These vegetarian crispy jalapeño poppers are mouth-watering, cheesy and bursting with flavour! Learn how to make these tasty jalapeño poppers in the air fryer or oven!
Jalapeño poppers - baked or air fried
These jalapeño poppers are everything you want in an appetizer – cheesy, crispy, flavourful, delicious and the most fun finger foods you will find!
I am a HUGE fan of jalapeño poppers! I have probably indulged in my fair share of jalapeño poppers over the course of my life already...
The combination of cheesiness, spice and crispiness makes for the ultimate appetizer. Can you tell how much I love jalapeño poppers? My mouth is watering as I imagine these jalapeño poppers …
Jalapeño poppers are the appetizer I look for on a menu! I have enjoyed my fair share of jalapeño poppers from the supermarkets (the frozen kind which you deep fry). Looking at the back of those packets I noticed how many preservatives were in these treats! Plus deep frying them in oil! I couldn’t indulge in these regularly knowing how unhealthy these snacks are!
So it has been my mission to make these wonderful appetizers in a healthier way – without compromising on the delicious taste…
What if I told you there was a way to enjoy jalapeño poppers – homemade easy jalapeño poppers – which are not deep-fried? This turns the indulgent jalapeño popper into a healthier version.
In this recipe, these jalapeño poppers can be air-fried or baked in the oven! I recommend (and absolutely love) serving these jalapeño poppers with Tabasco green jalapeño sauce!
Ingredients you'll need to make jalapeño poppers
- Jalapeño chilli peppers: you can use either red or green chilli peppers (or a mixture). Slice and deseed before filling with cheese mixture. Select fresh chilli peppers which are larger (to hold enough filling) and firm to touch.
- Cream cheese (or soft cheese): I recommend the Philadelphia cream cheese brand
- Cheddar cheese: I recommend using mild or slightly mature cheddar cheese (based on preference). Use a grater to grate/shred cheese before mixing with the cream cheese.
- Milk: for this recipe you can use either dairy (whole fat or 2%/semi-skimmed milk) or non-dairy milk, based on dietary preferences.
- All-purpose flour (plain flour): this is used with the milk as a ‘binder’ before coating the jalapeño poppers with breadcrumbs.
- Breadcrumbs: you can use either golden or white breadcrumbs. Golden breadcrumbs have added colour (paprika extract) which will give your jalapeño poppers a golden colour once cooked compared with the white breadcrumbs.
- Olive oil: I recommend using an extra virgin olive oil spray to gently spray a few squirts of oil before air frying or baking the jalapeño poppers. This helps them become golden and crispier whilst cooking.
How to Make Jalapeño poppers (air fryer or oven method)
- Prepare the jalapeños. Wear gloves whilst handling the jalapeños. Using a knife, cut the stalk end on each of the jalapeño chilli peppers and slice each chilli pepper in half, lengthwise. Use a spoon to remove the seeds, ribs and membranes from each chilli pepper.
- Make the cheese mixture. In a bowl, combine the cream cheese and grated/shredded cheddar cheese. Using a spoon (or two) thoroughly mix both ingredients until combined into one mixture
- Stuff the chilli peppers with the cheese mixture. Using a spoon, stuff the cheese mixture evenly into all of the hollowed chilli peppers, gently pressing the mixture into each chilli pepper to fill any gaps.
- Coat the chilli peppers in milk and flour. For this step you will need:
- Milk in a bowl
- Flour in a bowl
This step involves dipping the filled chilli peppers in milk then coating them with flour.
- Take one jalapeño pepper, dip it in the bowl of milk, lift it gently and allow any excess milk to drip off.
- Place this jalapeño into the bowl of flour and roll to coat the popper in flour.
- Set aside onto a plate and repeat for the remaining poppers.
- Coat the chilli peppers in milk and breadcrumbs. For this step you will need:
- Milk in a bowl
- Breadcrumbs in a bowl (¾ breadcrumbs in bowl)
- Breadcrumbs on a plate (for coating chilli peppers) (¼ breadcrumbs on plate) (after you have used up the breadcrumbs on the plate, continue to pour ¼ of breadcrumbs from the bowl onto the plate, to ensure the breadcrumbs remain dry).
The step involves coating the flour-milk coated poppers in breadcrumbs.
- Take the first flour-milk coated popper and dip it in the bowl of milk, lifting it gently to allow any excess milk to drip off.
- Place this popper onto the plate of breadcrumbs and roll to coat in breadcrumbs.
- Set aside onto a plate and repeat for the remaining poppers.
- Continue to pour breadcrumbs from the bowl onto the plate in stages to ensure the breadcrumbs remain dry.
- Air fry or bake until golden. Preheat air-fryer to 190°C/374°F (or oven to 200°C/392°F), line the tray and place the jalapeño poppers on the tray (allowing some space between each one).
- Air-fry for 10-12 minutes, or until the poppers are golden and the cheese has melted. Turn halfway to evenly cook the poppers. You may need to air fry in batches depending on the size of your tray/air fryer.
- Bake in oven: if you are using the oven method, bake for 20 minutes, or until the poppers are golden.
- You will need an air fryer or oven to cook these jalapeño poppers.
- Air fry: if you are air frying these jalapeño poppers, I recommend the Ninja Foodi wide air fryer. This air fryer has variable fan speed and comes with a crisper basket and an air fry setting which is temperature controlled.
