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Creamy Goat Cheese Bacon and Dates Dip

Inspired by the classic bacon-wrapped dates appetizer, Creamy Goat Cheese Bacon & Dates Dip deconstructs the amazing original ingredients into a spreadable treat that’s bursting with flavor. Crispy bacon, sweet dates, and crunchy pecans are first candied in a bit of brown sugar and butter, and then draped over a rich mixture of goat cheese and cream cheese. Perfect on crackers or small toasts.

Creamy Goat Cheese Bacon and Dates Dip on a black plate with crackers.

Entertaining during the holidays — or for any celebration, for that matter — always has a little extra pressure attached to it because, as the host, you want to serve delicious eats, but you also want to manage the workload. The appetizer should be stunning … but also easy!

Creamy Goat Cheese Bacon and Dates Dip is an elegant appetizer that’s surprisingly simple to make. And it’s just irresistible. Savory, crispy bacon, dates, and pecans are lightly “candied” in butter and brown sugar. The warm mixture is then poured over soft, creamy goat cheese, and served with sturdy crackers.

Make no mistake: this is a rich, luscious appetizer that is both tasty and filling. You probably won’t need a bottomless bowl of it. Although maybe you might! Testing this recipe filled me up, and was lunch on more than one day!

It was a big hit at my Christmas Eve party and might just make a second appearance at New Year’s Eve. Honestly, I think it’s the perfect appetizer for elegant events, such as an evening with your favorite people and a bottle of bubbly.

Close-up of Creamy Goat Cheese Bacon & Dates Dip spread on a cracker.

Ingredients & Substitutions

Bacon: The star of this show is definitely savory, salty bacon. It doesn’t really matter what cut of bacon you use, thick cut, center cut, or regular. Just cook it until crispy, but not singed.

Some batches of bacon are fattier than others, so two suggestions there: If your bacon strips are mostly fat with little meat, go ahead and add another strip or two. This will also mean that you will probably end up with more bacon grease in the skillet than I did for my run-throughs. If the bacon grease pools completely across the surface of the pan, I think I would drain some of it off, leaving about 2 tablespoons in the skillet.

Crumble or chop the cooled bacon into small pieces. Because this dip is served on crackers which are two, maybe three, bites, you want to make sure that dip is compact and cohesive and does not have big shards of bacon sticking out of it. Always be conscious of the experience of taking a bite. 🙂

Can you substitute turkey bacon? In theory … yes. But I have not tried this myself, and I would be concerned that the topping would not have enough of that savory-salty kick that pork bacon is uniquely famous for. You’ll have to experiment with upping the seasoning, such as adding soy sauce, to make up for that absence.

Pecans: Pecans add a lovely nutty flavor and solidly crunchy texture to the dip. Pecans can be hard to find sometimes, so use what you can get your hands on. Raw halves or pieces are absolutely fine, as the dip will be plenty seasoned. Chop them fine, smaller than pea size.

Can you use other nuts? Yes! I personally would go with roasted pistachios. They’re fabulous. But almonds and walnuts would work, too.

Medjool Dates: I love the texture and subtle sweetness that dates add to this dip. Dates and bacon are such a classic appetizer combo, and they rise to the occasion here.

Go out of your way to find Medjool Dates. At my grocery store, they’re not with the nuts or raisins, but rather in the produce department, packed in plastic containers and displayed on unrefrigerated shelving.

Brown sugar: It might seem alarming to add a quarter cup of sugar to this recipe but I have a few words for you: candied bacon and candied pecans. Combined with the butter and heat, brown sugar does a quick candy-ing of whatever it touches, and the result is simply irresistible. You can use either light or dark brown sugar at the same quantities.

Worcestershire sauce and mustard: A little umami is always a good thing, and both of these ingredients add a kick of flavor that amps up the sweet-savory qualities of the bacon mixture.

Goat cheese: The original appetizer recipe that this dip is inspired by features large, plump Medjool dates, stuffed with goat cheese, and wrapped in bacon. So, I couldn’t leave out this key ingredient!

