Smoked Gouda & Ham Jalapeño Poppers

10 large jalapeño peppers
1 cup matzo meal or bread crumbs
1 cup flour
2 eggs, beaten

4 oz soft goat cheese
1/2 cup shredded smoked Gouda
1/4 cup diced smoked (lean) ham
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon ground chipotle

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Preheat oven to 350. Mash all of the filling ingredients together until fairly smooth and the ingredients are well distributed. Slice the peppers in half or cut a slit down the middle of one side of the pepper and leave it whole.

Remove the seeds. Fill with filling mixture.

Dredge each popper in the flour, dip into the egg, then dredge in the matzo meal or crumbs to coat.

Place in a single layer, cut side up, on the lined baking sheet. Bake until the crust is golden and the pepper is hot all the way through, about 30 minutes.

My thoughts:

I have to admit that until I made these, I had never actually had a jalapeño popper. The few times I have seen them listed on menus, they are always fried. While I do love fried foods (who doesn’t?)the idea of frying something that is stuffed with that much cheese makes me feel a little queasy. So I thought I’d try my hand at this gourmet-ish baked version. I know they are typically stuffed with little more than a mixture of cheeses (and maybe a bit of crab or bacon) but I thought a bit of ham would be fun and help cut the heat a bit. I love smoky flavors so I went all out using smoky spices (and cheese! and ham!) but it all melded together and was a great contrast to the creamy goat cheese and straight up hot jalapeño. The poppers tasted almost grilled which took the sting out of them being baked rather than fried. They are just as crispy outside and gooey inside as they would have been fried (I admit, I did a test fried popper to compare and contrast) but not as heavy tasting.

Note: If you really want heat, look for peppers at your local farmers market. The jalapeño peppers sold at regular supermarkets are often pack less heat than their local cousins.


  1. I love that these are baked instead of fried. I will admit that it's the pepper not the cheese that's been keeping me from trying a popper. I always worry they will burn my mouth off.

  2. Kelly-
    They really aren't terribly hot, the cooking takes some of the heat out as does removing the seeds. Take small bites and you'd be fine!

  3. Removing the seeds and veins/pith (the white stuff) kills most of the heat while leaving the great jalapeño flavor.

  4. We make a version of these by wrapping them in bacon and grilling them. They are wonderful! That might detract from the healthy aspect of yours though.

  5. If you bake with something really crunchy/crispy, then the fried flavor isn't really missed. We use panko a lot, which adds a nice bite. These sound great with the mix of cheese.

  6. I will have to try these, I'm always looking for healthier versions of recipes. I love poppers but I'm very picky about them.

  7. These look incredible! I love that they're baked instead of fried. Yum.

  8. These look amazing! I love that you baked them. Will have to try this one out for sure.

  9. I love jalapeno poppers. I use to make a gluten free version but can't eat dairy anymore. I like the idea of the cheese in the stuffing. I'm going to have to give that a try instead of cheese. Maybe use chorizo. Thanks for getting my brain thinking outside the food box.

  10. @thewholegang I've done grilled poppers with chorizo topped with just a skosh of cheese and they were fantastic (and grilling them made me feel just slightly better about the fact that chorizo is soooo not good for me).
    @Rachel – I'm always on the lookout for great things to do with jalapeños (or other peppers) and hadn't thought of the panko – thank you!

    I have a sculpting tool I bought at Michaels that has a handle and a little metal blade shaped like an egg (the whole edge is sharp) – works similar to a melon baller, but much much sharper & with more control. It is my favorite thing for de-seeding/veining peppers.

  11. Tasty Eats At Home

    Ooh, these look awesome! Yum.

  12. oh my, these look incredible!

  13. Michelle {lovely little things}

    I like the use of gouda in a popper – great flavorful touch.

    Enjoying your blog!

  14. This looks really good Rachel. I have always been scared of jalapeno peppers because I've always thought they were too spicy… but I think I'll have to give this a go!

  15. These are destined for gameday tomorrow!

  16. Benjamin-
    I didn't use or recommend panko. I didn't find panko it worked well in this recipe so I called for matzo meal (as pictured) or bread crumbs.

  17. I made a grilled version of jalapeno poppers once and they were super tasty. I stuffed them with cheese, wrapped them in bacon and grilled. Yum! These also look like a good alternative to frying.

  18. Love the pics! I would love to try these.

  19. I'm a big fan of popper but hate the greasy, deep fried version. So, I purchased one of these racks and can make them on the grill or in the oven, sans deep fried coating.

  20. I love mine with cheese in the middle (usually cream cheese and/or cheddar blends) wrapped with bacon and grilled until the bacon is crispy.