If you are looking for an easy, great appetizer to enjoy for a summer cook-out or game day, look no further! Smoked jalapeno poppers fit the bill! These creamy, smoky delights with a spicy bite are a perfect appetizer for jalapeno lovers. They are awesome as is with a cheesy smoky robust filling, but even more fabulous bacon-wrapped. The optional bacon strip adds an extra burst of smokiness that your taste buds won’t forget. These poppers are even a wee bit healthier with no breading so they are low-carb and Keto friendly. So, let's get that smoker fired up and cook up some delicious, smoked jalapeño poppers.
Preparing the Poppers
This is such an easy appetizer to prep for a party because you can do a lot of the prep ahead of time. First I add all of my cream cheese filling ingredients to a small bowl and then mix it up with a fork. I find that using a fork works best with incorporating it all together. Once you make your filling you can store it in the fridge if you're making it ahead of time or you can move on to prepping your jalapeno peppers. Be sure to wear some disposable latex gloves when working with jalapenos. I start with the stem and then slice down the center of the pepper lengthwise. Try your best to keep the jalapeno stem intact to keep the poppers from falling apart.
Hull & Fill
Hull out the jalapenos, removing the seeds and membranes. Then if you want to be fancier, you can pipe in the filling. If you just want the speediest process which is what I usually chose, I use a spatula to fill the peppers and level them off. Then, you can still improve the look by using a fork to make striations in the mixture and add a sprinkle of paprika.
Bacon-Wrap or just Smoke
It's up to you if you want to add a little bacon for extra flavor. I usually wrap half of my poppers so that people can choose their preference. You can use an entire piece of bacon if you like, but I prefer just a half slice so all the smoky flavor can get into the cheese mixture as well as the bacon.
Smoking the Poppers
Once I'm all filled and/or wrapped I place the wire racks (I use 2, 1 for plain and 1 for bacon-wrapped) in the smoker at 250 F for up to 75 minutes, depending on the size of my jalapenos. This amount of time still leaves the jalapenos a little al dente, but if you want the jalapenos more tender, go for closer to 90 mins.
Bacon-Wrapped Jalapeño Poppers (Optional)
These jalapeno poppers are great as is with plenty of flavor already, but if you want that extra savory saltiness grab your favorite bacon, cut each slice of uncooked bacon in half and wrap it around the jalapeno one time, securing the ends of the bacon with a toothpick if need be. Place the seam side down so it does not unravel on you. We like to use a thick cut bacon, so as you'll see that's why I broil it at the end of the recipe. I do not recommend pre-cooking the bacon at all. I've tried that a few times and each time the bacon ends up too short to wrap well around the pepper.
How can I make poppers spicier?
As you'll here me say quite often with my various jalapeno recipes on my site, with jalapenos, you never know what you're going to get heat-wise. Somehow jalapenos seem to vary quite a bit on their heat level, especially between various grocery stores' and home-grown. If you really want to take the heat up a notch, you can save some of the seeds you hull out of the peppers and mix them into your filling mixture for added "heat." I personally don't do that because half the time I'm feeding kids when I make these, but that's definitely a great way to spice things up a bit more to your liking.
I am so hooked on our pellet smoker grill. This amazing appliance has changed my cooking over the last couple years. I don't grill, I leave that to my husband since he's so good at it, but the pellet smoker, that's something I can easily master. Our Pit Boss was actually half of the inspiration for this recipe. The other half was my husband and son's love of jalapenos and spicy treats. Whether your smoker is a stick burner, you use a wood chip smoker or a Traeger Pellet Grill or Pit Boss, you too can easily master these smoky jalapeno poppers.
Smoked Jalapeno Popper Ingredients
- Fresh Jalapenos- The size of your jalapenos makes a difference in having enough of the filling mixture to fill all of your peppers. I try to use similarly sized peppers, ideally medium sized peppers. If you have smaller peppers it's just a lot more work for you in filling a bunch of small ones, but if you need to feed a big crowd, that might work better for you in the long run.
- Cream cheese- I use full-fat cream cheese.
- Cheddar cheese- A sharp cheddar is great, but if you want to take it up another level, add smoked cheese to the mix. We love to make our own smoked cheeses so I like to incorporate about half a cup of smoked sharp cheddar cheese to this jalapeño popper filling for added smoke flavor.
- Lemon juice- I like to add lemon for a little acidic tang to the filling.
- Paprika- I prefer smoked paprika, but you can use standard sweet paprika if that's what you have.
- Granulated Garlic- I like to use granulated garlic here, but you can absolutely use garlic powder or minced fresh garlic for an extra bite if that's your preference.
- Salt- I use fine sea salt.
- Black Pepper- I like coarse ground black pepper here, but fine is good as well.
- Green onions/Scallions- I use the green part only, finely chopped. If you have chives you can use that instead (about 2 Tbsp.)
Optional Delicious garnish- Lime zest! Yes, I know doesn't seem right, but trust me it's a nice touch and looks great too!
Optional Additions to the cheesy mix
- Pimento Peppers- I mean, pimentos I think are always a delicious additive for any dish like this. If you love pimentos, serve up this pimento cheese spread at your next party as well!
Deliciously Smoked Poppers
Preparing smoked jalapeno poppers doesn’t have to be complicated. Whether you choose to use a smoker or a grill, you can easily have tasty poppers that are sure to satisfy family and friends. Adding bacon to the mix brings a smoky flavor that is hard to beat. This recipe will ensure your jalapeno poppers turn out fabulous every time.
Can I cook these in the Oven?
Absolutely! The only thing is that they won't have the smoky flavor you get from the smoker. Bake at 300 degrees F. for 45 mins for a similar tenderness to the smoked ones. I just place the plain ones on a baking sheet with parchment paper. Bacon wrapped should go on a wire rack atop a baking sheet to catch grease.