Jalapeno Poppers

These baked jalapeno poppers are an easy, make ahead appetizer everyone will swoon over!

These Baked Jalapeno Poppers boast the holy trinity of appetizers: creamy, cheesy, crunchy with a hint of spice AKA wickedly addicting. They are also incredibly simple to prepare and can be prepped ahead of time then just popped in the oven.  To make, fresh jalapenos are sliced in half and loaded with a tantalizing cheesy, cream cheese filling then topped with golden panko and baked to roasted, bubbly, crispy, creamy, spicy, cheesy perfection.  This combination hits the “wow” spot every time – for everyone – and is quite possibly the best appetizer ever – even better than fried!  I can’t wait for you to take one hot, creamy, crunchy bite, and see if you don’t agree.  

showing how to make the crunchiest baked jalapeno poppers by adding panko topping

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Jalapeno Poppers recipe

With game season and party season upon us, everyone needs a happy dance appetizer, so I bring you – Baked Jalapeno Poppers!  I am obsessed. I love jalapeno poppers much that I’ve already shared Jalapeno Popper Dip, Jalapeno Popper Taquitos, Jalapeno Popper Muffins and now it’s time to indulge in the baked “real thing.” 

These jalapeno poppers are always a hit whether for holidays, game days, birthday parties, etc. and will have all of your guests clamoring for more.  You might want to triple the batch. 

Here’s why you’ll love this homemade Baked Jalapeno Popper recipe:

  • DELICIOUS.   Creamy, hot and cheesy filling cocooned in a smoky, slightly spicy jalapeno are a match made in heaven. 
  • BAKED NOT FRIED. The best part of this easy jalapeno popper recipe is that it is baked not fried!  This baked jalapeño popper recipe is lighter (and less greasy) than the fried version – but trusts me, the crispy panko delivers all the buttery crunch your taste buds could ever want (I have a trick for the crunchiest panko around!).  Baked jalapeno poppers are also les messy, easier to throw together and a little lighter.
  • QUICK and EASY. Jalapeño poppers are one of the easiest appetizers you can make and one of the most crowd pleasing!  Simple slice the jalapenos in half, remove the seeds and stuff with a simple mixture of cream cheese, cheddar, pepper Jack, sour cream and seasonings.  This prep takes about 25 minutes with a bake time of only 15 minutes which means you can be downing jalapeno poppers in less than an hour! 
  • MAKE AHEAD.  You will love that these cream cheese jalapeno poppers can be made ahead of time!  Stuff the jalapenos, then refrigerate until baking time then add the prepared crispy panko and bake to golden, crunchy, cheesy, creamy, dreamy perfection.

What are jalapeno poppers?

If you aren’t familiar with jalapeno poppers, they are a favorite appetizer at restaurants and especially for game day.  Restaurant jalapeno poppers are traditional hollowed out jalapenos filled with a mixture of cream cheese, cheddar cheese and seasonings, coated in breadcrumbs and deep fried.

This easy homemade jalapeno popper recipe, however, is baked and not fried but every bit as decadent tasting and even better than the original, in in my humble opinion.  These jalapeno poppers are fresh jalapeno peppers that are cut in half, seeded, stuffed with a seasoned cream cheese, cheesy filling, sprinkled with golden panko breadcrumbs baked to melty, golden, roasted, crispy perfection.

showing how to serve homemade jalapeno poppers by placing on a plate with dip

Homemade Jalapeno Popper Recipe Ingredients

Baked homemade jalapeno poppers are made with just a few essential ingredients.  You will need:

