Bacon Jam

This bacon jam, made with bacon, maple syrup, and coffee, is a sweet condiment slathered on burgers at the Skillet diner in Seattle–and just about everywhere else these days.

A small Mason jar half filled with bacon jam on a wooden board with a few pieces of bread beside the jar.

Yup. Bacon jam. Allow us to explain. The diner Skillet in Seattle is known throughout the land for burgers slathered with a sweetly smoky lusciousness known as bacon jam. So ridiculously habit-forming is this curious condiment made from brown sugar, maple syrup, coffee, and bacon that the diner, which operated out of a vintage Airstream trailer, began to jar the concoction and sell it.

What exactly is bacon jam? Skillet founder Josh Henderson, whose jam-making prowess is demonstrated in the video below, says it comprises bacon, onions, balsamic, and brown sugar. Bacon jam junkies have been conjecturing as to whether there are missing ingredients. A robust collection of renegade recipes exist online. Most of them a riff on the recipe found below, a basic blueprint. We can vouch for the go-wobbly-in-the-knees responses we’ve witnessed in the dozens of folks who’ve sampled this bacon jam. Especially when it’s slathered on the Skillet cheeseburger.

We can fathom making tweaks to this recipe, like maybe making it a splash of balsamic rather than cider vinegar, cutting back on the sugar, tossing in a jigger of bourbon…or not. Here’s how to make it at home.–Renee Schettler Rossi

What To Do With Bacon Jam?

Four cheese burgers on a grill topped with bacon jam

Equally debated as the ingredients that go into bacon jam is what to do with it once you’ve made it. Slather it on burgers, clearly (below). Egg sandwiches. Grilled cheese. Waffles. Crostini. Surprise us. Surprise yourself. And kindly let us know how you did so in a comment below.

Video: How to Make Bacon Jam
Video courtesy of Foodcrafters

Bacon Jam

  • Quick Glance
  • (23)
  • 15 M
  • 1 H, 45 M
  • Makes 3 cups

Special Equipment: 6-quart slow-cooker


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In a large skillet over mediumish heat, cook the bacon, stirring occasionally, until the fat is rendered and the bacon is lightly browned, about 20 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to paper towel-lined plates to drain.

Pour off all but 1 tablespoon drippings from the skillet and reserve for another use. Add the onions and garlic to the skillet and cook until the onions are translucent, about 6 minutes. Add the coffee, vinegar, brown sugar, and maple syrup and bring to a boil. Cook, stirring and scraping up any browned bits from the skillet, for 2 minutes. Add the bacon and stir to combine.

If making this on a stovetop, reduce the heat to a bare simmer and cook uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the liquid almost completely evaporates and turns syrupy, 1 to 1 1/2 hours. If making this in a slow-cooker, transfer the mixture to a 6-quart slow-cooker and cook on high, uncovered, until the liquid almost completely evaporates and turns syrupy, 3 1/2 to 4 hours.

Let the bacon concoction cool slightly before transferring it to a food processor and pulsing until coarsely chopped. Spoon the bacon lusciousness into individual jars or other resealable containers and refrigerate for up to 4 weeks. Transfer to a pan and rewarm gently over low heat prior to indulging.

Originally published November 8, 2012.

Recipe Testers Reviews

This bacon jam, as far as I’m concerned, is one of the finest “new” inventions I’ve ever come across. It’s savory and sweet all at once, and a truly great addition to almost anything! My motto, when in doubt, add bacon, so sheer curiosity regarding the title had me running for my frying pan.

Very little effort is required: chopping onions, bacon, and garlic, then sautéing and deglazing with the apple cider vinegar, and plunking in the brown sugar and maple syrup. I was intrigued with the addition of coffee, figuring that it would impart a richer, deeper flavor. This was all followed by a slow reduction that produced a syrupy liquid filled with bacon.

I used my favorite thick-cut, cherry wood–smoked, local Hudson Valley bacon. I always use it for everything; though pricey, it’s just so much better. I did think that my bacon became a little crunchy and perhaps a little too candied by the end, which will possibly get me to try something a little fattier next time. I used the food processor for a coarse chop and came out with a great end product.

