon fat. Crumble the bacon back on top of the tender beans. The smoky, salty flavor takes boring old green beans up a notch.
8. Loaded Bacon Baked Beans
No barbecue is complete without baked beans, and this loaded version takes them over the top. Kidney beans and bacon are baked in a sweet, smoky barbecue sauce with onions and brown sugar. Top with cheddar cheese and more bacon right before serving. Pair these irresistible beans with pulled pork or brisket.
9. Bacon Mac and Cheese
A classic comfort food like mac and cheese gets even better with the addition of crispy, crumbled bacon. After boiling the pasta, make an easy cheese sauce with cheddar, parmesan, and evaporated milk. Stir in cooked bacon before mixing everything together and transferring to a baking dish. Top with panko breadcrumbs and more bacon before baking until golden.
10. Bacon Fried Rice
Bacon fried rice is an easy weeknight one-pan meal, but it also makes a mean side dish for Asian-inspired meals. Start by cooking bacon until crispy. Set aside the bacon bits and fry the rice in the drippings along with soy sauce, sesame oil, peas, carrots, and eggs. Top with scallions and the crumbled bacon for a quick and delicious dish.
Bacon’s savory, salty, smoky essence can elevate any side into a showstopper. Whether you’re in the mood for classic comfort foods like mac and cheese and baked beans or lighter dishes like BLT pasta salad and Brussel sprouts, bacon never fails to satisfy. The next time you cook up a package of bacon for breakfast or a sandwich, double the batch and set some aside to incorporate into these irresistible side dish recipes. Your family and friends will be begging for second helpings.