We all have one party appetizer that causes us to do a mini happy dance. Mine is Jalapeño Poppers with bacon. Inspired by my ardor for these cream-cheese stuffed, spicy little bites, I created a baked version of the beloved classic.
This recipe is every bit as cheesy and satisfying as the original but healthier and easier to make (like my cheesy Tater Tots and Potato Skins).
Made with fresh jalapeño peppers, stuffed with a decadent cream cheese, shredded cheese, and bacon filling, and sprinkled with a panko topping, these easy jalapeño poppers are baked in the oven to golden, crispy perfection.
If you’re looking for a simple, crowd-pleasing appetizer (or spicy side dish) that’s easy to pick up and snack on, this is definitely the recipe for you.
Who Invented Jalapeño Poppers?
While the original inventor of jalapeño poppers is disputed, these poppable appetizers were likely inspired by Mexico’s chiles rellenos (a similar cheese-stuffed pepper dish that is battered and deep fried).
While early versions of this party recipe are believed to have been first served in Texas in the 1970s or 1980s, the official commercial trademark for “Jalapeño Poppers” wasn’t officially registered until 1992 by Anchor Food Products of Appleton, Wisconsin.
5 Star Review
“We absolutely LOVED this recipe. The flavor of the pepper came through and wasn’t overpowered by bacon and, more importantly, grease. YUM!”— Wendy —
How to Make Jalapeno Poppers
Not only are these cream cheese jalapeño poppers just as decadent tasting as the original recipe, but they are also incredibly straightforward to prepare (like my entree-sized Stuffed Peppers).
Because this easy jalapeño poppers recipe is baked, it doesn’t require any of the mess or work of frying.
Added bonus: with only 15 minutes of prep work, they’re ready to serve in less than 40 minutes. Sign me up for a double batch!
- Bacon. Need I say more? I love using my perfect Oven Baked Bacon or Air Fryer Bacon for this recipe.
- Jalapeño Peppers. The delicious vessel for our poppers. When I make this recipe, I try to find small and medium (bite-sized) jalapeño peppers.
- Look for jalapeños that are similar in size so that they bake in about the same amount of time.
- You can leave the stem attached when slicing to save time and provide guests an easy excuse (not that they need one) to snag a pepper from the plate.
- Most jalapeño peppers are fairly mild once the seeds and membranes are removed, but you’ll hit a hot one every now and then. If that happens to you, consider it good luck, then move on to the next.
- Avoid touching your eye after working with jalapeños. The jalapeno pepper oil will stick to your fingers, and if it gets into your eye, it will sting—believe me, I’ve done it more than once.
- If your skin is especially sensitive, it’s a good idea to wear gloves when working with jalapeños.
- Cream Cheese. The key to our creamy filling. I used light cream cheese as a healthy swap in this cream cheese jalapeño popper recipe. You can use regular cream cheese if you prefer.
- Pepper Jack Cheese. For a little heat and ooey-gooey goodness in our lightly spicy jalapeño poppers recipe.
- Green Onion. You’ll love the mild flavor and balance these add.
- Panko Breadcrumbs. To create the most delicious crispy topping that adds a satisfying crunch.
You can jazz up your filling with additional spices and herbs you enjoy. A dash of smoked paprika would add some extra depth. Garlic powder would also be a nice addition if you’re looking for some extra zip.
- Cook the bacon, then dice it into small pieces. (Try not to eat it all.)
- Arrange the split jalapeños on a lined sheet pan. Set aside.
- Add the cream cheese filling ingredients to a medium bowl.
- Stir to combine.
- Spoon the cheese mixture into each prepared jalapeño.
- Sprinkle with panko bread crumbs and lightly coat the tops with nonstick spray.
- Bake the jalapeño poppers until tender and golden. Remove, and sprinkle with additional bacon. ENJOY!
- Jalapeño Poppers without Bacon. Try jalapeño poppers with sausage instead. Swap the bacon for 1/2 pound of ground sausage (try chorizo for an extra spicy kick). Use a skillet to brown the sausage, then lay it on a paper towel-lined plate to drain. Once cooled, mix it in with the other filling ingredients and bake as directed. (Or try this version with Italian sausage and freshly grated Parmesan cheese for jalapeño poppers reminiscent of these Italian Stuffed Peppers.)
