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Smoky Bacon-Wrapped Jalapeno Poppers

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These smoky bacon-wrapped jalapeno poppers are super easy to make and are oh-so-delicious! Use our comprehensive recipe guide for the best tips and tricks to make this mouthwatering appetizer.

bacon-wrapped-jalapeno-poppers

Bacon-wrapped jalapeno poppers have the perfect flavor combination of spicy jalapenos, salty bacon, and creamy cheese. This homemade appetizer is super easy, and takes just minutes to assemble. Cook them on the grill, smoker, or in your oven. 

What do bacon-wrapped jalapeno peppers taste like?

The combination of flavors and textures in these appetizers is simply delicious. The sweetness and spiciness of jalapenos complement the rich creaminess of the filling, while the saltiness of the bacon adds a perfect balance.

The origin of jalapeno poppers

It is widely believed that jalapeno poppers were first popularized in the United States during the 1980s and 90s. As for the actual location? No one really knows. Jalapeno poppers were featured on bar menus long before this, but wrapping them with bacon and filling them with cream cheese seems to be a newer concept. The bacon-wrapped version is popular in the American South and Southwest, where these appetizers are served at cookouts and game day events.

bacon-wrapped-jalapeno-poppers-on-serving-plate

Recipe ingredients

  • Jalapeno peppers (about 1 pound) No need to blanch them before they hit the grill. You want a little crunch left in these jalapeno poppers.
  • Cream cheese (softened): Choose the full-fat version. Avoid low-fat or whipped varieties as they tend to release extra moisture during cooking.
  • Shredded sharp cheddar cheese (or pepper jack cheese for an extra kick)
  • Garlic powder: Substitute with onion powder.
  • Mild chili powder: your garden variety American chili powder will do the trick.
  • Chopped fresh chives: Substitute with minced green onion.
  • Thick-cut bacon

How to pick the best pepper for jalapeno poppers

jalapeno-peppers-fresh

One of the most important steps in making delicious grilled jalapenos is choosing the right ones. Look for the following characteristics when shopping for them.

  • Firmness: Choose jalapenos that are firm and free of soft spots, bruises, or wrinkles.
  • Size: Select medium to large jalapenos. Usually, these peppers are the most flavorful and are not very spicy. Small jalapenos can pack a spicy punch. So proceed with caution.
  • Color: Look for green jalapenos with a shiny appearance. Avoid peppers with brown or yellow spots on them.
  • Shape: Choose evenly shaped jalapenos. Avoid those that are twisted or bent, as they will be difficult to to fill, wrap, and grill.

How many jalapenos are in a pound?

The number of jalapenos can vary depending on size and season. Typically, there are 8 to 10 medium-sized jalapenos in 1 pound. Use the produce scale at your local market to find the right amount for your recipe. Throw in a few extra peppers if tearing occurs during the stuffing process or hidden damage is exposed once they are cut open. 

Tip: Use food-safe gloves when handling peppers! It keeps the spicy juices off your fingers, which can linger even after washing your hands.

How to soften cream cheese

softening-cream-cheese

One question we are asked most often is how to soften cream cheese. We’ve tried several ways, but two methods work the best. Regardless of your chosen method, make sure to stir the cream cheese thoroughly before using it.

  • Room temperature: Remove the cream cheese from the refrigerator and let stand at room temperature for 35-45 minutes or until it’s soft and easy to stir.
  • Microwave: Place cream cheese in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave in 12-second increments, stirring in between, until it reaches a spreadable consistency. Do not overheat or liquefy the cheese. This will make it too soft to use as a filling.

What type of bacon can you use for jalapeno poppers?

Thick-cut bacon is best to use since it isn’t prone to shrinkage during cooking as thin-cut bacon. Also, you can use flavored bacon to compliment the filling. Remember, when selecting bacon for jalapeno poppers, choose good-quality bacon with a decent fat and meat ratio. Here are some of our favorites:

bacon wrapped jalapeno poppers, raw
  • Applewood Smoked Bacon: A sweet, smoky flavor that pairs well with spicy peppers.
  • Maple Bacon: One of our favorites! This bacon has a sweet maple flavor that adds an extra layer of depth to this savory appetizer.
  • Peppered Bacon: This bacon has a slightly spicy, black pepper flavor pairs well with spicy jalapenos.
  • Uncured Bacon: Avoiding nitrates? This is the bacon for you.
  • Hatch Chile Bacon: If you’re from the Southwest, you are familiar with the smoky, sweet heat of hatch chilies. You will also know that hatch chili bacon is a must-have ingredient for this recipe! 

What type of grill to use

bacon-wrapped jalapeno poppers on the grill

These smoky bacon-wrapped jalapeno poppers can be made on pretty much any type of grill or smoker. Keep in mind that when using a grill, you can cook them in 15-18 minutes at 375 degrees F. It will take longer if you plan to cook them low and slow at 225-250 degrees in your smoker.

Making bacon-wrapped jalapeno poppers

making-jalapeno-poppers
  • Prepare your smoker for 250 degrees F. Use a milder wood like apple or peach for this recipe.
  • Rinse jalapenos under cool water and dry them completely with paper towels.
  • Slice each in half lengthwise. Gently scoop out the seeds and white membrane with a small spoon and discard.
  • Combine softened cream cheese with shredded cheese and spices. If using a low-salt bacon to wrap the poppers, add a pinch of salt to the filling if desired.
  • Fill each half with a cream cheese filling, then carefully wrap each half with a slice of bacon. Secure with toothpicks.
  • Place the wrapped jalapeno poppers on a wire rack (or jerky tray) and place them in the smoker.
  • Smoke the jalapeno poppers for 30-45 minutes or until the bacon is cooked and crisp.
  • Remove the jalapeno poppers from the smoker and let them cool for a few minutes before serving. They are delicious dipped in ranch dressing for that satisfying bite!