  • Jalapeños: Choose jalapenos that are fresh and firm.  They should be bright green and free from blemishes.  Look for jalapenos that are on the larger side, about 3-4 inches so they can hold more filling; larger jalapenos are also easier to stuff.
  • Cream cheese: is what makes our filling so irresistibly creamy.  Its creaminess balances the heat of the jalapenos and is also vehicle for cheeeese!  Use full fat cream cheese for the most flavor, but less fat will also work.  Make sure your cream cheese is nice and soft so it will mix and spread easily. 
  • Sour cream:  adds another depth of creaminess with a slight tang.
  • Cheese:  both sharp cheddar cheese and pepper Jack are added to the cream cheese filling for flavor and cheesiness.  Sharp cheese is bold enough to cut through the cheesiness and pepper Jack melts like a dream and adds a dimension of heat but will not make your jalapeno poppers overly spicy as most of the heat is removed from the jalapenos with the seeds.  You may substitute the pepper Jack with cheddar.  Please use freshy grated cheeses because pre-packed cheeses use anti-clumping chemicals which prevents them from melting as well.
  • Chives: add an earthy onion flavor without being overwhelming like onions, shallots and green onions can be. 
  • Seasonings:  garlic powder, dried parsley, paprika, ground cumin, salt and pepper round out the delectable flavor profile without being overwhelming. 
  • Panko:  panko + butter create the crispiest topping that imitates the fried breading.  Panko is a Japanese breadcrumb sold in every grocery store (including Walmart) usually next to the other breadcrumbs. Panko breadcrumbs are larger and dryer than normal breadcrumbs so they absorb less moisture and become much crispier. Please do not substitute panko breadcrumbs with Italian breadcrumbs or you will be missing out on the gorgeous, satisfying CRUNCH. 

HOW TO MAKE JALAPENO POPPERS

Step 1: How to Cut a Jalapeno

First, set yourself up for success by wearing a pair of rubber gloves.  If don’t wear gloves, the oils can burn your hands and if you accidentally touch your eyes, they will sting like crazy! 

Now that we’re all safe and wearing gloves (and don’t touch your face with the gloves ether!), it’s time to slice jalapeno peppers.  Working with one jalapeno at a time, firmly hold the pepper and slice from top to bottom, trying to make both halves as even as possible. I try and slice through the stem as well so each half has part of the stem.  This is mainly for aesthetic reasons and won’t affect the taste either way.

showing how to make baked jalapeno poppers by cutting jalapenos in half from stem to end

Step 2: How to Remove Seeds from Jalapeno Pepper

The majority of heat found in jalapeno peppers comes from the seeds and the white/light green inner membranes.  We want to remove the seeds and membrane so the jalapeno poppers aren’t fiery hot.

I’ve found the easiest way to remove the membrane and seeds is to use a ½ -inch teaspoon to scrape out the seeds staring at the top of the pepper and working my way down.

showing how to make easy jalapeno poppers by removing the seeds and ribs using a teaspoon
showing how to make best jalapeno poppers by lining hollow jalapenos on a cutting board

Step 3: How to Make Creamy Filling

The filling for these baked jalapeno poppers is delightfully easy to make!  Simply add cream cheese, sour cream, cheddar cheese, pepper Jack cheese, chives and seasonings to a bowl.  Mix until evenly combined.  The cream cheese should be soft enough to easily mix with a spoon before combining ingredients. 

showing how to make jalapeno poppers by making cream cheese filling by mixing cream cheese, sour cream, cheddar cheese and spices in a bowl

Step 4: How to Stuff Jalapenos

Using a spoon, fill each jalapeno half with the cheese mixture.  I like to add a dollop to the cavity then spread it with the back of a spoon so it gets nestled into the nooks and crannies.  Take care not to overfill the jalapenos or the filling will ooze over the edges as the jalapeno poppers bake.

showing how to make jalapeno poppers by stuffing with cream cheese filling

Step 5: How to Make Crispy Topping

Now for the crunchiest panko you ever tasted!  Many panko toppings are made by adding the panko directly to the top of the jalapeno poppers and baking.  This will never deliver evenly golden, crazy crunchy, buttery panko.  For the BEST, truly crispy panko topping infused with buttery bliss, you need to toast it first in a skillet with melted butter.  This might sound like one unnecessary step, but it makes a HUGE difference. It literally takes minutes but adds tons of YUM! 

To toast the panko, melt 2 tablespoons butter over medium-low heat in a skillet. Add panko and stir to coat. Continue cooking until crumbs become golden. Remove to a plate so they stop cooking. How easy was that?!

