Air fryer jalapeño poppers are a slightly spicy appetizer that is packed with a thick cream cheese filling, topped with crispy breadcrumbs, and cooked to a perfect golden brown in less than 10 minutes per batch! This classic finger food is a must-have at your next party or when hosting game day!
This is one of our favorite recipes that our whole family loves, including some of the kids! I have found that using the air fryer is by far the easiest way, and the least amount of cleanup (before this we made them in the oven). If you don’t use up all of your peppers, consider saving them for grilled cheeses or jalapeno popper chicken casserole for an easy weeknight meal.
Need more delicious appetizers? My two classics are buffalo chicken dip and spinach artichoke dip. You can never go wrong with those! We also can’t get by without pigs in a blanket or meatball sliders. When it’s just us (instead of a large crowd) we also really like air fryer pizza bites and loaded nachos.
Why You’ll Love This Air Fryer Jalapeno Poppers Recipe
- The perfect appetizer that requires minimal prep.
- They can be made ahead of time, which is great for party planning.
- Using the air fryer makes it way easy than deep frying and less cleanup.
What Ingredients do I Need Jalapeño Poppers in the Air Fryer?
- softened cream cheese
- coarse black pepper
- garlic salt – could also use garlic powder and salt if needed.
- green onions – some prefer chives over green onions.
- finely grated medium cheddar cheese – it’s nice to have finely grated cheese because once you start stuffing those relatively small peppers, everything fits inside a little easier if your cheese isn’t so chunky.
- bacon – regular bacon will work since we are going to crumble it on top and in the filling.
- jalapeño peppers – the spice level of every batch is a little different – certainly if your peppers are turning red, they’re going to be spicier.
- bread crumbs – these are optional, but they sure are tasty and make the cheesy stuffing even better!
Add protein: Stir in cooked shredded chicken, ground beef, pork, chorizo, or Italian sausage to the cream cheese mixture before filling.
Wrap with bacon: Use regular or thick-cut bacon slices and wrap each bacon slice around the peppers after adding the filling. Secure it with a toothpick so it doesn’t fall off while cooking. See the air frying time above for bacon wrapped poppers.
Swap cheeses: Experiment with other cheese combos such as feta cheese, Monterey jack, and Colby, or mozzarella.
Low-carb option: Use crushed pork rinds in place of the bread crumbs.
Step 1: Combine the room temperature cream cheese, pepper, garlic salt, 2 tablespoons of green onions, cheese, and a ½ cup of crumbled bacon in a medium bowl.
Step 2: Rinse the peppers and pat dry with a paper towel. Slice the jalapeño peppers in half lengthwise.
Pro Tip: Wear gloves or try to handle the peppers as little as possible. The oils can irritate your skin. A grapefruit spoon works great to scrape out the seeds from the white membrane inside the jalapeños. Be sure to always wash your hands after touching spicy peppers.
Step 3: Scrape the seeds and ribbing from the peppers to hollow them out. A grapefruit spoon works great for this!
Step 4: Scoop the cream cheese mixture into each pepper.
Step 5: Place the poppers in a single layer into the air fryer basket so there is room in between each one. Sprinkle breadcrumbs over the top of the filling in each jalapeño.
Step 6: Spray generously with non-stick cooking spray – I use Pam or coconut oil spray.
Step 7: Cook in the air fryer for 5-7 minutes at 380°F. When the tops turn golden brown and the cheese is melted, they are done.
Step 8: Top the pepper poppers with additional bacon crumbs and freshly sliced green onion (or chives.) Serve warm!
SERVE: For the perfect poppers, serve with warm ranch dressing for dipping.
- The filling is thick; the recipe makes enough to stuff 12 jalapeños (24 halves). Use medium to large peppers; the smaller ones end up being too flat once prepped.
- Depending on the type of air fryer you have and the size of your peppers, you may need more or less cooking time. What I love about an air fryer is that you can pop over the drawer, take a peak, and then close it and continue cooking without interrupting the settings.
- Preheating is not required. After the first batch, the next ones may cook quicker since the appliance is already warmed up.
- If you are feeding a large crowd, turn your oven on the lowest setting to keep the batches of poppers warm until you are ready to serve.
How to Cook Frozen Jalapeño Poppers:
Frozen: Cook frozen jalapeño poppers in a single layer for 10 minutes, flipping halfway through. Check these periodically if they are store-bought. Once the cheesy center starts oozing through the breading, they are ready to come out! You can prepare these homemade stuffed jalapeños and freeze them on parchment paper laid out on a sheet pan. Once frozen, transfer them to a Ziploc freezer bag for storage. Then you can cook a few at a time whenever you please!
Bacon-wrapped jalapeño poppers: Air fry thawed poppers for 15 minutes at 325 degrees or until the bacon is nice and crispy.
Keep leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for 4-5 days. Reheat in the oven, microwave, or air fryer.
Place the poppers in the basket and reheat at 350 degrees until they are warmed through.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the poppers on the sheet and bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes or until they are golden brown. Here is a detailed recipe for oven-baked jalapeño poppers.
Air Fryer Jalapeño Poppers
- 1 8 oz. package cream cheese softened
- ½ teaspoon coarse black pepper
- ½ teaspoon garlic salt
- 2 sliced green onions green parts (about 3 tablespoons)
- 1 cup finely grated medium cheddar cheese
- ½ pound bacon cooked and crumbled
- 10-12 jalapeno peppers
- ¼ cup breadcrumbs optional
- In a medium bowl, mix together cream cheese, pepper, garlic salt, 2 tablespoons of the sliced green onions, cheese, and about ½ cup of the crumbled bacon.
- Rinse jalapenos and pat dry. Slice peppers in half lengthwise. Use a spoon or gloved fingers to scoop out the seeds and ribbing from the peppers.
- Use a small spoon to scoop the cheese mixture into each pepper half.
- Place stuffed jalapenos in a single layer into the basket of an air fryer. Allow some space between each pepper. You will probably need to cook the peppers in a few batches, depending on their size.
- Sprinkle a bit of the breadcrumbs over the tops of each pepper (this is easier to do once they’re in the air fryer basket so that the breadcrumbs don’t fall off when moving the peppers into the basket.
- Spray the tops of the peppers liberally with non-stick cooking spray.
- Bake at 380°F for 5-7 minutes, until the tops of the poppers are golden brown.
- Leave the peppers to sit in the air fryer basket for a minute or two before transferring to a platter. Garnish with additional green onions and crumbled bacon. Serve warm with ranch dressing.
- Storage: Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 4-5 days. Jalapeno poppers can be reheated in the microwave, oven, or air fryer.