Baked Stuffed Jalapeños

Are you a risk taker? I think one has to be a bit adventurous to eat jalapeños. You never know if biting into one is going to yield that wonderful flavor and kick that is the basis for so much of Southwestern food, or if that one little bite will pack such a fiery punch that you’ll be running around the room mouth agape and tears in your eyes, begging for something to cool it all down.

If you find that the pepper you’ve bit into is just too hot for your tongue, cool it off with sour cream, milk, or cream cheese. That’s the trick, and the reason why cheese is so often paired with hot chiles. There’s something in the milk protein that lessens the impact of the capsaicin (the molecules that give chilies their heat). Which is one very good reason why stuffed jalapeños are stuffed with cheese, among other things.

The other good reason why stuffed jalapeños are filled with cheese is they taste good that way! Hank and I decided to experiment with stuffed jalapeños this week. We stuffed them with cheddar, with jack, with pepper jack, with cream cheese, with bacon mixed with lots of other things, and we ended up with two favorites. One is stuffed with a cream cheese filling with onions, cilantro, cumin and a little bit of jack cheese. The other is similar but has more jack cheese, and bacon instead of the cream cheese. But you can really do whatever you want here. Mix it up. Try adding some shrimp, or barbecue sauce. Use queso fresco instead of the cream cheese. With the following recipes, I loved the way the cream cheese enveloped the jalapeños in my mouth. Hank likes the bacon and jack (well he would like the bacon version, no duh.)

Do you have a favorite stuffing for stuffed jalapeños? We would love to hear about it.

  • Prep: 15 minutes
  • Cook: 25 minutes
  • Yield: Makes 12-24 servings (depending on how you've cut the jalapeños).

When working with jalapeños, it helps to wear disposable gloves. If you don't have gloves, coat your hands with some oil before working with the peppers, then once you are done, wash your hands thoroughly with warm soapy water. Do not touch your eyes for several hours after handling the peppers.

Ingredients

Cream Cheese Filling Version

  • 12 jalapeño peppers*
  • 1/4 cup minced onion
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 3/4 cup cream cheese
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon salt (more or less to taste)
  • 2 ounces jack cheese, cut into 2 1/2-inch long batons

Bacon and Jack Cheese Filling Version

  • 12 jalapeño peppers*
  • 1/4 cup chopped cooked bacon
  • 1/4 cup minced onion
  • 1/2 cup shredded jack cheese, plus another 2 ounces of jack cheese cut into 2 1/2-inch long batons
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano

* When buying jalapeños for this recipe, if you want mild peppers, look for peppers with smooth skins. Striations tend to indicate that the pepper has been stressed while growing, and that can mean a hotter pepper.

Method

1 Preheat the oven to 375°.

2 You can either slice the jalapeños in half lengthwise or you can slice off the top one-third (lengthwise) of each jalapeño to make a boat shape out of each pepper. The halved jalapeños will go further (twice as many stuffed peppers), but you can put more filling into the boat-shaped peppers. Your choice. If you choose to make the boats, you can mince the tops and add them to the filling if you want some extra heat, or save them for another recipe. Scrape out all the seeds and ribs from each jalapeño with a spoon (a grapefruit spoon works great).

3 Mix together all the filling ingredients except the jack cheese batons.

4 Pack the filling into the peppers and nestle a baton of jack cheese onto the filling of each one. Arrange the peppers on a foil-lined baking sheet and bake for 20-30 minutes, or until the cheese is bubbly and lightly browned, and the peppers are cooked.

Allow to cool for 5 minutes before serving.

Main Ingredients

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