Angels on Horseback
Angels on Horseback

Celebratory angels on horseback – oysters wrapped in partially cooked bacon, then grilled or roasted and spritzed with lime or lemon – originated in Victorian England. A perfect appetizer for any holiday gathering!

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

It was at a wedding I was attending with my friend DeDee, and it was one of those classic Long Island weddings, with all the glass clinking for the couple to kiss at awkward moments, a thick tangle of thick hair and all lots of Billy Joel music I had to listen to the Dead Kennedys for a week afterwards to recover.

I asked the waiter what it was called and he said “It’s an angel on horseback” like I was an idiot for not knowing.

I later learned that Angels on Horse – also made with scallops and sometimes called “Devils on Horse” – was a de rigeur party food on Long Island at the time.

I can tell you that even now it is an incredibly delicious dish. Salty, mineral oysters, barely cooked, surrounded by smoky bacon and brightened with the zest of fresh lemon juice. I later switched to lime juice because I like it even better.

Make lots of them, especially if you can find small oysters, like the Olympias in Washington state.

Basically, you want oysters the size you would eat raw – this is meant to be a one-bite meal, 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 less than 3 of these per person, and 4 per person is pretty safe. Personally, I’ve put away a baker’s dozen before, which I think makes me either a true angel…or just plain glutton.

How did angels on horseback get their name?

These bacon-wrapped oysters originally came from Victorian England. Originally the hosts served them after dinner, but in modern times we serve them as an appetizer. Their name most likely comes from the curled up edges of bacon that look like angel wings. When stuffed plums or dates replace oysters, the name changes to devil on horseback.

More appetizers for holiday feasts

  • Simply baked brie in puff pastry
  • Cranberry Glazed Meatballs
  • Classic stuffed mushrooms
  • Classic cheese ball
  • crab cocktail

From the editors of Simply Recipes

angel on horseback

preparation time
10 mins

cooking time
20 minutes

total time
30 minutes

4 servings

Canned shelled oysters are available in the refrigerated section of the grocery store and work well in this recipe.


  • 16 to 32 small oysters (or scallops) or larger halved, shelled

  • 8 to 16 slices thinly sliced bacon

  • lime or lemon wedges to serve


  1. Pre-cook bacon slices:

    Working in batches if necessary, cook the bacon rashers in a large skillet over medium-high heat until just about half-done but not crisp.

    You need to precook the bacon a bit or else the oysters will be overcooked if you cook them with the oysters until the bacon is crispy. Set the bacon aside to cool.

  2. Heat up the grill:

    Get a grill or grill good and hot while you wrap the oysters.

  3. Wrap bacon around oysters:

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

  4. grill or grill:

    Grill or broil over high heat to cook the oyster and crisp the bacon, about 5 to 6 minutes on the first side. Turn them over and grill an additional 2 to 4 minutes. You’ll need to turn them once or twice to get a good crispiness on all sides.

  5. Drizzle with lemon or lime juice:

    As soon as they come off the heat, drizzle with the lemon or lime juice and serve hot.

nutritional information (per serving)
551 calories
25g Fat
24g carbohydrates
54g protein
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Hello everybody, Even if you're limited on time and money, I believe you can prepare wonderful food with everyday products. All you have to do is cook cleverly and creatively!