The third-pound Dayzed & Confused is among the signature burgers at Jax Burgers and Brews, which opened earlier this year in Lexington, Ky. It stands out not only because Donut Days Bakery glazed donuts serve as buns for it but also because the beef patty is smothered in Brie cheese and the condiment that quickly has become a trendy topping: bacon jam.
The relish–often a slow-cooked mixture of bacon, brown sugar and spices—increasingly is finding a broader audience. According to Diana Kelter, foodservice analyst with global researcher Mintel, menu mentions of bacon jam increased 50% between 2013 and 2016. Kelter adds, “Bacon jam fits squarely within the trend towards sweet and savory menu combinations, and within burgers, it provides a new flavor sensation, while still utilizing ingredients diners are familiar with, creating a stronger sense of comfort.”
Ed’s Burger Joint in Hattiesburg, Miss., also is new, but its ownership is well known to diners in that town: Chef and author Robert St. John’s New South Restaurant Group operates four Hattiesburg concepts (Purple Parrot Cafe, Crescent City Grill, Mahogany Bar and Branch) that share one kitchen. St. John also is the founder of Extra Table, a non-profit that provides food to pantries across Mississippi. Ed’s Burger Joint offers more than a dozen specialty burgers—with fresh-never frozen Choice Angus beef—including the El Magooey (stuffed with house-made pimento cheese) and the Jam Burger (shown below, with shredded Cheddar, grilled onions and a generous slather of bacon jam).
“Bacon Jam has been a big part of our rollout menu at Ed’s Burger Joint,” St John told BurgerBusiness.com. “We make it from scratch almost every morning and serve it on a burger with shredded Cheddar and on a fried chicken sandwich, too. It adds a unique, smoky-sweet taste to the flavor profile.
“After we were open for a few months, we added it to a grilled pimento cheese sandwich and people went nuts over it,” St. John said. “I first ate bacon jam in Chicago several years ago and made a mental note to add it to the menu when our company rolled out the burger concept. It was an offering that was new to our market and it has been one of the unique components that helped put Ed’s Burger Joint on the map, locally.”
The burger boom is global and so is bacon jam’s popularity. The Cape Crusader Burger introduced by U.K. chain Haché Burger. Was finished with a Portobello mushroom covered in melted Gruyère cheese and bacon marmalade along with house-made BBQ sauce, served on a toasted brioche bun. Brgr: The Burger Project in Manila, The Philippines, recently featured a Double Grilled Cheeseburger with pepper-Jack cheese, mozzarella, Cheddar, garlic mayo, bacon jam, lettuce and tomato.
Not surprisingly, variations on classic bacon jam are appearing. Also not surprising is that some involve distilled spirits. For example, Hard Rock Cafe’s U.S. locations recently menued a Guinness & Jameson Bacon Cheeseburger (below) topped with Jameson Irish Whiskey bacon jam, a Guinness Stout cheese sauce, tomatoes and seasoned arugula.
One of this month’s two specials at Buckeye Beer Engine in Lakewood, Ohio, is the Ohio State Fair Burger, which featured char- grilled Ohio grass-fed beef patty served on a butter toasted bun and topped with a King onion ring, fries, house-made bourbon bacon jam and fried Swiss cheese triangle. At Chalk Valley Farm & Kitchen in Southampton, England, the December 2015 holiday special was a pasture-raised turkey patty with Brie cheese and bourbon-bacon jam.
And you knew that Zombie Burger + Drink Lab in Des Moines, Iowa, would be ahead of the curve on bacon jam. Its Re-Animator burger earlier this year (below) included a Cody Road Rye-bacon jam along with Cheddar, fried onion strings and garlic mayo.
Food maven Martha Stewart has her own recipe for slow-cooked bacon jam. Find it here.
And then check out these recent burger builds that incorporate bacon jams:
Elijah P’s Burger & Brews, Alton, Ill.
The BaconJamBrie Burger has bacon jam topped with Brie cheese, spinach and IPA mayo.
TGI Friday’s, multiple locations
Its All-American Stacked Burger has melted sharp Cheddar cheese, onion-bacon jam and Asiago & Parmesan spread between two burgers with Thousand Island dressing and peppered bacon.
Publik House Draft House, Atlanta
The BBQ and Brie Burger is stacked with Vidalia onions and bacon jam.
Yard House, multiple locations
The Black Truffle Cheeseburger has house-made truffle cheese and tomato-bacon-onion jam.
Crusade Burger Bar, Yorkville, Ill.
The Phony Tough, Crazy Brave has house-made barbecue sauce, an onion ring, bacon jam and white Cheddar.
Slater’s 50/50, Southern California
The 50/50 Fire is its signature 50/50 beef/bacon patty blended with spicy fire beef, sriracha bacon guacamole, bacon-jam sour cream, ghost pepper Jack cheese, crispy jalapeños and a sunny-side-up egg on a brioche.
Kooper’s Tavern, Baltimore
Its recent burger of the month Elk Burger had a blue cheese and ground elk patty, arugula and bacon-onion jam on a toasted brioche bun.
Kuma’s Too, Chicago
The Bathory is a 10-oz. beef patty, roasted-garlic balsamic aïoli, bacon jam, heirloom tomato bruschetta and garlic crostini, topped with fresh basil (below).