- Keto Jalapeño Poppers. Nothing! This is a keto-friendly recipe as written. If you’d like it to be even more low carb, omit the breadcrumbs.
- Vegetarian Jalapeño Poppers. While I’m on team bacon when it comes to jalapeño poppers, you can totally make this recipe without bacon to accommodate those who prefer their jalapeño poppers vegetarian.
- To Store. Place cooked and cooled jalapeño poppers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.
- To Reheat. Rewarm leftovers on a baking sheet in the oven at 325 degrees F until heated through. In a pinch, you can also reheat them on a microwave-safe plate in the microwave.
- To Freeze. I would not recommend freezing these, as the texture may be negatively impacted once frozen. Frozen jalapeño poppers tend to turn mushy, and the topping will become soggy.
Meal Prep Tip
You can stuff the jalapeños a day in advance, store them in the refrigerator, then bake them just before serving. Leave off the panko until just before baking.
What to Serve with Jalapeno Poppers
Round out your game day spread with one of these other lightened-up easy appetizers:
Air Fryer Pickles
Recommended Tools to Make this Recipe
- Baking Sheet. This is an essential tool in my kitchen.
- Mixing Bowls. There’s a great variety of sizes in this set, and they stack nicely for storage.
- Parchment Paper. Great for keeping your poppers from sticking.
The Best Baking Sheet
I own these baking sheets in various sizes and use them for everything from cookies to sheet pan meals (like this Sausage and Peppers).
Honestly, these poppers should come with a warning label: EATING THE WHOLE PLATE INEVITABLE.
Take your first cheesy, creamy, crunchy, and lightly spicy bite, and see if you disagree.
Frequently Asked Questions
If you’d like your jalapeño poppers grilled, start by preheating your grill to medium heat. Brush the grates with oil, then lay each jalapeño popper onto the grates, cut side up. OR use a grilling mat or aluminum foil to be 100% sure the peppers do not fall through. Make sure none of the peppers are leaning to the side, or you might lose the filling. Grill for about 10 minutes. For grilled bacon-wrapped jalapeño poppers, wrap each uncooked jalapeño popper in a slice of bacon before grilling.
Yes! For bacon jalapeño poppers air fryer style, prepare as directed, then cook them in the air fryer at 325 degrees F for 15 to 20 minutes.
While a dipping sauce isn’t necessary for jalapeño poppers, if you like you can dip them with Greek Yogurt Ranch Dip, your favorite homemade salsa, or the Best Guacamole Recipe ever.
- 4 strips bacon cooked*
- 12 jalapeño peppers small/medium-sized, split in half length-wise with seeds and membranes removed
- 6 ounces light cream cheese softened
- 1/2 cup freshly grated pepper jack cheese
- 2 small green onions finely sliced
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
- Nonstick cooking spray
- If necessary, cook the bacon (see notes section for suggested methods). Once cool, dice the bacon into small pieces.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly coat a baking sheet with nonstick spray or line with parchment paper. Arrange the peppers on the sheet pan. Set aside.
- In a medium bowl, combine the cream cheese, grated cheese, three-quarters of the bacon, green onion, garlic powder, and salt.
- Stir to combine the filling.
- Spoon the filling into each jalapeño cavity. Arrange the peppers on the prepared baking sheet, filling-side up.
- Sprinkle a small amount of panko on top of each jalapeño, then lightly coat the top of the jalapeños with nonstick spray.
- Bake until the jalapeños are tender and the breadcrumbs are golden, about 15 to 18 minutes. If the panko isn't browned to your liking when the peppers are soft, switch the oven to broil and broil for 1 minute. Watch VERY CAREFULLY to make sure the breadcrumbs do not burn (don't walk away!). Remove from oven and sprinkle with remaining bacon. Serve hot.
- *INGREDIENT NOTE: I love using my easy method for Oven Baked Bacon or Air Fryer Bacon for this jalapeño popper recipe.
