1. Preheat the oven: Preheat your oven to 400°F (200°C) or adjust the temperature according to your oven's settings.
2. Prepare a baking sheet: Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil or parchment paper to catch any drippings and make cleanup easier.
3. Cut the bacon: Take your bacon strips and cut them into small pieces, approximately ¼ to ½ inch in size. You can use kitchen shears or a sharp knife for this.
4. Arrange the bacon pieces: Spread the bacon pieces evenly on the prepared baking sheet. Ensure they are not overlapping, as this will help them cook evenly and become crispy.
5. Bake the bacon: Place the baking sheet with the bacon pieces in the preheated oven and bake for about 15-20 minutes, or until the bacon bits are crispy and golden brown. Keep an eye on them to prevent burning.
6. Drain excess fat: Once the bacon bits are cooked, remove the baking sheet from the oven. Transfer the bacon bits to a plate lined with paper towels to absorb any excess fat. Let them cool for a few minutes.
7. Store the bacon bits: Once the bacon bits have cooled down, you can store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator for a few days. You can use them as a topping for salads, soups, baked potatoes, or any other dish that could use some delicious bacon flavor.
Preparing the Lollipops:
1. Preheat your oven to 375°F or air fryer to 390°F if using.
2. In a bowl, mix together the bacon bits, bread crumbs, cheddar cheese, paprika, salt, and black pepper.
3. Crack eggs and scramble in a small bowl.
4. Pat the chicken drumsticks dry with a paper towel and place them in a large bowl or ziplock bag.
5. Dip each chicken lollipop into the beaten eggs, allowing any excess to drip off, then roll it in the Bacon Bit mixture, pressing lightly to adhere the coating to the chicken.
1. Place the coated chicken lollipops on a baking sheet lined with foil or parchment paper. Make sure to leave some space between each drumstick.
2. Bake in the preheated oven for 40-45 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through, and the coating is golden and crispy. You can check for doneness by inserting a meat thermometer into the thickest part of the drumstick; it should register at least 175°F.
3. Once cooked, remove the drumsticks from the oven and let them rest for a few minutes before serving.
For air fryer:
1. Lightly spray the air fryer basket with cooking spray.
2. Place the coated chicken drumsticks in a single layer in the air fryer basket. You may need to cook them in batches depending on the size of your air fryer.
3. Cook at 400°F for 20-25 minutes, flipping halfway through cooking, until the chicken is cooked through. Baste with there served sauce halfway through cooking.
4. Once cooked, remove the drumsticks from the air fryer and let them rest for a few minutes before serving.
Optional: Garnish with chopped fresh parsley if desired and serve hot with barbecue sauce on the side for dipping.