Truth: I’ve never attempted to make jalapeño poppers before this week. I’ve relied on restaurants to work their magic and deliver these spicy, cheesy, baconey, appetizers and place them in the middle of the table for sharing. If I’d known how simple it was to bake these at home, I would have done it years ago!
Since we’re currently in the middle of Covid-19, we’re staying at home, cooking, and not yet socializing. But Mike and I managed to eat the entire batch -that’s 24 poppers- over a period of 3 days!
This recipe serves a large group, perfect for appetizers when you’re having a gathering of friends and family. For a smaller group, bake only the poppers you plan on eating right away, and store the rest, uncooked and covered, in the fridge for baking later. Pop them in the oven with the same baking temperature and directions.
If you’ve never purchased jalapeño peppers before, you’ll find them in the produce section next to bell peppers. Fresh jalapeños are green and taut. Stay away from the wrinkled ones. Just like us, they wrinkle with age.
Jalapeño peppers are a mainstay in Mexican cuisine, giving dishes and sauces that unique flavor and heat. Capsaicin is the active ingredient that provides the heat, and the highest levels of capsaicin is found in the seeds and the veins/pith inside the pepper. There are lower levels in the actual flesh of the pepper, but if you’re not a fan of the heat, use mini sweet peppers instead.
Start with 12 large jalapeño peppers. I use peppers about 4 inches long because they’re easier to stuff than smaller ones. Give them a good rinse in the sink first, and start cutting each one lengthwise, removing the seeds and veins with a spoon. I leave a few seeds in half of the peppers, for those who like the extra heat. Remember what your Mama told you – drink milk to reduce a bite that’s too spicy. And a word of caution: wear gloves during this process or you may end up accidentally touching your lips or your eyes. BURNS!
Next, combine softened cream cheese, shredded cheese, minced fresh garlic, and a little salt and pepper. Then fill each jalapeño with the cheese mixture. In this recipe I decided to use shredded pepper jack cheese. It melts well, has a buttery smooth texture, and contains small bits of sweet peppers, chilies, rosemary, and garlic. Cheddar, feta, Monterey Jack, or Mexican blend cheeses all work beautifully as well.
Wrap a half a piece of regular (not thick) cut bacon around each pepper. I secure with a toothpick to help keep the cheese in place, but it’s optional. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil for easy clean up – so easy, that you won’t have to wash the pan when you’re finished! I place a wire cooling rack on the top of the sheet so the bacon cooks evenly.
Place on the top rack of a 400 degree F oven and cook for 20 minutes. The peppers are softened, but not mushy. I like my bacon crispy, so I turn up the oven to broil and continue cooking for a minute or two. Watch carefully so the bacon doesn’t burn.
After removing the poppers from the oven, let them sit for a few minutes, as they’ll be too hot to handle. Serve with our blue cheese dressing, ranch dressing, or just as they are.
Bacon Wrapped Jalapeño Poppers
- Large Baking Sheet
- Wire Cooling Rack
- 12 jalapeño peppers 3-4 inches long
- 12 bacon slices regular cut, sliced in half
- 1 8 oz cream cheese full-fat, softened
- 1½ cups shredded cheese pepper jack, cheddar, Mexican blend
- 1 clove garlic minced
- ½ tsp course salt
- ½ tsp pepper freshly ground
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Place cooling rack on top of baking sheet.
- Slice jalapeños in half lengthwise. Use a spoon to remove seeds and veins. If you prefer a hot variety, leave a few seeds in place.
- In a medium bowl, combine softened cream cheese, shredded cheese, minced garlic, salt, and pepper.
- Fill each jalapeño with cheese mixture.
- Wrap each pepper with a halved slice of bacon. Secure with a toothpick.
- Place on baking sheet topped with wire rack and bake for 20 minutes on top rack of oven.
- To crisp bacon further, broil for another 1-2 minutes. Let cool a few minutes before serving.