These easy Baked Jalapeno Poppers are the perfect make-ahead appetizer for game day, girl’s night or anytime you crave a little spice. You can easily customize this recipe to be as spicy as you like and double it for sharing. Makes 24 poppers.
Jalapeño Poppers Recipe
I’ll be honest: I have not always loved jalapeno poppers.
Recently, I got to sample some my friend made in Denver and fell in love.
So here we are with Baked Jalapeno Poppers.
These cream cheese jalapeño poppers have a little kick and a lot of awesome flavor, but they’re not so spicy that they’ll light your mouth on fire. The combination of tangy cream cheese (plus other cheeses) with the mild heat of the jalapeno just WORKS for me and makes this a super satisfying finger food.
Although, if you are a fan of spicy food, you can definitely add more heat if you want because this recipe is super customizable.
These poppers are the perfect appetizer for a game day. They’re an easy appetizer to make early and then bake to share when you’re ready.
And who doesn’t love that?
Why I love this recipe:
You’re going to love this recipe for a few reasons:
- Homemade jalapeño poppers would be awesome to make and share at any gameday occasion like tailgating or a watch party. (Hosting one? Learn how to Host a Tailgate Party at Home!)
- They’re an easy app to make ahead of time. Just bake right before the party starts!
- You can customize these to make them as mild or spicy as you like.
- You can double or triple the recipe, too, for a crowd.
What you need to make this recipe:
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- Baking sheet
- Aluminum foil
- Non-stick cooking spray
- Sharp knife
- Spatula or wooden spoon
- Cookie scoop
- Cheese grater
Let’s talk ingredients!
In addition to the tools above, you’re going to need some ingredients to make this recipe, too! Chances are, you might already have some of them in your fridge or pantry. Scroll down to the recipe card for the full measurements and instructions.
Here’s what you’ll need:
- Fresh jalapenos — the bigger the better because you’re going to scoop a cream cheese mixture into them.
- Cream cheese —you can use regular or light cream cheese or Neufchatel.
- Shredded sharp cheddar cheese — sharp cheddar adds some extra bite. The peppers will overpower a mild cheddar, so sharp is recommended. Pre-shredded is great but you can also get a block and shred it yourself.
- Shredded monterey jack cheese — Pepper jack is a good spicy substitute if you want to kick things up a notch. You can also get a block and shred it yourself.
- Cajun or creole seasoning — Either one will work here. We like Tony’s and Louisiana, if you need recommendations for stocking your pantry. You can also make your own Creole seasoning with a combination of black pepper, kosher salt, chili powder, onion powder, garlic powder and more.
- Crispy bacon — totally optional but very recommended. I love thick cut bacon. (Unsure how to cook it? We love to bake bacon in the oven.)
Customizations and substitutions
There are lots of ways to customize these:
- Make them spicier. You can up the heat level by leaving some of the membrane and seeds in the peppers. You can also use a spicy pepper jack cheese instead of Monterey jack. You could also serve them with hot sauce and a pinch of cayenne pepper.
- Go with milder flavors. Remove all of the seeds and membranes from the peppers if you want a mild level of heat.
- Swap out the cheese. Use goat cheese instead of cream cheese, if you’d prefer that.
- Make them lighter. Use low-fat cream cheese or Neufchatel instead. They’re a great keto appetizer as they are, though.
How to Seed a Jalapeño
Ever wondered how to seed a jalapeño properly? I got you.
Here’s what to do:
FIRST THING’S FIRST
You can wear disposable gloves if you’re concerned about jalapenos bothering your skin. No matter what, be sure to WASH YOUR HANDS THOROUGHLY after finishing seeding the jalapeno peppers.
Take a jalapeño and cut it in half vertically, preserving the stem if you can. (You can also remove the stem, but it’s pretty to leave it on for picture-perfect jalapeño poppers.)
Use a spoon to scoop out the seeds, scraping the membrane from the bottom of the pepper to the top.
By moving the spoon in this direction, it’s easier to remove the seeds that can get clustered at the bottom if you scoop downwards.
How many seeds you remove is up to you:
- If you remove all of the seeds and membrane, you’ll wind up with a milder pepper. Think jalapeño flavor, not spice.
- If you want the poppers to have added heat, you can leave some of the inner membranes and seeds.
How to make Jalapeño Poppers
Here’s how to make this baked jalapeño popper recipe:
Before you start, make sure your toppings are ready and that your cream cheese is softened. (Here’s a great tutorial on how to soften cream cheese.)
Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C). Confirm the oven rack is in the middle of the oven. If not, move it before the oven gets too hot.
Next, line a rimmed half sheet baking pan with foil. Grease it lightly with nonstick cooking spray so the peppers don’t stick. (Trust me on this.)
Slice the jalapeño peppers in half lengthwise. Remove the seeds and the membrane using a spoon, scooping upwards to pull it away from the pepper.
Add the cream cheese, cheddar cheese, monterey jack cheese, cajun or creole seasoning and the chopped bacon pieces (if using) to a large bowl.
Stir it all together until creamy using a wooden spoon or rubber spatula.
You could also use a handheld mixer to beat until creamy and combined to save a little time.
Use a spoon or cookie scoop to fill the jalapeno halves with the cream cheese filling. Place on the prepared baking sheet.
Sprinkle each with extra monterey jack cheese.
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until bubbly and golden on top. If your poppers aren’t browned enough, you can pop them under the broiler for about 1 to 2 minutes.
Whenever you use the broiler, don’t walk away. Keep an eye on the poppers because they can and will burn.
