Raise your hand if you love nothing more than a spicy jalapeño popper! Good thing Laura Sampson, who blogs at Little House Big Alaska, has an accessible, non-intimidating recipe for bacon-stuffed jalapeño poppers that you will want to serve up at your next get together. "These poppers are perfect for game day because you can make them ahead of time up to the point where you bake them — and then refrigerate them until ready to bake," she says.
And rest assured you can pull off her easy-to-follow instructions. In fact, Sampson’s recipe comes together with just six ingredients. So don’t be scared to try ’em, even if you have never made a popper before. "Anyone can make these poppers!" the Alaska native told us. However, she did add a word of caution. "I do recommend wearing gloves because the jalapeño juice can hurt your hands or get rubbed in your eyes." Good tip!
Ready to make some magic in the kitchen? Us too! Here are some jalapeño poppers you’ll serve at every party.
Inventory your ingredients for the jalapeño poppers
The ingredient list for this recipe is super simple. You will only need bacon, jalapeños, cream cheese, milk, Sriracha sauce, and Italian breadcrumbs. Why is milk necessary for Sampson’s popper recipe? As she told us, the reason is all about functionality. "The milk in this recipe makes the cream cheese spreadable and softer. That makes the filling easier to stuff in the peppers." So, of course, don’t skip this important ingredient!
Meanwhile, we also wanted to know if bacon was mandatory, or optional. Sampson has a pretty strong opinion on this topic, saying, "I mean without bacon, it’s just a cream cheese stuffed jalapeño, right?" Still, if you are not feeling the bacon, you can omit it.
Prep your bacon for jalapeño poppers
Your very first task is to preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Assuming you are going for the bacon, Sampson says you can fry it or even bake it on a wire rack until it’s nice and crispy. Go ahead and drain the finished bacon to get rid of excess grease, then chop it up. Set the bacon aside. Now, it is time to turn our attention away from the bacon (sneak a little taste if you can’t resist) and focus on prepping the star of these poppers. Of course, we speak of jalapeños. Remember, you will likely want to work with gloves at this next step. This will help you to avoid burning your hands or, worse, your eyes if you forget what you are doing for a moment and touch them.
But don’t worry, as working with jalapeños is not that big of a deal! We got this.
Prep your jalapeños
First, clean your peppers. Then, cut open the jalapeños. Remember to scrape out those seeds and the white pith you see inside to make room for the cream cheese filling. This move will also mitigate the pepper’s heat. As Sampson says, "the jalapeños can be tricky — if you don’t scrape out all the membranes, seeds, and pith, they can be really spicy." She elaborated, "Even if you clean them really well, sometimes you just get a hot bunch of peppers." The bottom line? According to Sampson, "Generally, the people who don’t like heat will not help themselves to the poppers." Fair enough — especially considering we are adding spicy Sriracha to the filling, which as most people are aware, carries a kick of its own.
Once you have hollowed out the peppers, set each one on a lined baking sheet for easier cleanup. Next, we’ll move on to the filling!
Combine your jalapeño popper filling ingredients
It has been well established that Sriracha sauce and jalapeños can make for a spicy combo, but don’t fear. Here, these two ingredients are used more for flavor than heat. The small amount over so many poppers doesn’t make them spicy at all. If your group is into spice, feel free to amp up the Sriracha for a bigger kick of heat.
Combine the Sriracha with the softened cream cheese and milk. Hit the mixture with a handheld mixer until the ingredients are thoroughly combined. Next, add the bacon you set aside and mix again. Once everything is combined, we are ready to stuff those jalapeños!
Stuff your jalapeño poppers
We think this is quite possibly the most fun part of making jalapeño poppers at home. Why let all the restaurant workers have all the fun? Sampson advises home cooks to use a spoon to stuff each jalapeño half with an equal amount of the cream cheese and bacon mixture. You want the stuffing to fill the pepper so that the next step, dipping the filled poppers in breadcrumbs, will be easy. Those breadcrumbs, by the way, will also a satisfying crunch to your appetizer.
For her recipe, the Alaska cook recommends going with Italian breadcrumbs. Forgot this ingredient when you went shopping for your pre-popper prep? The good news is there are a lot of items you can substitute for breadcrumbs, many of which you may have hanging out in your pantry right now, such as crumbled-up crackers, tortilla chips, or panko crumbs. You can also add some seasonings to amp up the flavor if needed.
Dip the jalapeño poppers in breadcrumbs and bake
Pour the breadcrumbs into a wide, shallow bowl, then dip each popper — cheese side down, of course — in the crumbs. The crumbs should completely coat the filling. Place each stuffed and crumb-coated jalapeño back onto your lined baking sheet. When they are all prepped and ready to go, bake them in your 400-degree oven for 20 minutes. When the peppers are just cooked, they are ready to come out of the oven. According to Sampson, "The poppers are done when they are just starting to get soft." She added this great tip to test for doneness: "I poke them with a knife to see if they are still firm. When they are just soft enough for the skin to easily be poked, then they’re done."
Now, get to plating and serving these babies! Sampson advises the poppers are best enjoyed right out of the oven, while they are nice and hot.
- ½ pound bacon
- 1 pound jalapeños, washed and dried
- 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
- 1 ½ tablespoons milk
- ½ tablespoon Sriracha
- ½ cup Italian breadcrumbs
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Bake or fry the bacon until crispy.
- Split the cleaned jalapeños.
- Scrape out the seeds and pith.
- Set on a lined baking sheet.
- When the bacon is done, drain it, and chop it up.
- Mix the cream cheese, milk, and Sriracha sauce with a handheld mixer until well combined.
- Add the chopped bacon and mix again.
- Use a spoon to stuff the jalapeño halves.
- Dip each popper cheese side down in the breadcrumbs.
- Bake for 20 minutes or until the peppers are just cooked.
- Serve while hot.