Jalapeno Poppers

January 30, 2021

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Oven baked Jalapeno Poppers! Fresh spicy jalapeno peppers are stuffed with a rich cheese filling and finished with crispy seasoned panko and flavorful bacon. After one taste I think you’ll agree that this is the absolute best way to make them!

Close up photo of jalapeno poppers on a white serving platter.Best Stuffed Jalapeño Poppers

These are also known as one of the ultimate game day or party foods! They have that addictive kick of heat, immense flavor throughout and all the best textures coming from each layer. Plus they are easy to make!

I’m known to quickly finish off half the pan myself. These things are irresistibly addictive! And one of my favorite ways to eat my vegetables (or fruit if you want to get technical).

It just makes sense that they are so supremely delicious. You get that spicy element that always excites the tastebuds, along with a multi-dimensional layer of savory cheese flavor, a light flaky crunch from both the panko and the bacon, and some extra freshness coming from the herbs.

All the best things bundled into one small, yet completely satisfying stuffed jalapeno chili pepper. I think we ought to just make them a weekend tradition, don’t you?

Overhead photo of jalapeno poppers on oval white platter over red cloth.

Jalapeno Popper Recipe Ingredients

  • Jalapeño peppers: Look for those even in size so they bake evenly and finish at the same time.
  • Cream cheese: This is a critical ingredient to the recipe. It gives them that classic rich and creamy filling.
  • Monterey Jack cheese: I tested several types of cheese and Monterey jack wins for the best pairing to compliment the jalapeños without hiding their flavor (it’s reminiscent of a chile relleno).
  • Bacon: Once you have bacon jalapeno poppers you’ll never look back. It’s the only way to make them!
  • Green onions: I like that these are softer and less harsh than yellow onions (or others). Perfect to mix right in without cooking before hand.
  • Cilantro: Not always typical but it’s one of my favorite additions.
  • Garlic: This always adds a nice hint of background flavor to just about any recipe.
  • Salt and pepper: Season to taste.
  • Panko bread crumbs: My go-to bread crumbs. They are flaky, perfectly crisp and made from just a few ingredients.
  • Chili powder: I love to add this for some color and also a hint of Mexican flavor added to the crumb topping.
  • Olive oil: This adds some flavor and moisture to the bread crumbs and encourages browning.

Photo of ingredients used to make jalapeno poppers. Includes fresh jalapenos, panko bread crumbs, cream cheese, garlic, cilantro, green onions, Monterey jack cheese, chili powder, salt, pepper and bacon.

How to Make Homemade Jalapeno Poppers

  • Prepare peppers: Wearing food grade gloves remove seeds and ribs from jalapeños. You can do this by hand (fastest method) – just using your thumb to scrape it out. Or you can do this with a pairing knife (just be careful not to cut through peppers bottom side).
  • Align peppers on baking sheet: Transfer peppers cut side up to an 18 by 13-inch baking sheet.
  • Make cheese filling: In a medium mixing bowl add cream cheese, Monterey Jack cheese, 2/3 of the bacon (4 slices), 2 1/2 Tbsp green onions, cilantro, garlic, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir with a spoon until well combined.
  • Stuff peppers with filling: Spoon and spread mixture into each jalapeno halve, it should be just slightly heaping.
  • Season breading style topping In a small mixing bowl using a fork stir together panko, chili powder, salt to taste and olive oil until mixture is evenly coated.
  • Add topping to peppers: Sprinkle panko evenly over each pepper.

How Long to Bake Jalapeno Poppers

  • Bake in preheated 400 degree oven until peppers are tender and cheese is melted, about 14 – 18 minutes.
  • Garnish peppers with remaining 2 slices of finely chopped bacon, and 1 Tbsp green onions. Serve warm.

 

Collage of four photos showing first steps of preparing jalapeno poppers. Includes halving and seeding jalapenos, aligning them on baking sheet, then making cream cheese filling.

Can They Be Made Ahead of Time?

