Bite-sized Jalapeño Poppers with an extra-crunchy coating and two kinds of cheese in the filling! Your favorite flavors without the exploding peppers.
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.
Jalapeño Popper ingredients:
- Jalapeño 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.
Jalapeño Popper filling ingredients:
Two kinds of cheese, lime juice, and a few basic spices are 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. Let cream cheese soften up at room temperature for better mixing.
- Jalapeño Havarti cheese. Or pepper jack, Scorpion pepper cheese, habañero 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 Jalapeño 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 Jalapeño 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 Jalapeño 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 of 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 Jalapeño 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 Jalapeño Poppers
For the filling:
- 1 pound (16 ounces) cream cheese softened
- 6 ounces pepper jack cheese shredded
- 2 tablespoons lime juice (from 2 limes)
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
To make the filling:
- In a medium bowl, combine the cream cheese, pepper jack, lime juice, garlic powder, onion powder, cumin, and ½ teaspoon salt and stir well. Cover and chill while preparing the jalapeños.
To make the poppers:
- 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).
- Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Pack about 1 teaspoon cream cheese into each jalapeño ring, filling it completely and smoothing the surface.
- Fill three small bowls separately 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. 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.
- Jalapeños: On the Scoville scale, the measurement of how spicy a pepper is, jalapeño peppers are rated mild to moderate. To minimize the heat, be sure to carefully remove all seeds and white membrane inside (wear gloves if you need to).
- Bread crumbs: Use store-bought or make your own bread crumbs. For extra flavor, add some fajita seasoning to the crumbs.
- Oil: Choose a neutral cooking oil with a higher smoke point such as vegetable oil, canola oil, or avocado oil.
- Yield: This recipe makes about 30 poppers or 10 servings (3 poppers per serving).
- Storage: Jalapeño poppers are best enjoyed right when they are made, but leftovers can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Reheat in a 325-degree oven for 10 to 15 minutes, until heated through. Or microwave for 20 to 30 seconds (they won't be crispy anymore, but they will still taste good).
- Make ahead: The filling can be made up to 3 days ahead. Store covered in the refrigerator. The jalapeños can be prepped and filled with cream cheese the day before. Hold off on the breading and frying until the day you want to eat them.
- Keeping warm: After frying, and until serving time (up to 1 hour in advance), place the fried poppers on a baking sheet in a 225-degree oven.
- Oven-baked: To skip the deep-fryer, preheat an oven to 400 degrees. Arrange stuffed and breaded poppers on a wire rack set over a baking sheet lined with foil. Bake until hot and crispy, about 15 to 20 minutes.