Now, generously sprinkle each jalapeno popper with crispy panko and line on a lightly greased, foil lined baking sheet.

showing how to make jalapeno poppers by browning panko topping in butter in a skillet

Step 6: How to Bake Jalapeno Poppers

Bake jalapeno poppers at 400 degrees F for 15-20 minutes or until the jalapenos are softened and the filling is hot.  You don’t want the jalapenos too soft or they won’t hold their shape.

showing how to make jalapeno poppers by lining jalapeno poppers on a baking sheet to bake

How to Grill Jalapeno Poppers

You are going to want to make this jalapeno popper recipe year-round – and that includes grilling!  These homemade jalapeno poppers are very easy to grill:

  • Stuff jalapeno poppers according to recipe directions and top with panko.
  • Grease grill and heat to medium-high heat. 
  • Line jalapeno poppers on the grill, cut side up, so they aren’t touching; perpendicular to the grates so they don’t fall through.
  • Grill, covered, until the poppers are seared on the bottoms and the filling is hot, about 10 minutes.

HOW TO GET MY JALAPENOS TO SIT FLAT?

Most of the jalapenos halves should sit flat, but occasionally you’ll get a few rebels that lean too much to the side.  You don’t want leaning jalapeno poppers because the filling will slide out once bubbly hot. In order to remedy lopsided jalapenos, simply turn it to the side and slice a thin layer off the bottom so it is level.  Now it will lay flay.

How many servings does this JALAPEÑO POPPER recipe make?

That is a tough question because these baked jalapeño poppers are so addicting!  I literally could eat half of them in one sitting.  This jalapeno popper recipe makes 24 poppers.  If you assume each person enjoys 4 poppers, that would mean 6 servings.  If you’re having a gathering anywhere near 6 people or larger, then I highly recommend doubling or tripling the recipe.  This is easy to do because you can prep the recipe ahead of time (how to make ahead below).

How Spicy are these Baked Jalapeno Poppers?

Jalapenos differ in heat from jalapeno to jalapeno, but most jalapenos are fairly mild once the seeds and membranes are removed.  Larger jalapenos are also less spicy than smaller jalapenos which is what we are using in this jalapeno popper recipe.  A general rule is the smaller the pepper, the spicier; that is why bell peppers are mild and habaneros are fiery hot.  Roasting the jalapenos also mellows the heat as does the creamy complimentary filling.

As far as this jalapeno popper recipe, it has a little heat from the jalapenos, but as long as the peppers are thoroughly cleaned, I would consider them mild to medium heat. Sometimes you’ll bite into a hotter jalapeno, but as a whole, most of the jalapeno poppers with be purely addicting without making anyone’s eyes water.

  • For the mildest jalapeno poppers, remove all the seeds and membrane.  I love heat but still opt for this mild jalapeno popper option.  They still scream flavor without the burn, which means you can keep eating and eating and eating…
  • For spicier jalapeno poppers, leave the ribs inside the pepper, but remove the seeds.
  • For hot jalapeno poppers, leave the ribs and add some of the seeds to the cream cheese filling – only recommend if you want your mouth to be on fire!

How long do Baked Jalapeno Poppers last?

Let jalapeno poppers cool completely then transfer to an airtight container.  Refrigerate for up to 3 days.

How to reheat Cream Cheese Jalapeno Poppers Recipe

  • Microwave:  You can reheat jalapeno poppers in the microwave on a microwave safe place for about 20-30 seconds, but the panko won’t be as crunchy – but still delectable. This is how I like to enjoy just leftover poppers just a few at a time.
  • Oven:  For the crunchiest panko, line jalapeno poppers on a baking sheet.  Bake at 325 degrees F for approximately 15 minutes or until heated through.
showing how to make homemade jalapeno popper recipe by lining poppers up in a row on a baking sheet

How to Make Homemade Jalapeno Poppers Ahead of Time

Jalapeno poppers are great for making ahead! 

