This crispy bacon wrapped asparagus is the perfect side dish or appetizer. For an extra boost of flavor, serve it with lemon wedges to squirt on top.
How To Size the Bundles
The trickiest part of making bacon wrapped asparagus bundles is that asparagus is rarely the same thickness with each purchase. As a result, the bacon wrapped asparagus bundles should be portioned our roughly by weight: into 5-6 bundles per pound.
Start by trimming the asparagus so the woody ends are gone, leaving behind only tender asparagus spears. Next, split the pound of asparagus into two groups. Then each of those two groups into another three.
This roughly gives similarly sized bundles. Although it may only be three asparagus spears one time you make it, and fourteen the next. Having the similar weight makes it easier to predict timing for cooking the bacon wrapped asparagus bundles.
What Kind of Bacon?
To get the right bacon wrap for this asparagus recipe, I recommend first starting with the different cuts.
For thickness, I recommend standard bacon. This is a fairly thin bacon that stretches well so the layers don’t become too thick. If the bacon is too thick is doesn’t finish cooking before the asparagus spears do. This often results in chewy bacon.
Next, I recommend getting a cut from the slab if possible. Slab bacon is a little bit leaner than standard bacon, so it crisps up just a little bit better.
Finally, choose a natural or hardwood smoked bacon. These are actually sent through a smoker rather than having liquid smoke injected into it. It has a better flavor, in my opinion.
How To Wrap the Asparagus
When you wrap the asparagus and bacon together, it is important to wrap with the lean meat end exposed. This gives it a much prettier bacon-y appearance. Plus, as you wrap and layer it around the asparagus the fatty layers provide enough to keep the lean from overcooking.
It doesn’t matter if you wrap each piece of bacon from bottom to top of the bacon wrapped asparagus bundles. It just matters that that lean meat is exposed.
As you wrap the bacon around the asparagus bundles, start with the bacon in the bacon. Wrap up (or down) stretching the bacon slightly as you do. This helps you get more wraps out of each piece of bacon as well as thin out each strip even more.
Try to start and end each piece of bacon wrapped asparagus bundles in the bacon where it touches the baking rack. If it correctly wrapped, the bacon will seal to itself in oven so it doesn’t need secured with a toothpick. This is also part of why keeping that lean side of the meat out is important.
Finally, once your bacon wrapped asparagus bundles are done being wrapped
Why Use A Baking Rack?
For the bacon to get crispy, but not overcook the asparagus, it needs a baking sheet lined with a rack. This baking rack helps promote air flow around the bacon so all sides of it cook evenly.
Additionally, if baked directly on the pan, the bacon fat releases from the wrapped asparagus bundles and floods the bottom. This leaves the of the bacon soggy. It would also overcook the bottommost asparagus and your bundles end up unevenly cooked.
As a bonus, cooking the bacon wrapped asparagus bundles on a baking rack lets the excess fat drip away. This helps get that crispy bacon as well as gets rid of unnecessary fat.
Your Secret Weapon: The Broiler
To begin with, the bacon wrapped asparagus bundles cook in a preheated oven at 400 degrees. When you cook bacon wrapped asparagus in the oven exclusively like this, it never quite gets crispy. Not without overcooking the asparagus.
It’s not a problem with the cooking time, but more to do with how direct the heat is.
This is why your broiler is your secret weapon.
But in order for this to work, the asparagus bundles shouldn’t be overcooked. It is easy after fifteen minutes to open the oven door, see the chewy bacon and decide it needs more time.
It’s hard to do, but trust me. The broiler finishes the job for you.
To use the broiler after baking, transfer the bacon wrapped asparagus bundles to the SECOND uppermost rack in the oven.
Turn the broiler to high and cook for 2-3 minutes per side to crisp the bacon. The heat from the broiler not only cooks the bacon, but finishes the cooking process for the asparagus.
Don’t stress out if the tips of the tender asparagus spears brown up a little. This is normal with a broiler and why I recommend using the second highest rack position. This helps the direct heat from the broiler not burn them.
Top Chef Tips
- Line the baking sheet with parchment paper. Similar to cooking bacon in the oven, this makes for a no mess cleanup when the bacon fat cools.
- If the asparagus is extremely thick, wrap a slice of bacon around each individual spear. This gives a beautiful presentation, and who can argue with a higher bacon to asparagus ratio? You may just need to buy a second pack of bacon.
- Tossing in olive oil is a standard cooking method when no other fat is available for the asparagus. However, since the bacon provides fat on its own, this is completely optional. The olive oil MIGHT help protect the tips of the spears, but I find that it only adds fat that makes the bacon chewier.
- For this bacon wrapped asparagus recipe, I recommend using two pounds of asparagus. This helps ensure there is enough of the actual asparagus left to serve after trimming to count as vegetable servings.
- Season the asparagus with salt and black pepper BEFORE wrapping in the bacon. This ensures that the salt goes to where it is needed.
Bacon Wrapped Asparagus Bundles Recipe
I love serving this bacon wrapped asparagus bundles recipe with entrees that are have enough fat in them as well. This makes for a very rich meal, but a natural pairing. Some of my favorites are:
Make grocery shopping simpler with this printable grocery list for bacon wrapped asparagus recipe. Everything is listed in standard grocery store amounts. If no size is specified, even the smallest package will provide more than enough.
Happy Cooking! 🙂
Bacon Wrapped Asparagus
- 2 pounds asparagus, trimmed
- 12 ounces hickory smoked bacon
- salt and pepper, to taste
- Preheat oven to 400°F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper and place a baking rack on top.
- Separate the asparagus into 10-12 bundles, each roughly the same size. Wrap the bacon with the lean meat part always on top stretching as necessary to thin out the bacon.. Make sure both ends are on the same side and can be placed on the baking rack.
- Transfer all the bacon wrapped bundles to the rack and bake 15 minutes or until the asparagus is cooked.
- Move the asparagus to the second highest rack and turn the broiler on high. Broil for 2-3 minutes on the first side then flip and repeat 1-2 minutes on the other or until crispy. Remove from the broiler and serve.
- Trim the asparagus and wrap it in bacon up to 24 hours in advance. Cook according to the instructions before serving.
- Cook the bacon wrapped asparagus in the oven, but skip the broiler recipe. Cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days. Before serving, reheat in the broiler, cooking up to an extra 1-2 minutes per side.