If you're looking for a party appetizer recipe that's the ideal trifecta: easy, mouthwatering and impressive, look no further than Bacon Wrapped Dates (also called 'Devils on Horseback').
It's the flavor complexity that makes these easy appetizers so irresistible - crisp, salty bacon wrapped around soft, sweet dates stuffed with a salty, creamy cheese (like goat cheese, feta or blue cheese) and nuts, (like almonds or pecans). They are completely versatile, come together in minutes, and clean up is a snap!
When we throw a dinner party or holiday party, I like to stuff dates with an assortment of nuts and cheeses so that our guests have choices. They make an excellent 3 or 4 ingredient appetizer. Here are some of my favorite combinations (as you'll see in my recipe video below):
- Just Cheese: Stuff dates with goat cheese, feta cheese, or blue cheese before wrapping in bacon. One to two teaspoons of cheese per date, depending on the size of the pocket left in the date once you remove the pit.
- Just Nuts: Stuff dates with toasted nuts, either almonds or pecans, before wrapping in bacon. (Great for Paleo diets.)
- Cheese and Nuts: Stuff dates with goat cheese and an almond, blue cheese and a pecan, or feta and an almond before wrapping in bacon
You can buy pitted dates, but I like to buy them with the pit as they tend to be softer. To pit a date, cut a slit down the middle of the date lengthwise leaving the ends intact. With your thumbs, pry the slit open wide and remove the pit. Now you have the perfect pocket to stuff!
Dates are the fruit of the date palm tree, native to the Middle East in the Persian Gulf. Though there are hundreds of varieties, the most common dates you'll find in the United States are Medjool dates and Deglet Noor. Either work well for this recipe.
Yes! You can make bacon wrapped dates up to one day ahead. Tightly cover and store in the refrigerator until you're ready to bake and serve.
These are delicious warm, from the oven, and at room temperature. And the recipe is easily scalable - make 12 or 24 (or even more!).
Use a thin piece of bacon for these to ensure that it gets uniformly crisp. If you enjoy crispy bacon, but want to use a thick variety, I recommend pre-cooking it before wrapping the dates. See this post for directions on how to pre-cook bacon.
More Party Food IDeas
My dear friend Dorothy shared this recipe with me and I promise that these will disappear fast at your next party. For more savory appetizer inspiration, here is a whole collection of Party Food Ideas from Crispy Baked Coconut Shrimp, Baked Goat Cheese, and Crispy Baked Buffalo Wings to Pita Bread made from scratch and dips to go with it like Tzatziki and White Bean Hummus. And if you love food wrapped in bacon, don't miss these incredible Bacon Wrapped Shrimp or Bacon Wrapped Scallops!
How to Make Bacon Wrapped Dates
Step 1: Pry open slit in a pitted date to reveal pocket. Fill pocket with 1 to 2 teaspoons creamy cheese, such as goat cheese, feta, or blue cheese. If desired, press nut into cheese and squeeze date edges to enclose stuffing.
Step 2: Wrap stuffed date with ½ slice of thin bacon and secure with cocktail pick or toothpick. Repeat with remaining dates.
Step 3: Arrange dates on a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper (or brushed lightly with oil). Bake at 374˚F for 15-20 minutes until bacon is crisp, turning dates after 10 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Bacon Wrapped Dates
- 12 dates pitted
- 3 ounces goat cheese or feta or blue cheese (recipe note #1)
- 6 thin slices bacon (recipe note #3)
- 12 toasted almonds or toasted pecans
- Preheat oven to 375°F.
- Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper (or lightly oil).
- Use thumbs to spread slit in pitted date and use a small spoon or butter knife to fill pocket with 1 to 2 teaspoons cheese. If desired, press whole almond or whole pecan into cheese. Squeeze date sides to enclose filling. Repeat with remaining dates.
- Cut bacon slices in half crosswise. Wrap each date in ½ strip of bacon and secure with cocktail pick or toothpick, starting from the seam side. Place on prepared baking sheet. Repeat with remaining dates, leaving a little room around each one.
- Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until bacon is crisp, turning dates after 10 minutes to cook bacon evenly. Serve warm or at room temperature.
- Use your favorite cheese or a variety of cheeses to give your guests options.
- If you're using nuts, I recommend pairing almonds with goat cheese or feta and pecans with blue cheese. These are naturally gluten free and for a Paleo option, skip the cheese and stuff with nuts only before wrapping in bacon.
- If you are using thick bacon, you'll find directions here for pre-cooking bacon so that it crisps up without overcooking the dates.
- Serving Tip! If you want to stand dates on end before serving, hold the cocktail pick or toothpick vertically against the serving platter and gently press the cooked date down to the bottom so that it's stable standing up.