Storing leftovers

These smoky bacon-wrapped jalapeno poppers can be stored in the refrigerator or freezer, depending on when you plan to serve them. Remember to allow the poppers to cool to room temperature before storing. Doing this will limit the build-up of moisture, which can result in mushy, chewy poppers once reheated. Here are a few of our suggested methods:

  • Refrigerator: Store the poppers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
  • Reheat them in the microwave for 30-45 seconds or bake them in a 350°F oven for 10-12 minutes until warmed through and the bacon is crisp.
  • Freezer: Place the cooked poppers on a baking sheet in a single layer, cover, and freeze for 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
  • Transfer them to a resealable bag for easy storage. Keep them in your freezer for up to 2 months.
  • Bake frozen jalapeno poppers in the oven at 350°F for 20-25 minutes or until hot and the bacon is crisp. Makes a delicious snack!

Recipe variations

plate of jalapeno poppers

Here are some fun ways to alter this recipe to suit your tastes. 

  • Change the filling: If you don’t like cream cheese, you can substitute it with goat cheese, feta cheese, cottage cheese, or ricotta. 
  • Bacon: Make it fancy by using prosciutto or pancetta for a similar smoky and salty flavor. Use turkey bacon or beef bacon if preferred.
  • Jalapenos: If you can’t find jalapenos, you can use other chili peppers like Anaheim peppers or poblanos. 
  • Dietary Restrictions: If you follow a gluten-free diet, no worries! These jalapeno poppers are gluten-free, keto friendly, and low carb. Use meat and dairy-free substitutes for vegetarian or vegan diets. Keep in mind that the texture and cooking times may vary based on the products used.

Oven Method

Don’t own a grill or smoker? Well, you can cook these jalapeno poppers right in your oven!

  • Bake in a rimmed backing sheet lined with parchment paper at 400-degree oven for 20-22 minutes, until bacon is crispy and the filling is soft and hot.
  • Remove from the oven and let them stand for 5-7 minutes before serving.

What to serve with jalapeno poppers

These smoky bacon-wrapped jalapeno poppers can be paired with other foods to create a fantastic spread. Here are a few options that complement the spicy and savory flavors of these jalapeno poppers:

  • Fire-Roasted Salsa and Chips: This is perfect for spice lovers who want more fiery options for the table. 
  • Grilled Garlic Cheese Bread: This is a great way to offset the spicy heat and enjoy even more cheese! A win-win in our book.
  • Wings: Hello! Chicken wings are must have appetizer item. Choose mild, spicy, sweet, or smoky wings to pair with these jalapeno poppers.
  • Shrimp: Do we need to say more? Shrimp skewers are quick and easy to make and pair well with spicy foods. 

More jalapeno recipes to try:

bacon-wrapped-jalapeno-poppers-featured-image

Smoky Bacon-Wrapped Jalapeno Poppers

Bacon-wrapped jalapeno poppers have the perfect flavor combination of spicy jalapenos, salty bacon, and creamy, decadent cheese. This homemade appetizer takes minutes to assemble and can be cooked on the grill, smoker, or in the oven.
5 from 1 vote
Print Pin Rate
Course: Appetizer
Cuisine: American BBQ
Keyword: bacon wrapped jalapeno poppers, smoked jalapeno poppers
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Servings: 8
Calories: 153kcal

Ingredients

  • 8 large jalapeno peppers halved
  • 8 ounces cream cheese softened
  • 2/3 cup shredded cheddar cheese use pepper jack for an extra kick
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon mild chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
  • 8 slices bacon thick cut, halved
  • toothpicks

Instructions

  • Prepare your smoker for 250 degrees F. Use a milder wood like apple or peach for this recipe.
  • Rinse jalapenos under cool water and dry them completely with paper towels.
  • Slice each in half lengthwise. Gently scoop out the seeds and white membrane with a small spoon and discard.
  • Combine softened cream cheese with shredded cheese and spices.
  • Fill each half with a cream cheese mixture, then carefully wrap each half with a halved slice of bacon. Secure with toothpicks.
  • Place the wrapped jalapeno poppers on a smoking rack and place them in the smoker.
  • Smoke the jalapeno poppers for 30-45 minutes or until the bacon is cooked and crisp.
  • Remove the jalapeno poppers from the smoker and let them cool for a few minutes before serving.
  • Store leftover popper in an airtight container in the fridge for 3 days, or freeze in a resealable freezer bag for up to 2 months. Reheat in a 350 degree oven until hot and the bacon is nice and crisp.

Notes

Oven method:
Bake in a 400-degree oven for 20-22 minutes or until the bacon is crispy and the filling is soft.
Remove from the oven and let them stand for 5-7 minutes before serving.

Nutrition

Calories: 153kcal | Carbohydrates: 3g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 14g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 4g | Cholesterol: 39mg | Sodium: 154mg | Potassium: 94mg | Fiber: 0.3g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 660IU | Vitamin C: 21mg | Calcium: 97mg | Iron: 0.2mg

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