To make cream cheese filling in advance: mix the cream cheese, cheeses, chives, and all seasonings together. Cover tightly with plastic wrap or transfer to an airtight container.  Store in the refrigerator for 3 to 5 days.

To assemble in advance:

  • Stuff jalapenos with cream cheese filling but don’t add panko. 
  • Store in a single layer in an airtight container or stack with parchment paper in between the layers, you can also line on prepared baking sheet and tightly wrap in plastic wrap; refrigerate.
  • Prepare panko, let cool completely and store in an airtight container. 
  • When ready to serve, transfer jalapeno poppers to prepared baking sheet and top with panko.
  • Bake at 400 degrees F for 20-25 minutes. 

Can I freeze Baked Jalapeno Poppers?

No, I don’t recommend freezing jalapeno poppers as the jalapenos become mushy, the filling can separate and the topping will become soggy.

Tips for Baked Jalapeno Poppers Recipe

Jalapeno Poppers are fairly straightforward to make, but here is a summary of tips and tricks for flawless poppers every time. 

  • Wear gloves.  Jalapeno peppers can burn your skin, so take care to wear gloves and don’t touch your eyes!  If you don’t have gloves, you can place your hands in plastic bags when removing the pepper innards.
  • Uniform size.  Select jalapenos that are similar in size, so they will bake in the same amount of time.
  • Larger jalapenos.  Choose larger jalapenos, about 3-4 inches long because they are easier to clean and hold more creamy deliciousness.
  • Control the spice level:  for mild-medium heat, remove all the seeds and membranes.  For spicier jalapeno poppers, either leave some of the seeds/membrane in the jalapenos or add some of the seeds to the filling.
  • Use soft cream cheese.  If your cream cheese isn’t soft enough, the cheeses and seasonings won’t evenly combine and you’ll be left with pockets of ingredients.  To soften cream cheese, cube it and microwave at 15 second intervals until easy to stir. 
  • Freshly grated cheese.  Please use freshy grated cheeses because pre-packed cheeses use anti-clumping chemicals which prevents them from melting as well.
  • Don’t skip the panko!  The panko adds the buttery CRUNCH that is a MUST in this jalapeno popper recipe.  It’s the ying to the cheesy, creamy yang.  
  • Don’t overcook.  Be careful not to overcook or the poppers will become too soft and won’t hold their shape or be as palate pleasing.

Homemade Jalapeno Popper Recipe Variations:

If you can dream it, you can stuff it into a jalapeno popper!  The possibilities are literally endless.  Here are just a few recipe variation ideas:

  • Seasonings:  you can mix up the flavor profile by using different seasonings such as taco seasoning, Cajun seasoning, chipotle, curry, garam masala, coriander, etc. or fresh herbs such as rosemary, parsley, basil, cilantro, etc.
  • Cheese:  mix up the flavor profile by mixing up the cheeses.  You can use feta, goat cheese, Gruyere, Swiss, Havarti, mozzarella, Colby jack or Monterey cheese.
  • Add ins: add finely chopped mushrooms, roasted bell peppers, artichokes, olives, tomatoes, etc.
  • Sausage: Jalapeno Poppers with Sausage are a popular recipe variation.  Mix in ½ pound browned ground Italian sausage and swap the cheeses for half mozzarella and half Parmesan.   You might want to add additional Italian seasonings.   
  • Bacon:  Bacon Wrapped Jalapeno Poppers are another favorite!  Use pre-cooked bacon from Costco or par-cook your bacon like I do in my Bacon Wrapped Shrimp – do NOT use thick cut bacon or raw bacon.  If you use raw bacon, it will not bake up crispy after 20 minutes and you’ll be left with a greasy, soggy mess. To par-cook bacon, line a plate with a few layers of paper towels. Line an even layer of bacon and top with a layer of paper towels. Microwave on high for 3-4 minutes (check at 3 then continue to microwave if needed. I did 4 minutes). You want the bacon mostly cooked but still soft and PLIABLE. Don’t overcook or it will break when wrapping.  Wrap jalapenos in a slice of bacon, secure with a toothpick and continue per recipe instructions, omitting the panko.
  • Other proteins:  you can also add other proteins such as cooked chopped bacon, chorizo, crab meat, chopped chicken, pulled pork, or chopped shrimp directly to the cream cheese filling.
up close of the best jalapeno poppers coming out of the oven with cream cheese filling

What else can you stuff jalapeno poppers with?

