Best Rumaki Recipe | Holiday Appetizer (2024)

Published: · Modified: by Steven Pennington · This post may contain affiliate links | disclosure policy

A delicious Rumaki recipe is a perfect appetizer for any party or gathering. It's made with chicken liver and water chestnuts wrapped in bacon that can be baked or grilled to perfection!

The simplest of appetizers is made delicious. Once you have one, you'll be hooked for life. OurRumaki recipeis spot-on, the best.

Enjoy a beautifulsubstitutionlist of options to try for those who do not enjoy chicken livers. Looking to have the best appetizers at the party? Try our Chile con QuesoorTexas Guacamole Recipe.

Best Rumaki Recipe | Holiday Appetizer (1)

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⬇️ Table of Contents
  • What Is Rumaki?
  • Rumaki Recipe History
  • How To Make Rumaki
  • Rumaki Without Liver - Variations
  • Rumaki Using WaterMelon Pickles
  • Cooking the Rumaki
  • Bacon Prep For Rumaki
  • Rumaki Recipe Glaze / Sauce Holiday Appetizer
  • Teriyaki Sauce Recipe
  • 📖 Recipe

What Is Rumaki?

Rumakiis usually known as a special occasion appetizer. It often shows up around Christmas, yet it is lovely any time of year.

The texture, from thecrispy baconto the perfectly roasted chicken liver, with a piece of water chestnut right in the middle, all rolled up into a ball of perfection.

If chicken livers aren't your thing, you could still make this appetizer by replacing the chicken livers with a different protein or something like dates. I have an alternative idea below for you besides chicken livers:)

Rumaki Recipe History

Rumaki or Rumake is an hors-d'oeuvre of mock-Polynesian origin. It was popularly served at Trader Vic's and other Polynesian restaurants in the 1950s and 1960s.Its ingredients and preparation method vary, but it usually consists of water chestnuts and pieces of chicken liver wrapped in bacon and marinated in soy sauce with either ginger or brown sugar. It is also popular within the Hawaiian Islands.

Best Rumaki Recipe | Holiday Appetizer (2)


  • 24liversChicken Livers
  • Bacon - Thin StripsCut in half lengthwise
  • 24slicedWater Chestnuts

Rumaki Marinade

  • 1cupSoy Sauce
  • 1TablespoonBrown Sugar
  • ½TablespoonMinced Ginger
  • 1teaspoonChopped Garlic

Rumaki Substitution

  • Daikon RadishSliced
  • Beef Tenderloincubed
  • Cantaloupecubed
  • Honeydew Meloncubed
  • Dateswhole
  • Pickled Watermeloncubed

Glaze Options - Pick One

  • ½cupTeriyaki Sauce
  • ½cupHoisin Sauce
  • ½cupGrape Jelly w/ Chipotle in Adobo Sauce
  • ½cupBBQ Sauce
  • ½cupMaple Syrup

How To Make Rumaki

First, clean the chicken livers. I like to cut them in half if they are large and remove anything that doesn't look like pure protein/meat.

Next, place the chicken livers into ½ cup of soy sauce, add 2 tablespoon of brown sugar, 1 tablespoon of minced ginger, and 1 teaspoon of minced garlic, and allow the chicken livers to marinate for one hour.

The Bacon takes one strip of bacon and cuts it in half lengthwise. Try to purchase thin strips of bacon; this helps with the cooking of the bacon, so it doesn't end up being chewy. #crispybacon.

Then add one piece of sliced water chestnut. If you don't like water chestnuts, you could try using daikon radish. Next, add one piece of chicken liver or pickled watermelon. Wrap the bacon over the top, over and over, and secure with a toothpick.

Rumaki Without Liver - Variations

Not everyone loves chicken livers, below are rumaki without liver options.

Beef Tenderloin

Our top substitution suggestion. The bacon cooking time is right on with the beef's cooking time.

Best Rumaki Recipe | Holiday Appetizer (3)


Excellent choice; the tender, sweet dates and the salty bite of the bacon are pure culinary perfection.

Best Rumaki Recipe | Holiday Appetizer (4)


Figs are in season over the holiday months, sweet bite, but not too sweet. A very exquisite choice. I suggest wrapping in prosciutto.

