These poppable Bacon Wrapped Dates are the best party appetizer. Stuffed with feta cheese, herbs and spices and wrapped in crispy bacon, these sweet-and-salty stuffed dates are full of flavor. They’ll be gone in a flash!
Bacon Wrapped Dates recipe
Whenever I know I’m going to need an appetizer for a gathering of any sort, I turn to recipes I can make in advance.
For my birthday this year, we made Bacon Wrapped Dates. They were so good and disappeared quickly!
They are the best bite-sized appetizers. You’ll love that they are a little salty, a little sweet and really really really hard to stop eating because they hit all those notes that make your brain happy. When combined, these simple ingredients truly shine.
The best part is you can do most of the prep in advance: Prepare the filling, stuff the dates and wrap them in bacon. Then you can let them hang out in the fridge or freezer and then bake them up when it’s go time.
Why I love this recipe:
In my opinions, this is a great recipe for several reasons:
- Sweet dates pair with crispy bacon and are filled with a salty feta mixture to make the ultimate sweet-salty app.
- Bacon Wrapped Dates are an easy make-ahead appetizer.
- They’re an easy party appetizer and perfect for parties of any kind, from holidays to gamedays during the football season and beyond.
- Even though they are bite-sized, they are sooo flavorful.
What you need to make this recipe:
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- Rimmed baking sheet
- Parchment paper
- Microplane or zester
- Food processor
- Rubber spatula
- Sharp knife or cherry pitter, for pitting the dates
- Piping bag or large zip top bag
- Kitchen shears
- Toothpick jar, for serving
- Platter, for serving
- Paper plates and cocktail napkins
Let’s talk ingredients!
In addition to the tools above, you’re going to need some ingredients to make this recipe, too! Chances are, you might already have some of them in your fridge or pantry. Scroll down to the recipe card for the full measurements and instructions.
Here’s what you’ll need to grab at your local grocery store:
- Large dates – I find this recipe easier to make with la
rger Medjool dates. Smaller ones are difficult to pit and fill. I used larger ones in this recipe and encourage you to do the same. If you do use smaller dates, the bake time will be a little shorter. You will use less bacon. Also, I recommend buying pre-pitted dates if possible, as pitting dates yourself is a PITA. (Pun intended.)
- Feta cheese — I suggest the crumbles but you can use a block and crumble it up before you blend it.
- Orange zest — this subtle hint of orange is oh-so-decadent! Don’t skip it.
- Olive oil — I like extra-virgin olive oil but you can use any neutral-tasting oil such as avocado oil or vegetable oil.
- Fresh thyme leaves — spring for fresh if you can for the best flavor, but you can substitute ½ teaspoon dried if you can’t find fresh.
- Black pepper — you will love having freshly-cracked black pepper in alllll your savory recipes. I highly recommend getting a pepper mill like this if you don’t have one!
- Bacon strips — go for a thinner cut of bacon, not thick-cut. Using regular bacon from the store is important because thick-cut bacon takes longer to cook. Also, you can overcook the dates.
Customizations and substitutions
Substitute the cheese. If you like it, you can use tangy goat cheese, blue cheese or even cream cheese instead of feta. I’m sure it would be good here for those that like it (and have been told it is), but I cannot personally attest to it!
Use lemon zest. No oranges? Lemons work well, too.
Add nuts. My sister-in-law likes to add a pecan half inside her bacon wrapped dates. That’s a fun addition if you’re looking for extra crunch. You can also use a slivered almond.
Swap out the bacon. I used regular smoky bacon, but you could use a spicy bacon (like Hatch Chile Bacon) or even turkey bacon to make these
How to make Bacon Wrapped Dates
You can make this stuffed dates recipe in a few simple steps:
Preheat the oven to 425°F (220°C). Line a sheet pan with parchment paper. Set aside.
Combine the feta, orange zest and olive oil in a food processor. Blitz to combine, then taste. Stir in the thyme leaves. Taste. Add black pepper, if desired.
If you’re using dates that still have pits in them, slice the dates in half with a small paring knife and remove the pits. You can also use a date pitter.