  • Yes jalapeno poppers can be prepped a day ahead of time.
  • Keep panko topping separately so it doesn’t soften.
  • Store peppers in fridge covered.
  • Add about 3 – 5 minutes to bake time since filling and peppers will be very cold from fridge.

Collage of four photos showing how to stuff jalepono peppers and prepare and finish with panko topping mixture.

Variations

  • Try another meat like chorizo, sausage or finely chopped ham. You only need a little (under 1/2 cup cooked).
  • Use a different type of cheese such as cheddar, pepper jack or Colby jack.
  • Add a little lime zest for a light zip.
  • Include other spices such as cumin or coriander, or even cayenne pepper to bump up the heat.
  • For a lightly charred flavor, broil pepper halves (near broiler element) upside down before filling. Reduce bake time slightly since this will soften them a little.

Don’t Want Any Heat?

To make them completely mild, try the recipe using mini sweet peppers in place of jalapeno peppers.

Tips for the Best Jalapeno Poppers

  • To make jalapeno poppers less hot, always remove the seeds and ribs before stuffing. They will still be a spicy appetizer but this will cut the heat quite a bit.
  • Use gloves when working with spicy chili peppers, especially this many. The capsaicin can transfer to your hands then when you possibly rub your eyes later (or remove contact lenses) you’ll feel the burn. I’ve learned the hard way.
  • Bake peppers just to an al dente-like tenderness. Mostly softened (not mushy), with an ever-so-light little firmness to them still.
  • Include all the recommended ingredients for optimal flavor.
  • Serve warm. Yes they can be eaten cold but there’s always just something about that warm melty cheese.

Jalapeno poppers shown from side angle.

What to Serve with Them – More Party Foods!

Jalapeno Poppers
5 from 5 votes

Jalapeno Poppers

Oven baked and absolutely delicious! Fresh spicy jalapeno peppers are stuffed with a rich cheese filling and finished with crispy seasoned panko and flavorful bacon. After one taste I think you'll agree that this is the best way to make them!
Servings: 6
Prep25 minutes
Cook15 minutes
Ready in: 40 minutes

Ingredients

  • 12 medium (1 lb.) jalapeno peppers, halved
  • 7 oz. cream cheese, softened*
  • 1 cup (4 oz.) shredded Monterey Jack cheese
  • 6 slices bacon, cooked and finely chopped, divided
  • 3 1/2 Tbsp thinly sliced green onions, divided**
  • 2 1/2 Tbsp finely chopped cilantro
  • 1 tsp minced garlic (1 clove)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1/4 tsp (heaping) chili powder
  • 2 tsp olive oil

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  • Wearing food grade gloves remove seeds and ribs from jalapeños. You can do this by hand (fastest method) - just using your thumb to scrape it out. Or you can do this with a pairing knife (just be careful not to cut through peppers bottom side).
  • Transfer peppers cut side up to an 18 by 13-inch baking sheet.
  • In a medium mixing bowl add cream cheese, Monterey Jack cheese, 2/3 of the bacon (4 slices), 2 1/2 Tbsp green onions, cilantro, garlic, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir with a spoon until well combined.
  • Spoon and spread mixture into each jalapeno halve, it should be just slightly heaping.
  • In a small mixing bowl using a fork stir together panko, chili powder, salt to taste and olive oil until mixture is evenly coated.
  • Sprinkle panko evenly over each pepper.
  • Bake in preheated oven until peppers are tender and cheese is melted, about 14 - 18 minutes.
  • Garnish with remaining 2 slices of finely chopped bacon, and 1 Tbsp green onions. Serve warm.

Notes

  • *Cream cheese can be softened in the microwave in a microwave safe bowl, about 10 - 15 seconds per each side.
  • **I use the small/thin green onions in the bunch for garnish. They aren't chives just green onions.
  • These can be prepared a day in advance. Just store in fridge, keep panko topping separate and add when ready to bake. Increase bake time by about 3 - 5 minutes.