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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.

Smoked 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. 

What do bacon-wrapped jalapeno peppers taste like?

They are a delicious combination of flavors and textures. The jalapenos add a sweet and spicy taste, and the creamy filling adds a richness that balances the heat. It is all rounded out by salty bacon. When these flavors and textures meet, you’ll get a spicy, savory appetizer or low carb snack.

Where did the bacon-wrapped jalapeno popper originate?

It is widely believed that they were first popularized in the United States during the 1980s-90s. As for the actual location? No one really knows. Jalapeno poppers were prominent on bar menus long before this, but wrapping them with bacon and filling them with cream cheese is a newer concept. The bacon-wrapped version was popularized in the American South and Southwest. These appetizers are served at cookouts, game day gatherings, graduation parties, and casual weekend get-togethers.

bacon wrapped jalapeno poppers

Recipe ingredients:

  • Jalapeno peppers (about 1 pound): Offers a crispy, slightly spicy flavor. 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 of this mellow, creamy cheese spread. 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): A little goes a long way with sharp cheddar cheese. It has the perfect tangy flavor that takes this appetizer to a whole new level.
  • Garlic powder: Again, a little goes a long way. While we love garlic, it shouldn’t be so bold that it’s battling the flavors of the jalapenos and bacon. A slight hint of garlic is all this dish needs. Not a fan of garlic? Substitute with onion powder.
  • Mild chili powder: Offers a nice earthiness without the added heat. 
  • Chopped fresh chives: You can substitute them with minced green onion.
  • Thick-cut bacon: Best for wrapping and adds flavor as it renders.

How do you pick the best jalapenos for grilling?

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 devoid of soft spots, bruises, or wrinkles.
  • Size: Select medium-sized to large jalapenos. Usually, these peppers are the most flavorful and not overly spicy. Small jalapenos can be spicy. 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 cut into equal halves, fill, wrap, and grill.

How many jalapenos are in a pound?

The number of jalapenos in a pound can vary, depending on size and season. Typically, there are 8 to 10 medium-sized jalapenos in a 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 do you soften cream cheese for stuffed peppers?

softening-cream-cheese

One question we get most is how to soften cream cheese to simplify the stuffing process. We’ve tried several ways, but two methods worked the best. Regardless of your chosen method, stir the cream cheese thoroughly before using it.

  • Room temperature: Remove the cream cheese from the refrigerator and let it sit at room temperature for about 30-45 minutes or until it’s soft and easy to stir.
  • Microwave: Place cream cheese in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave in 12-second increments, stirring in between, until it reaches a spreadable consistency. Do not overheat, as it will liquefy the cheese, making it no longer suitable for stuffed jalapenos.

What type of bacon can you use for bacon-wrapped jalapeno poppers?

Thick-cut bacon works best since it doesn’t shrink as much as thin-cut bacon during cooking. However, you can use flavored bacon to compliment the filling. Remember, when selecting bacon for jalapeno poppers, choose good-quality bacon with a decently balanced 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 deliciousness to this savory appetizer.
  • Peppered Bacon: This type of bacon has a slightly spicy, black pepper flavor kick that enhances the spiciness of the jalapeno
  • Uncured Bacon: This is your go-to bacon if you want to avoid nitrates.
  • 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 can you use to make bacon-wrapped jalapeno poppers?

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

cutting-chilies-in-half-
  • 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 and store 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.

Recipe variations

grilled-poppers

Here are some fun ways to evolve this recipe to suit your taste buds. 

  • Change the filling: If you don’t like cream cheese, you can substitute it with goat cheese, feta cheese, cottage cheese, or ricotta. 
  • Bacon: Fancy it up a little 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, such as Anaheim peppers or poblanos. 
  • Dietary Restrictions: If you adhere to a gluten-free diet, no worries! These jalapeno poppers are gluten-free and keto friendly. As always, we recommend reading product ingredients before using them. Please use meat and dairy-free substitutes for vegetarian or vegan diets. However, 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 them

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 proposition in our book.
  • Wings: Hello! You can’t serve appetizers without including chicken wings. Choose mild to 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

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
Author: Derrick Riches and Sabrina Baksh

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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