The 38 calorie Jalapeño Popper!

The only thing I buy from the frozen food section at the grocery store are spring rolls. I’ve made spring rolls myself. Buying spring rolls is easier. The main reason for this is because the spring rolls I make aren’t very filling. The main reason for this is because they’re so much work no one, including myself is allowed to eat them.   I make them, put them on a plate, photograph them, and then we all sit around and look at them while chewing gum.

So I buy my spring rolls in the frozen food section.

I have my routine at the grocery store. Crackers, Housewares, Dairy, Pop, Centre aisle stuff, vegetables, bread, olives … U TURN … frozen food (if I need spring rolls). As soon as I take that U Turn to head towards the frozen food section I am forced to pass the frozen packages of Jalapeño Poppers. Those crispy, gooey, spicy, bullet shaped morsels of deep fried goodness.

So good. SO good. SO VERY GOOD. And so, SO bad for you.

So I went about figuring out how to make a half decent tasting Jalapeño Popper that wouldn’t crawl out of your stomach and leap directly onto your ass.




Jalapeno Poppers Final


I n g r e d i e n t s

hot sauce       cream cheese       jalapenos      bacon


Jalapeno Popper Ingredients


Cut your peppers in half and remove the seeds and membranes.

Do not, I repeat do NOT try to guess how hot the pepper will be

based on its size or colour or whatever.  There simply is

no guessing how hot they are.

Don’t worry .. we deal with this anomaly of nature in the cooking portion.


Slicing Jalapenos


Measure out 1 Tablespoon of cream cheese for every whole Jalapeño you have.

For extra flavour add several dashes of whatever hot sauce you have on hand.

Tabasco, Frank’s, Melindas hot sauce … whatever.

Mix the hot sauce in with the cream cheese well.

Cream Cheese And Jalapenos


Fill each half Jalapeño with 1/2 a Tablespoon of cream cheese.

Dot with hot sauce if you wanna.  I wanna.

Jalapeno Poppers


Wrap with 1/3rd of a piece of bacon.

Secure with toothpick.

Bacon Wrapped Jalapeno


Lay your poppers on a pre-heated grill.


Jalapeno Poppers On Bbq

Heat all sides of the the grill on high. When you put your poppers on the grill, turn the grill directly under the poppers down to low, and the other grills down to medium-low. Then close the lid. This is a form of indirect cooking so your poppers get crispy but not charred beyond recognition.

Now. About the heat of those jalapeño peppers. The longer and slower you cook the peppers, the less heat they will have. Throwing them on the on high for 15 minutes won’t work. You’ll get a burnt, barely edible hot pepper that’ll make you feel like someone is ripping your nose hairs out one by one.

I like things hot, but still edible. What generally works for me is 45 minutes on the BBQ. Half an hour of cooking and they’re still too spicy for me to enjoy, and an hour means not enough spice.

Check on your peppers every 10 or 15 minutes to make sure they aren’t burning to a crisp. Grills, like jalapeños can be a bit unpredictable.

You’ll have to experiment with what you like. And of course, it varies a bit depending on the original heat of the pepper. But know that you must cook them long and slow to get rid of the intense heat of the peppers.

There’s no need to turn the peppers over. The top side cooks well and the bacon gets crispy without turning them over.

Jalapeno Poppers On Grill
Want to know the calorie break down? How does each one equal 38 calories? Of course you do …

The Calories In A- Jalapeno Popper

The key points to this recipe are:

1. Mix hot sauce in with the cream cheese to give more depth of flavour.
2. Measure out the cream cheese you use, to ensure you’re only using 1/2 a Tablespoon per pepper.
3. Cook low and slow.

Jalapeño Poppers

These spicy little Mexican treats are only 38 calories each.  Which means you can eat one billion of them if you want!  
5 from 1 vote
Print Pin Rate
Servings: 6 servings
Calories: 107kcal
Author: Karen


  • 12 Jalapeño peppers small - medium sized
  • 12 Tablespoons cream cheese
  • 4 slices bacon each piece cut into thirds
  • hot sauce


  • Preheat BBQ grill on high.
  • Slice peppers in half and remove seeds and membranes.
  • Mix cream cheese and several dashes of hot sauce together.
  • Fill peppers with cream cheese mixture.
  • Top with a few more dots of hot sauce if you have the burning desire to do so.
  • Wrap each popper with 1/3rd of a slice of bacon. Secure with toothpick.
  • Lay poppers on hot grill. Reduce flame beneath poppers to low and side grills to medium-low.
  • Close grill lid.
  • Cook for 1/2 hour to 1 hour depending on how hot you like the peppers. I like mine cooked for around 45 minutes so there's a bit of heat still left in the peppers but not too much. Check on your peppers every 10 to 15 minutes to make sure they aren't burning to a crisp. If you have trouble with the bacon causing flare ups, turn the grill directly beneath the poppers off completely and turn up the side grills slightly.


