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Classic Smoked Jalapeno Poppers

Featuring smoked jalapeno poppers

Celebrate the BBQ classic Smoked Jalapeno Poppers that instantly hits every craving with smoky, spicy, tangy, and salty flavors using four simple ingredients. Combining an easy process ideal for any level of griller along with the ability to customize, there’s a reason these smoked stuffed jalapenos are so beloved.

Fire up some crispy, savory smoked jalapeno poppers and be the bbq hero.

No backyard barbecue or spirited tailgate is complete without the iconic addition of a jalapeno stuffed with luscious, zesty cream cheese wrapped in savory bacon. Smoked jalapeno poppers instantly start the party and never last long.

HINT: Make a double-batch!

These are great to toss on the smoker with your smoked pork steaks or brisket burnt ends. So crack open a beer, grab the bacon, and let’s dive into how to make them.

How many of these jalapeno poppers can you eat?

Why This Recipe Works

  • Make Ahead – Not only can you assemble these in advance but they’re actually better that way. Feel free to fill and wrap your jalapenos and refrigerate them until you’re ready to smoke them. This will allow the bacon to soften, relax, and adapt to the new twisted shape.
  • QUICK and EASY – Slice, stuff, wrap, and smoke. It’s really that easy. There’s nothing complicated about any aspect of making these smoked bacon-wrapped jalapeno poppers. It’s all about knowing the little tips and tricks. 
  • Balance of Flavors and Textures – These smoked stuffed jalapenos are an explosion of textures and flavors. Creamy filling, crispy bacon, and tender jalapenos bring bold flavor to every bite. Using a sweeter BBQ rub not only adds depth but balances out all of the salty, savory components. 
These smoked bacon wrapped jalapeno poppers are so simple to make and can be prepped ahead.

Smoked Jalapeno Popper Ingredients

  • Jalapeños: Choose large jalapenos, about 3-4 inches in length. Try to find ones that are straight, which makes them easier to slice, fill, and wrap with bacon.
  • Cream cheese: This makes the filling super creamy, and is the base ingredient inside. Make sure you’re using room-temperature cream cheese when mixing and filling the jalapenos.
  • Cheese:  Sharp cheeses such as cheddar work well to cut through the rich flavor of cream cheese. Make sure to use freshly grated cheeses as pre-shredded cheeses use anti-clumping chemicals which can prevent them from melting as well.
  • Seasonings:  This is optional, but helps to add a layer of flavor to the filling. We highly recommend the Signature Sweet and Smoky Rub for a balanced kick.
  • Bacon: Look for thin-cut bacon, not the thicker slices. Regular bacon will wrap completely around the jalapeno without tearing and also crisps up better in the smoker. Skip the center cut bacon, which is typically trimmed on the edges and makes the strips shorter.

How to Prepare Smoked Jalapeno Poppers

  1. Prep your jalapenos. I highly recommend wearing a pair of gloves if you’re going to be prepping a large batch of poppers, as the oils can irritate your skin. It’s also the WORST if you accidentally rub your eyes, so please use caution!

    Slice the jalapenos in half lengthwise. Use a metal spoon or teaspoon to remove the seeds and membranes. This is where most of the heat from the jalapeno comes from, and we need to remove as much as possible for maximum cheesy filling.
  2. Mix together the cheesy filling. Add the softened cream cheese and seasoning to a bowl along with any additional cheese and seasoning. Mix until smooth and combined.
Fill the jalapenos with the cream cheese mixture before wrapping in bacon.
  1. Fill the jalapenos. Make sure that the filling doesn’t go above the cut edges. Keep in mind as the jalapenos smoke the cheese mixture will become molten. You don’t want it spilling out.

    Using a spoon, add a dollop the the cavity and then spread it into all of the nooks to make sure it’s completely filled. You can also use a piping bag or zip-top bag with the corner snipped to make this extra easy and fast, which is highly recommended if you’re going to be preparing a large batch.
Wrap the bacon around the cheese-filled jalapenos and pop in the fridge so they firm up.
  1. Securely wrap the jalapeno halves in bacon. Use the entire piece of bacon to completely wrap the stuffed jalapeno popper. Try not to leave any gaps where the cheese could spill out. If possible try and make sure both ends of the bacon wind up on the bottom of the jalapeno to firmly hold them in place. You will have this maneuver down after wrapping a few.

    You do NOT need toothpicks if you follow step 5!

PRO TIP: Feel free to add seasoning to the bacon during this step. This is optional but will add another layer of flavor. Keep in mind that the bacon is salty, and the cheese is salty, so don’t go overboard.

  1. Let the jalapeno poppers chill. This step is also optional (but highly recommended) and will help allow the bacon to relax and conform to its new shape.

    Place the jalapeno poppers on a baking tray and allow them to refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. This will help prevent the bacon from tearing and unwinding as the jalapenos smoke.
Smoke the bacon wrapped jalapeno poppers at 250°F
  1. Smoke the bacon-wrapped jalapeno poppers at 250°F. Use wood or pellets that complement the bacon. Apple, pecan, hickory, and oak are all milder flavors that don’t compete with the smoky savory flavors of bacon.

    Allow the stuffed jalapenos to smoke for 1 ½ hours. Place them on the smoker cut side up and close them up.

Stick with 250°F for smoking. This lower temperature will provide plenty of smoke flavor without causing the bacon to constrict and squeeze out all of the cheese filling. Many recipes out there will tell you to prepare jalapeno poppers at higher temperatures, but that’s really only needed to crisp up the bacon at the very end.

