Baked Bacon Jalapeno Poppers
To be honest, this Recipe SWAT Team installment was an experiment gone awry — the poppers turned out great but unfortunately I'm still in pain.
Word to the wise: Unless you have the thick skin of reptile, get some kitchen gloves for this recipe! After cleaning a bunch of raw hot peppers, don't touch your face or try to take your contacts out. I thought I'd be fine just washing my hands continuously but capsaicin can sink in fast.
And once it does, none of the home remedies seem to work: butter, yogurt, antacids, lemon juice, hand santizer or tomato juice. Just good, old ibuprofen to take the pain away. (Though I hear alcohol works too.)
At the grocery store, you never really know how hot the jalapeños are going to be because of the variation in the climates they are grown in — the drier the climate, the hotter the chile. It's hard to tell within one type of pepper by looking at it, but generally the smaller the chile, the hotter it is.
Some people say that a pointy end means it's hotter; that the thinner the walls of the pepper, the hotter it is; or the more seeds it has, the hotter it is. Who knows? You may bite into it and then — pop! — that jalapeño is hot.
Click here to see Recipe SWAT Team: Snacks
- 10 jalapeño peppers
- 1 cup of onions, diced
- 1 cup of tomatoes, diced
- 4 cooked bacon strips, crumbled (plus 1 tablespoon of bacon grease)
- One 8-ounce package of cream cheese
- ¼ cup cilantro, chopped
- ½ cup shredded Cheddar or Jack
Slice the jalapeños lengthwise and scrape out the seeds (this is when you need your gloves). Arrange the halves skin side up on a baking sheet and put them under the broiler until the skins blacken and bubble, about 5-8 minutes. Put them in a covered bowl or Tupperware container so the steam can loosen the skin.
Then sauté the onions and tomatoes in the leftover bacon grease. In a bowl, mix the softened cream cheese with the onion, tomatoes, bacon and cilantro.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Gently remove the skin from the jalapeños (try to keep the stem intact). Place them back on the baking sheet. Fill each half with the cream cheese mixture. Sprinkle the shredded cheese on each. Bake for another 10 or so minutes until the cheese on top is melted (and browned in spots, as I prefer).
Aside from being a party app favorite, jalapeño poppers are, traditionally, fresh jalapeño peppers filled with any mixture of cheese and spices. They can be fried, grilled, or baked.
Typically, fried jalapeño poppers are coated in breadcrumbs. Baked or grilled versions tend to be the healthier option as they are gluten free and low carb.
PREVENT CURDLED CHEESE AND UNCOOKED BACON
The problem with Bacon-Wrapped Jalapeño Poppers in the oven is (unfortunately) the bacon.
Even if you opt for thin-cut bacon, you still have to bake the Poppers at such a high temperature, for such a long period of time in order to cook that bacon through, the cheese on the inside ends up curdled. The other alternative is sacrificing the crispy texture of the bacon by cutting back on the bake time, and ultimately serving up gummy bacon that’s both difficult to bite into and chew.
Neither one of these options are particularly easy on the eyes or your palate.
The solution? Cook the bacon in advance, and instead of wrapping the jalapeños with it, stuff it in the filling and on the top.
With this method, you get perfectly baked Jalapeno Poppers with a gorgeously smooth cheese filling and bacon in every single bite.
Bacon Wrapped Jalapeño Poppers
The all-in-one finger food for a party, our Bacon Wrapped Jalapeño Poppers are simply the best that you&rsquoll find. The filling for these peppers is ultra savory with garlic powder and Worcestershire sauce giving a mouth-smacking layer of flavor to the tang of cream cheese and the punchy sharpness of cheddar. While all of these things are mixed together and stuffed into the hollowed out halves of jalapeño peppers, the greatest upgrade for this bite-sized snack is its outer layer. Each stuffed pepper is surrounded in a band of high-quality bacon, adding a chewy and smoky exterior to an already decadent stuffed pepper. In the oven, the fat that renders from the bacon conducts heat onto the surface of the pepper, encouraging it to blister and char in places while the rest of the pepper cooks through. The end result is a tender and mildly spicy snack stuffed with a creamy filling that balances the jalapeño&rsquos heat alongside the chewy richness of delicious bacon. You can assure guests that you removed the seeds of the peppers, so they shouldn&rsquot be too hot to enjoy. Put these out alongside other snacks and watch them disappear at an alarming rate.
Tips For The Best Jalapeno Poppers
I do have a few additional tips to help you make this easy jalapeño poppers recipe even easier!
- Wear gloves. The first thing you need to do is wear gloves when you handle the jalapeños. The capsaicin in them can irritate your skin, or worse, if you touch your eyes later it will sting like crazy the seeds are the worst part. Wash your hands well after you assemble the bacon cream cheese jalapeño poppers, even though you are wearing gloves. Trust me on this one!