Now, you might ask yourself what to do with this jam. I say, just about anything! It works great on burgers or with chops, a bit of roast chicken, even as jam on toast with a fried egg added on top. I do believe there to be endless uses for a savory jam such as this. Because we all know everything is better with bacon!

I’m not just a fan of bacon; I’m also a great fan of slow cookers. I love the fix-it-and-forget-it idea of them and couldn’t wait to try this recipe using that approach. I browned the bacon, then the onions and garlic, as suggested, then added the rest of the ingredients to the slow cooker. Cooked it on high, as suggested, uncovered for 3 1/2 hours, uncovered, with the occasional stir. The results were delightful and the aroma wafting through my house was to die for. I don’t know whether it was simpler than the stovetop, but I definitely liked the results. Bacon anyone?

You had me at “bacon.” The end result of this jam recipe is a sweet and salty heart attack in a jar. I love that this recipe is easy enough to make yet the end product is something you’re not going to find on the shelf at your local grocer.

Frying up all that bacon was a grease-spattering nightmare and keeping a household of bacon-loving fingers away from all that bacon while it awaited its jammy destiny was a chore. It took my recipe longer than 1 1/2 hours to reduce down to a jam-like consistency, and I kept second-guessing myself—is it thick and syrupy enough?

I spread it on some thickly sliced toasted bread and then perched a fried egg on top for a “breakfast for supper” meal and it was delicious, though I imagine it’d taste just as good if I were to spread it on a tennis shoe. After all, it’s bacon!

The phrase “everything is better with bacon” can now be restated as “everything is better with bacon jam.” A brilliant idea! It’s hard to describe the taste—a little sweet, mostly savory, just an incredible blend of flavors. We tried this on a burger but it was even better on a fried egg sandwich. We ran out, but wanted to try it on a grilled cheese sandwich, too. My son said this is so good that it’d make a vegetarian convert into a carnivore.

This jam was delicious on hamburgers. I didn’t miss my usual ketchup. It was easy to make, too. Note that 1 1/2 pounds of bacon equals two 12-ounce packages. This is the expensive ingredient here. My yield was closer to 2 cups and I only cooked it in the Crock-Pot for 3 1/2 hours. The liquid didn’t really become syrupy. It just cooked down and the bacon became a bit darker. The smell was fantastic.

This jam was really delicious and relatively easy to make. We may have to have a jar of this in the refrigerator at all times. You never know when you may need some.

After simmering for 70 minutes, the jam was done. Now to the finished product: really, really good. It was wonderful on burgers. It was wonderful spread on a brioche bun with fluffy scrambled eggs and grated aged Cheddar cheese. I’m betting that it’ll be equally as good on the hard-boiled egg, tomato, and arugula sandwich that we’ll have for lunch today.

This bacon jam is a great accompaniment to any burger. It’d also be good on a number of other sandwiches, for example, fried or scrambled egg, grilled cheese, BLT (instead of the B). It was definitely worth the effort to make it and I could’ve eaten it straight from the container.

I made a half recipe and the yield was only about a cup, so I don’t think the full recipe would give you 3 cups. The simmering time for my half-recipe portion was about 45 minutes. At that point it was nice and syrupy and still held a bit of crunch after being pulsed in the food processor. I made it a day in advance and put it in the refrigerator. It was pretty firm when I took it out and still firm after sitting on the counter for awhile. Then I heated it in the microwave for about 20 seconds, which brought it to a nice, spreadable consistency.

A spoonful of bacon jam on a roast beef and Boursin sandwich is really quite heavenly! I recommend a rough chop on the onions as it all gets a whirl in the food processor in the end. I used my slow cooker as recommended. However, I finished cooking off the liquid on the stovetop. As an alternative, I think the jam could be cooked down in a heavy pot in the oven, like browning a roux.

This recipe is absolutely a tease—the entire time it was cooking, the aroma wafting throughout the house made us all keep on looking at the clock, trying to figure out how to stay busy until it was done. Yet it was way too hard to resist, so from time to time we would go to the slow cooker and dip in for a little spoonful—you know, just to make sure it tasted good!