No BBQ grill? No problem. You can also cook these in the oven at 350 for the same amount of time.  The lower your oven temperature, the longer the poppers will take to cook and the less heat they should have.  So if you don't like heat cook them at 300 for a longer period of time. 
Serving Size: 4 poppers


Serving: 4Poppers | Calories: 107kcal | Carbohydrates: 4g | Protein: 7g | Fat: 6g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 14mg | Sodium: 350mg | Potassium: 198mg | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 320IU | Vitamin C: 33.2mg | Calcium: 130mg | Iron: 0.2mg


  1. Julie says:

    It’s only been 3 years but I’m finally making these! I was so worried the cheese would drip out everywhere and it doesn’t! Also, I bought the fancy bacon from the butcher and while delicious is so expensive so I finished with the “what’s on sale” bacon….It’s been 1/2 hour and they smell amazing and I am having trouble waiting that extra 15 minutes! :)

  2. Sandra says:

    What kind of bacon are you using? The package I have says a slice of bacon is 95 calories – yours is only 14 x 3=42 calories for a slice! I make poppers all the time, only I use a piece of chicken (marinated in whatever you want) instead of the cheese.

    • Karen says:

      HI Sandra. It’s regular bacon. Whatever brand is on sale usually, lol. But you might be reading “per serving” as opposed to per slice. ~ karen!

      • Sandra says:

        I only buy it on sale, too – especially now that they only seem to make the packages 375 g instead of 500 g (On occasion, I’ve found the 500 g package at SuperStore or No Frills). My brand is Centsibles from Coop – on the back it says 2 slices 190 calories. So does the Burns package of bacon. This is the regular thin type of bacon. The Coop Gold thick cut bacon says 2 slices of bacon are 280 calories. I’d like to find your brand, lol!

  3. Lynn says:

    Oh what have you done Karen… I usually see those peppers an run the other way . As I have a low heat tolerance in food, but you make them sound so so so dang yummy I am tempted to try them. An it is funny cause hubby likes kind of hot but not real hot an he had found a recipe for the last weekend that needed one of your peppers. At the store he could only find them in like bags of 10 to 15 peppers an he looked at me with a scared look shaking his head an said ( I can not eat all those I will combust). As a result we used little regular peppers . I wonder if I could do the same with your recipe???

    • Karen says:

      You probably could Lynn, but it would be a completely different flavour. Peppers sweeten when you cook them, so an already sweet pepper would be much sweeter once cooked. Another thing you can do is cook the jalapenos in the oven at a low temperature for a long time. The longer they cook the less heat they have. ~ karen!

  4. Kris says:

    This is a tasty idea! The,only problem I see is this…you mentioned the frozen breaded poppers being bad for you…actually if you baked them in the oven or grilled those they would still have less seriously harmful saturated fat in the form of bacon fat. Just sayin!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Kris – It’s understandable you’d think that, but in fact it’s incorrect. A frozen jalapeno popper from the grocery store, baked in the oven contains 70 calories and 1.7 grams of saturated fat. Even without frying them. My jalapeno poppers have 38 calories each and a total of 0.99 grams of saturated fat. That’s .36 grams of saturated fat for the 1/3rd piece of bacon and 0.63 grams of saturated fat for the cream cheese. Plus mine contain 4 ingredients. Peppers, cream cheese, bacon, hot sauce. You’d be hard pressed to find frozen jalapeno poppers with only 4 ingredients. Just sayin’. ;)

  5. Kim says:

    Lol! IF I don’t turn them into charcoal, then I will report back on the freezing results. (Don’t expect to hear from me. I melted the handle off the top of our BBQ yesterday when I left it on high to clean it. I kid you not. As my son aptly said, “Epic fail!”)