You can also stuff the jalapeno poppers with any of your favorite cream cheese-based dips.  The following are recipes using my favorite dips:

  • Buffalo Chicken Dip Jalapeno Poppers.  Stuff the jalapeno peppers with your favorite buffalo chicken dip.
  • Queso Fundido Jalapeno Poppers. Stuff the jalapeno peppers with your favorite queso fundido dip.
  • Artichoke Dip Jalapeno Poppers. Stuff the jalapeno peppers with your favorite artichoke dip.
  • Spinach Dip Jalapeno Poppers.  Stuff the jalapeno peppers with your favorite spinach dip.
  • Chili Dip Jalapeno Poppers. Stuff the jalapeno peppers with your favorite bean or chili cheese dip.
  • Corn Dip Jalapeno Poppers.  Stuff the jalapeno peppers with your favorite Mexican corn dip.
  • BBQ Chicken Dip Jalapeno Poppers.  Stuff the jalapeno peppers with your favorite BBQ chicken dip.

What to serve with Jalapeno Poppers?

I honestly love these Jalapeno Poppers plain, but they are also fantastic with ranch, avocado ranch, cilantro lime dressing, blue cheese dressing, etc.

What to Eat with Jalapeno Poppers?

Jalapeno Poppers are a favorite finger food at game day parties, viewing parties, potlucks, Christmas, New Years, etc.  They are stand alone delicious but also pair well with these other appetizers and party food we love:

Party food mains:  Crockpot BBQ Ribs, Cheesy BBQ Pork Taquitos, Pizza Pinwheels, Stromboli, Slow Cooker Brisket, Buffalo Chicken Pull Apart Bread, Philly Cheesesteak Pizza, Crockpot Chili and Carnitas.

Party food sandwiches: French Dip Sandwiches, Italian Beef Sandwiches, BBQ Brisket Sandwiches, BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwiches, Cheesy Italian Meatball Sliders, Hawaiian Sloppy Joes, and Philly Cheesesteak Sandwiches.

Party food appetizers:  Bacon Ranch Cheeseball, Honey Buffalo Meatballs, Honey Buffalo Hot Wings, Pretzel Bites, Carne Asada Fries, Spinach Dip French Bread, Philly Cheesesteak Egg Rolls, Southwest Egg Rolls, Cream Cheese Wontons, Potstickers, and Queso Blanco.

up close of best baked jalapeno poppers with cream cheese and panko

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Baked Jalapeno Poppers

These jalapeno poppers are an easy, make ahead appetizer everyone will swoon over! These Baked Jalapeno Poppers boast the holy trinity of appetizers: creamy, cheesy, crunchy with a hint of spice AKA wickedly addicting. They are also incredibly simple to prepare and can be prepped ahead of time then just popped in the oven. To make, fresh jalapenos are sliced in half and loaded with a tantalizing cheesy, cream cheese filling then topped with golden panko and baked to roasted, bubbly, crispy, creamy, spicy, cheesy perfection. This combination hits the “wow” spot every time – for everyone - and is quite possibly the best appetizer ever – even better than fried! I can’t wait for you to take one hot, creamy, crunchy bite, and see if you don’t agree.
Servings: 24 poppers
Total Time: 40 mins
Prep Time: 25 mins
Cook Time: 15 mins

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Ingredients

Poppers

  • 12 jalapeno peppers about 3-4-inches long
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs

Filling

  • 8 oz. Cream Cheese softened
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Pepper Jack cheese
  • 2 tablespoons chives finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp EACH garlic powder, dried parsley, salt
  • 1/4 tsp EACH paprika, pepper, ground cumin

