Bite-sized Jalapeno Poppers with an extra-crunchy coating and two kinds of cheese in the filling! Your favorite flavors without the exploding peppers.
Serve these cream cheese stuffed peppers with lots of Homemade Ranch Dressing for dipping, of course! And maybe a crockpot of 2-Ingredient Barbecue Little Smokies, just to keep people snacking. SO many other great party food recipes, so click on over and join the fun!
Of all the recipes for jalapeño appetizers out there, this one is a keeper. Serious Eats suggested cutting the peppers into rings before filling them with the cheese, and the results are amazing.
Plus, when you slice the peppers into one-inch rings, you can make them with any size of hot pepper out there. The smaller pieces cook evenly. As a result, every crispy, crunchy bite is tender and creamy on the inside.
And finally, don’t let the idea of making deep-fried jalapeño poppers at home intimidate you. The peppers cook in batches so you don't get overwhelmed. There’s a play-by-play below, from start to finish, to make sure you’re not let down by the end result. (But there’s a suggestion for oven-baked peppers, too, just in case you need it.)
Making the best Jalapeño Poppers for a game day snack? Click and slide the number next to “servings” on the recipe card below to adjust the ingredients to match how many you’re feeding—the recipe does the math for you, it’s that easy.
How spicy are Jalapeño Poppers?
On the Scoville scale, the measurement of how spicy or “hot” a pepper is, jalapeño peppers are actually only rated mild to moderate. The cream cheese and lime juice in the recipe will definitely balance out the spice, but if you’re worried about it, you have options.
In general, larger peppers tend to be milder. Therefore, you may want to choose the biggest jalapeños you can find.
Seeds aren’t spicy. Many believe that jalapeño seeds are the hottest part of the pepper. However, the capsaicin (the chemical compound responsible for the heat) is found more in the ribs of the pepper and the pith. Be sure to remove the ribs inside the pepper, as well as some of the pith, if you’re sensitive to spice.
Jalapeno Popper ingredients:
- Jalapeno peppers. The star of the show. Choose a bright green pepper that doesn’t have any soft spots or blemishes.
- Breadcrumbs. Homemade breadcrumbs mean you always have some at the ready!
- Spicy cream cheese filling.
- Oil. Pick a neutral cooking oil with a higher burning point, such as vegetable oil or canola oil.
Jalapeno Popper filling ingredients:
Two cheeses, lime juice, and a few basic spices is all you need. Note: depending on the size of your peppers, you may have some extra filling! Save it for the next batch, or have a few extra hot peppers prepped and ready to go.
- Cream cheese. Lettuce cream cheese soften up at room temperature for better mixing.
- Jalapeño Havarti cheese. Or pepper jack, Scorpion pepper cheese, habanero cheddar…there are so many nice spicy cheese varieties on the market. Choose one and have fun.
- Lime juice.
- Garlic powder.
- Onion powder.
- Ground cumin.
Getting ready to make Jalapeno Poppers:
- First, if you have them, grab some disposable rubber kitchen gloves—handling the peppers can get a little tingly.
- Also, line a baking sheet with some parchment paper. This will act as a clean, moveable surface for the jalapeños once they’re filled and breaded.
- Finally, line another baking sheet with paper towels to place the cooked poppers on when they come out of the hot oil.
- If you’re making a big batch, you can place a foil-lined baking sheet in a low oven (225 degrees) to keep the cheese-filled poppers warm while you’re cooking the others.
Making the pepper filling:
(For exact recipe quantities, see the recipe card below--you may be making a double batch!)
It's so easy. Just combine the cheese, cream cheese, lime juice, salt, and spices together in a bowl. Then cover the bowl and chill while you get the peppers ready.
Preparing the jalapeños:
Use some gloves, if you got ‘em! Then trim off the stem and bottom of each pepper. Next, cut each pepper into 1-inch rings. Take out the seeds and white inner ribs using a small teaspoon or sharp paring knife.
How to make Jalapeno Poppers:
- Once you have the filling made and the peppers ready, here’s what to do next.
- Find three small bowls. Fill one with milk, the second with flour, and the last one with breadcrumbs.
- Next, pack the cheese mixture into each jalapeño ring. Make sure the cheese fills the ring completely. Smooth out the surfaces on each end, and place the stuffed peppers onto the parchment paper-lined baking sheet.
- When the peppers are filled, you can begin the double dredging process. This coating is what keeps the cheese sealed in.
- One at a time, dip the pepper rings into the milk, then into the flour. Move the coated peppers back to the parchment. Then take a short break; the flour and milk coating needs to sit for about 5 minutes before the next step.
- Next, one at a time, return the floured pepper rings back to the milk. Then dip them into the breadcrumbs, and gently press the breading to evenly coat the pepper.
