Cheesey, bacon-ey and perfectly spiced! These Bacon Wrapped Smoked Jalapeno Poppers are the perfect side dish for your next BBQ. Subtly spicy and full of flavor, this is a great appetizer or summer side dish recipe.
👍 Recipe Features
- Easy to make ahead! I love to stuff these poppers the night before and leave them in the fridge until it's time to throw them on the smoker. That makes this a super easy finger food to have out when having people over.
- Subtly spicy - Before stuffing the peppers, we'll remove all the seeds and white membrane from the pepper with a spoon (super easy to do). This gets rid of most of the heat, and the smoke takes away a bit more. There will be some left, but just enough to balance well against the cheesy stuffing and fattiness of the bacon.
- Crispy finish - To finish, I toss my poppers in the air fryer for a few minutes to crisp up that bacon. There's also an option to pop them in the oven, too.
(Scroll down to the recipe card for ingredient amounts and measurements)
- Fresh jalapeno peppers. If you're really spice adverse, you can get some sweet peppers from the store and follow the rest of the recipe the same way. But to me, these peppers don't come out too spicy once we remove the hot stuff and smoke them down.
- Cream Cheese - Let it sit on the counter for 60 minutes to soften.
- Cheddar cheese - I like sharp cheddar cheese as it cuts against the rest of the flavors better, but you can go mild as well here.
- Ground Cumin, Oregano and Paprika. The fresher the paprika the better, as it loses flavor fast.
- Fresh garlic cloves and white onion - We'll run these over a microplane grater to get maximize their ability to mix into the cheese mix.
- Bacon - I go for a normal cut, smoke free (since we'll be adding the smoke ourselves). We'll cut the strips in half, so you only need 1 strip for every 2 poppers you're making.
Step 1: Preheat your outdoor smoker to 275°. Meanwhile, in a mixing bowl , add softened cream cheese, shredded cheddar cheese, cumin, dried oregano and paprika. Using a microplane grater , grate in the garlic cloves and white onion. Mix together well and set aside.
Quick tip: If you don't have a microplane grater, switch from fresh garlic to a tablespoon of garlic powder. Meanwhile, dice your onion very fine before adding it to everything else.
Step 2: Slice the jalapeno pepper from the stem down toward the bottom. Using a spoon, scoop out all the seeds and white membrane and discard. This is where the spice lives, so don't skip this step! Meanwhile, slice the strips of bacon in half widthwise and set aside.
Quick tip: Make sure to take the time to remove all seeds and white membrane from the inside of the fresh jalapeno. This is where all the spice lives. By removing it, you really mild out the jalapeno. Be detail oriented here and get rid of it all. I wear food service gloves while handling the jalapeno, making sure not to touch my nose or face.
Step 3: Spoon the cream cheese mixture into the open side of each jalapeno pepper half. You want just enough that it forms a slight mound above the top of the pepper.
When done, wrap each pepper with one of the half slices of bacon, wrapping it around starting at the top of the pepper and working your way toward the bottom. Continue until all peppers are stuffed and wrapped.
Step 4: Place pepper in an aluminum foil tray with the open side of the peppers facing up. Place on on your smoker and continue cooking at 275° for 45 minutes.
Quick Tip: I definitely recommend cooking the jalapenos in a aluminum pan on your grill. This will help guard your poppers from getting direct heat and cooking too fast, soaking up more smoke. Secondly, it will help keep the bottom of your grill clean from any bacon grease or spillage.
Step 5: When the peppers are almost done, preheat your air fryer (or oven) to 400°. When warm, remove the peppers from the grill and transfer to the air fryer basket (or oven), with the open side of the pepper still facing up. Cook until crisp. In the air fryer, this will take about 5 minutes. In the oven it takes about 10 minutes.
Remove peppers and let cool at least 10 minutes before your bacon wrapped smoked jalapeno poppers are ready to enjoy!
💭 Top Tip
If you're making these for a get together, go ahead and prep them the night before. Prepare your cheese mix, stuff and wrap the peppers and place them side by side on a large baking sheet . Cover them tightly with plastic wrap and store in the fridge overnight.
The following day, continue by smoking and finishing the poppers as instructed. Making these ahead can save a ton of time and stress when hosting.