In fact, while regular cream cheese is rich and smooth, it lacks a counterpoint of flavor to the sweet-salty goodness of the bacon mixture topping. Goat cheese solves that issue. It’s still wonderfully creamy, but has a welcome cheesy tang.

Cream cheese: Regular cream cheese acts as smooth, full-bodied foundation for the whole spread. Here, it’s mixed with the goat cheese to ensure a flawlessly spreadable base.

Can you substitute lower fat cream cheese? I wouldn’t recommend it. The less fat in the cream cheese, the less creamy it is, and you really need that specific quality to smooth out the goat cheese to create a spreadable product. You can definitely experiment for yourself, but do so with that caveat.

How to make Creamy Goat Cheese Bacon and Dates Dip – a Visual Guide

Here are the easy steps for creating this dip, along with step-by-step visuals. Don’t forget to review the recipe card below before starting, to ensure you have all the ingredients prepared, along with details for each step.

Don’t forget to take the goat and cream cheese out of the refrigerator to warm up on the counter an hour before your start.

Step 1: Cook the bacon

Cook the bacon slices in a large skillet over medium heat until nice and crispy. This will take 6 to 10 minutes, depending on the cut of bacon you used (i.e., thick cut bacon will take longer than center cut).

Transfer the bacon to a paper-towel lined plate to drain and cool. Keep the bacon grease in the skillet and reduce heat to medium-low.

Step 1: Strips of bacon cooking in a skillet.

Step 2: Finish the topping in the skillet

Reduce heat to medium-low and add the butter to the bacon grease, along with the brown sugar. Stir until the sugar is dissolved, incorporating into the melted butter. Mix in the Worcestershire sauce and the mustard.

Crumble the cooled bacon into small pieces and add it, plus the chopped pecans and dates to the pan, stirring to coat everything. Reduce heat to low and let rest while you work on the cheeses.

Step 2: a duo of photos showing melting the butter and brown sugar together in a skillet, and coating the pecans, dates, and bacon in the sugar butter mixture.

Step 3: Cream the cheeses together

Mix the goat cheese and cream cheese in a bowl using a spatular or a wooden spoon until soft and creamy. Season with salt, pepper, and herbs (if using).

If the cheeses are still cool and a bit stiff, using a microwave-safe bowl, microwave the mixture in short 20-second bursts, stirring after each to check the consistency. You’re not looking to full-on heat up the cheese mixture, only warm it so it’s stirrable.

If it’s your preference for blending things, you can use a food processor to combine the cheeses.

Step 3: a trio of photos showing the stages of creaming the goat cheese and cream cheese together in a bowl.

Step 4: Assemble the dip

Spread the cheese mixture on a small plate — e.g., an 8″ salad plate — in an even layer all the way out to the edges.

Pour the warm topping over the cheese. Serve with crackers or small toasts.

Step 4: a duo of photos showing the creamy cheese mixture spread on a plate, and then topped with the bacon mixture.

Cook’s tips

  • If you accidentally burn your bacon a little bit — but most of it’s useable — inspect the bottom of the pan to see if there are any sooty deposits sticking to it. If so, drain the bacon grease into a heat-proof container (like a metal measuring cup) and thoroughly wash the pan. Return the bacon grease to the pan and continue with the recipe. You don’t want any of that burned residue flavoring the dip. Now, if you *really* burned the heck out of the bacon, I would just start completely over. I’m a baking-the-bacon kind of cook. You can use this baking (LINK) technique (skip the flour dredging if you want). Be sure to line the pan foil so that you drain the accumulated bacon grease into the skillet, along with the butter and brown sugar.
  • This is a very rich appetizer, and it’s important to balance the creamy cheese mixture with the toppings. Which means using 6 ounces of goat cheese instead of 8 ounces. Creamy goat cheese is usually sold in 4 or 8-ounce logs in the U.S., so you’ll have 2 ounces leftover (annoying, I know). When I was experimenting with this recipe, I really wanted to use the whole 8 ounces — a 4-ounce log wasn’t quite enough — but ended up with way too much cheese mixture.
  • This is a heft spread, so serve it with large, sturdy crackers, like Ritz crackers. Kroger’s Private Selection brand has a line of Classic Entertainment Crackers in a long, square box. For me, they’re the perfect crackers for spreads and piled-high appetizers.
  • Dates are quite sticky when sliced, and small pieces start sticking to each other until they become one big ball. To help with this, toss the pieces lightly in a small amount of flour as you’re slicing them.
  • If the mood strikes, add a pour of bourbon to the skillet, after the butter and brown sugar step. Holy moly. Candied bourbon bacon.

