Jalapeño Bacon Wrapped Shrimp with Cherry Cola Barbecue Sauce


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Jalapeño Bacon Wrapped Shrimp with Cherry Cola Sauce

© Brian Bowen Smith

Back when we had a house in Park City, Utah, we frequented an Italian restaurant so often they put a sign above our regular table that said, “Wolfie’s Booth.” The reason we were at the restaurant so often? Their bacon-wrapped jalapeño shrimp. (Hold on a moment while I savor the memory of them. Seriously, my mouth is watering.) Sadly, the restaurant closed before I was able to get their recipe, so I developed this particular one on my own and have tinkered with it over the years to the point where I look for excuses to make it. A party, Sunday night football, a birthday, Tuesday night . . . I’m in, and so is my entire family, along with a few of my neighbors. The sauce is sweet with a hint of Cherry Coke, and once it connects with the jalapeño, it sits on the tongue with an exciting contrast of hot and sweet and savory. It goes well with a cold cocktail or even a light beer. These will disappear quickly.


For the barbecue sauce:

1. Heat the bacon grease in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the red onions, and sweat until translucent.

2. Add the garlic; cook an additional minute. Add the garlic powder, smoked paprika, salt, mustard powder and black pepper, and toast the spices until fragrant and deep maroon in color, 1 minute.

3. Whisk in the cherry cola, red wine vinegar, and ketchup until combined.

4. Bring to a boil and cook until the sauce has reduced to 2 cups and coats the back of a spoon, about 10 minutes.

5. Remove from the heat, let cool slightly, and then puree in a blender until smooth. (Extra sauce can be kept refrigerated up to 1 week.)

For the shrimp:

1. Preheat a cast-iron skillet or griddle over medium heat.

2. Sprinkle the shrimp with salt and pepper. Insert a jalapeno slice into the “spine” of each shrimp (where it’s been deveined) and then wrap tightly with a half piece of bacon to keep the jalapeno in place.

3. Secure with toothpicks.

4. Place the shrimp, seam-side-down, in the skillet and cook, turning occasionally, until the bacon is crisp and the shrimp are just cooked through, 5 to 6 minutes.

5. Serve the shrimp with the barbecue sauce for dipping.

Special Equipment

16 Toothpicks


2 tablespoons bacon grease or vegetable oil
1 cup finely diced red onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon mustard powder
Pinch freshly ground black pepper 
2 cups cherry cola
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1 cup ketchup
16 extra-large shrimp (about 12 ounces), peeled and deveined, tails on
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper 
1 jalapeno, stemmed and seeded, cut lengthwise into 16 thin strips 
8 slices center-cut bacon, halved crosswise

serving size

16 People

Hands on time

35 Minutes

Total time

45 Minutes


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