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What are JalapeÑo Poppers?

Mary McMahon
Updated Jan 31, 2024
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Jalapeño poppers are a dish which is made by hollowing out jalapeño peppers, stuffing them with a spiced cheese mixture, battering them, and then frying them. Although many people classify jalapeño poppers as Mexican cuisine, because they feature hot peppers, they are probably an invention of the American Southwest, marrying the Latin love of heat with the American obsession with all things deep fried. You can find jalapeño poppers made by a variety of companies in the frozen food sections of many markets to make at home, and they are also available hot from some convenience stores and markets which offer hot deli foods. You can also, of course, make jalapeño poppers at home from scratch.

A number of dishes in the American Southwest are made with stuffed peppers, and all of these dishes are fairly easy to make. In the case of jalapeño poppers, the cook starts with the filling, which may be made with cream, cheddar, or jack cheese. The filling is usually spiced in some way, sometimes even with chunks of hot pepper. Next, the filling is scooped into jalapeños which have been hollowed out, and the peppers are dipped in batter or breaded before being dropped into the deep fryer.

To hollow out whole peppers for stuffing, cooks cut the top of the pepper off and carefully pull it away. If the cut is run around the outside of the pepper only, the seeds sometimes come out with it. Otherwise, a knife must be inserted into the pepper to scoop out the seeds. It is a good idea to wear gloves during this process, as the oils from the pepper can cause quite a sting, especially if the mucus membranes are unwittingly touched.

There are all sorts of variations on the basic jalapeño popper. For example, some cooks like to use a beer batter for extra tang, and bread crumbs are often added to the batter to make it more chunky. Cooks can also experiment with stuffing other peppers, or adding hotter peppers into the cheese mix to give the jalapeño poppers a bit of a bite. Health-conscious cooks may choose to bake, rather than fry, their jalapeño poppers.

The jalapeño pepper is not terribly hot, especially when the seeds and white membranes in the peppers are removed to make jalapeño poppers, but the pepper does carry a hint of a kick. When combined with the creamy cheese filling and greasy breaded outside, the heat of the pepper may be even further diminished. For this reason, some people like to eat their jalapeño poppers with hot sauce, to bring back some of the heat.

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Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a WiseGeek researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments

By anon81811 — On May 03, 2010

try this: get some jalapeno peppers, some cream-cheese and bacon. slice the peppers in half. clean out the seeds, then add the cream cheese. wrap the bacon around the peppers. Heat the oven to 350 degrees and cook until you can smell the bacon. leave the seeds for more heat.

By snappy — On Jan 10, 2010

I find the poppers filled with just cheddar cheese are the best and hottest. The cream cheese filling seems to calm the heat a bit.

If you find a good popper but it has too much kick, try dipping in Ranch Sauce! Adds another tang and helps to calm the heat a little bit.

Mary McMahon

Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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