- Pre-cook the bacon. Make sure your bacon is cooked first if you’re using fresh bacon. I like to make bacon in the oven. Otherwise, you can use pre-cooked bacon bits which is part of what makes this cream cheese jalapeño popper recipe so very simple.
- Decide what to do with the stems. When you prep the jalapeños, you can remove the stems if you want or leave them on. It’s totally up to you! The seeds and stems add extra spice, so if you prefer them a little milder, simply scoop them out while you’re prepping your jalapeños.
- Soften the cream cheese. Set your cream cheese out ahead of time. It’s going to be way easier to mix it if it’s room temperature.
- Don’t toss the extra filling. The exact amount of filling you need will vary a bit depending on the size and shape of your jalapeños, but the amounts in this cream cheese jalapeño popper recipe are pretty spot on. If you have any extra filling left, you can use it as a spread on low carb crackers. (Some people might even make extra just for the dip…ahem).
How to Slice the Jalapenos
When making jalapeno poppers boat style, it is best to hold the peppers by the stem and slice with knife from the tip to the stem, straight in the middle. This will get you two even pieces of jalapeno. Then, simply scoop out the seeds and ribs (the whitish innards) to make room for your cheese filling.
Baked Jalapeno Bacon Poppers
It&rsquos taken me thirty-ahem-something years to try a jalapeno popper for the very first time. Poppers have always been one of those things that just didn&rsquot seem so appealing &ndash I blame it on bad crab rangoon, which has certain similarities to the popper. Sure, both have qualities that I whole-heartedly embrace in other foods &mdash they&rsquore deep fried (hello potato chips!) and made with cream cheese (hello cheesecake!)
But the bad crab rangoon incident that happened waaaay back when we used to live in Nebraska, I was probably 6 years old, will haunt me forever. Let&rsquos just call it food trauma. So therefore, I just lumped jalapeno poppers in the same food trauma category.
Just a few months ago, when Elise, Ree and I hosted a little shindig at BlogHer Food at Le Cordon Bleu, the vast buffet included jalapeno poppers, except that I was so preoccupied with hosting duties that I didn&rsquot realize what it was when I plopped it on my plate.
Ohhhh&hellip holy hot pepper poppers! Loved it.
So perhaps I need to revisit the list of foods in the &ldquotrauma&rdquo category, including those damn crab rangoons, because I can&rsquot believe that I&rsquove been missing out all these years.
My version of poppers are a little different &mdash okay A LOT different. Instead of using jalapenos, I picked up a peck of pickled peppers bag of sweet mini peppers, so that my kids could eat them too. Plus, it was on sale. $2.79 for that entire bag. So sweet, just like red bell peppers.
I added bacon to the cream cheese and cheddar cheese mix&hellip.
Instead of breading them in bread crumbs, I used Kellogg&rsquos Corn Flake Crumbs.
Lastly, I baked them instead of deep frying. Just a note &ndash the decision to bake rather than fry has nothing to do with less calories &mdash it&rsquos stuffed with cream cheese and cheddar cheese for goodness sakes! It was easier for me to pop them in the oven instead of heating up a vat of oil.
How To Make Jalapeño Poppers On A Budget
- Jalapeño peppers: Some grocery stores (like ALDI and Trader Joe’s) sell jalapeño peppers by the bag. But even if your local supermarket sells peppers by the pound, they’re still really cheap.
- Bacon: Whenever a recipe calls for chopped, cooked bacon, I purchase it off the grocery store salad bar. The bacon is already cooked (no cooking, no mess!) and it’s quite cheap (usually under $1.00 for 1/2 cup).
Popper Recipe Tips
I like to slice the jalapeño peppers in half lengthwise, then core and fill them to make poppers. It&rsquos more of a boat-style, and it makes the jalapeño poppers more bite-sized for the average eater as well.
However, you can easily slice off the stem and core the jalapeños with a knife or the end of a long spoon, then stuff them with the bacon-blue cheese mixture. They&rsquore just as tasty this way.
As another option, you can also wrap each popper in a slice of bacon, then bake or grill them for 20-30 minutes. Poppers! Everyone LOVES stuffed jalapeño poppers, especially bacon wrapped!
For the seasonings, I kept it very simple and let the flavor of the blue cheese be the highlight&mdashwith just a touch of garlic powder. However, other seasoning options to consider are onion powder, red pepper flakes, and a touch of salt and pepper. You might also try a version with Pepper Jack cheese. So good!
That&rsquos it, my friends! Go throw yourself a party just so you can make these. Or, make them ahead and bring them as a surprise to your next gathering. You&rsquoll definitely be the hit of the evening. Just tell them Mike from Chili Pepper Madness sent you! And Stella® Blue Cheese.
If you enjoy this recipe, I hope you&rsquoll leave a comment with some STARS. Also, please share it on social media. Don&rsquot forget to tag us at #ChiliPepperMadness. I&rsquoll be sure to share! Thanks! &mdash Mike H.