Angels on Horseback


Angels on horseback, a British appetizer made with oysters that have been wrapped in bacon and cooked.

Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

Have you ever heard of angels on horseback? Hank Shaw shares his recipe for this classic appetizer. ~Elise

I first encountered this dish when I moved to Long Island in the late 1980s.

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It was at a wedding I attended with my girlfriend DeDee, and it was one of those classic Long Island weddings, with all the glass clinking to make the couple kiss at awkward moments, a thicket of big hair, and so much Billy Joel music I had to listen to the Dead Kennedys for a week afterward to recover.

I had a blast, but what I remembered most was this odd appetizer of an oyster, wrapped in bacon and squirted with lemon juice.

I asked the waiter what it was called and he said, “It’s an angel on horseback,” as if I was a moron for not knowing.

I later learned that angels on horseback—also done with scallops and sometimes called “devils on horseback”—was a de rigeur Long Island party food at the time.

How to make angels on horseback with bacon and oysters

I can tell you that even now it remains an awesomely tasty dish. Briny, minerally oysters just barely cooked, surrounded by smoky bacon and lightened with the zing of fresh lemon juice. I later switched to lime juice, because I like it even better.

Make a lot of these, especially if you can find small oysters, like the Olympias of Washington state.

Basically you want oysters of a size that you’d eat raw—this is supposed to be a one-bite dish, after all. I’ve used pre-shucked oysters for this many times, too, so just look for the small ones.

I’ve never seen a crowd eat fewer than 3 per person of these, and 4 per person is pretty safe. Personally, I’ve put away a baker’s dozen before, which, I think, either makes me a bona fide angel… or just a glutton.

Angels on Horseback Recipe

  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4

Canned shucked oysters can be found in the refrigerated section of the grocery store and work well in this recipe.


  • 16-32 small oysters (or scallops), or larger ones cut in half, shucked
  • 8-16 slices of thin-cut bacon
  • 16-32 wooden toothpicks
  • 3-4 limes or lemons


1 Pre-cook the bacon slices: Working in batches if necessary, cook the bacon slices on medium low heat in a large frying pan, until only about halfway cooked, but not crispy.

You need to pre-cook the bacon a bit or else when you cook them with the oysters the oysters will be overcooked by the time the bacon is crispy. Set the bacon aside to cool.

2 Heat the grill: Get a grill or broiler good and hot while you wrap the oysters.

3 Wrap bacon around oysters: To make an angel on horseback, you wrap 1/2 a piece of bacon around the small oyster and secure it with the toothpick. Overlap the edges of the bacon by about an inch if you can.

4 Grill or broil: Grill or broil over high heat to cook the oyster and crisp the bacon, about 5-6 minutes on the first side, another 2-4 once you turn them over. You will need to turn them once or twice to get a good crispiness on all sides.

5 Sprinkle with lemon or lime juice: As soon as they come off the heat, squirt with the lemon or lime juice and serve hot.

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Wikipedia entry on Angels on Horseback

Hank Shaw

A former restaurant cook and journalist, Hank Shaw is the author of three wild game cookbooks as well as the James Beard Award-winning wild foods website Hunter Angler Gardener Cook. His latest cookbook is Buck, Buck, Moose, a guide to working with venison. He hunts, fishes, forages and cooks near Sacramento, CA.

More from Hank

40 Comments / Reviews

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Did you make it? Rate it!

  1. Mark

    Dear America:
    These are devils on horseback.
    The British angels on horseback is tomato, bacon, cheese on a piece of toast put under a broiler.

  2. kathy

    I’ve made these for years for Christmas Eve and New Years, I give meaty bacon cut in half lengthways a nice blanch, then wrap around a drained canned smoked oyster pierce with a pick, place in zip bag with soya sauce to coat. Let marinate for at least several hours or better yet overnight flipping regularly then broil. I didn’t realize you could do it with anything but chicken liver and smoked oysters LOL


  3. Crybaby

    Been making these since I was a teen! I parcook the bacon in the microwave for about three minutes and then wrap a half piece around each oyster, and I don’t use thin-sliced bacon either. For an added touch, I’ve also put a clove of roasted garlic on top of the oyster before I wrap it! Yummy. I’ve never heard of putting lemon juice on top after cooking them but trust me, it’s not necessary.


    I would boil the bacon, like J. Child calls for in Coq Vin , not fry it.

    Show Replies (1)
  5. Andy

    Yes, this is a nice recipe. Just FYI Devils on Horseback is different, it is a prune or chicken liver dusted with cayenne pepper, wrapped in bacon and grilled. Also you can stuff the chicken liver into the prune and wrap that in bacon.

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