Best Rumaki Recipe | Holiday Appetizer (5)

Cantaloupe & Honeydew Melon

  • Cantaloupe/Honeydew Melon wrapped in prosciutto is a French classic. It is not much of a stretch of the imagination to turn it into a rumaki recipe.

Pickled Watermelon

Best Rumaki Recipe | Holiday Appetizer (6)

Simple Pickling Recipe for Watermelon Pickles:

If you're not into chicken livers, I have an exciting alternative: watermelon. What, watermelon? Yes, you can use watermelon rinds by making pickles out of them. I've had watermelon pickles, which were incredible and possibly better than ones made from cucumbers.

Cucumbers are what the pickles in your refrigerator are made from.
If you want to make watermelon pickles, start by removing the green exterior of the watermelon. Then, slice the exposed layer into the desired size and place it into a mason jelly jar with a pickling solution. It takes about a week, and you'll have pickles.

Rumaki Using WaterMelon Pickles

  • 2 cups of water.
  • Add 3 tablespoon of mustard seeds, 1 tablespoon of Peppercorns, 1 cup of Apple Cider Vinegar, 1 tablespoon of salt, and ½ cup of Sugar.
  • Bring it to a boil over high heat.
  • Reduce the heat and allow the flavors to get happy together.
  • Recipe Mix-up: Add sliced jalapenos; so good this way.
  • Chill in the refrigerator overnight; one week is better.

In the rumaki recipe, replace the chicken livers with the pickled watermelon pickles...

Cooking the Rumaki

Many ways you could choose:

  • Deep Frying
  • Baking on a cookie sheet
  • Baking on a wire rack
  • Sous Vid then finishes on a hot grill

I like roasting rumaki in a 375-degree oven for about 20 minutes on a wire rack...This assures even cooking and a crispy bottom as well.

Bacon Prep For Rumaki

Best Rumaki Recipe | Holiday Appetizer (8)

Cutting the bacon in half lengthwise will do two things.

  1. The bacon will go much further, doubling the amount of Rumaki you can make
  2. Cutting the bacon in half will help with the wrapping of the Rumaki. #tighterwrapping
  3. The number one reason is that the bacon will cook more evenly when cut thin.

Tip: Do not use thick-cut bacon, as it will increase the oven cooking time. This will risk the chicken livers becoming overcooked by the time the bacon is fully cooked.

Rumaki Recipe Glaze / Sauce Holiday Appetizer

Once the rumaki comes out of the oven or fryer.

Adding a glaze with a paintbrush can take this recipe over the top.

Here are a few sauces you could use:

  • Teriyaki
  • Hoisin sauce
  • It might sound odd, but grape jelly with chipotle in adobo sauce added
  • Favorite BBQ sauce
  • Maple Syrup

Place them back into a hot oven to caramelize the sauce ( 2-to-5 minutes)

Serve with creamy ranch or tartar sauce

Teriyaki Sauce Recipe

  • 1 cup Soy Sauce
  • ½ cup of Sake
  • ½ cup of Mirin
  • ½ cup Pineapple Juice
  • 2 tablespoons of Honey
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons of Brown Sugar
  • Grated fresh Ginger ( 1 ½ teaspoon)
  • Add water as needed

There you have it, you know how to make Rumaki now.

Please give us a shout-out with your holiday cheer 🙂

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📖 Recipe

Rumaki Recipe - Bacon Wrapped

Steven Pennington

Simple, but elegant easy holiday appetizer that will become your family favorite.

4.89 from 9 votes

Print Recipe Pin Recipe Save For Later

Prep Time 13 minutes mins

Cook Time 20 minutes mins

Total Time 33 minutes mins

Course Holiday Appetizer, Holiday-Party-Game Day Appetizer

Cuisine International

Servings 24 Pieces

Calories 167 kcal

Suggested Equipment

Wire Roasting Rack

Cookie Sheet


  • 24 livers Chicken Livers
  • Bacon - Thin Strips Cut in half lengthwise

Rumaki Marinade

  • 1 cup Soy Sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon Brown Sugar
  • ½ Tablespoon Minced Ginger
  • 1 teaspoon Chopped Garlic