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🔥 Oven Option
Prep the poppers using steps 1-3 of the recipe above. Preheat your oven to 425° and cook the poppers on greased baking sheet for 22-25 minutes, until the peppers are tender and the bacon is crispy. This option is still very good, it just lacks the smoke flavor that it picks up on the grill.
The primary job of the smoker is to inject smoke flavor into the popper and slowly tenderize the pepper. That process takes a little bit of time to perfect, so we go low and slow here. 45 minutes at 275° is the sweet spot here. Then, finish it in the oven or air fryer at 400° to get everything crispy. Delicious!
🌳 Wood Choice
At 45 minutes, you're not going to get a whole lot of flavor from the wood itself. I usually throw these on after smoking a brisket, which means I'm typically using post oak. If I'm just making these on their own, I'd select a fruit wood, like apple or cherry wood.
👪 Serving size
This recipe is for 28 poppers, which is 14 servings of 2 poppers a piece. To make more for a larger crowd, simply scale scale the recipe up using the the recipe card below
Leftover poppers can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. The best way to reheat them is in the air fryer or oven at 350°. If using the air fryer, they'll go about 4 minutes to get everything crisp again. They'll need about 10 minutes in the oven to bring them back to life.
If you're in a rush, you can always just pop them in the microwave for about a minute for a quick snack. You'll just notice that the bacon won't be quite as crisp afterward.
The seasoned filling for this recipe was inspired by Laura Vitale's Oven Baked Jalapeno Poppers. I married that with the smoking technique you can find at many BBQ restaurants, such as 4 Rivers Smokehouse. The Nerd Chef spin to everything is the pop in the air fryer at the end to really crisp up the bacon. The result of everything are these bacon wrapped smoked jalapeno poppers.
🥙 Related Recipes
- Smoked Beef Brisket
- BBQ Ribs
- Grilled Buffalo Chicken Wontons
- Soft Pretzel Bites
- Air Fryer Chicken Wings
- BLT Pasta Salad
- Pigs in a Blanket
Bacon wrapped jalapenos stuffed with a seasoned cream cheese filling and smoked for deep flavors. Delicious!
- 14 jalapeno peppers
- 7 strips bacon, sliced in half
- 8 oz cream cheese, softened
- 4 oz shredded cheddar cheese
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1 tsp paprika
- 2 cloves fresh garlic
- ½ medium white onion
- Preheat smoker to 275°. In a mixing combine cream cheese, shredded cheddar cheese, ground cumin, dried oregano and paprika. Using a microplane grater , grate in fresh garlic and white onion. Stir everything together well and set aside.
- Slice jalapeno peppers in half from top to bottom, slicing from the stem toward the bottom. Using a spoon, scoop out all the seeds and white membrane and discard.
- Spoon cream cheese mixture into the open side of each halved jalapeno pepper. It should form a small mount above the pepper opening. Wrap each pepper with a half slice of bacon, wrapping it around the pepper. Continue until all peppers are stuffed and wrapped.
- Place poppers in an aluminum foil tray with the open side of the peppers facing up. Place on your preheated smoker and continue cooking at 275° for 45 minutes.
- When poppers are almost done, preheat your air fryer (or oven) to 400°. When warm, remove poppers from grill and transfer to air fryer basket (or place in oven), with the open side of the pepper still facing up. Cook until crisp. Remove poppers and let cool 10 minutes before serving.
- If you don’t have a microplane grater , switch from fresh garlic to a tablespoon of garlic powder. Meanwhile, dice your onion very fine before adding it to everything else.
- Make sure to take the time to remove all seeds and white membrane from the inside of the fresh jalapeno. This is where all the spice lives. By removing it, you really mild out the jalapeno. Be detail oriented here and get rid of it all. I wear food service gloves while handling the jalapeno, making sure not to touch my nose or face.
- I definitely recommend cooking the jalapenos in a aluminum pan on your grill. This will help guard your poppers from getting direct heat and cooking too fast, soaking up more smoke. Secondly, it will help keep the bottom of your grill clean from any bacon grease or spillage.
- Category: Side Dish
- Method: Grilled
- Cuisine: BBQ
Keywords: BBQ Side Dishes, Party Food, Cookout Recipe