Make bacon-wrapped water chestnuts in the air fryer for a simple and tasty appetizer recipe! It is easy to make and features water chestnuts wrapped with bacon and coated with a sticky sweet sauce.
This appetizer is a fantastic combination of sweet, salty, and crispy. Try them even if you think you don’t like water chestnuts! Using the air fryer means this popular appetizer can be ready quickly.
The bite-sized pieces are coated with a simple three ingredient sauce that caramelizes as they cook, giving them the taste of candied bacon with a nice crispy texture. My parents always made this family favorite recipe for their holiday parties, and I wanted to try making it in the air fryer this year!
This recipe is a variation of Rumaki, an appetizer that became popular during the tiki culture of the 60s, which is when my mom started making this. True Rumaki includes chicken liver, but I leave that out, and my mom did too!
For exact amounts needed see the recipe card below
Water chestnuts – Make sure you get whole water chestnuts, not sliced. They can be found in the international aisle of most grocery stores. Fresh water chestnuts would also work if you can find them.
Bacon – Do not use thick-cut bacon since it will take too long to get crispy. Center-cut bacon is my preference because it is less fatty.
Soy sauce – Between the bacon and the soy sauce, these appetizers are pretty salty, so I use low sodium soy sauce.
Ketchup – This forms the base for the sauce. Use barbecue sauce instead for a smokier flavor.
Brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce – These are the remaining sauce ingredients.
🥣How to Make Bacon Wrapped Water Chestnuts in the Air Fryer
Drain the water chestnuts and put them in a bowl. Cover them with the soy sauce and let them marinate for at least 30 minutes or up to 2 hours.
At the same time, add your toothpicks to water to soak. This will help keep them from burning in the air fryer.
Lay the bacon slices flat on a cutting board. Slice into thirds or halves, depending on how much bacon you want on the water chestnuts. I usually cut it in half.
Drain water chestnuts and toothpicks. Place each water chestnut on a piece of bacon and wrap it around, securing it with a toothpick. Try to cover most of the water chestnut with bacon.
3. Make Sauce
Combine the ketchup, brown sugar, and Worcestershire sauce in a small bowl. Stir to mix everything together. Dip the bacon wrapped bites in the sauce to coat, or use a pastry brush to brush the sauce on the bacon.
Throw out the remaining sauce when you are done! It can’t be used as a dipping sauce because it was exposed to raw meat.
4. Air Fry
Place the bacon-wrapped water chestnuts in a single layer in the air fryer basket. Cook at 390 degrees F for 10 minutes. Check and see if the bacon is crispy enough for your tastes. If not, air fry for a few more minutes.
Serve these with a sauce for dipping. You can use a sauce similar to the one they were coated in, or just use a store-bought BBQ sauce or ranch dressing.
These tasty bites are a perfect appetizer for parties! Or just make up one small can of them and add them to dinner for a special treat.
💭How to Store and Reheat
These will keep for about 2 hours at room temperature or up to 3 days in the fridge. To reheat, put them back in the air fryer at 350 degrees F for 3 minutes.
Be sure to check out the step by step instructions
- Use thin-cut bacon.
- Soaking the toothpicks keeps them from blackening in the air fryer.
- Don’t dip them in the same sauce you used for coating. It was exposed to raw bacon.
- Don’t overcrowd the air fryer.
- Use flavored bacon for variety, such as hickory smoked bacon, or turkey bacon.
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Air Fryer Bacon Wrapped Water Chestnuts Recipe
- 2 cans water chestnuts whole
- 1 cup soy sauce
- 6 slices bacon thin cut
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 3/4 cup ketchup or barbecue sauce
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- Drain the water chestnuts and put them in a bowl. Cover with the soy sauce and let them marinade for 30 minutes – 2 hours.2 cans water chestnuts, 1 cup soy sauce
- At the same time, add 10 toothpicks to a bowl of water to soak.
- Cut each slice of bacon in half. Drain the toothpicks and the water chestnuts.6 slices bacon
- Place a whole water chestnut on each slice of bacon. Wrap the bacon around it and secure it with a toothpick.
- Combine the brown sugar, ketchup, and Worcestershire sauce in a bowl. Brush the sauce onto the bacon-wrapped water chestnuts.1/4 cup brown sugar, 3/4 cup ketchup, 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- Put them in a single layer in the air fryer basket. Cook at 390 degrees F for 10 minutes.
- Check and decide if the bacon is crispy enough. If not, cook for a few more minutes.
Oven BakingBake in a 375-degree F oven for 15 minutes. For ease of cleanup, place the bacon-wrapped water chestnuts on a rack above an aluminum foil-lined baking sheet.
- Use thin-cut bacon, not thick cut.
- Don’t use the sauce you use for coating them for dipping. It was exposed to raw bacon.
- Soak the toothpicks so they don’t burn in the air fryer.
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Nutrition facts are estimates.