Jalapeño poppers – cheese and bacon dip stuffed inside jalapeños baked until oozing inside, topped with crunchy golden breadcrumbs. Excellent finger food for parties – I’m thinking Super Bowl Sunday game day food!
I’m told it’s Super Bowl Sunday this weekend and it was therefore suggested to me that sharing some kind of party food would be on point. So here’s an American game day classic – Jalapeño poppers!! Fresh jalapeños stuffed with a creamy cheesy filling then fried or baked, the jalapeño is barely spicy because the spiciness reduces when cooked.
How i make jalapeno poppers
There’s no one way to make Jalapeño poppers. The stuffing can be herby, or bacony, they can be crumbed and fried, or wrapped in bacon.
Mine have a bacon-cheddar-cream cheese filling (essentially cheese and bacon dip), then I top with shredded cheese to act as a glue for crunchy breadcrumbs. I like to pre-toast the breadcrumbs so they are evenly golden. It takes 3 minutes and so worth it – rather than serving them with a white crumb with splotchy brown patches.
Serve at your next gathering (football present or not) and watch them disappear in a flash!
Ingredients in Jalapeño poppers
Here’s what you need to make them.
Jalapeños – 12 whole, raw jalapeños about 7.5cm / 3″ long. Longer gets difficult to eat with your hands (imagine – floppy hot cheesy thing) and shorter is a pain to stuff (though you can use more smaller ones if you want. Jalapeño Poppers are not very spicy because the spiciness reduces when cooked. Unless you specifically leaves the seeds in because this is where the spiciness is! See the information box below for how to control the spice level.
Bacon – Use streaky bacon so it can cook in its own fat and becomes nice and crisp. Lean bacon will not become as crisp and also you’ll need to add fat to cook it.
Panko breadcrumbs – A Japanese breadcrumb favoured for the extra-crispy coating it gives because the pieces are bigger than regular breadcrumbs. Find it in the Asian aisle at large regular grocery stores, or Asian stores. Substitute with regular breadcrumbs, but they’re not as crunchy.
Cream cheese – You can use any brand you like but my go-to is Philadelphia. Low-fat will work but the filling won’t be as creamy.
Cheese – I like to use a sharp cheddar because it’s got a slightly stronger flavour than regular cheddar. However, you can really use any cheese that melts that has flavour. Not mozzarella – it doesn’t have enough flavour.
Garlic – I prefer fresh over dried garlic powder which most recipes seem to use. It just has better flavour to me.
Green onion – For freshness.
Chives – Optional garnish.
CHOOSE YOUr JALAPEÑO POPPERS SPICINESS
Barely any spice – Scoop out all seeds and the membrane (white rib inside).
Bit spicy (I do this) – Scoop out seeds, leave some membrane.
Spicier – Leave some seeds in.
Spice lovers – Leave all the seeds in!
Most of the jalapeño spiciness is in the seeds, some in the membrane (the white rib inside) and the least in the skin/flesh but there is still a decent amount when raw. Jalapeños lose spiciness when cooked, leaving behind just jalapeño flavour (which is basically capsicum / bell pepper flavour).
How to make Jalapeño Poppers
As with most finger food, the time is in the stuffing and topping of each individual piece. But the actual making part is very straight forward.
Breadcrumbs and bacon – I forgot to film and photograph the bacon step!! Oops. I cook the bacon slices first (cool > crisp > finely chop) then use the bacon fat to toast the breadcrumbs until golden.
Why pre-toast the breadcrumbs? Because the jalapeno poppers are not in the oven long enough to make the breadcrumbs golden. You end up with a pale brown surface then all the breadcrumbs underneath are white. It’s totally worth the 3 minutes it takes to toast the breadcrumbs!
Filling – Set aside 1/4 of the bacon which we will use for the topping. Then mix together the cream cheese, garlic, salt, pepper and the rest of the bacon and cheese. Just mix until combined.
Jalapeños – Split the jalapeños in half then scoop out the seeds. I use a 1/2 teaspoon measuring spoon which has sharp edges and is the perfect size/shape for scooping out the seeds and most of the membrane (the white rib inside) which are the spicy part of the jalapeños.
Stuff – Fill the jalapeños with the filling. You can go slightly above the rim because it sinks a tiny bit in the oven. But don’t be too greedy else there will be overflow. Smooth the surface roughly – no need to be meticulous as we are flattening in the next step.
Rack on tray – The line the jalapeños up on a rack set on a foil lined tray. Step 7 depicts this. The purpose of the rack is to keep the jalapeños stable as they bake so the cheese and panko stays on. The foil just makes your life easier. Golden crusted cheese is never fun to scrape off trays!
Cheese – Top with shredded cheese then press down to flatten the surface and make the cheese stick to the cream cheese filling. The cheese will act as a glue so the panko topping sticks. (Yes, we are using cheese glue today 🙌🏻).
Spoon the breadcrumb topping on. Obviously try to minimise how much falls onto the tray but it’s inevitable, especially if you aim to pile the breadcrumbs on pretty generously as I do.