- Once all the pepper rings are breaded, you can get the frying station set up.
How to fry Jalapeno Poppers:
You can use a deep fryer, Dutch oven, or any large, sturdy pot with a heavy bottom for cooking the peppers.
- First, bring a couple inches of vegetable oil to 350 degrees. Use a thermometer to accurately gauge the temperature; if the oil is too cool, the poppers won’t cook properly. If it’s too hot, it’s not safe.
- When the oil is ready, carefully drop 4 to 6 peppers at a time into the oil. Stir if necessary, turning the peppers until they’re golden brown on all sides—about 5 minutes.
- Then transfer the poppers to the paper towel-lined baking sheet, to soak up any extra cooking oil. Sprinkle with salt while still hot, and serve immediately. Whatever you do, don't forget the Ranch!
Keeping Jalapeño Poppers warm:
Place the fried poppers on a foil or wire rack lined baking sheet and keep them warm in the oven until you’re ready to serve them. A low oven set at 225 degrees works best.
Baking Jalapeño Poppers:
If you would rather try a baked version of this recipe, place the breaded stuffed peppers on a wire rack set over a baking sheet.
Bake for 15 to 20 minutes at 400 degrees, using tongs to turn the peppers if needed.
Making Jalapeno Poppers ahead of time:
Although the peppers are at their best straight out of the fryer, there are definitely some things you can do to save a little work the day of the party.
- Make the cream cheese filling up to 3 or 4 days ahead. Cover it and store it in the refrigerator until you need it.
- Assemble the jalapeño peppers (up until the breading steps) the day before. Store them in a single layer in the refrigerator until you’re ready to dredge them in the flour, milk, and breadcrumbs.
- Finally, dredge and bread the peppers just before you’re ready to cook them. This will keep the peppers crunchy on the outside.
Can you freeze jalapeño poppers?
It’s not recommended. Because these are homemade, the filling could separate while freezing, and make a less-than-ideal jalapeño appetizer.
Reheating cream cheese jalapeño poppers:
Leftover poppers? Lucky you!
Oven. Place leftover peppers on a parchment lined-baking sheet and bake at 325 degrees for 10 to 15 minutes, until heated through.
Microwave. Place a few stuffed peppers on a plate and reheat for 20 to 30 seconds. The breading won’t be as crispy, but the flavors will be there.
Other homemade Jalapeño Popper ideas:
- Sausage or chorizo. Browned, crumbled sausage is a fantastic add-in to the cream cheese filling.
- Cheese. Switch up the cheese, using Colby, feta, grated Parmesan, or Cotija.
- Seasonings. Add chili powder or fresh lime zest to the breadcrumbs. Sprinkle chives into the filling. Or amp up the herbs with some fresh cilantro.
- Bacon. Any kind of bacon is great. This may not be the best recipe for bacon-wrapped jalapeño poppers, because of its small size, but you could chop some cooked bacon up and mix it into the filling for a little extra smoky bacon flavor.
The Best Jalapeno Poppers Recipe
For the filling:
- 1 pound (16 ounces) cream cheese softened
- 6 ounces Roth Havarti Jalapeno shredded
- 2 tablespoons lime juice (from 2 limes)
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
For the poppers:
- 1 pound jalapeños
- 2 cups whole milk
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 cups fine breadcrumbs
- 1 to 2 quarts vegetable or canola oil for frying
- Ranch dressing for serving, optional
To make the filling:
- In a medium bowl, combine the cream cheese, Roth Havarti Jalapeno, lime juice, garlic powder, onion powder, cumin, and 1/2 teaspoon salt and stir well. Cover and chill while preparing the jalapeños.
To prepare the jalapeños:
- Trim off and discard the top and bottom of each jalapeño. Cut each jalapeño into 1-inch rings. Remove the seeds and white inner ribs from each ring. (Wearing gloves is recommended.)
To make the poppers:
- Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Pack cream cheese into each jalapeño ring, filling it completely and smoothing the surface. I used about 1 teaspoon of filling per ring,.
- Fill three small bowls (about 1 cup capacity), one each with milk, flour, and breadcrumbs. Working with one popper at a time, dip in milk, then coat with flour.
- Transfer to the prepared sheet and repeating with remaining jalapeño rings. Let the coating sit for 5 minutes.
- Working with one at a time, return floured jalapeño rings to milk, turning to coat. Transfer to breadcrumbs, pressing the breadcrumbs to form an even coating. Repeat with the remaining poppers.
- In a large pot, Dutch oven, or deep fryer, bring 2 inches of oil to 350 degrees (use a thermometer). Drop 4 to 6 poppers in the oil at a time, stirring as necessary until golden brown all over, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined baking sheet and sprinkle with salt. Serve with ranch dressing if desired.