Smokey Caramelized Onion, Coffee & Bacon Jam

March 10, 2016

Bacon jam's uses are endless, but we especially love it in a gooey grilled cheese. Photos: Linda Schneider

What’s better than bacon? Bacon jam. And what’s better than bacon jam? A grilled cheese sandwich slathered with bacon jam. It’s my guilty pleasure and soon to be yours, too. Trust me on this one.

Bacon jam is essentially bacon cooked slowly with onions, vinegar, brown sugar, and spices until it’s, well, jammy. It’s the ideal combination of smoky, salty, and sweet (and slightly spicy, if you choose to add a pinch of cayenne pepper). When making this cured condiment, don’t rush it; you want the onions to become deeply browned and caramelized. This takes time.

I used smoked bacon, the smokier the better in my book. And if you want a more complex flavor, substitute half of the brown sugar for maple syrup. I added brewed coffee as well. But if you aren’t a coffee drinker, you could use bourbon or a favorite porter or stout. Experiment until you find the bacon jam recipe you like best.

From there, bacon jam’s uses are limited only by your imagination. Swap it in for the bacon on a BLT. Use it to liven up a stir-fry or add depth to your favorite chili recipe. Or try it as a topping on your hamburger, pizza, or even an ice cream sundae. Want to win over friends? A jar of bacon jam makes a deliciously memorable gift.

So how do you prepare the perfect grilled cheese sandwich to go with your bacon jam? You’ll need a melty cheese, preferably a young Fontina, cheddar, Gruyère, Taleggio, gouda, or some combination thereof. Avoid cheeses that are too aged or dry, otherwise they won’t melt well. Next the bread. I’m partial to sourdough, but any thinly sliced, white-style bread will work. And finally, you need a generous layer of butter to get the bread to yield a crispy browned crust.

Get the Recipe: Smokey Caramelized Onion, Coffee & Bacon Jam


1 pound thick-cut bacon, sliced into 3/4-inch pieces
2 large sweet onions, thinly sliced
2 small shallots, thinly sliced
4 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar (or 1/4 cup brown sugar and 1/4 cup maple syrup)
1/4 balsamic vinegar
3/4 cup freshly brewed (strong) coffee
Pinch of cayenne pepper
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Bacon Jam Ingredients


1. Cook the bacon over medium-high heat in a large non-stick or cast-iron skillet, 10 to 12 minutes, until it starts to crisp. With a slotted spoon, remove the bacon and set aside.

2. In the same skillet (no need to drain the bacon fat), add the onions, shallot, and garlic, and sauté for 5 minutes, until soft and translucent. Add the brown sugar, vinegar, coffee, ½ cup of water, and reserved bacon. Add a pinch of cayenne. Season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook, stirring from occasionally, 50 to 60 minutes, until the onions are well caramelized. If the mixture becomes too dry, add a little more water.

3. Cool and transfer the mixture to a food processor. Pulse a few times until thick and chunky. Store in an air-tight container in the refrigerator, up to 1 week.

Bacon Jam

As a member of the Food Network blogger network, this post is part of the Pull Up a Chair series. Discover more great dishes using the hashtag #ComfortFoodFeast, on Pinterest, and from our blogger friends here:

The Lemon Bowl: Roasted Green Beans with Bacon
Creative Culinary: Bacon, Potato and Leek Soup with Roasted Garlic
Healthy Eats: 5 Better Ways to Put Bacon on Everything
Napa Farmhouse 1885: Oven Baked Bacon (and a Bacon Recipe Roundup)
Taste with the Eyes: Hawaiian Wedding Shower, Bacon Wrapped Pineapple Appetizer
The Mom 100: The Ultimate BLT Sandwich
Dishin & Dishes: Bacon Chipotle Caramel Crack
FN Dish: 6 Ways to Make Over-the-Top Foods More Over the Top … with Bacon

Linda Schneider is a home cook who is obsessed with good food and all things local. Follow her adventures at Wild Greens and Sardines.

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