I followed all of the steps the recipe asked for, except that I made it in a small slow cooker, one that’s just 16 ounces, and it was absolutely perfect. The jam filled the cooker 3/4 of the way at the beginning and after 4 hours it had reduced to half full. I let the bacon jam cool and then I decided to skim just 1 tbsp of the fat from the top. We ate it this morning with crepes and confectioner’ sugar and it was absolutely wonderful! I will be making this more often, as I don’t think that the three jars I was able to fill will last long in this household.

Bacon jam for the slow cooker? While that entire question may sound crazy, it actually works very well. The times for rendering the fat from the bacon and sautéing the onion and garlic are spot on. I preheated my slow cooker for 10 minutes before I added the bacon mixture; this helped bring it to a simmer in no time. I then simmered the jam for 4 hours in an uncovered slow cooker. It was perfect. After a minute in the food processor it was a “jammy” consistency.

I had tasted the jam halfway through cooking and thought the onions might be overwhelming, but after the entire cooking time was finished, the flavor of the jam was amazing, a perfect balance of sweet and savory. Everyone who tried it had a wide-eyed, “Ooh, this is sooo good” look. On top of all this, I received the benefit of enjoying the aroma throughout my house during the cooking time. This will be fantastic on everything, whether sandwiches or chicken breasts or Brie. I cannot wait to make some for my friends.

I would certainly do this bacon jam recipe again. I made this in a 4-quart Crock pot. It took about 15 minutes to brown the bacon. I drained off all but 1 tablespoon of the drippings and sauteed the onions and garlic in it for 5 minutes. I added the rest of the ingredients, except for the bacon, and simmered it for 2 or 3 minutes. I added the bacon back in and stirred well before dumping it all in the slow cooker. I set the timer for 4 hours and cooked it with the top off. Even after all that time, it still had a soupy consistency.

I let the mixture completely cool and it was only slightly thicker, so I cooked it with the top off for another 4 hours and the consistency was much better. I think smaller slow cookers might shorten the overall time cooking. After cooling, it resembled a good chutney. As for taste, this condiment has a bacony, sweetly, salty taste with a slightly tart finish. A little goes a long way. I found it to be really nice with a sharp Cheddar and it was great on a tomato sandwich.

I made this jam in my 5-quart slow cooker. Cooking the jam in the slow cooker worked just fine, but it did take longer to cook than the 3 1/2 to 4 hours indicated. It was more like 7 hours for me. This could be due to the fact that I was using an older slow cooker that cooks a bit lower than new ones do.

Even though the instructions say to use a 6-quart cooker, I think you could get by doing this in a much smaller cooker, even a 3-quart one. One thing to consider when making this in the slow cooker is ventilation. Normally it’s not an issue because of the lid and minimal evaporation, but when you cook this for hours on end with the lid off, the bacon aroma will permeate the house and linger for days. It might be a good idea to set the slow cooker under the range hood or somewhere where it can be vented to the outside.

There are two things I did that weren’t in the instructions that made this recipe a little easier. The first was to bake the bacon in the oven. I put it on a rimmed baking sheet fitted with a rack and baked it at 375°F for 20 to 25 minutes (start checking for doneness at 15 minutes). It still took 3 batches to get it all cooked, and probably wasn’t any faster than using a skillet, but it was more hands-off and a lot less mess.

I also cooked the bacon pieces whole, and broke them up after they were crisped. Much easier and neater than slicing raw bacon into pieces. The other thing I did was use an immersion blender to blend the cooked jam instead of transferring it to a food processor. You can just blend it up right in the pot or slow cooker, and with much easier cleanup than a food processor.

The instant that I tasted this jam, the clouds parted, the sun began to shine, and all was good in my world. At this point, I've only eaten this on the Skillet Cheeseburger and I am concerned that this little jar from Heaven may turn into a midnight snack or my next meal.

I cut the bacon in smaller pieces than suggested and I opted not to "process" the jam as the final step and instead left it chunky. I also split it among 2 skillets and added a dried chipotle chile pepper to 1 skillet. Whether a jam, a condiment, or a dessert, this stuff is GENIUS!

Bacon jam makes everything taste great. I’ve used the jam on a burger, in a grilled cheese sandwich, on crackers, on toast. It would be perfect for an appetizer on toasted baguette slices or roasted potato slices with the blue cheese and arugula. I’d recommend serving it at room temperature rather than right out of the fridge.

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