Stuffing Options

  • 24 sliced Water ChestNuts

Rumaki Without Liver - Variations

  • Daikon Radish
  • Beef Tenderloin cubed
  • Cantaloupe cubed
  • Honeydew Melon cubed
  • Dates whole
  • Pickled Watermelon cubed
  • pinch Cayenne Pepper optional

Glaze Options - Pick One

  • 1 cup Teriyaki Sauce
  • 1 cup Hoisin Sauce
  • 1 cup Grape Jelly w/ Chipotle in Adobo Sauce
  • 1 cup BBQ Sauce
  • 1 cup Maple Syrup


Cleaning / Prepping Chicken Livers

  • Clean/remove as much excess from the livers as possible while keeping the livers as "Large" as possible.

  • Cutaway pieces that do not look like something you'd like to eat. Use a small knife and make small cuts where needed trying to keep the liver in tactic.


  • Combine the soy sauce, chopped garlic, brown sugar, and chopped ginger into a large bowl.

    Add the livers to the marinate. Place into the refrigerator for one hour.

The Bacon

  • Slice the bacon in half lengthwise. You do not want to use too much bacon or the cooking time will be longer. Which risks overcooking the livers or beef, or chicken.

    Cutting the bacon strips in half will make it easy to wrap each chicken liver tightly.

Making The Rumaki

  • Lay one piece of bacon flat on a cutting board. Take a slice of water chestnut and place it at one end of the bacon strip. Add a piece of liver on top of the water chestnut.

    Tip: Add small slices of jalapeno

  • Next, roll the bacon starting at the end with the liver and roll the bacon on top of itself.

    No rules on how you wrap.

    Another option is wrapping the bacon in circles all around the liver.

    Secure with toothpicks

Cooking The Rumaki

  • Place the rumaki on a cookie sheet. Or, I like using a wire rack so the rumaki isn't touching the cookie sheet. It helps crisp things up nicely.

    Bake @ 375 for 15 to 20 minutes

Adding the Glaze

  • Add the glaze of choice after cooking. Use a paintbrush or spoon to cover.

  • Then place the rumaki back into the oven for 3 to 5 minutes to set the glaze.


Chef Notes:

  • Undercooking verse overcooking is suggested. Once out of the oven the livers will continue to cook from carryover temperature.
  • Adding the glaze is key to the flavor profile. I suggest using the teriyaki glaze, so good.
  • Make sure to clean the chicken liver well

The Glaze To Try:

Grape jelly with Chipotles in Adobo sauce. Might sound like a stretch, but it is very good. This glaze works so very well on roast chicken.

Get Butter N Thyme's Adobo Sauce Recipe here.


Serving: 2pieceCalories: 167kcalCarbohydrates: 27gProtein: 10.7gFat: 6.45gSaturated Fat: 0.45gPolyunsaturated Fat: 2.4gMonounsaturated Fat: 2.6gCholesterol: 91mgSodium: 120mgPotassium: 24mgFiber: 0.87gSugar: 3.1gVitamin A: 114IUIron: 5.4mg

Keyword Bacon Wrapped Rumaki, Rumaki Holiday Appetizer Recipe, Rumaki Recipe

Tried This Recipe? Pin it!Leave a Comment Below how was it?

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  1. Sandi

    Best Rumaki Recipe | Holiday Appetizer (15)
    I have made these for years. They have ALWAYS been everyone's favorite


  2. Nancy D. Racies

    Best Rumaki Recipe | Holiday Appetizer (16)
    I LOVE the suggestion to cut the bacon length-wise. It was very easy to roll up and it's just the right amount of bacon without overpowering the liver. Thanks!


  3. Mike

    Best Rumaki Recipe | Holiday Appetizer (17)
    Looks great and your preparation instructions are complete and easy to follow.


  4. Liz Ellis

    This recipe is fabulous. My friends request I bring rumaki to our gatherings.


    • Steven Pennington

      That is so cool. When I first tried Rumaki I was shocked how good it was. I'm happy you and your friends enjoyed.


  5. Jody

    I hate Chicken liver! Lol


  6. Mary M Qualls

    Haven't had these in years Yes, I do love them. Everyone else around here hates them.


  7. Susie Pennington

    Sounds great!


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