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a large baking sheet (15x21 inches) with foil and spray with cooking spray. If you don’t have a large pan, use two smaller pans.
  • Melt butter over medium-low heat in a skillet. Add panko and stir to coat. Continue cooking until crumbs become golden. Remove to a plate to stop cooking.
  • Cut the jalapenos in half lengthwise and use a teaspoon to gently scoop out the seeds and ribs (I find a ½ teaspoon to be the right size).
  • Add all of the filling ingredients to a medium bowl and mix until evenly combined.
  • Fill each jalapeno half with the cheese mixture then sprinkle each half with the golden panko.
  • Place stuffed jalapenos cut side up on the prepared baking sheet. Bake at 400 degrees F for 15-20 minutes.

Notes

Tips and Tricks

Jalapeno Poppers are fairly straightforward to make, but here is a summary of tips and tricks for flawless poppers every time. 

  • Wear gloves.  Jalapeno peppers can burn your skin, so take care to wear gloves and don’t touch your eyes!  If you don’t have gloves, you can place your hands in plastic bags when removing the pepper innards.
  • Uniform size.  Select jalapenos that are similar in size, so they will bake in the same amount of time.
  • Larger jalapenos.  Choose larger jalapenos, about 3-4 inches long because they are easier to clean and hold more creamy deliciousness.
  • Control the spice level:  for mild-medium heat, remove all the seeds and membranes.  For spicier jalapeno poppers, either leave some of the seeds/membrane in the jalapenos or add some of the seeds to the filling.
  • Use soft cream cheese.  If your cream cheese isn’t soft enough, the cheeses and seasonings won’t evenly combine and you’ll be left with pockets of ingredients.  To soften cream cheese, cube it and microwave at 15 second intervals until easy to stir. 
  • Freshly grated cheese.  Please use freshy grated cheeses because pre-packed cheeses use anti-clumping chemicals which prevents them from melting as well.
  • Don’t skip the panko!  The panko adds the buttery CRUNCH that is a MUST in this jalapeno popper recipe.  It’s the ying to the cheesy, creamy yang.  
  • Don’t overcook.  Be careful not to overcook or the poppers will become too soft and won’t hold their shape or be as palate pleasing.
  • Variations.  See post for TONS of jalapeno popper recipe variations! 

How to reheat 

  • Microwave:  You can reheat jalapeno poppers in the microwave on a microwave safe place for about 20-30 seconds, but the panko won’t be as crunchy – but still delectable. This is how I like to enjoy just leftover poppers just a few at a time.
  • Oven:  For the crunchiest panko, line jalapeno poppers on a baking sheet.  Bake at 325 degrees F for approximately 15 minutes or until heated through.

Make Ahead 

Jalapeno poppers are great for making ahead! 
To make cream cheese filling in advance: mix the cream cheese, cheeses, chives, and all seasonings together. Cover tightly with plastic wrap or transfer to an airtight container.  Store in the refrigerator for 3 to 5 days.
To assemble in advance:
  • Stuff jalapenos with cream cheese filling but don’t add panko. 
  • Store in a single layer in an airtight container or stack with parchment paper in between the layers, you can also line on prepared baking sheet and tightly wrap in plastic wrap; refrigerate.
  • Prepare panko, let cool completely and store in an airtight container. 
  • When ready to serve, transfer jalapeno poppers to prepared baking sheet and top with panko.
  • Bake at 400 degrees F for 20-25 minutes. 

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6 Comments

  1. IQOS Heets Dubai says

    We loved this recipe – it’s poppin’ 😉 We have been making for every get together – there are never any left!

    • Jen says

      Thank you! I’m so pleased it’s a repeat favorite!

  2. Linda Z. says

    These Jalapeño Poppers were fantastic. Extremely easy to make and everyone raved about them. I also added cooked, crumbled bacon to the mixture. Will definitely make them again.

    • Jen says

      Thanks so much Linda, I’m so pleased they were such a hit!

    • Jen says

      No plans for a cookbook, but I’ll continue to post here 🙂

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