Vegetarian Air Fryer Jalapeno Poppers - Spicy Jalapeno peppers with a Mexican style cream cheese filling, crispy panko topping and finished with a squeeze of lime - Cheesy, Crispy, Spicy, Tangy and Tasty!
Most popular game day bite, appetizer for Christmas, Thanksgiving or any holidays or just a snack for your family or a side dish for dinner, that can be enjoyed by everyone, since it is meatless (no bacon) like this jalapeno dip– BEST stuffed jalapeno poppers recipe ever!
Making homemade poppers is super easy and tastes way better than frozen store bought or restaurant. There are probably millions of recipes online but what sets this above the rest is the filling ---> Nothing but bland!
And the great part about making and cooking them fresh? You know exactly what ingredients are in these spicy little guys - Cheesy, creamy bites of deliciousness.
What are Jalapeno Poppers?
Also known as jalapeno bites, these are spicy snacks made with a hollowed out pepper, stuffed with cheeses, spices, occasionally with meat, breaded and deep fried. If wrapped in bacon, then are sometimes called armadillo eggs, since they resemble armadillo shells. Believed to be a version of chile relleno, it originated in Texas in the 1970s.
Why use an air air fryer?
The hot air from air fryer makes a crispy crumb coating without any deep frying ---> Healthier and Easier! It is perfect when you don't have to make a big batch and the clean up so much easier as well. This countertop appliance is a game changer in my kitchen.
Air Fryer Jalapeno Poppers
- Easy to make
- 4 cheese
- Can be made gluten free
- Healthier ---> not deep fried
- Great for Appetizer or snacks
- Vegetarian –> Meatless without bacon
- Can be prepped ahead
- Small batch
How to cut a Jalapeno for stuffing?
The heat in jalapeños is found in the seeds and inner membranes. To reduce the heat in this recipe, clean out all of the (light colored) inner membrane and seeds. If you like lots of heat, leave a little bit of membrane. I like to cut them lengthwise, trying to keep the stem intact on both halves (for presentation purposes).
If you think that you are sensitive to spicy peppers, then we recommend wearing gloves when cutting.
Control the spice level
- Take out the rib inside the jalapeño and then remove all of the seeds for a less spicy bite.
- Skip or reduce red pepper flakes.
- Skip cayenne in breadcrumb topping.
Jalapenos - We used large jalapeños.
Cream cheese – We use Philadelphia cream cheese (use regular/low fat). It makes for an ultra creamy texture and helps keep all the filling together.
Cheese – We used Mexican blend cheese which is a mix of 4 cheeses like Monterey Jack, cheddar, Asadero, Queso Quesadilla cheese.
Spices – Red pepper flakes, cayenne pepper powder and salt.
Produce - Onion, Tomato, Garlic, Cilantro, Lime
Breadcrumbs - We used Panko breadcrumbs
How to make?
Cut jalapeños - Slice jalapeno peppers in half length wise and scoop out the seeds and veins using a small spoon.
Make filling – Mix cream cheese with a spoon to loosen it up and then mix in shredded Mexican blend cheese, panko bread crumbs, chopped onion, tomato, cilantro, salt, red pepper flakes and panko.
Make breadcrumbs - Mix Panko, melted butter and cayenne together.
Fill jalapeños – Fill the cavity with creamy cream cheese filling, and top with breadcrumbs.
Air Fry – Cook peppers at 385 degrees for about 6 to 8 minutes.
Serve HOT with a few drops of fresh lime juice.
Jalapeños: Pick fresh, bright green and bigger than average jalapeños.
Try to avoid buying small jalapeños - The bigger ones are easier to stuff and serve.
Cheese – We used shredded Mexican blend which is a 4 cheese blend of Monterey Jack, cheddar, Asadero, Queso Quesadilla cheeses.
Can I use other types of cheese? Yes! If you don’t have Mexican blend, then use a mix of cheddar and mozzarella.
Can I use regular breadcrumbs? Yes! Use 3 to 4 tablespoons regular breadcrumbs instead of panko for topping and about 2 teaspoons for filling.
This is a small batch recipe but can be easily doubled or tripled for a larger crowd. Make sure to air fry in batches without over crowding the pan.
Make it less spicy - Always remove the seeds and ribs before stuffing. They will still be a spicy appetizer but this will cut the heat quite a bit.
