Reminiscent of boisterous happy hours, tailgating or rooting for your favorite team from your couch, jalapeño poppers are a bar food classic for a reason.
The cream cheese and aged sharpness of the cheddar cheese cool the tingly spice of the peppers, the bacon adds a smoky, salty edge, and the shrimp add a slightly sweet, briny elegance to the appetizer that’s baked then broiled until bubbly. These poppers lack the thick coat of breading and deep-fried treatment of frozen heat-and-eat boxed appetizers or chain restaurant offerings, but oily breadcrumbs would only disguise the stars of this pepper and stuffed shrimp recipe.
Keep a bag of frozen shrimp in your deep freeze, place about eight shrimp in a resealable bag, then thaw in a bowl of cold water for 40 minutes if you don’t have fresh raw shrimp on hand. The rest of the recipe prep takes five minutes and, aside from cooking the shrimp and bacon, your oven does the rest of the work. It’s just the thing for a Friday night when you’re too worn out from the work week to go out but want to bring a little bar food to your living room.
½ pound raw shrimp (approx 6–8 pieces of shrimp)
1 tbsp. Cultured Oil
½ tsp. onion powder
½ tsp. paprika
¼ tsp. chili powder
5 slices of bacon
6 medium jalapeños
4 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese, divided
Garnish: jalapeño slices, diced green onions, 1 piece of cooked, diced bacon
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 42 minutes
Heat a skillet to medium heat. Add Cultured Oil and the raw shrimp. Sprinkle seasoning mixture (onion powder, paprika, chili powder) over the shrimp. Cook for 2 minutes on each side. Be careful not to overcook.
Allow shrimp to cool, remove the tails, and dice into small pieces.
In the same skillet, prepare the bacon. Use kitchen scissors to cut the bacon in very small pieces (~¼ inch) and add to the pan on medium heat. Cover the skillet with a lid and allow the bacon to cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Once the bacon is crispy, remove from heat and drain on a plate covered with a paper towel to remove any excess grease.
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Slice the jalapeños in half vertically, scoop out the seeds with a spoon, and place in a baking dish.
In a mixing bowl, combine cooked bacon, cream cheese*, ½ cup cheddar cheese, and diced shrimp. Use a rubber spatula to fold together.
Use a spoon to scoop the shrimp mixture into the jalapeños. Press the filling down to fill the peppers completely.
Top the poppers with the remaining ½ cup cheese.
Bake for 20–25 minutes until the cheese is golden brown and jalapeños have slightly softened.
Broil at 500°F for 2–3 minutes for bubbly, caramelized cheese.
*Cook’s tip: Starting with room temperature cream cheese will make it easier to mix. If needed, use an electric hand mixer to break down the cream cheese block prior to mixing with the rest of the ingredients.
How to Switch Up Your Poppers
Make a dairy-free version: Use vegan cream cheese and no-dairy shredded cheese.
Use a different protein: Swap the shrimp for diced, cooked chicken thighs or breast, cooked and cubed ham, or cooked lump crab meat.
Use a different pepper: Try the recipe with poblano, banana, anaheim, or bell peppers.
Switch up the dairy: Cream cheese is classic, but you could try herbed cream cheese, goat cheese, sour cream, plain Greek yogurt, or mayo instead. Cheddar isn’t always better; try pepper jack, monterey jack, or gruyere.
Tips for Storage and Advanced Prep
Store extras in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to three days. Reheat in a toaster oven, Airfryer, or under the broiler to keep the cheesy bubbly and avoid the peppers from getting soggy.
You can make these jalapeño poppers a day in advance. Prep them until they’re ready for the oven, cover, and store in the fridge overnight. When you’re ready to nosh, transfer to your baking pan and bake as directed.
While these handheld snack-a tizers explode like a firecracker of flavor when they hit your taste buds, you can cool things down or amp up the spice factor with dipping sauces.
Coat your poppers in cool creaminess with ranch or bleu cheese dressing, sour cream, guacamole, or french onion dip.
Add more spicy kick with buffalo sauce, cholula or sriracha, chili onion crunch (from Trader Joe’s), or a sprinkle of red pepper flakes.
Walk the line between cool and kicky by serving these poppers with salsa. Pick your poison — from mild salsa verde to punchy mango habanero.
Fat: 9 grams
Carbs: 2 grams
Protein: 6 grams
Nutrition info collected from Cronometer.
This delicious recipe was developed and photographed by Courtney Paige.
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