Bake for 15 minutes at 200°C/375°F (180°C fan) or until the cheese is melted and jalapeno is soft but still holding their shape. Don’t bake too long else the jalapeno will get overly soft and collapse, which will make the bacon dip ooze out everywhere leading to tears and sighs of disappointment……
….instead of this. Look how happy I am! (This is before I sprinkled with the optional chives for a little green finish but after I devoured on, piping hot from the oven).
Let them cool for a bit before serving, but be sure to serve while the stuffing is still hot and oozy. It will stay warm for a good 20 minutes. Plenty of time to transfer them to a platter and pass them around. I provide little serviettes because it’s meant to be eaten with your hands. Does anyone eat jalapeño poppers with a knife and fork?? I feel like that would take some of the fun out the eating experience. And far too classy for me. As you will see in today’s video, especially in the charming little blooper at the end. 😂 – Nagi x
Watch how to make it
Please note: I had a minor shooting hiccup and as a result the bacon cooking step is not in the video, and I had to use oil rather than residual bacon fat to pan fry the breadcrumbs. The hiccup in question might’ve involved me forgetting to press the record button followed by wiping out the pan. I really need to learn to follow my own darn recipes! 🙂
Prep: 30 minutes
Cook: 25 minutes
Total: 55 minutes
Appetiser, Finger Food
Servings24 Jalapeño poppers
Tap or hover to scale
Crumbled bacon – Place bacon in a single layer in a large unheated non-stick pan (no oil, Note 2). Turn the stove onto medium high. As the pan heats up, the fat will start to melt. Once sizzling, cook each side for 2 minutes or until golden. Remove onto paper towels to drain the fat (leave fat in the pan). Repeat with remaining bacon. Once cool and crisp, finely chop into crumbs.
Toast breadcrumbs – Top up the bacon fat with the oil so you have 2 tablespoons in total. Cool the pan slightly then return to medium heat. Add the breadcrumbs and salt. Toast, stirring regularly, until evenly golden – about 3 minutes. Transfer into a bowl and set aside.
Filling – Put 3/4 of the bacon in a bowl (reserve the rest for topping). Add remaining ingredients then stir with a wooden spoon until combined.
Preheat oven to 200°C/375°F (180°C fan). Line a tray with foil then place a rack on it (to keep jalapeños level).
Stuff jalapeños with the filling, slightly above the rim (it sinks a bit) but not too high else there will be overflow. Place on the rack so the surface is level. Top with the shredded cheese, press down to flatten. Spoon over panko.
Bake 15 minutes or until the cheese is melted and jalapeño is softened but still holding its shape (not saggy).
Transfer to serving platter, sprinkle with reserved bacon and chives. Serve hot! No dipping sauce needed.
2. Bacon – It will cook in its own fat which melts as the pan heats up. But if your bacon is not fatty, you’ll need to add a bit of oil.
3. Panko breadcrumbs – A Japanese breadcrumb favoured for the extra-crispy coating it gives because the pieces are bigger than regular breadcrumbs. Find it in the Asian aisle at large regular grocery stores, or Asian stores. Substitute with regular breadcrumbs, but they’re not as crunchy.
Leftovers will keep for 4 days in the fridge, or freezer 3 months.
Nutrition per jalapeño popper. Pleasantly surprised! (For once)
Calories: 77cal (4%)Carbohydrates: 2g (1%)Protein: 2g (4%)Fat: 7g (11%)Saturated Fat: 3g (19%)Polyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0.01gCholesterol: 15mg (5%)Sodium: 248mg (11%)Potassium: 52mg (1%)Fiber: 0.3g (1%)Sugar: 1g (1%)Vitamin A: 301IU (6%)Vitamin C: 1mg (1%)Calcium: 17mg (2%)Iron: 0.3mg (2%)
Life of Dozer
I often share real life behind the scenes as-it-happens on Instagram. Every time I show snippets of Dozer with who I call “The Magic Dog Doctor” I get a stack of questions about it, so I shared some information about him. So, here it is for website readers too!
His name is Neil Barnsley and he has a practice called Animal Holistic Therapies that uses natural and alternative therapies to treat dogs, specialising in physical issues (joints, muscles, nerves etc). It takes an hour to drive there (western Sydney in a place called Camden) and there’s a reason I’ve been taking Dozer to him for over a decade – because he truly does work magic. His ability to pinpoint an issue by touch is truly astonishing. Take your pooch once, and you’ll understand.
Also, he has saved me many thousands of dollars over the years in expensive scans that he doesn’t need to do to identify a problem, and natural therapies to fix joint, spine and muscle problems rather than injections etc..
He is also who I consulted to create Dozer’s natural food diet (ie no dog food) which he’s been on for almost 8 years. At age 11, his fur is still shiny and healthy, his eyes are still very clear, his teeth are excellent for a dog of his age, much in part, Neil tells me, due to his food.
He’s a legend. Thank you Neil!
PS He is very, very in demand so I book many weeks out to take Dozer.
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