A retro recipe with a twist! Medjool dates are stuffed with piquant blue cheese, wrapped in bacon, and baked until crisp with a Maple-Sriracha glaze. These Devils on Horseback are a perfect sweet and savory hors d’oeuvre for Christmas, New Year’s, game day, and beyond!
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What are Devils on Horseback?
Devils on Horseback are an hors d’oeuvre of bacon-wrapped, stuffed prunes or dates. Their origins are British, dating as far back as the 19th century, and are a variation of Angels on Horseback (bacon-wrapped oysters).
Devils on Horseback had a renaissance as party fare in the United States back in the 1970’s. As they say, “everything old is new again,” and I’ve seen them popping up with greater frequency on restaurant and pub menus over the past few years.
Recipes vary. Originally, Devils on Horseback were made with prunes (soaked in tea and/or Armagnac). Here in the US, I most often find them made with dates. Some stuffings contain cheese, while others use almonds and/or chutney.
The basic premise is consistent: date or prune, stuffed, and wrapped in crispy bacon. I stuff my dates with blue cheese and, in a devilishly non-traditional twist, glaze the bacon with maple syrup and a touch of Sriracha. The glaze gives each bite a little extra caramelization and a light kick at the finish.
What You’ll Need to Make Blue Cheese Stuffed Dates
Devils on Horseback are a simple recipe to make, requiring only 5 ingredients. I like to use Medjool dates for this recipe. They’re plumper, moister, and sweeter than other varieties (such as Deglet Noor), don’t need soaking, and hold up well in the oven.
Want to brush up on date varieties? Check out Baking with Dates: Which Variety Reigns Supreme? on Kitchn.
You can use just about any of your favorite blue cheese varieties to stuff the dates, as long as the wedge crumbles well. Be careful with very creamy or fudgy-textured varieties here. While a little bit of cheese will naturally bake out of the dates, I’ve found that very soft cheeses are prone to running too much.
I often use Point Reyes Original Blue from California, “Friendship” Danablu, or Rogue River’s Oregon Blue. For a more piquant flavor, you can go with a Maytag blue, or for more pungency, French Roquefort
We love to use applewood-smoked bacon for Devils on Horseback, though any smoke variety work well. Regular-cut bacon works better than thick cut for crisping around the dates.
For the glaze, you’ll need pure maple syrup and Sriracha (I use the Huy Fong brand).
How to Make Devils on Horseback
These Maple-Sriracha Devils on Horseback are so easy to prepare: just pit the dates, stuff, wrap, glaze, and bake.
Prep and Equipment
Before getting started, you’ll need to soak wooden toothpicks in water for 20 to 30 minutes. This will help minimize burning in the oven. (The edges will get dark, but soaking will help keep them in check.)
To crisp the Devils on Horseback, you’ll also need a baking sheet (line it with foil for easy cleanup), with a wire rack. Raising the dates off of the baking sheet on the rack will keep them out of the bacon fat as it renders and allow the air to circulate. The result: crispy bacon!
Pitting and Stuffing the Dates
The pitting process is simple. Use a sharp paring knife to make a lengthwise slit in the date, without cutting all the way through to the other side. Gently open the date, and remove and discard the pit with your fingertips.
Once pitted, fill the dates with some of the crumbled blue cheese. You’ll need about 1/2 to 1 teaspoonful per date, depending on the size. This may vary throughout your batch.
Avoid the temptation to overstuff the dates. They should be filled, but not bursting at the seams with cheese. (If overstuffed, extra cheese will run out onto the baking sheet.)
Wrapping and Baking the Dates
Once stuffed, close the dates and press the cut edges together to seal. The dates’ natural sugar content makes their centers sticky, so they should hold together pretty well.
To wrap each date, you’ll need a half of a slice of bacon. Wrap the bacon around the circumference of the date, overlapping the ends. Insert one of your soaked toothpicks starting at the top end of the overlapped bacon, pushing straight through the date.
To make the glaze, just stir together the maple syrup and sriracha, and brush it over the bacon on all sides. You’ll add a second coating of glaze during the last 5-10 minutes of baking to help the bacon crisp and caramelize.
Q. Can I make Devils on Horseback ahead?
A. I recommend prepping them ahead, but not glazing or baking them until shortly before you’re going to serve.
In the past, I’ve pitted and stuffed the dates, wrapped them in bacon, and refrigerated them (covered) for up to a few hours before baking with success. Let them sit out for 10-15 minutes before glazing/baking to take the chill off.
We haven’t found that Devils on Horseback are as good baked in advance and reheated. The bacon never gets quite as crisp on the second go-around, and depending on the blue cheese, it can get a little oily.
Q. Can I adjust the heat level in the glaze?
A. Absolutely! As we’ve established before on this blog, I’m a total lightweight when it comes to spicy foods.
I ended up making two batches with different ratios of maple syrup to hot sauce the first time I made these. My taste tester loved both versions, but as a big fan of spicy food, he gravitated toward the Sriracha-heavy batch.
To appeal to a range of guests, I’ve stayed on the conservative side with 2 teaspoons Sriracha in the recipe to give each bite a subtle warmth rather than an assertive heat. Feel free to dial the hot sauce up (or down) to your tastes!
More Easy Appetizers and Hors d’Oeuvres
- Spinach and Artichoke Dip
- Bourbon Bacon Wrapped Shrimp
- Savory Palmiers with Bacon, Gruyère, and Caramelized Onions
- Coconut Shrimp (3 ways – Baked, Fried, Air-Fried)
- Black Olive Tapenade
Maple Sriracha Devils on Horseback
- 18 Medjool dates
- 1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese
- 9 slices bacon (I use Applewood Smoked)
- 3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
- 2 teaspoons Sriracha sauce (more or less, to taste – see note)
- Soak 18 plain wooden toothpicks in water for 20-30 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F with rack in middle position. Line a baking sheet with foil and place an oven-safe wire rack onto the pan.
- Using a paring knife, cut a lengthwise slit into each date to open (don’t slice in half entirely). Remove and discard pits. Fill each date with 1/2 to 1 teaspoon crumbled blue cheese (depending on date size), pressing to stuff. Close dates and press edges together to seal.
- Cut each slice of bacon in half. Wrap dates in bacon, overlapping edges and securing with a soaked toothpick. Transfer to the wire rack.
- Stir together maple syrup and Sriracha and lightly brush each wrapped date with glaze. Bake 15 minutes. Remove from oven and brush with a second coating of glaze. Continue baking for 5-10 minutes, until bacon is crisp (depending on the thickness of your bacon). Serve hot or warm.
This recipe post originally appeared on Striped Spatula on February 4, 2016. We updated it in 2020 with new photos and additional copy to answer reader questions.