Water Chestnut Appetizer Recipe

Chopsticks with water chestnut

Martin Sandberg/Getty Images

Prep: 15 mins
Cook: 30 mins
Soak: 2 hrs 30 mins
Total: 3 hrs 15 mins
Servings: 16 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
196 Calories
6g Fat
34g Carbs
4g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 16
Amount per serving
Calories 196
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 6g 7%
Saturated Fat 2g 9%
Cholesterol 9mg 3%
Sodium 400mg 17%
Total Carbohydrate 34g 12%
Dietary Fiber 4g 13%
Total Sugars 10g
Protein 4g
Vitamin C 5mg 25%
Calcium 19mg 1%
Iron 0mg 1%
Potassium 780mg 17%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

This is an easy to make appetizer using water chestnuts, brown sugar, soy sauce, and bacon for something special to serve to your guests. Great for holiday gatherings, this recipe for water chestnuts is sure to be a hit, and they will be gone as soon as you serve them. 

Fresh, peeled water chestnuts are soaked in soy sauce and rolled in brown sugar, then wrapped in bacon and baked. Crunchy, sweet, sticky, and crispy all describe this delicious treat. This dish tastes best with fresh water chestnuts as they provide a sweet, nutty flavor, while canned ones just really don't have any flavor. If you have difficulty wrapping the 1/2 slice of bacon around the water chestnut, try cutting it in half again lengthwise. You will need 16 toothpicks for this recipe.

Plan accordingly as while the preparation time for the water chestnut appetizer is quite short, they are marinated for 2 1/2 hours. But, know that these appetizers can be prepared ahead of time and frozen before cooking. Placed in a sealed bag in the freezer, they should last for two to three months.


  • 16 whole water chestnuts, fresh

  • 1/3 cup soy sauce

  • 1/3 cup brown sugar, or as needed

  • 8 slices raw bacon, cut in half

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. Peel and rinse the fresh water chestnuts. (If using canned water chestnuts, rinse in warm running water and drain).

  3. Soak the water chestnuts in the soy sauce for 2 1/2 hours.

  4. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Remove the water chestnuts from the soy sauce and roll in the brown sugar. Wrap a piece of cut bacon around the water chestnut and secure with a toothpick.

  5. Place the water chestnuts on a rack in a shallow pan. Bake for 30 minutes, turning them over once. (Alternately, they can be broiled for 5 to 6 minutes). 

Glass Bakeware Warning

Do not use glass bakeware when broiling or when a recipe calls to add liquid to a hot pan, as glass may explode. Even if it states oven-safe or heat resistant, tempered glass products can, and do, break occasionally.

Make Ahead

Prepare this water chestnut recipe ahead of time and freeze for later use. Do not bake before freezing them! Put the uncooked bacon-wrapped water chestnut appetizers in a freezer-safe bag or container and put in the freezer, where they will keep for two to three months. When ready, simply preheat the oven to 350, and bake as directed.

How to Peel Fresh Water Chestnuts

Fresh water chestnuts are just so good, and it's not hard to peel them.

To peel them:

  1. Cut off the top and bottom of the water chestnut
  2. Remove the skin with a vegetable peeler
  3. Rinse the water chestnut with cool water

They can be peeled ahead of time but need to be stored in cold water in the refrigerator, with the water changed daily. Peeled water chestnuts can be kept for two to three days following this process.