Probably just about all of us have a pre-keto go-to dish we like to make for carry-ins (aka pitch-ins, potlucks, etc..) My go-to was an appetizer that involved wrapping Lil’ Smokies in half a slice of bacon, then covering them all in brown sugar, baking, and moving them to a crockpot to keep them warm. They were perfect because they work well for breakfast, brunch, lunch, and dinner. They were easy and a surefire crowd-pleaser. Obviously, this was not going to work in the keto WOE. Luckily, this was one of the easier recipes to keto-ize!
I have a large extended family and I often take this to breakfasts serving a 30+ person choir and symphony. So the following recipe is for a large group. However, leftovers reheat well and can be used to make a yummy omelet the next morning.
What I love about this recipe is that it is crazy simple. You will need breakfast sausage links in about 1 1/2 to 2 inch pieces, bacon, a brown sugar substitute (I use Sukrin Gold, so I know this brand works and it is 1:1 so I did not have to adjust my old recipe), and toothpicks.
Probably the hardest part of this recipe is finding keto-friendly breakfast sausage in the store. Honestly, since I am on a budget and this often is a large amount of food for a large amount of non-keto people, I often have to go with “close enough.” Sugar is involved in the curing process, so it will be nearly impossible to find sausage without it, but a little cane sugar is better than high fructose corn syrup. So that is what I aim for. If you look at the carbs in the finished product, you will find most of the sugar goes away in the curing process. If following a budget is not a big concern or you are cooking for a smaller group, then find a local source of meat. They will be less likely to go the chemical route in their curing process (i.e. dextrose, corn syrup, etc.)
This recipe is one of the few times I prefer packaged bacon over butcher counter bacon. For one, budget again, but more importantly the packaged bacon is sliced thinner than most butcher counters make theirs. This thinner slice is just easier to wrap around the sausage. I use kitchen scissors to cut the bacon in half. Once I have my bacon and sausage, then I grab some toothpicks and set-up my assembly line.
Before you start wrapping, you will need a metal shallow baking pan. The bacon and sausages will release liquid. The rest is super simple. Just wrap a half-slice of bacon around a sausage and secure it with a toothpick. Put the sausage in the pan. I usually do open side up, so it can really let the melting “brown sugar” seep in. This is one of those things that just sounds like it makes a difference, but I have not done taste tests or double blind studies to determine if it makes any difference. I do arrange them in an orderly fashion so that they cook evenly and I can get all the baking done in one go. Less time and fewer dishes to clean are always a good thing.
Once all of your sausages are wrapped, then generously sprinkle the “brown sugar” over the top of all the sausages. Once that is done, they are ready to pop in the oven. Bonus: your house will smell amazing!
Once they are done, I throw them in a crockpot or Instant Pot. Pour the liquid in the baking dish over the sausages in the pot. These are great for making ahead and then warming back up when they are ready to be served. I have had good luck with doing the Steam option on the Instant Pot for about 5-7 minutes and then setting it to Slow Cooker once they are heated up. Sometimes, especially if I am making these for a breakfast or brunch event, then I will put in a maple syrup substitute to give it more of a “breakfast” taste before I start reheating them.
The final step is enjoy this divine treat and all the compliments you will get!
Recipe: Keto “Brown Sugar” Bacon-Wrapped Sausage Appetizers
- 3 packages of smoked, uncured bacon
- 2 packages of little smoked sausages or 2 packages of breakfast sausage links cut into 1 1/2 to 2 inch pieces
- 1 cup brown sugar substitute (if your brand of choice is a 1:1 ratio with brown sugar)
- Optional: 1/2 cup maple syrup substitute
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Cut the bacon slices in half. Wrap each sausage piece with the bacon and secure it with a toothpick. As you wrap the sausages, arrange them neatly in a metal shallow baking pan. Once all the sausages are wrapped, cover all with a generous sprinkling of the brown sugar substitute.
Bake for 30 minutes. Transfer to a crockpot or Instant Pot. Pour the liquid released during the baking process into the pot. This allows for ease in making ahead and reheating.
Optional: add the maple syrup substitute and toss before reheating.