  6. Kim says:

    How did freezing them work out? I’d like to make them tonight for a BBQ this weekend…assuming I don’t burn them to a crisp. Did you freeze them before grilling them or after? Thanks!

    • Karen says:

      Kim. Um … I … well … none of them made it to the freezer. I ate them. I ate them all. However, I think they should be fine to freeze. Assemble them and put them in the freezer UNCOOKED. Cook when you’re ready to eat them. ~ karen!

      • Kim says:

        Freezing update: Outstanding! Now I’ve only made one batch with edible results so I don’t have a control sample with which to compare but, from the rave reviews of my guests last evening, freezing them prior to cooking had no detrimental effect on their taste whatsoever. I had a bunch of people over so I made a lot. They disappeared extremely quickly! Because my BBQ was a Canada Day-themed event, I drizzled maple syrup on half of them and offered them as the regular version and the Canadian version. :-)

        • Karen says:

          Good to know! Now I know for the end of summer when I have one billion jalapeno peppers I can make a ton of these up and freeze them. That’s great! ~ karen

  7. Laura Bee says:

    Nice substitute! Better than the salsa on a baked potato idea…good, but I still need the sourcream with it!

  8. Barbie says:

    Brill! Simply BRILL

  9. Becky says:

    I’m stunned that the cream cheese has more calories than the bacon.

  10. Alissa says:

    I’ve been making these for years! May I recommend doing a mixture of cream cheese, horseradish, and sharp cheddar? Also if you brush some raspberry jam on top before cooking- Wowzers! These are awesome on a hamburger

  11. I just may make these after I cross reference each name on this post with the previous Meat? or Veg? post! HA!

  12. Patti says:

    Oh snap!

    My neighbour makes this exact recipe every Sunday – we’ve been smelling them every Sunday for years, and the last two Sundays, we were invited over, and I only allowed myself one each time, because I assumed something that delicious had to be horrible for me, too.

    And then I gained 5 pounds, and blamed it on the poppers.

    Alas.. it must be something else making my ass so big. But yay! More poppers for me!

  13. Marti says:

    Those look amazing… but I don’t know about that calorie count. Did you factor in the capsaicin in the peppers that makes them burn through your intestine faster and speeds up your metabolism?

  14. Deb J. says:

    Made these last night (we had 3 20something males here rebuilding a retaining wall – yah, yah, I know. Karen would do the wall herself but this is my son’s 4th summer doing hardscaping and we are paying for his university. So..) Anyway, woke up this morning wishing we had more poppers. Think this might be a keeper:)

  15. jude says:

    melon ball scooper is good…so is a grapefruit spoon for scraping inside of the pepper. that little pointy part gets right where you need to scrape!

  16. Jodie says:

    Yum! I’ll definitely be trying this!!!

  17. Chau says:

    I agree spring rolls are a lot of work if you have to roll for many people. Have you thought of having people rolled their own? That’s how we’ve done in our family. My American husband is an expert! We served spring rolls as first course at a small gathering (3 couples), our guests did great and had fun doing it.

  18. Carol says:

    Genius! What can I say? Sheer genius! I can’t wait to get to the store.

  19. Shauna says:

    Haven’t read all the comments but Philadelphia now sells a neufchatel (sp?) cream cheese that is even less calories and I can hardly tell the difference in taste in something like this with the bacon and hot sauce. The calories may be negligible though for this recipe, I haven’t done my research.

  20. These look so good – I definitely must give them a try! Only probably in my oven. Out grill intimidates me.

  21. charissa says:

    Genius. Question for you though: could you go on a popper-making bonanza and then freeze these puppies, so you’d have some for (relatively) quick-grilling at a later date? Or do you think that would make the pepper/cream cheese kind of… ick?

    • Karen says:

      I’ve been wondering the same thing myself Charissa. Especially since with one jalapeno plant I’m likely to get a bazillion jalapeños. I’m going to try to freeze some this week to see how they stand up. ~ karen!

  22. Marcy Strahan says:

    I use light cream cheese & turkey bacon!
    Sometimes I put a half of a mini sauage in each one or even better a boiled shrimp!

  23. Nancy Blue Moon says:

    I didn’t know that cooking peppers longer reduces the heat..Bacon cooked on the grill..I gotta show my son this..we started doing bacon in the oven because it is crispier and just so much better..Never thought to try it on the grill..These look great!

