Cream-cheese stuffed jalapenos wrapped with bacon cooking on a grill.

Hot Damn Jalapeño Poppers

You might hear them called Armadillo Eggs, Texas Twinkies, or Stuffed Bacon-Wrapped Jalapeños. I call ’em Jalapeño Poppers.

Whatever they’re called or how they’re made, they’re all a variation on the same idea: Stuff a jalapeño with something delicious, wrap it in bacon, and grill it.

While this isn’t a BBQ recipe, I would certainly call it BBQ adjacent, and it pairs oh so well with brisket, burgers, or any grilled or smoked meats.

Below is my take on this classic hit.

Versatile, delicious, a bit tedious to make, but always a crowd-pleaser

The great thing about this recipe is that you can experiment to your heart’s content. Want to lay down a little mango jam under that cream cheese? Do it! Or make these dairy-free and stuff them with chopped brisket or pulled pork? Go for it!

There’s no wrong way to popper, except not making them in the first place.

Cleaning out the peppers, stuffing them, and wrapping them is a labor of love (and a messy one at that), but you’ll be rewarded by the ooohs and yuummmms uttered by your fellow diners.

Carrie’s Pro Tips

I’ve made hundreds of poppers over the years and these are my best tips if this is your first go-round:

Get organized before you start

Once you start working with the cream cheese, things will get messy. You don’t want to use messy cream cheese hands to open your refrigerator door, cut open a package of bacon, or dig around in a box of toothpicks.

Between the prepping and stuffing steps, I highly recommend laying everything out on the counter and ready to go. This will minimize the need to touch a bunch of things.

Wear gloves

Invest in disposable gloves to wear during prep. You do NOT want to accidentally rub your face (or anywhere else) after handling a jalapeño. Trust me.

I’ll usually go through three pairs: one pair worn during jalapeño prep, one pair used while stuffing, and a final pair used for wrapping. Maybe I’m OCD about getting cream cheese everywhere, so you do you, but definitely wear gloves while cleaning the jalapeños.

You can use the one-size-fits-all loosey-goosey gloves, but I prefer a fitted vinyl glove for better dexterity and pepper handling.

Beware the flame

A lot of fat will render from the bacon and drip into your grill. I like to cook these on a top grill rack so that the flames aren’t in direct contact with the poppers.

After you pull the poppers off, keep the grill burning for another 10 minutes or so, even if you’re done cooking. You want all of that fat to burn off so that you can start your next grilling adventure with a clean grill (or at least a fire-hazard-free grill).

I’ve learned this the hard way and had huge flame flare-ups when I went back to cook, so take the lesson from me lest you scorch your eyebrows!

The recipe

Cream-cheese stuffed jalapenos wrapped with bacon cooking on a grill.
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Hot Damn Jalapeño Poppers

Stuffed jalapeños wrapped in bacon and grilled up
Course Appetizer, Side Dish
Cuisine American
Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 20 minutes
Servings 16 poppers

Equipment

  • 16 toothpicks

Ingredients

  • 8 fresh jalapenos the bigger the better
  • 8 oz cream cheese
  • 8 oz pulled pork (optional)
  • 1 lb bacon

Instructions

Prep 'em

  • Put the block of cream cheese in the freezer to slightly harden during your prep. This will make slicing easier!
  • Thoroughly wash jalapeños, pat dry, and slice in half lengthwise. Remove the seeds with a small spoon.
  • Using a butter knife, divide the cream cheese into 16 slices. This will be messy and imprecise and that's okay.

Stuff 'em

  • Preheat the grill to ~400 degrees
  • Put a slice of cream cheese in each jalapeño.
  • If you opted to use pulled pork, stuff some in WITH the cream cheese or just stuff the jalapeño with the pork – your choice!
  • Wrap each stuffed jalapeño half with a full slice of bacon, starting from bottom to top. The bacon should overlap a little as it's wrapped. Use a toothpick to secure the bacon through the popper.

Grill 'em

  • These are sensitive babies, so the goal is to cook on indirect heat. Place them stuffed side up on a top grill rack, if you have one. If you don't have a top rack, either adjust the grill temp down. Alternatively, if your grill is big enough to accommodate, only light one side of the grill and place poppers on other half to cook.
  • You can shift these slightly on one side and the other while cooking, but do not flip — you'll lose all the stuffing!
  • Check every 5 minutes or so and use tongs to take them off the grill after about 20 minutes, or whenever you can't stand to not eat them any longer!

Final notes

Feel free to scale this recipe up or down depending on the number of people you’re feeding. Also, feel free to go a little more generous with the cream cheese than the recipe describes, as it’s entirely likely you’ll lose a little cream cheese (it’ll sort of squeeze out) during the grilling process.

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