Camping Carny Bacon

Deep-fried bacon and dipping sauce.
Camping Carny Bacon. Hog heaven.

Look at that picture! That is Camping Carny Bacon. I developed this recipe one weekend when I decided I wanted a snack for our camping trip that was luxuriously indulgent. One that didn’t care about calories or, it must be admitted, personal health. I wanted a fatty, spicy, umami-aware, calorie-ignorant explosion of sweet-and-salty joy. I called it Carny Bacon because it’s battered and deep fried, but it was made for camping, baby!

And this is it.

Note: some of my testers (the teens) prefer it without the green onion.  I tried it both ways.  It’s delicious. So the green onion is optional.

it had to be easy to make at a campsite.

Just as a quick side note, I hate it when I go to a website for a recipe and you have to click a dozen more times before you actually get to it, or get all the information. Don’t worry–it’s all here on one page. Here is the recipe:

  • 1 lb. precooked bacon (not necessary but you’ll wanna do this.)
  • Camping Carny Batter (recipe below)
  • Red Hot Maple dipping sauce (recipe below)
Preparing the bacon:

You can just fry your bacon at the campsite, but if you prepare it this way it’s faster, easier, and works out great. It also makes for waaaaay less work when you want to make anything involving bacon when camping. I do up several pounds of bacon, depending on the number of people I’m going to be feeding. You can freeze this and I can’t tell you how nice it is to just grab what you need bacon-wise and just heat it up for whatever you want to use it for. Anyhoo, here’s what to do:

Take a pound of bacon and lay it out in strips on a cookie sheet that has been lined with tinfoil and then parchment paper (the parchment paper absorbs some of the fat but it’s not strictly necessary. You can just use tinfoil if you want.) Place the cookie sheet in a preheated 400ºF and bake for 15 minutes. That’s it. Let cool and stack the not-quite-crispy-bacon strips in a plastic container and either freeze or stick in the cooler, depending on how far away the camping trip is. This is as close to instant bacon as you will get.

Camping Carny Batter:

You can use the instant mix recipe, but for the best results, use this batter:

battered bacon
The batter is thin, which makes it crispy and lets the bacon come through.
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup corn starch
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2/3 cup of water
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/4 cup Frank’s Red Hot Sauce
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, julienned. Parsley may be substituted.
  • 1/3 cup green onion, chopped (optional)
  • (Optional: Rip-roaring hot version–2 small thai red peppers chopped fine)

Mix first 3 ingredients together in a small bowl; set aside. In a separate bowl, beat egg with Frank’s Red Hot Sauce. Add water, stirring until mixed. Pour liquid into dry mix, stirring until incorporated (some small lumps may still remain; don’t worry about it.) Stir cilantro and chopped onion (and if you want the peppers but this is really hot) into mixture. Batter will be medium-thin. Don’t fret if it’s a little thicker or thinner; this is a forgiving recipe.

 Red Hot Maple Dipping Sauce:

For every pound of bacon you use, make this much dipping sauce:

  • 1 cup maple syrup
  • 1 cup Frank’s Red Hot Sauce

putting it all together.

Deep fried option:

Heat 2″ of canola or other cooking oil in a frying pan until the temperature reads between 350º and 375ºF. If you don’t have a thermometer, you can take a small piece of stale bread and put it in the fat. If it turns brown in about 60 seconds, it’s hot enough. (Here is an excellent article on deep-fat frying and re-using oil) Cut the bacon strips into halves–about 3″ long. Place bacon pieces into batter, then take pieces and place into cooking fat. This cooks very fast; keep a constant eye on it. You only need to cook the batter as the bacon is already done. As soon as the batter is golden brown, remove and place on paper towel to soak up fat.

Fried option:

Frying is a great option because you get these little crispy bits at the edges that are just delicious! You don’t need to take as much oil with you when you go camping, either.  Both options are delicious. Melt about a tablespoon of butter, oil, bacon fat or duck fat in a frying pan. Dip halved bacon into batter, then place in hot frying pan.  This fries up quickly, so turn it over when edges look dry, maybe a minute, maybe less. Fry other side and remove to a plate. Add more fat and fry next batch, continuing until done.

Serve either option with dipping sauce.

I promise you, people–This is fried hog heaven. Works great with cold beer, apple cider or sangria; or ice-cold apple juice, lemonade or grapefruit soda.