  1. Crisp up the bacon at 350°F. Let them cook at a higher temperature for 15 minutes or until the bacon has crisped to your liking. This is also the point where you’ll want to glaze them with barbecue sauce if using.
  2. Let them cool! Trust me, these smoked jalapeno poppers are tempting but filled with MOLTEN cheese. Give them at least 5 minutes or risk burning the tongue.
Finish the smoked jalapeno poppers at a high heat to crisp up the bacon.

Variations for Fillings

  • Add your favorite shredded cheese to the cream cheese mixture. You want about a 50/50 mix, or four ounces of cream cheese combined with four ounces of freshly grated cheese. Sharp cheddar is a classic choice. Other cheese choices that would work well would be smoked gouda or cheddar, pepper jack cheese, Monterey jack cheese, nutty Swiss or Gruyere, or even tangy goat cheese. You want to stick with cheeses that melt well while bringing flavor. Avoid hard cheeses or extremely mild cheeses that don’t really add anything.
  • Bring the classic flavors of pimento cheese to these smoked jalapeno poppers. Combine four ounces of room-temperature cream cheese with four ounces of sharp shredded cheddar and fold in well-drained pimentos. Or, make a batch of Jalapeno Pimento Cheese and pipe that in!
  • Bacon makes everything better so why not double the porky goodness? Mix in smoked bacon crumbles to the cream cheese mixture.
  • Love the flavors of buffalo? Stir in a splash of buffalo sauce and crumbled blue cheese to the cream cheese base.
  • Give even more of a kick of heat with the addition of Nashville Hot seasoning in the cream cheese and on the bacon. 
  • Brush on an additional layer of sweetness and flavor with Sweet Honey Bourbon BBQ Sauce or Smoky Sweet Heat Sauce.
  • Balance the rich flavors with a little freshness and stir in a soft herb such as cilantro or chives. Chopped scallions would also be delicious.
  • Fold in leftover smoked pulled pork. Similar to shredded cheese, keep it about 50/40 pork to cream cheese.
The bacon will smoke without shrinking if you cook the stuffed jalapenos at 250°F.

How to Prep Smoked Jalapeno Poppers Ahead of Time

It’s smart to prepare jalapeno poppers ahead of time, especially if you’re planning a party. Scooping out seeds and wrapping jalapenos takes a bit of labor time, and I’m sure you’d rather be chatting with friends!

To prepare the cream cheese filling in advance:

  • Mix the cream cheese, additional cheese, and seasonings together. Place in an airtight container and store in the refrigerator for 3 to 5 days.

To assemble the stuffed jalapenos in advance:

  • Slice and core the jalapenos.
  • Fill each of the jalapeno halves with the cream cheese mixture.
  • Wrap each half with a piece of bacon tightly, making sure the cheese is covered if possible.
  • Place the jalapenos in an airtight container or a baking sheet with plastic wrap in the fridge. Make sure they are cheese-side up. These can be prepared the day before.

To freeze stuffed jalapenos in advance:

  • After filling your jalapenos with the cheese filling, place them on a baking sheet lined with a silicone mat and let them flash freeze until solid.
  • Once frozen, place the cheese-stuffed jalapenos into freezer-safe bags. You’ll want to use them within two weeks as the cream cheese will start to become gritty past that point.
  • Allow them to gently defrost overnight on a baking sheet in the refrigerator. Once the poppers have defrosted, proceed with wrapping them in bacon and follow the rest of the recipe. 
These smoked bacon wrapped jalapeno poppers are irresistible at a party.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does it take to smoke jalapeno poppers in the smoker?

It depends on the quantity of poppers, the temperature smoked at, and also whether you’re smoking halved or whole jalapenos, but typically it’s around 90 minutes for the bacon to be crisp enough and the jalapenos to be tender.

Does smoking jalapenos make them hotter?

Yes. Cooking jalapenos releases more capsaicin as they begin to break down. However, because these are smoked at a lower temperature they won’t release as much heat as if they were grilled over direct heat. Removing the seeds and membranes also helps control the heat.

What wood is best for smoking jalapenos?

Think of woods that naturally compliment bacon like apple and hickory. Maple, pecan, and oak are also milder flavors that won’t overpower. Pecan also pairs well with the jalapenos and is traditionally used to create chipotles from jalapenos.

How do I prevent the bacon from unraveling on bacon-wrapped jalapeno poppers?

Place the wrapped jalapenos on a baking sheet and allow them to refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. This will stretch out the bacon and let it relax into the new shape. Some people like to use toothpicks to secure the bacon but you not only risk tearing the bacon this way but also letting the filling spill out.

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Featuring smoked jalapeno poppers

Smoked Jalapeno Poppers

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Fire up Smoked Jalapeno Poppers that instantly hits every craving with smoky, spicy, tangy, and salty flavors using four simple ingredients. Combining an easy process ideal for any level of griller along with the ability to customize, there’s a reason these smoked stuffed jalapenos are so beloved.

  • Total Time: 2 hours
  • Yield: About 5-6 1x

Ingredients

Scale
  • 8 large jalapeno peppers
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, room temp (See Notes)
  • 2 teaspoons Signature Sweet & Smoky Rub
  • 16 slices thin-cut bacon

Instructions

Notes

  • Mix up the cheeses. Substitute up to 4 ounces of your favorite cheeses such as sharp cheddar to the cream cheese.

Prepping the Day Before

  • Slice and core the jalapenos.
  • Fill each of the jalapeno halves with the cream cheese mixture.
  • Wrap each half with a piece of bacon tightly, making sure the cheese is covered if possible.
  • Place the jalapenos in an airtight container or a baking sheet with plastic wrap in the fridge. Make sure they are cheese-side up. These can be prepared the day before.
  • Author: Brad Prose
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 90 minutes
  • Category: Side Dish
  • Method: Smoking
  • Cuisine: Side Dish, Appetizer
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