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Bacon Wrapped Jalapeno Poppers
These jalapeno poppers are spicy, cheesy and the perfect anytime appetizer!
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I remember the first time I had a jalapeno popper. I couldn’t have been more than 9 or 10 years old. The family had gone out to eat when we saw them listed on the menu. Hot and spicy had always been welcome in our home and on our plates, so the thought of eating a basket of cooked whole jalapenos wasn’t a daunting one. Not when you had a dad with a cast iron stomach. When he made chili, he had to make two pots. One for him, which could singe the skin from the top of your mouth, and one for the rest of us. So deep fried peppers? Kids play.
To tell the truth, I remember thinking that they sounded kind of nasty. I hadn’t yet discovered the virtues of cream cheese and my 9 year-old self thought putting it inside a jalapeno was weird. But curiosity won and we ordered a basket. Holy cats.
It was love at first bite.
From that point on jalapeno poppers were a must. It didn’t matter if we were out as a family or were just making munchies for football on Sunday. And my love of the spicy and cheesy little nuggets hasn’t diminished over time.
Making Jalapeno Poppers
At first glance, making poppers can seem labor intensive and messy. While those first poppers we had were deep fried, we baked ours at home. Through a lot of trial and error, mom and dad were able to find the sweet spot, that balance between a softened jalapeno and a baking sheet not covered in cheese. Because, let’s face it. If you put cheese in something and then bake it, you’re going to wind up with oozy cheese (and one heckuva mess). But they got it right and their jalapeno poppers became a staple.
My version of jalapeno poppers moves outside. I still use the same basic ingredients. I just choose to give them a slight kiss of smoke before “baking” them on the grill. This is completely optional, but it’s so easy, especially with our tube smoker. I just load some cherry pellets, light and let the smoker roll. They don’t need much, and you don’t want to leave the cheese mixture unheated on the grill for long. We put them over heat after 60 minutes of smoke and let the pellets continue to burn while the poppers are cooking. Oh, and yeah. I also wrap them in bacon. Because, well, why not?
- 12 fresh jalapeno peppers halved and seeded
- 8 ounces full fat cream cheese softened
- 1 cup sharp cheddar cheese shredded
- 1/2 cup smoked gouda cheese
- 12 slices bacon cut in half
- salt and pepper to taste
Wash the jalapenos and halve them lengthwise. If you don't want the extra heat, remove the seeds. Set aside.
In a bowl, mix the cream cheese, cheddar cheese and smoked Gouda cheese. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Next, cut each of the 12 slices of bacon in half crosswise. This will give you 24 short slices to wrap around the poppers.
Now fill each of the jalapeno halves with the cheese mixture. Make sure you don't overfill or it will ooze out as it cooks.
Wrap a short slice of bacon around the filled pepper and secure with a toothpick, if necessary.
Add cherry pellets to a tube smoker, lay it on your grill grate and then light. Allow the pellets to burn for a few minutes before blowing out the flame.
Place the filled and wrapped jalapenos into a grill basket and place on your grill. Allow them to cold smoke for 60 minutes.
Heat the grill to 350 degrees and "bake" for 30-40 minutes, or until the bacon is crispy.
Remove from the grill and serve immediately.
- This recipe begs to be customized, so use your favorite kinds of cheese for the filling.
- You can add extra zip to the filling by adding a few dashes of hot sauce or a spicy cheese.
- Thick cut bacon is delicious, but it can be harder to wrap around the peppers.
- You can serve the poppers with ranch dressing for those who want to dunk their poppers.