Once the poppers browned up to your liking, let them cool for a couple of minutes.
Serve on a platter, and enjoy!
Garnish with fresh cilantro or parsley, chopped, to add a little brightness to the platter. You could use sliced green onion as a garnish, too.
How to store and freeze
Leftover cooked jalapeño poppers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 2-3 days. Warm gently in the microwave or in the oven at 350°F (177°C) for 5 to 10 minutes until warmed through.
If you want to make them ahead of time for your next party, here’s what to do:
- Assemble the poppers, but don’t bake them.
- Freeze the unbaked poppers in an airtight container or a freezer bag, between pieces of parchment paper.
- Freeze for up to 3-4 months.
- Thaw them overnight in the refrigerator and bake as instructed, or bake from frozen, adding about 5-7 minutes to the total baking time.
Erin’s Easy Entertaining Tips
These stuffed jalapeños are an EXCELLENT finger food for any gathering, though I’ll be honest: I love ’em for a homegate because they are the ultimate game day appetizer for football season.
Here are some things you can do to make entertaining with these beauties easy:
- Make some poppers mild and some spicy so everyone at your party can partake. Be sure to label them or decorate them differently so partygoers can know the difference.
- Prepare them ahead of time but don’t bake them until a little before your party starts.
- Freeze some unbaked extras so you always have an easy appetizer ready to pop in the oven.
- Double or triple the recipe if you’re hosting a crowd!
Frequently Asked Questions
Jalapeño poppers are made with fresh, whole ingredients including fresh peppers, cream cheese and meat, like bacon. Jalapeño poppers that have been battered and deep-fried are less nutritious than baked jalapeno poppers.
Jalapeño poppers and chile rellenos are similar, as both are peppers stuffed with cheese and meat. Jalapeño poppers are made with jalapeño peppers, while chile relleno are made with poblano peppers. Chile relleno are also often served with a sauce as a main dish, while jalapeño poppers are an appetizer or snack.
Jalapeño poppers are made by stuffing fresh jalapeños with a creamy mixture of cheese, spices and meat. Some jalapeño poppers are baked, while others are deep fried, but both are delicious.
Quick tips and tricks to making the cream cheese jalapeno poppers
- Be sure to seed your jalapeños properly, especially if you want a mild spice level.
- When scooping out the seeds and scraping out the membrane of the peppers, move your spoon from the bottom of the pepper to the top. By moving this direction, it’s easier to remove all the seeds. If you scoop downwards, the seeds get clustered at the bottom.
- Use a mixer to combine all the ingredients for the cheesy filling.
More of our best appetizer recipes that make great game day snacks
These easy jalapeño poppers are the perfect make-ahead appetizer for game day, girl’s night or anytime you crave a little spice. You can easily customize this recipe to be as spicy as you like.
- 12 - 14 large jalapeno peppers, stemmed, seeded and halved
- 8 oz. cream cheese, softened
- 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
- ½ cup shredded monterey jack cheese + more for topping*
- 1 ½ - 2 teaspoons cajun or creole seasoning (add more if you like it spicy)
- Optional: 8 slices bacon, cooked and chopped
- Preheat the oven to 400˚F. Confirm the oven rack is in the middle of the oven.
- Line a half sheet baking pan with foil. Grease lightly with nonstick cooking spray.
- Slice the jalapeño peppers in half lengthwise. Remove the seeds and the membrane using a spoon, scooping upwards to pull it away from the pepper.
- Add cream cheese, cheddar cheese, monterey jack cheese, cajun or creole seasoning, and chopped bacon, if using, to a large bowl.
- Stir together until creamy using a wooden spoon or rubber spatula. You can also use a handheld mixer to beat until creamy and combined to save a little time.
- Use a spoon to fill each halved jalapeño with the cheese mixture. Place on the prepared baking sheet.
- Sprinkle each with approximately 1 teaspoon of extra monterey jack cheese.
- Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until bubbly and golden on top. If your poppers aren’t golden brown enough on top for your liking, you can pop them under the broiler for about 1 to 2 minutes. Keep an eye on them if you are broiling because they can and will burn.
- Let cool for a couple of minutes before serving.
*If you like your poppers extra spicy, you could also use pepper jack cheese instead of monterey jack cheese!
Store: Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 days. Warm gently in the microwave or in the oven at 350˚F for 5 to 10 minutes until warmed through.
Freeze: Freeze the poppers before baking them in an airtight container, between pieces of parchment paper. Freeze for up to 3 to 4 months. You can thaw them overnight and bake as instructed, or bake from frozen adding about 5 to 7 minutes to the total baking time.
How to Seed a Jalapeño
- Cut the jalapeño in half vertically, preserving the stem if you can. You can also remove the stem, but it’s a nice look to have it on for jalapeño poppers.
- Use a spoon to scoop out the seeds and scrape out the membrane, moving from the bottom of the pepper to the top. By moving the spoon from the bottom to the top, it’s easier to remove the seeds that can get clustered at the bottom if you scoop downwards.
- Remove all of the seeds and membrane if you want a mild level of heat. If you want the poppers to have added heat, you can leave some of the membrane and seeds.
As an Amazon Associate and member of other affiliate programs, I earn from qualifying purchases.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 202Total Fat: 17gSaturated Fat: 9gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 6gCholesterol: 50mgSodium: 520mgCarbohydrates: 3gFiber: 1gSugar: 1gProtein: 10g
Nutrition facts are an estimate and not guaranteed to be accurate.