Everyone loves delicious finger food. Whether it is watching the Big Game or an appetizer to celebrate a special occasion, Smoked Jalapeno Poppers are full of flavor, spicy, and simple to make. Give them a try next time you are hosting a party.
One of our favorite things to do as a family is to make a whole bunch of appetizers for dinner and watch a sporting event or movie during dinner. We only do this a couple of times a year so when we do it is very special.
This smoked jalapeno poppers recipe has moved up on our appetizer list to the must-have category. Make a spicy margarita for the adults, some sugar free lemonade for the kids, and a few more apps and you have a perfect evening.
For a less spicy pepper recipe try out Smoked Stuffed Peppers.
Jalapeño peppers- I used six peppers for this jalapeno popper recipe. If you are watching a game or hosting a party and you want to make a bunch of these, go ahead and double or triple this recipe up. I used medium to larger peppers. My one recommendation is to try to have them uniform in size so they all cook evenly.
Cooked Bacon - This goes into the filling mixture. Using raw bacon will not get cooked well enough and it will make the popper too greasy. If you are going to be pressed on time, you can also buy a bag of real bacon bits and use that instead of having to cook slices of bacon. To really kick up the flavor sub in smoked pork belly for the bacon.
Garlic - I love garlic. I finely mince fresh garlic. The fresh garlic gives a little extra kick to this dish but you can use garlic powder if that's all you have. If you want more of a spice kick beyond what the jalapeno itself brings, you can add any other seasonings here as well. Chili powder and paprika would blend well with these flavors. The choice is up to you.
Scallions - For an application like this, I do prefer thinly sliced scallions to minced onion. I feel like scallions have a more mellow taste and bring a bit of a fresher taste to each bite.
Cream Cheese - This is the yummy glue that will hold our filling together. Take this out of the fridge about 20 minutes prior to making this so that it mixes more easily as you combine all the ingredients.
Shredded Cheese - We always have a Mexican cheddar cheese shredded blend in the house. I find this is easy to use in a recipe where we are looking for a creamy melt.
Salt and Pepper - Always used to have a well-seasoned dish. This will go into the filling and because the filling is safe to eat as is, you can taste it and make sure you hit your desired level of seasoning.
Butter - This will be melted and combine with the bread crumbs. Why? Butter makes things golden brown and crispy. Whether it be bread crumb topping or your Thanksgiving Turkey skin. Butter is the key to that outer coat of flavor and crunch.
Panko bread crumbs - Mixed with butter, these will give the poppers a top layer of crunch to contrast the creamy soft filling.
Safety Tip: I recommend using gloves when working with jalapenos or any other spicy peppers. The oils tend to linger on your fingers and could irritate your skin, or easily get in your eye if you touch your face.
How to make Smoked Jalapeno Poppers instructions
Step one - Cut the jalapenos in half longways. Remove the seeds and membrane. Those are the hottest parts of the pepper. They will overwhelm most people if you leave them in there. The jalapenos tend to be spicy enough without them.
Step two - Combine the chopped cooked bacon, minced fresh garlic, sliced scallions, softened cream cheese, and shredded cheese in a medium mixing bowl. Mix well seasoning with salt and pepper.
Step three - Using a spoon, fill each of the jalapeno halves with the cream cheese mixture. It is ok if the mixture is rounded over the edge of the jalapeno.
Step four - Melt the butter and mix with panko bread crumbs. Put them in a shallow small bowl so you can gently press and roll each jalapeno halve into the bread crumb topping. Then place each jalapeno popper on a tray that can go into the smoker. You can use a disposable aluminum pan. If you don't use a tray and place them directly on the grill grates, you risk them falling through or falling over and making a huge cheesy mess in your smoker.
Step five - Place them in a preheated smoker at 300° - 325°F. Place them on the top rack to ensure you get a nice golden brown color to the bread crumb topping. You will cook these for about 30 to 40 minutes. You are looking for the peppers to soften, the cheese to melt and the bread crumbs to get crispy and golden brown.
Step six - Once the smoked jalapeno poppers are done, remove them from the grill and serve with ranch dressing or your favorite dipping sauce.
Vegetarian - Just leave out the bacon.
Meat - Sub in cooked crumbled sausage or even pulled pork or beef.
Plain - Smoked the peppers plain and then use them in Cranberry Jalapeno Dip.
Keto - For a keto-friendly Smoked Jalapeño Poppers Recipe just sub in crushed pork rinds.
Are these going to be spicy?
Good question. Several people tend to stay away from something like a jalapeno popper because they are afraid of the spicy heat.
Balancing that spice with a nice dip, will not only add flavor but will also help to cool off the palate so that the heat is not too overpowering for someone who is averse to it.
In my house, we like ranch dressing but you can also go with sour cream or your favorite homemade dip. I recommend serving this with smoked onion dip. It is delicious.
Traeger vs Smoker vs Pellet Grill
Side Note - I cooked these on my Traeger grill. If you don't have a pellet grill, you can easily complete these on your smoker. 325°F may be a little hotter than you are used to smoking, but it doesn't take much for these to absorb smoke, and you want to stay away from cooking these too slowly and the pepper just falling apart.
Can I stuff jalapeno poppers ahead of time?
Once you stuff the peppers, but before you put the bread crumbs on, you can place the poppers in a container with a tight lid and leave them in the refrigerator for up to two days before smoking them. Once you are ready to smoke them, take the stuffed jalapeno poppers out of the refrigerator, add the bread crumb or pork rind topping and smoke them. This will help to cut down some time on the day you plan to cook them.
What should I serve with smoked jalapeno poppers?
If you are sticking with finger foods for a casual party try smoked cream cheese, smoked cheesy potatoes, bacon on a stick, smoked meatballs, smoked ribs, grilled chicken sliders, or even air-fried paneer. If this is more of a sit-down affair serve these alongside your smoked beef brisket, turkey dinner, bacon-wrapped pork tenderloin, or bacon wrapped smoked meatloaf.
- 6 jalapenos
- 4 slices cooked bacon about ⅓ cup of chopped bacon
- 1 clove garlic fresh minced
- 2 tablespoon scallions thinly sliced
- 8 oz cream cheese softened
- ½ cup cheddar shredded
- 2 tablespoon butter melted
- ½ cup panko bread crumbs OR crushed pork rinds
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- Cut the jalapenos in half longways. Remove the seeds and membrane. Set them aside.
- Combine the chopped cooked bacon, minced fresh garlic, sliced scallions, softened cream cheese, and shredded cheese in a medium mixing bowl. Mix well seasoning with salt and pepper.
- Fill each of the jalapeno halves with the cream cheese mixture.
- Melt the butter and mix with panko bread crumbs. Put them in a shallow small bowl so you can gently press and roll each jalapeno halve into the bread crumb topping.
- Place jalapeno poppers on a cooking sheet that can go into the smoker.
- Place them in a preheated smoker at 300° - 325°F. Place them on the top rack to ensure you get a nice golden brown color to the bread crumb topping. You will cook these for about 30 to 40 minutes. You are looking for the peppers to soften, the cheese to melt and the bread crumbs to get crispy and golden brown.
- Once the smoked jalapeno poppers are done, remove them from the grill and serve with ranch dressing or your favorite dipping sauce.