  24. RosieW says:

    Googled “neutralizing capsaican hands” – probably a thousand choices, but only went half through this one from Gardenweb:

    Following up hoping some folks who haven’t used jalapenos before will learn to be cautious.


  25. Cheryl says:

    Hi Karen!
    I am assuming you will be growing your own jalapenos this summer?? I like the idea posted previously about using a melon baller to scoop the seeds out. I’ll have to try that. I keep a box of blue medical gloves in my pantry and use them for all sorts of things in the kitchen. I always use them with peppers and then I can just use my finger to scrape out the seeds. You might want to use a smaller knife? Yikes.

  26. ruth says:

    oh yum. too bad I’ll probably never make those. I DO make the antojitos tho!

  27. Tracie says:

    I have to make these! What temperature would you suggest in the oven, and cooking time? Yumm

    • Karen says:

      Hi Tracie – I’m going to venture a guess that I’d do them at 350 degrees for 1 hour. I’d probably cook them on a rack over a baking sheet, but if you don’t have a rack don’t worry about it, just stick them on a baking sheet. ~ karen!

      • Deb J says:

        I have made these 4 times – 3 on the BBQ and last night in the oven. 350 seems the right temperature but an hour was a bit too long. The jalapeños pretty much disappeared. Still tasted yummy, but next time I will take them out after 45-50 minutes.
        Also, I didn’t have enough cream cheese do I half and halfed with goat cheese. Yum!

  28. Feral Turtle says:

    OMG…these look so good. I just have to pin these beauties! Cheers.

  29. Sandy says:

    Thanks so much for this recipe.

  30. Ella says:

    Stuff crawls out of my stomach and leaps onto my ass all of the time! It`s like a circus.

    Thanks for the tip!

  31. Mary Werner says:

    You have added to the contentment of people all over the world!

  32. CheekyMomma says:

    Karen this is a staple in our menu year round here in the Lone Star State! A couple of hacks for you – use a sandwich bag to pipe your cream cheese into the pepper halves. And we like to mix honey with our cream cheese – not much…just enough to give it a little sweetness to counter the heat if the peppers are the temperature of the sun and the heat can’t be cooked down. And to make a meal out of it – add a piece of chicken before you wrap the bacon. Delish!

  33. marilyn says:


  34. My problem would be that I would eat twelve of them, and the calorie count would no longer be 38. They look delicious!!!

  35. Zoe says:


    Do you think these would work in an oven – no easy access to a grill ??


  36. Tisha says:

    For folks who wear contact lenses, wearing gloves while fooling around with peppers is a must! Also I often wear gloves while eating crawfish or anything else that is super spicy and eaten with your hands.

    • Susan Wright says:

      Yours is the only blog I’ve ever enjoyed reading. It’s both hilarious and relatable.

      • Karen says:

        Thanks Susan! Remember that feeling when you get to a post that angers you, lol. It’s bound to happen. ~ karen!

  37. tammy carter says:

    Karen, try using a small melon baller to scoop out seeds and membranes of peppers. Works really well!

  38. RosieW says:

    Karen, you really should edit the recipe to include wearing gloves when handling jalapenos or any of the other hot ones. I cringed when I saw you removing seeds barehanded. Those oils are hard to remove from your skin, require several soaping up and scrubbing episodes.

    Love jalapeno poppers. Hoping my six plants will produce lots this summer.

    • Karen says:

      RosieW – You’re probably right, but the problem is I don’t wear gloves when doing this. Not for jalapenos anyway. For the hotter peppers, yes I’d wear gloves. I’ve done a whole post actually on that fact. Got some in my eye. Anyhow … I wanted to direct you to this post in case you ever get a pepper burn. Scrubbing and soaping up does not work … but this does. ~ karen!

  39. Valerie says:

    Do you ever wear rubber gloves (disposable types) when you cut up the peppers – particularly when you are removing the seeds?

  40. Sabrina says:

    I did this for our New Years Day extravaganza except I made them in the oven, and mixed spicy sausage in with the cream cheese. Definitely NOT 38 calories.

  41. Amie Mason says:

    38 calories! That is genius, I almost don’t believe it! And it looks amazing! You truly are a demigod Karen! All hail Karen!

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