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If you’re the genius that came up with the combination of Jalapeños and cream cheese: thank you. This incredibly tasty combination can be found on the majority of menus at BBQ restaurants and bars around the country. The classic poppers to sandwiches, burgers, tacos… how can you create something new? This 2x Jalapeño Popper Burger doubles down with pickled jalapeños and chipotle candied bacon, giving you a moment’s pause before you sweat.
Jalapeño Popper Key Factors
Biting into a juicy, classic jalapeño popper brings tears to my eyes. Sure, that might be the spicy chile. There’s so many fond memories from early days of barbecue, beer, and friendships that come flooding back with each bite.
The bite is absolutely key, so let’s break it down:
- Jalapeño Poppers need cheese. Cream cheese specifically. Cheddar is an acceptable add-in, but you have to start with the base.
- Bacon is mandatory. This shouldn’t start any fights. A cream cheese-filled chile is not a popper. Chopped, topped, or wrapped, the bacon adds a smoky layer of flavor and texture.
- The texture is king. When you bite into the crispy bacon, the fibrous chile, and the creamy cheese, you’ve hit all layers of textures. That’s what makes this exciting – not soggy bacon on the outside.
- Seared, smoked, or grilled only. Fried poppers? It’s just not the same. Fire them up on a skillet, grill (even gas if you must) because these need that crisp char. This is Chiles and Smoke, not Chiles and Fried.
Take a look above, please. The best burgers have fewer toppings, complex and intentional with flavors. That’s how we’ll build this delicious, 2x Jalapeño Popper Burger today. There’s no need for lettuce, tomatoes, onion. We’re laser-focused on this flavor profile.
2x Jalapeños: Game Plan
Keeping it simple is important, but building those layers of heat is what makes this burger exciting. Skipping past fresh jalapeños today, we’re jumping to pickled jalapeños and smoky chipotle powder.
Did you know chipotles are smoked and dried jalapeño chiles?
Pick up a jar of your preferred pickled jalapeños, storebought or homemade. This recipe is easier if you use chiles that have been sliced into rings, rather than whole chiles.
Chipotle powder is the best when fresh. You can smoke and dry your own, purchase whole dried chiles, or use pre-made powder. This is one of the few spices that will noticeably lose its strength over time, so throw out that dollar-store jar of chipotle powder hiding in your drawer from 7 years ago and grab yourself a new one. Spiceology carries incredibly fresh, and spicy, ground chipotle powder.
Makin the Bacon
Crispy, spicy, smoky, and sweet bacon shines on the top of this burger. Cutting the bacon into small strips also allows you to cook it faster, more evenly, and maximizes the crunch on top of that creamy cheese mix.
- Take a few strips of bacon and cut into very thin strips, about 1/4″ width. You’ll end up with a small pile of bacon strips.
- Heat up a pan on med-low and add in the bacon immediately. It helps to render out the fat more if you start with a cooler pan, as it’s gently cooking. We’re not looking for a quick sear.
- Season with chipotle powder. Taste yours first, making sure you know how spicy it is before dumping it in. Stir the bacon around and continue to cook crispy.
- Right before it’s crispy enough, add in a little brown sugar and stir. We want it to caramelize just enough before it gets hardened. Only needs a minute.
Beef of Choice
Beef is the obvious choice for a burger here, so don’t skip! Normally I’d give a hard recommendation of 80/20 for the fat ratio, but with the addition of cream cheese and bacon you may go a little leaner as a personal preference, and you won’t miss out too much.
If you’re not using fresh ground beef, make sure it’s high-quality. These burgers were actually brisket burgers, hailing from Omaha Steaks. Plump, flash-frozen, and individually portioned, these tasty burgers crisp up perfectly. Brisket burgers smoke very well, making a fun twist if you’re up for a slightly longer cook.
Tips for success with the Jalapeño Popper Burger
Absolutely not. I found chopping it up created much more texture, and it cooks much faster too. The key is having bacon – so if you have it, you’ve won.
The ingredients are heavier, so I like to go with a lighter bread. Classic white bread, potato buns, brioche, or even onion buns work well here.
I would recommend roasting your jalapeños and dicing them up for a more intense flavor. Raw jalapeños will work too, but the flavor will be quite mild unless you happen to have a very spicy pepper.
Skillet or flat top. There’s a reason most restaurants use them: epic crust. Don’t be afraid to flame-grill, but the skillet is what I will use the most. It’s easier to baste as well if you have a very large burger.
This 2x Jalapeño Popper Burger doubles down with pickled jalapeños and chipotle candied bacon, giving you a moment’s pause before you sweat.
- Mix the cream cheese. Add in the diced jalapenos and garlic powder. Taste and adjust.
- Cook the bacon. Add the bacon into a non-stick pan on med-low and cook slowly (This renders the fat out slowly and will crisp up nicely, the non-stick prevents the sugar from burning too fast). Season with chipotle powder and continue to cook. Right before the bacon is completely crisp, sprinkle in the brown sugar and stir to quickly caramelize. Remove and drain on a paper towel.
- Heat up a cast iron skillet or griddle to med-high heat. Season the burger with salt and pepper, then place it face down into the skillet. Season the other side with salt and pepper. For medium-rare burgers, cook the patties for about 4 minutes on each side. For medium burgers, cook an additional minute on each side. Flip the burgers only once during cooking. Allow them to rest.
- Toast the buns in the skillet briefly (use some of the bacon greases if you’d like).
- Assemble the hamburger and enjoy!
Keywords: jalapeno, jalapeno popper, burger, brisket, ground beef, hamburger, spicy, chile