Use gloves when working with spicy chili peppers - The capsaicin can transfer to your hands then when you possibly rub your eyes later you’ll feel the burn.
Make it gluten free – Use gluten free panko instead.
Double the recipe – Simply double the recipe and air fry in two batches.
Air Fryer – We used Instant Vortex 6 quart air fryer. All air fryers tend to heat differently, so I recommend checking after about 6 minutes to be sure they are cooking nicely.
How to bake them in oven?
If you don't have an air fryer, then these can be oven baked as well. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Place them in cookie sheet and bake for 12 to 15 minutes, until crisp on top!
Add a little lime zest for a light zip.
Include other spices such as cumin or coriander, or even cayenne pepper to bump up the heat.
How to serve?
These are best enjoyed hot with a few drops of lime or lemon juice.
- Serve them as an appetizer or a small bite for game day, parties, get together or family gatherings for holidays or just about anytime.
- Make it a side dish for dinner along with any main course like chicken, fish, shrimp, pasta, soups or rice dishes.
How to store leftovers?
These are highly addictive and don’t be surprised if you don’t have any leftovers! But if you happen to have a few leftover, they’ll keep just fine in the fridge.
- To store: It will keep for 2 to 3 days in the fridge in an airtight container.
- To reheat in microwave: When you’re ready to eat, just pop them in the microwave for few seconds (the crust will be soggy. We recommend using the air fryer for reheating for a more crispier crust)
- To reheat in air fryer: Place refrigerated peppers in 400 degree pre heated air fryer, for about 1 to 2 minutes.
How to make ahead?
You can assemble them up to a day ahead before you plan to serve them. Just store in the fridge in an airtight container for up to a day, then pop them in the air fryer right before you’re ready to eat. Add an extra 1 to 2 minutes of cooking time.
Can I make these in advance and freeze them?
Jalapenos freeze very well. Prepare peppers as instructed, place on a baking sheet and freeze for couple of hours, Transfer them into a frezer safe container and freeze for 2 to 3 months.
Re heat them directly from frozen (do not thaw) and increase the cooking time by a few minutes.
Frequently asked questions
Air fryer is perfect for making a crispy top, cooks faster, easy clean up and makes a small batch.
Absolutely! Make filling and stuff the jalapenos and refrigerate for up to a day. Air Fry just before serving and increase cooking time by a minute.
It is not necessary to grease the basket, since the peppers are placed cheese side up.
Easy Game day recipes to make:
- Buffalo Cauliflower Wings
- Air Fryer Hot Wings
- Cheesy Stuffed Mushrooms in Air Fryer
- Spicy Pita Chips
- Sriracha shrimp Rolls
- Bang Bang Cauliflower
Air Fryer Jalapeno Poppers - No Bacon
- 5 large jalapeños peppers
Cream cheese filling
- 4 ounces cream cheese room temperature
- ½ cup Mexican blend shredded cheese
- 1 tablespoon Panko breadcrumbs
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped onion
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped tomato remove seeds before chopping
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped cilantro
- ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes use less if you prefer
- ¼ teaspoon salt
Bread crumb topping
- ¼ cup Panko breadcrumbs
- 1 tablespoon melted unsalted butter
- ⅛ to ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper powder
- Lime wedges to serve (optional)
- Prepare jalapeños - Slice each of the jalapeños in half lengthwise trying to keep the stem intact on both halves (for presentation purposes) and use a spoon to remove the seeds and veins ( Don't remove veins, if you like it more spicy).
- Make cream cheese filling - Add room temperature cream cheese into a medium bowl and stir well with a spoon for a few seconds (this helps in loosening it up). Add all remaining cream cheese filling ingredients and mix thoroughly, until well combined.
- Make topping - Mix Panko breadcrumbs, melted butter and cayenne together in a small bowl, until thoroughly combined.
Fill & Air fry
- Spoon the mixture evenly in the jalapeños and top with bread crumbs (gently press the bread crumbs, so it adheres to the filling)
- Preheat air fryer to 380°F for 8 minutes. When hot, place place stuffed jalapeños in the basket (spacing evenly). Cook for 6 to 8 minutes, until topping is golden brown.
- Enjoy HOT with lime wedges on the side.
- Tip - These are delicious as is or with a few drops of lime juice!
Nutritional information, based on third-party calculations, should be seen as estimates, not guarantees, as various factors like product types, brands, processing methods, and more can alter the nutritional content in recipes.
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