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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!
Ingredients You Need to Make Bacon Wrapped Dates
- Dates: pitted or with pits (it's easy to remove them - instructions and photos below)
- Goat Cheese: or feta or blue cheese
- Bacon: ideally thin bacon slices (If you prefer very crispy bacon, thick bacon slices may require partial cooking before wrapping the dates.)
- Whole Almonds: or whole pecans - toasted nuts add depth of flavor, but raw nuts work well too
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
How to Pit Dates
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!
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
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 Chicken Thighs, Bacon Wrapped Pork Chops, Bacon Wrapped Shrimp, Grilled Bacon Wrapped Shrimp or Bacon Wrapped Scallops!
How to Make Bacon Wrapped Dates
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.
Wrap stuffed date with ½ slice of thin bacon and secure with cocktail pick or toothpick. Repeat with remaining dates.
Arrange dates on a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper (or brushed lightly with oil). Bake at 375˚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.
Can any part of this be prepped ahead. Like - maybe stuff and wrap the dates a couple days ahead and then bake just before serving?
Marissa Stevens says
Hi Melissa! Yes, you can assemble and refrigerate them 1 day in advance to bake the day you plan to serve them.
I don't have an oven . Can these be done in microwave?
Marissa Stevens says
Hi Sharon. You'll laugh, but I don't have a microwave. If you want to make them in a microwave, I recommend looking for a recipe specifically written for cooking them that way.
Brilliant. I could eat a dozen at once. Love that they get baked with the the skewers. So easy to take them from the over to a platter to serve. 🙂 ~Valentina
Mary Ann | The Beach House Kitchen says
Such a great little appy for the holiday season Marissa. I bet they'd fly right off the tray here! Adding these to our entertaining menu this season. Pinned!
Love to hear that, Mary Ann! Thank you.
Yum! I love that you added an almond! Great for some crunch!
Yes, exactly! Thanks, Liz. 🙂
Kelly | Foodtasia says
Oh my goodness, Marissa! These must be soooo addictive! Love, love, love the salty, sweet, smoky, creamy flavor combination! I'm sure my guests would rave over these!
Yay! Hope you'll give them a try, Kelly!
These are great for holiday entertaining! Perfect for people to munch on while holding a cocktail. Love appetizers on a stick! Also, love that you can switch it up and add nuts to the cheese stuffing!
Appetizers on a stick are so great for parties! I'm always up for minimizing clean up! 😉 Thanks, Leanne.
Katherine | Love In My Oven says
Marissa, this is exactly the kind of appetizer I would gun for at a party haha! The savory bacon would go so well with the sweet dates. I am in love! Would love to make these for a holiday party this year!
You crack me up, Katherine. Thank you so much!
David @ Spiced says
I saw these on Insta the other night, and it immediately made my mouth water. I love this idea for a Christmas appetizer. Plus, it's an easy way to serve a variety of appetizers with minimal work. As for me, I'm all about the blue cheese + pecan version. Also, is Dorothy the famous Dorothy that I know, too? If so, I haven't heard from her in a few weeks now...I hope she's ok!
Yes, that Dorothy! She is such a gem. I talked with her over Thanksgiving - my guess is that she's just busy with the holidays.
I'm with you on the blue cheese and pecan - one of my favorite flavor combos!
Dawn - Girl Heart Food says
Food on a stick is the best! And I love the sweet and savoury situation going on here! Perfect for holiday parties!
haha! I love that designation and you're right - who doesn't want food on a stick? Thanks, Dawn!
Beautiful! I've only tried bacon wrapped prunes, but I know I'd like the version with dates, too. Always a killing appetizer!
Thanks, Ben. And yum! I've never made this recipe with prunes, but I bet it would be delicious.
Made this for my office Thanksgiving potluck and it was a HUGE hit! Thank you!!
I love to hear that, Apoorva! Thank you for coming back to let me know!
Beeta @ Mon Petit Four says
Good thing these are not sitting in front of me or else they'd be all gone! 😉 I love the sweet and salty mix you've got with these bacon wrapped dates. They look so neat and perfect.
Thanks so much, Beeta!
Paula | Vintage Kitchen says
I'm about to wrap some prunes in bacon for tomorrow, but I really need to try these! I always intend to, but end up with the easy recipe, jaja! Happy New Yearrrrr!!!
What a great idea!! I think prunes are WAY underrated - they're so good!! I've never tried them bacon wrapped, but it sounds so good. Happy New Year!!
Rebeccah @ Of Hops and Honey says
We've made these before for parties and they always FLY off the platter. That combo just can't be beat!
So true! 🙂 Thanks, Rebeccah!
Kevin | Keviniscooking says
Love the feta twist on these, perfect flavor trifecta indeed! HNY!
Thanks, Kevin! Happy New Year!
Faith (An Edible Mosaic) says
Oooh, there is nothing better than the sweet/salty flavor combo, and with the addition of crispy bacon I bet it's nearly impossible to stop at just one of these little bites! They would absolutely be perfect for a NYE party!
Yes, you definitely need more than one. 😉 Thank you, my friend! Happy New Year!!