- Gloves: I recommend wearing clean, disposable gloves when cutting, slicing and deseeding the jalapeño chilli peppers as these chillies can be strong and cause irritation to the surface of the skin.
Tips to make the perfect jalapeño poppers
- Air fry the jalapeño poppers – for the best, crispiest jalapeño poppers, I recommend air-frying the jalapeño poppers using the “air-fry” setting. Ensure the air-fryer is preheated before air-frying the jalapeño poppers. Spray each of the poppers with a small amount of oil for best results.
- Use parchment paper/baking paper before cooking – whether air-frying or baking these jalapeño poppers, line the tray with parchment/baking paper, this helps the jalapeño poppers cook evenly and minimises any mess
- Use two spoons to mix the cheese mixture – using two spoons helps to thoroughly mix and incorporate the cheddar cheese into the cream cheese – we want the cheese filling to be mixed and evenly combined
- Wear gloves when handling the chilli peppers – the chilli peppers can cause irritation and burning to the skin, I recommend wearing clean, disposable gloves when handling chillies. Avoid touching your face or eyes when handling chillies. Also wash your hands after handling the chilli peppers (even if you are wearing gloves).
- Place breadcrumbs in a bowl and coat the popper on a plate in stages – this technique is one I learnt through trying and testing different methods. When rolling the poppers in breadcrumbs, you may notice that the liquid of the milk can stick onto the breadcrumbs. This causes sogginess resulting in needing a lot more breadcrumbs to coat the poppers. I highly recommend keeping your breadcrumbs in one bowl and only adding ¼ breadcrumbs onto the plate at a time whilst coating the poppers. This helps make sure each popper is coated in breadcrumbs and also prevents wastage.
- Serve with your favourite dipping sauce - I recommend serving these jalapeño poppers with Tabasco green jalapeño sauce – I absolutely love the tanginess and flavour of this sauce and it perfectly complements these poppers!
How to store
- Fridge: If you wish to make the jalapeño poppers in advance, you can store cooked jalapeño poppers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 days. Allow to cool to room temperature before transferring into the fridge.
- Reheat: To reheat the jalapeño poppers, transfer the poppers onto a preheated lined tray and reheat in the air-fryer or oven for 5-10 minutes, or until warm/hot to touch.
Looking for other recipes like this? Try these:
These are my favorite dishes to serve with [this recipe]:
Easy vegetarian jalapeño poppers (air fryer and oven method)
- 10-12 jalapeños red or green (or a mixture)
- 8 oz cream cheese (soft cheese) or 226g
- 1 cup cheddar cheese (grated/shredded) or 85g
- 140 g all-purpose flour (plain flour)
- 140 g golden or white breadcrumbs
- 1 cup milk (whole, skimmed or semi-skimmed/2%)
Prepare the jalapeños
- Wear gloves whilst handling the jalapeños. Using a knife, cut the stalk end on each of the jalapeño chilli peppers and slice each chilli pepper in half, lengthwise. Use a spoon to remove the seeds, ribs and membranes from each chilli pepper.
Make the cheese mixture and fill the jalapeños
- In a bowl, combine the cream cheese and grated/shredded cheddar cheese. Using a spoon (or two) thoroughly mix both ingredients until combined into one mixture
- Using a spoon, stuff the cheese mixture evenly into all of the hollowed chilli peppers, gently pressing the mixture into each chilli pepper to fill any gaps.
Coat the jalapeños
- Coat the chilli peppers in milk and flour - dip each jalapeño pepper into the milk (allow excess milk to drip off), then coat with flour. Set aside and repeat for the remaining jalapeño peppers.
- Coat the chilli peppers in milk and breadcrumbs - take each coated jalapeño pepper and dip back into milk, then coat with breadcrumbs.
Air fry or bake the jalapeño poppers
- Arrange poppers evenly on a lined baking tray. Air fry jalapeño poppers in a preheated air fryer at 190°C for 10-12 minutes or until golden. Alternatively bake in oven at 200°C for 20 minutes or until golden. Turn halfway to evenly cook the poppers. Serve fresh and enjoy!
- Wear gloves when handling the jalapeño chilli peppers: I recommend wearing clean, disposable gloves when cutting, slicing and deseeding the jalapeño chilli peppers as these chillies can be strong and cause irritation to the surface of the skin.
- Air-fry the jalapeño poppers – for the best, crispiest jalapeño poppers, I recommend air-frying the jalapeño poppers using the “air-fry” setting. Ensure the air-fryer is preheated before air-frying the jalapeño poppers, line the tray and placing the poppers on the tray, spray each of them with a small amount of oil for best results.
- Follow the steps of preparation for ease – to prepare and make these jalapeño poppers with ease, follow the steps which are outlined in detail above (including stuffing the jalapeño poppers, coating the poppers in milk and flour and coating the poppers in milk and breadcrumbs). For ease, simplicity (and also to avoid mess) follow these stages and group each one together.
- Place breadcrumbs in a bowl and coat the popper on a plate in stages – I recommend keeping all of your breadcrumbs in one bowl and only adding ¼ breadcrumbs onto the plate at a time whilst coating the poppers, to help make sure each popper is coated in breadcrumbs and turns out crispy, this also prevents wastage.