Sweet Chicken Bacon Bites with Dairy-Free Herb Ranch Dressing
Updated: Aug 7, 2021
Need a scrumptious appetizer for your next get-together that will be sure to please everyone? How about perfectly seasoned chicken pieces, wrapped in bacon, rolled in brown sugar and chili powder, then baked until they are caramelized and golden perfection?
What could possibly make them better? Try them with my creamy dairy-free herb ranch dressing for dipping – ridiculous.
Don't expect to have any leftovers.
Recipes adapted from Against All Grain by Danielle Walker, page 247 and Paula Deen.
I can still remember making these little nuggets for the first time. I was at my mom's house visiting for the holidays. It was New Year's Eve and my sisters and I were each making an appetizer or two to share. This was one of mine. I made them first, arranged them on a platter, and placed it on the dining room table while I prepared my second appetizer. The party hadn't started yet. We were still waiting for the other guests to arrive. My sister's boyfriend, Rodney was the only one sitting at the table – all alone with nothing else but these beauties – tempting him.
As I finished up my other appetizer, and the other guests started to arrive, I remembered that I still needed to put out a bowl of my Dairy-Free Herb Ranch Dressing to go with the Sweet Chicken Bites for dipping.
When I made my way back to the table, there were very few chicken bites remaining on the platter – and not nearly enough to warrant any dipping sauce. Meanwhile, Rodney had done a quick disappearing act – due to guilt, I'm sure. This appetizer was supposed to serve multiple people – not just one! Needless to say, he didn't eat a lot of the other appetizers we served that night. To this day, I still remind him of this story every time I make them.
To get started, you will need to make the Dairy-Free Herb Ranch Dressing. In a small bowl, whisk together 1 cup of mayonnaise, 1/2 cup full-fat coconut milk, 2 cloves of roasted garlic smashed into a paste (see Pro tip – roasting the garlic will make it sweeter and remove the harsh, hot sting of raw garlic), 3 tablespoons, chopped fresh parsley, 2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives, 2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill, 1 tablespoon of fresh lemon juice, 1/2 teaspoon onion powder, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. If you are running short on time, your favorite store-bought ranch will work just fine.
To prepare the Sweet Chicken Bacon Bites, line a rimmed baking sheet pan with aluminum foil that has been sprayed with nonstick cooking spray or lined with parchment paper. This will save you the time of scrubbing the pan later. Next, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. On a cutting board, cut each chicken breast or chicken tender into 1-inch cubes and season with salt and pepper. Set aside. Next, depending on how thin or thick your bacon is, cut each slice in half or into thirds. Wrap each chicken cube with 1 piece of bacon and secure with a toothpick. In a small bowl, stir together the brown sugar and chili powder. Roll the wrapped chicken pieces in the sugar mixture, turning so that each piece is evenly coated. Repeat this process for all the chicken pieces. Place them onto the prepared baking sheet. Bake for about 30 to 40 minutes until the bacon is nice and crisp and the chicken is cooked through. Arrange them on a platter with a bowl of the Dairy-Free Herb Ranch Dressing.
When I have extra time, I love to make double batches of appetizers like this one and store them away in the freezer. They are perfect for a "no-cook" Friday night. Place the uncooked chicken bites into several disposable foil pans in a single layer. Separate each layer with parchment or wax paper to prevent them from sticking together, and then cover the pans with foil. I like to use square cake pans – they slide perfectly into a 1-gallon freeze bag. I write the baking instructions on the outside of the bag with a sharpie, so there is no need to look it up when I am ready to bake them. To bake from frozen, simply add 20 to 25 minutes to your baking time or until the chicken is cooked through and the bacon is crispy.
If I were stranded on a desert island and I could only have 2 food items, bacon would definitely be one of them – coffee would probably be my other... or maybe wine. Hmm... decisions, decisions.
Let's get cooking!
Dairy-Free Herb Ranch Dressing:
1 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup full fat coconut milk
2 cloves of roasted garlic, smashed into a paste (see Pro tip)
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
1 tablespoon of fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
Sweet Chicken Bacon Bites:
1 pound bacon (I used Appleton Farms Never Any! Hickory Bacon, which is gluten-free)
1 1/4 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast or chicken tenders (I used chicken tenders)
2/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons chili powder
Toothpicks for securing
How to make
Please be sure to reference Against All Grain by Danielle Walker, page 247, and Paula Deen for the complete source recipes and instructions.
Dairy-Free Herb Ranch Dressing:
In a small bowl, whisk all ingredients together.
Store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
Sweet Chicken Bacon Bites:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Line a rimmed baking sheet pan with aluminum foil that has been sprayed with nonstick cooking spray or lined with parchment paper.
On a cutting board, cut each chicken breast or chicken tender into 1-inch cubes and season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
Cut each slice of bacon in half or into thirds.
Wrap each chicken cube with 1 piece of bacon and secure with a toothpick.
In a small bowl, stir together the brown sugar and chili powder.
Roll the wrapped chicken pieces in the sugar mixture, turning so that each piece is evenly coated.
Repeat this process for all the chicken pieces.
Place them onto the prepared baking sheet.
Bake for about 30-40 minutes until the bacon is nice and crisp and the chicken is cooked through.
Arrange on platter with a bowl of Dairy-Free Herb Ranch Dressing.
How to roast garlic
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Slice off the top part of the whole garlic head with a serrated knife. Next, gently peel away the first few layers of the outer skin – the tops of the cloves should be exposed.
Drizzle with olive oil and then wrap in foil. Place on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast for 45 to 50 mins. The roasted garlic is ready when the cloves start to separate from the skins and they appear soft, creamy, and slightly golden-brown.
Sweet Chicken Bacon Bites with Dairy-Free Ranch Dressing are shown pictured with my