Jalapeño poppers are one of the most classic comfort food appetizers ever. From game day to family gatherings, there is always room for jalapeño poppers on our table.
There are many different variations and ways to prepare jalapeño poppers. You can prepare them in the oven, the air fryer, or on the stovetop in oil. Today, we are sharing our tried-and-true recipe for jalapeño poppers.
Tip: This recipe calls for deep frying the jalapeño poppers in oil on the stovetop. But, you can also prepare these poppers with the same ingredients and bake them in the oven (or air fryer). We find that frying them in oil results in the best tasting popper.
Why you’ll love these jalapeño poppers
- These poppers are made with simple ingredients that are easy to find at any grocery store. Many substitutions can also be made for a different flavor. The recipe is very versatile. See substitutions and variations below.
- You can prepare these poppers ahead of time and cook them when they are ready to be served. You can also prepare these poppers and freeze them for up to 3 months in advance.
- Jalapeño poppers are a great way to use up fresh peppers from the garden. And, they’re a real crowd-pleaser.
- These jalapeño poppers can be served as an appetizer, or alongside grilled meats as a side dish.
How to make jalapeño poppers (deep fry method)
Time needed: 40 minutes
These jalapeño poppers are crispy, crunchy, and filled with creamy goodness. You can prepare them on the stovetop with oil as instructed, or bake them in the oven or air fryer. See directions for baking below.
- Prepare the peppers.
Wash and dry jalapeños. Wearing gloves, slice each jalapeno lengthwise, making sure the stem stays intact on both halves. Scoop out the innards with a spoon, removing all the seeds and ribs.
- Preheat your cooking oil.
Preheat 2 quarts of cooking oil to 375°F (a candy thermometer works best for maintaining proper temperature.
- Prepare your filling and breading.
Mix 1 cup of Italian breadcrumbs along with 2 tsp paprika and set aside. In a large mixing bowl combine 8 oz. of softened cream cheese, 1 cup of shredded sharp cheddar cheese, 1 tsp garlic powder, 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce, 1 tsp chives, and 3 oz. of real bacon bits (or 6 slices of cooked bacon, chopped).
- Prepare the dredge.
Arrange the dredge assembly line starting with the 1 cup flour, 1 cup milk, 1 cup Italian bread crumb mixture.
- Fill your peppers.
Using a spoon, fill the hollowed out jalapeños with the cream cheese mixture.
- Dip the stuffed jalapeños.
One by one, start by dipping stuffed jalapeños in the milk, then into the flour mixture. Allow 10 minutes for the jalapeños to dry.
- Roll the jalapeños into breadcrumbs.
Next, dip each jalapeño again in the milk, then roll the wet jalapeños into the breadcrumb mixture. Place in the refrigerator for 15 minutes to chill and firm up the breading.
- Deep fry the jalapeños.
Working in small batches deep-fry your coated jalapeños until they are golden brown, about 3 minutes total. Transfer to a baking sheet lined with paper towels to cool for about 5 minutes. Serve warm.
Making these jalapeño poppers in the oven
If you do not want to deep fry these poppers in oil (though, we do recommend this method) you can easily bake them in the oven as an alternative.
Simply place the filled jalapeño poppers on a foil-lined baking sheet and bake at 375°F for 20 minutes, or until the cheese has melted.
Tip: The dredge method is intended for deep frying. For baking, you can also skip the dredge altogether and sprinkle breadcrumbs and extra cheese on top before baking. The cream cheese filling ingredients will remain the same.
Variations and substitutions
Jalapeño poppers are great all on their own, or with a dipping sauce like ranch dressing or chipotle sauce. But when it comes to creating your own custom jalapeño popper sauce the sky is the limit. Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Buffalo chicken – Stuff your jalapeños with blue cheese, leftover shredded chicken, and your favorite hot sauce for an amazing buffalo style popper.
- Mediterranean – Combine cream cheese with sun-dried tomatoes, chopped black olives, and top with feta.
- Pepperoni pizza – Combine cream cheese with garlic powder, dried parsley, diced pepperoni, and top with mozzarella cheese.
- Chipotle – Start by combing your cream cheese with chipotles in adobo sauce, add fully cooked crumbled chorizo, and top with sharp cheddar cheese.
Recipe tips and FAQs
How spicy are these jalapeño poppers? – The kick of these poppers is quickly tempered by all the cheesy goodness. These poppers are not too spicy. By removing the ribs and seeds, you are also removing most of the heat in these poppers.
Should I blanch the jalapeños? – For simplicity, we prefer not to blach our jalapeño poppers. However, the additional step of blanching can help cook the pepper and make for a softer result. With our recipe’s shorter cooking time, the pepper will retain a slight crunch and brighter flavor, giving a nice contrast to the rich creamy filling.
Can you freeze these poppers ahead of time? Yes they can be stored fully assembled for up to three months before cooking.
What other peppers can I use? – Instead of jalapeño peppers, you can use Fresno peppers. They are similar in size and shape.
Can I use a different type of cheese? – Another hard cheese like mild cheddar or pepper jack will also work for these poppers. Mexican blend will also have a lot of flavor.
What can I use instead of bacon? – Bacon is the most popular addition to jalapeño poppers. But, we love using sausage as well, and they’re even great without any meat at all.
Can I leave out the breadcrumbs? – If you do not have breadcrumbs, top with extra shredded cheese to form a lid for the filling. Apply a non-stick spray to a foil-lined cookie sheet. Place your jalapeño poppers in the oven at 375°F for 20 minutes, or until the cheese has melted.
Let us know in the comments if you try our recipe for jalapeño poppers and what method you chose to cook them. Be sure to leave a star rating if you found them as delicious as we do!
Other jalapeño popper recipes
- 2 quarts oil for frying vegetable, canola, and peanut are great for deep frying
- 12 fresh jalapeños
- 8 oz cream cheese softened
- 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
- 3 oz real bacon bits or 6 slices of cooked bacon, chopped
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tsp dried chives or fresh, chopped
Ingredients for the dredge
- 1 cup flour
- 1 cup milk
- 1 cup Italian breadcrumbs
- 2 teaspoons paprika
- Wash and dry jalapeños.
- Slice each jalapeño lengthwise, making sure the stem is intact on both halves. Scoop out seeds and ribs.
- Preheat 2 quarts of cooking oil to 375°F.
- Add paprika to breadcrumbs and combine.
Prepare the filling and poppers
- In a large mixing bowl combine cream cheese, sharp cheddar cheese, garlic powder, Worcestershire sauce, chives, and bacon.
- Using a spoon, fill the hollowed out jalapeños with cheese mixture.
- Arrange the dredge assembly line starting with the 1 cup flour, 1 cup milk, and 1 cup Italian bread crumb mixture.
Dredge and cook the poppers
- One by one, start by dipping stuffed jalapeños in milk, then into the flour mixture.
- Allow 10 minutes for the jalapeños to dry.
- Next, dip each jalapeño again in milk, then roll wet jalapeños into the breadcrumb mixture.
- Place in the refrigerator for 15 minutes to chill and firm up the breading.
- Finally, working in small batches, deep-fry your coated jalapeños until they are golden brown, about 3 minutes.
- Transfer to a baking sheet lined with paper towels to cool for about 5 minutes.
- Serve warm and enjoy!