Sweet and spicy bacon. Yes, it’s a thing. And it’s crispy, crunchy, salty, spicy, sweet, smoky, and spectacular. It’s essentially sweet and spicy bacon made from store-bought bacon slathered with brown sugar and cayenne to impart a sweet heat. The resulting candied bacon is a must in front of the football game with a cold beer but equally astounding when crumbled atop ice cream. It’s often called man candy or millionaire’s bacon. Deemed “highly addictive” by our recipe testers, it’s all but impossible to stop at just a single piece. Millionaire or not, consider yourself warned.Angie Zoobkoff

What do I do with spicy-sweet bacon?

Easy. You can demolish it pretty much exactly as you would any other bacon, including slipping it onto burgers and sandwiches, crumbling it over salads, and devouring it alongside pancakes, waffles, or eggs. Want to bring a little daring to your consumption of it? Crumble it over ice cream, cupcakes, even popcorn. Let us know in a comment below your sweet and spicy concoction.

A wire basket lined with parchment and filled with sweet and spicy bacon with a glass of beer on the side.

Sweet and Spicy Bacon

5 / 2 votes
This sweet and spicy bacon is made from brown sugar and spice and your best pork bacon. And it can be used almost anyplace you’d use regular bacon…and more.
David Leite
Servings4 servings
Calories526 kcal
Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time35 minutes
Total Time45 minutes


  • 1 stick (4 oz) lightly salted butter, cut into small chunks, plus more for the baking rack
  • 1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 pound thick-cut bacon


  • Preheat the oven to 400°F (204°C). Adjust the oven rack to the middle position. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil and place a wire rack on the baking sheet. Slick the wire rack with butter.
  • In a small bowl, combine the butter, brown sugar, and cayenne, using a fork to mash it all together until thoroughly blended and smooth.
  • Arrange the bacon slices on top of the wire rack in a single layer so the slices don’t overlap. Divide the butter and sugar mixture evenly among the slices of bacon. Spread the mixture evenly over the slices, trying to evenly cover as much of the bacon as possible. 
  • Bake until the bacon is crisp around the edges and the sugar mixture is caramelized and bubbly, 20 to 40 minutes. You want to remove it from the oven a little before it’s as crunchy as you like since the bacon will crisp as it cools.
  • Remove the baking sheet from the oven and let the bacon cool slightly and then transfer the strips to a plate. Resist the temptation to snitch some and let it completely cool, about 20 minutes. 
  • The sweet and spicy bacon is best demolished after it's cool but on the same day it’s made.
Essential Emeril Cookbook

Adapted From

Essential Emeril

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Serving: 1 servingCalories: 526 kcalCarbohydrates: 55 gProtein: 8 gFat: 32 gSaturated Fat: 17 gMonounsaturated Fat: 10 gTrans Fat: 1 gCholesterol: 85 mgSodium: 601 mgFiber: 0.1 gSugar: 53 g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe?Mention @leitesculinaria or tag #leitesculinaria!
Recipe © 2016 Emeril Lagasse. Photo © 2016 Becky Luigart-Stayner. All rights reserved.

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

This sweet and spicy bacon is crispy, crunchy, salty, spicy, and sweet. Translation: It’s so good it may become highly addictive. It would be great on sandwiches, salads, crumbled over ice cream, even as a topping for an iced cupcake. The list of uses goes on. Very easy to make and well worth the effort.

There wasn’t a strong level of spice from the cayenne pepper, so if you want the bacon to be more spicy, feel free to add another 1/2 teaspoon or so cayenne. If you don’t care for it hot and spicy, you can eliminate the cayenne pepper altogether. I’ve made this without the butter and it works well and the flavor is pretty much the same. The sugar actually adheres better to the bacon without the butter. In the oven, the butter mixture melted and pooled on the bottom of the pan and ended up burning and creating a very smoky oven towards the end of the baking period. This doesn’t happen when the brown sugar is applied to the bacon without any butter.

Just the title of this sweet and spicy bacon recipe enticed me to try it. After all it is bacon right, and who doesn’t like bacon? My thoughts were to put it into a snack bag to munch on at work. My expectations were somewhat thwarted by the cook time and some were very overcooked and downright burnt. They were crumbled and saved.

Overall the recipe is good and the bacon very tasty, the rest never had a chance of making as snacks. The cayenne pepper adds just the right touch and doesn’t make it hot. It just adds a subtle flavor like table seasonings. The flavor is awesome and it’s best to remove from the oven when just a bit limp as it will crisp up a bit more. This candied bacon would make a great accompaniment for pancakes or eggs. Also candied bacon cheeseburgers as well as salads. It can be stored in the fridge in a resealable plastic bag for a day or two with no problem. Sometimes just a few simple ingredients we may not think of work well. This is one of those times.

This recipe was super simple to make but extremely tasty. It didn’t last long once ready to eat. I was looking forward to trying it on my salad at dinner time however, as I said, we ate it immediately! If I make it again I would add a teaspoon of Cayenne as we like things spicy and this recipe made it a little more on the sweet side.

This Sweet and Spicy Bacon was exactly that. Mixing the butter, cayenne and brown sugar paste was easy enough, but I would recommend tasting it to make sure it is spicy enough for you. I personally would add more cayenne as the recipe as written gives only a slight hint of heat.

Make sure to line your baking sheet with foil for easier cleanup. This would be great with any breakfast, certainly amazing on salads but honestly, it’s just good all by itself!

About David Leite

I count myself lucky to have received three James Beard Awards for my writing as well as for Leite’s Culinaria. My work has also appeared in The New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, Saveur, Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Yankee, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, and more.

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Recipe Rating


  1. I also make a similar recipe. I learned a lesson the hard way: do not attempt to drain the cooked bacon on paper towels. You either will be picking pieces of paper toweling off the bacon for hours, or, more likely, just eating the bits of paper toweling because you cannot contain yourself!

    If you have any leftover (HA!), it can be frozen between layers of parchment paper. To serve, reheat as many strips as you need in the microwave. Twenty seconds for 2 or 3 strips works for me.

    1. Ah, many thanks for the troubleshooting trick, BBSTX! And the freezing trick, although as you imply, it may not be necessary that often, but this way we have it handy should the unlikely happen!

  2. 5 stars
    I’ve made a similar recipe over the years & it always disappears within minutes. I add cinnamon to the sugar and don’t use butter. It’s not needed. Disconnect your smoke detector before making this. Tee-hee!

    1. Those darn smoke detectors! I understand completely, Martha. I’ve been known to toss them across the room in a fit of frustration.