If using larger dates, cut them down the middle to create two separate “boats”, as they will be too large to be bite-sized appetizers. If you’re using smaller dates, remove the pits and leave the two sides to where you can seal them completely. These will take longer to make because they will require a piping bag.
Slice the uncooked bacon into halves with a sharp knife or use kitchen shears.
Once you have your mise en place with the bacon slices and pitted dates, you can set up an assembly line to stuff the dates.
Use a spoon or stuff a pastry bag with the filling and add a teaspoon or so of the filling to each date. You can also do this with a butter knife or a small spoon if your dates are large enough for you to smear the cheese mixture into them.
Please note the amount of filling will depend on how big your dates are! I used medium-large dates (about 34 of them to a pound) and used about a teaspoon of each.
Wrap each date in a piece of bacon.
Arrange it so the side of the date where the bacon ends meet is on the bottom, and place it end-side down on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat until you’ve filled and wrapped all your dates.
Bake the dates in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes, or until the bacon is crispy and golden brown. The cooking time will be dependent on how thick the bacon is, as well as how large your dates are.
Let cool for 5-10 minutes before serving with toothpicks on a platter.
How to store and freeze
This recipe is a great make-ahead appetizer for a dinner party or even the holidays. Prepare the filling, stuff the dates and wrap them in bacon in advance. Then you can refrigerate or freeze them, then bake them just before the party starts.
I would choose to freeze them and then bake from frozen, though that will add a few minutes to the baking time, but it helps them maintain their shape better than the fridge.
If you have any leftovers (you won’t, I bet), you can store them in a food-safe, airtight container in the fridge and warm them up in the oven at 200°F (93°C).
Erin’s Easy Entertaining Tips
Oh, these sweet and salty Bacon Wrapped Dates are the perfect finger food to serve for an occasion or gathering because they’re easy to make ahead of time, as well as easy to eat.
- Make the filling, stuff the dates with the creamy cheese filling and wrap them with bacon — ahead of time. Stash in the fridge or freezer and bake them just before guests arrive.
- Serve with toothpicks or tongs. As you can see from my photos, I placed the toothpicks in a shot glass for guests to use to spear their own appetizers.
- Dipping sauces like hot honey or maple syrup would be delicious with these.
Frequently Asked Questions
Depending on the size of your dates and the cut of your bacon, bacon wrapped dates cook in about 20-30 minutes at 425°F (220°C).
Bacon wrapped dates are made by stuffing dried, pitted Medjool dates with a filling, such as nuts, meat or cheese. The dates are then wrapped in savory bacon and baked in the oven. They are a great bite-sized appetizer.
Quick tips and tricks to making the best bacon-wrapped dates recipe
- Place the cheese stuffed dates seam side down on the baking sheet so they don’t unravel.
- Bake them with wooden toothpicks inserted, if you prefer, so they hold their shape. Some of mine burst open as they were baking. This is an aesthetic choice and personal preference.
- Use larger dates — they are easier to handle and have more room to stuff them.
More bite-size appetizer recipes
Bacon Wrapped Dates
- ½ cup feta cheese crumbles
- Zest of 1 small orange
- 5 teaspoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
- Black pepper to taste
- 1 lb. dates about 32-36 medium dates
- 1 ½ lbs. thinly cut bacon
- Preheat the oven to 425°F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper. Set aside.
- Combine the feta, orange zest and olive oil in a food processor. Blitz to combine, then taste. Stir in the thyme leaves. Taste. Add black pepper, if desired.
- Slice the dates in half and remove the pits (if they have not already been removed). If using extremely large dates, cut them down the middle to create two separate “boats”, as they will be too large to be bite-sized appetizers. If you’re using smaller dates, remove the pits and leave the two sides to where you can seal them completely. These will take longer to make because they will require a piping bag.
- Slice the bacon strips in half. (Make sure you have enough for the number of dates you’ve got.)
- Use a spoon, butter knife or a pastry bag filled with the filling to stuff the dates. You’ll need about a teaspoon per date, though it is dependent on the size of the dates.
- Wrap each date in a slice the bacon. Place the side where the bacon ends meet on the bottom of the prepared sheet pan. Repeat.
- Bake the dates in the oven for 20-25 minutes, or until the bacon is crispy.
- Let cool for 5-10 minutes before serving with toothpicks.