As we all know, bacon makes everything better.
These spicy grilled jalapeño poppers are stuffed with an addictive mix of barbecue sauce, cheddar and cream cheese, and glazed bacon before being grilled until hot and bubbly.
Video: How to Make BBQ Bacon Jalapeño Poppers
BBQ Bacon Jalapeno Poppers
The Best Jalapenos for This Recipe
When you buy your jalapeno peppers, pick through the bunch and find medium- to large-sized ones that feel firm and have no signs of wrinkling. Also, here are some good tips on gauging the hotness of your peppers!
Depending on the size of your peppers and how much you stuff them, you may have some leftover filling. This makes a great spread for crackers or made into sandwiches!
Making Bacon-Stuffed Poppers
I opted for bacon-stuffed poppers rather than bacon-wrapped poppers for a few reason. For one thing, cooking the bacon on its own gives you the opportunity to glaze the stripes with BBQ sauce, and this infuses the bacon with extra-awesome barbecue flavor.
Stuffing the poppers with bacon also neatly avoids issues of flare-ups during grilling. Hot bacon grease dripping down onto the flames is no fun.
Tips for Grilling Stuffed Jalapeno Poppers
The only challenging part to this recipe — apart from not scarfing the entire batch before your guests arrive — is making sure the poppers don’t fall through the grill grates. Be sure to lay them across the grates rather than parallel to avoid this unwanted fate.
Another word to the wise: take care not to overcook them. You want the filling to get hot and melty, but don't cook so long that the peppers become soft and lose their texture. Cook just until the tops feel piping hot to the touch and the bottoms show grill marks.
...Or Bake Them!
If it's not grilling season or you don't have a grill, you can also bake these poppers in the oven. Just arrange the poppers on a foil-lined baking sheet and roast at 425°F until the cheese filling is hot and bubbly and the jalapeños are tender, 10 to 15 minutes.
Serve With Sour Cream
Feel free to serve your jalapeño poppers with a dip bowl of sour cream on the side – the coolness of the cream will help balance the heat of the jalapeños. An ice-cold beer is also highly recommended.
These jalapeño poppers are the perfect one—bite snack for your next party. You might even want to think about doubling or tripling this recipe—it's very hard to stop at just one!
Variations and Substitutions
Substitute the cheddar cheese (but not the cream cheese) with one of these varieties:
- Monterey Jack
Other ways to switch up these poppers:
- Use mini bell peppers in place of the jalepeños for less heat.
- Substitute turkey bacon for regular bacon.
- Use plain yogurt instead of sour cream for dipping.
- Substitute Buffalo sauce for the BBQ sauce and blue cheese for the cheddar cheese for Buffalo-style poppers.
Make Ahead Tips
- Make the filling a day ahead and refrigerate. Bring to room temperature before stuffing the peppers.
- Cut and scoop out the peppers a day ahead of time. Cover tightly and refrigerate.
- Completely assemble all the poppers a day ahead of time, cover tightly, and refrigerate. Bring to room temperature before grilling.
- To freeze, assemble the poppers. Place them uncovered in a single layer on a baking sheet and place the baking sheet flat in the freezer. When frozen through, wrap the peppers tightly in plastic wrap and place them in a freezer safe zip top bag or container. Freeze up to three months. Defrost in the refrigerator.
More Party-Ready Snacks and Appetizers!
- Loaded Sheet Pan Nachos
- Pressure Cooker Teriyaki Chicken Wings
- 7-Layer Bean Dip
- Baked Chicken Taquitos
- Buffalo Chicken Dip
BBQ Bacon Jalapeño Poppers
Be sure to let your cream cheese soften at room temperature for a half hour or so before you plan to assemble your poppers. This helps make it easier to mix with the other ingredients.
Depending on the size of your peppers and how much you stuff them, you may have some leftover filling. This makes a great spread for crackers or filling for sandwiches!
Oven Directions: Arrange the poppers on a baking sheet and roast at 425°F until the cheese filling is hot and bubbly and the jalapeños are tender, 10 to 15 minutes.
- For the bacon:
- 12 ounces (8 to 12 slices) thick-cut smoked bacon
- 1 1/2 tablespoons barbecue sauce
- For the filling:
- 8 ounces plain cream cheese, softened to room temperature
- 1 cup (about 3 ounces) coarsely shredded sharp cheddar cheese
- 1 1/2 tablespoons minced fresh chives
- 1 large clove garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons barbecue sauce
- 12 medium jalapeños
- Extra minced fresh chives to garnish
- 1 cup sour cream, to serve, optional
Prepare the oven and baking sheet:
Preheat oven to 375°F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Lay a few layers of paper towels on top of a cooling rack and place them near the oven.
Glaze and bake the bacon until crispy:
Arrange the bacon in a single layer on the baking sheet. Brush with 1 1/2 tablespoons of barbecue sauce.
Transfer to the oven and bake until crisp and caramelized, 15 to 20 minutes. (Begin checking around 15 minutes; the bacon could take up to 20 minutes to fully crisp depending on the brand and thickness).
Remove the bacon from the oven and drain for a few minutes on paper towels, then transfer to a plate to finish cooling. The pieces will stick to the paper towels if left for too long.
While the bacon cooks, prepare the filling:
Combine cream cheese, cheddar cheese, chives, garlic and barbecue sauce in a small mixing bowl.
Prepare the jalapeño peppers:
Wear gloves for this step if you are sensitive to pepper heat. Cut the jalapeños in half, lengthwise. Use a spoon to scoop out the seeds. You can leave the stems on (they make nice handles for eating!) or trim them off.
Arrange all the jalapeños cut-side up on a platter or baking sheet.
Stuff the peppers:
Chop or crumble the bacon into small bits, then fold into the cream cheese mixture. Using a spoon, fill each of the jalapeño halves with a big dollop of the cream cheese mixture, mounding slightly.
At this point, the poppers can be covered and refrigerated until ready to grill, up to 24 hours.
Prepare your grill:
For gas grills, heat the grill with the burners set to high and preheat for 10 minutes. When ready to grill, reduce the burners to medium.
For charcoal grills, fill a grill chimney with charcoal and light it. When the coals are hot (they should be covered with a layer of fine gray ash) empty the coals into the grill and push them to one side of the grill to make higher heat and lower heat cooking zones. Set the grate in place and cover the grill. Preheat the grate for 5 minutes.
Grill the poppers:
Brush grill grates with oil to prevent sticking. If you're using a charcoal grill, cook over the low-heat cooking zone.
Using tongs, place the poppers on the grill so they lay across the grates and don't fall through. If any of the poppers is leaning to the side, prop it up against a neighbor so the cheese filling doesn't start to melt out as the poppers cook.
Grill until the poppers are seared on the bottoms and the cheese filling is hot and bubbling around the edges, about 10 minutes. Be careful of overcooking or the peppers will become too soft.
Serve the poppers right away:
Using tongs and a spatula in tandem to scoop up the poppers, remove from the grill and transfer to a platter. Serve immediately alongside sour cream, if desired. Discard the stems as you eat.