- TO STORE. Place cooked and cooled jalapeño poppers in an airtight storage container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.
- TO REHEAT. Rewarm jalapeño poppers on a baking sheet in the oven at 325 degrees F until heated through. In a pinch, you can also reheat them on a microwave-safe plate in the microwave. Note that the poppers will not be as crisp if reheated in the microwave, however.
- TO FREEZE. I would not recommend freezing these, as the texture may be negatively impacted once frozen. Frozen jalapeño poppers tend to turn mushy, and the topping will become soggy.
- TO MAKE AHEAD. You can stuff the jalapeños a day in advance, store them in the refrigerator, then bake them just before serving. Leave off the bread crumbs until just before baking.
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More appetizers bound to spice up your next gathering or event:
could you freeze these
Janine, I’ve never tried freezing, but I wouldn’t recommend it—I’m afraid it would negatively impact the texture of the peppers and cream cheese. You can prep them a day ahead though!
This recipe is awesome and works terrific on the grill!
YAY!!! I’m so glad to hear that Ann. Thank you!
We absolutely LOVED this recipe. The flavor of the pepper came through and wasn’t overpowered by bacon and, more importantly, grease. YUM!
I’m so glad to hear you enjoyed the recipe, Wendy! Thank you so much for taking the time to leave this wonderful comment.
Jalapeño poppers with bacon? I had just googled it to see if I should bake them or broil them and found this recipe. I love it because you don’t wrap bacon around it. I had bacon left over from breakfast, which was a first by the way, and I was wondering if to save it for a club sandwich but hey, I just diced them up and added it to the mix and oh wow! Very delicious! The whole family loved them!
I’m so so pleased to hear it Melissa! Thanks so much for sharing your feedback!
Can u make them and freeze them ???
Hi Sheila, I’ve never tried freezing, but I wouldn’t recommend it—I’m afraid it would negatively impact the texture of the peppers and cream cheese. You can prep them a day ahead though!
Hello! I am wondering if you have ever tried to freeze these? Thanks so much!
Hi Nicole, not a problem! Unfortunately, I would not recommend freezing them, as the texture may be impacted. If you do decide to experiment with it, I’d love to hear how it goes!
First time I made this recipe. My family loved it! I used diced white onion and minced garlic sauteed in extra virgin olive oil in place of green onions. It was amazing! I don’t eat poppers, but tried one and it was really good! Thank you for the amazing poppers recipe! This will be a family favorite!
I’m so happy to hear that this recipe was a hit, Mindy! Thank you for taking the time to share this kind review!
We submitted your bacon jalapeno poppers in a Christmas appetizer competition here in Los Barriles BCS Mexico. Among 12 very intriguing entries, your poppers won first prize! My only change was using 1/2 Monterey Jack and 1/2 Swiss Gruyere cheese for the filling. Outstanding flavor!
This MADE my day, Antony! I’m so pleased to hear that this recipe was a success!
I love the texture the Panko gives! This was a hit!
I’m so happy to hear that this recipe was a hit, Aaron! Thank you for taking the time to share this kind review!
To make it more Atkins or Keto-friendly …use crushed pork rinds in place of bread crumbs
Thanks for the helpful tip and kind review, Chris!
Could pancetta be used in place of bacon?
Certainly Karen!! Hope you enjoy it!
I wore rubber gloves to handle the hot peppers. Recipe is easy to make. I used bacon bits and seasoned bread crumbs but the two together make them VERY salty. They are tasty and fun to make.
Hi Jack! So glad you enjoy the recipe! Thank you for this kind review!
WOW, this recipe was perfect! I had a rough year of gardening … much too hot and dry here in the northeast, so some things didn’t turn out well at all. But my jalapenos thrived. I was thinking about how to use them up and went looking for a jalapeno popper recipe. I had all these ingredients on hand, and they came together so quickly! My husband went nuts for them. I’ll definitely make them for a party some time.
Hi Ellen! So glad you enjoyed the recipe! Thank you for this kind review!
Everyone loves these! I’ve used different cheese and it’s all good. I baked until bacon is crisp!
Hi Betty! So glad you enjoyed the recipe! Thank you for this kind review!