Make ahead tips: To get a jumpstart on preparation, you can chop the pecans and dates ahead of time and store them in a container or plastic bag. You can also cream the cheeses together and keep them in the fridge. The mixture will need to be brought to room temp and stirred well to soften before using.

Although I haven’t tried this myself to see what effect it has on flavor and texture, theoretically you can make the topping ahead, too. Store it in the fridge separately from the creamed cheeses, and then gently reheat in a pan on the stove before assembling.

Creamy Goat Cheese Bacon and Dates Dip with crackers on a wooden serving board.

Creamy Goat Cheese Bacon and Dates Dip is a rich, salty-savory spread that’s perfect for holiday celebrations, game day appetizer parties, brunches, and other special events. It’s also a lovely treat for a chilly winter’s night in for board games with friends, or a cozy movie.

Karen xo

More appetizer spreads to explore:

Creamy Goat Cheese Bacon and Dates Dip on a black plate, with crackers on a serving tray.
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5 from 1 vote

Creamy Goat Cheese Bacon and Dates Dip

Experience a delightful twist on the classic bacon-wrapped dates appetizer with our Creamy Goat Cheese Bacon and Dates Dip. This recipe brings together the crispiness of bacon, the sweetness of Medjool dates, and the rich, creamy texture of blended goat and cream cheeses. Enhanced with a hint of herbs and seasonings, this bacon-focused dip is perfect for spreading over crackers or toasts. Ideal for parties or a cozy night in, it’s a crowd-pleaser that’s easy to prepare and irresistibly delicious.
Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time20 minutes
Total Time35 minutes
Course: Appetizer
Cuisine: American
Keyword: goat cheese bacon dates dip
Servings: 8 people
Author: Karen Gibson

Ingredients

  • 4 slices bacon
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce or soy sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 scant cup pecans, chopped
  • 4 Medjool dates, chopped**
  • 6 ounces Chèvre goat cheese, softened*
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon fresh minced thyme or rosemary (optional)

Instructions

  • In a large skillet cooked bacon over medium heat until crispy, about 8 to 10 minutes.
  • Transfer bacon to a paper towel lined plate to cool. Turn the heat under the skillet to medium-low.
  • Melt the butter in the skillet with the bacon grease and stir in the brown sugar until dissolved.
  • Mix in the Worcestershire sauce and mustard.
  • Stir in the chopped pecans and dates. Chop the cooled bacon and add to the skillet.
  • In a large bowl, combine the softened goat cheese and cream cheese, stirring until smooth and creamy. Season with the salt and a few grind of the pepper. Add the herbs, if using. If the cheeses are still cool and stiff, you can microwave the bowl — transfer to a microwave-safe bowl if need be — in 20-second bursts, stirring after each, until nice and soft.
  • Spread the cream cheese mixture on a salad plate (about 8“).
  • Spoon the bacon mixture over the cream cheese mixture and serve immediately with crackers or small toasts.

Notes

* make sure to buy soft Chèvre goat cheese (it usually is sold in a log) and not crumbled goat cheese, which is not as smooth.
** chopped dates are quite sticky and tend to clump together. After chopping, roll the pieces in a little bit of flour to help them remain separate.
Nutritional information, if shown, is provided as a courtesy only, and is not to be taken as medical information or advice. The nutritional values of your preparation of this recipe are impacted by several factors, including, but not limited to, the ingredient brands you use, any substitutions or measurement changes you make, and measuring accuracy.
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