If you’re going to indulge in cheesy, deep-fried jalapeño poppers, drop the frozen TGI Friday’s box and make these instead. Our friends at ChefSteps wrote in this week with this recipe for the ultimate cheat day. What makes these poppers extra-crispy is the double breading process, because nobody wants a soggy popper. Want to really go the whole nine yards? Make your own ranch dipping sauce to pair!
Crispy, Gooey Homemade Jalapeño Poppers
2 hours; 4-8 servings
- Homemade Hidden Valley-Style Ranch Dressing, optional, for dipping
- Sriracha, optional, for dipping, as needed
- 624 grams pickled jalapeños, or 2 11-ounce cans (we use Goya)
- 226 grams cream cheese, or 1 8-ounce package (we use Philadelphia Original)
- 180 grams pepper jack, grated
- 4 grams salt, plus more to taste
- 2.3 grams black pepper, optional
- 3 liters canola oil
- 250 grams bread flour, or all-purpose flour
- 300 grams eggs, about 6 large
- 150 grams panko
- 150 grams bread crumbs, pre-seasoned store bought
- Food processor
- Disposable piping bag
- Digital instant-read thermometer
- Fine-mesh sieve (optional)
- Make ranch dressing, if you’re opting for the homemade stuff.
- Prep the peppers. Position your knife just under the stem of the pepper, and slice through the top of it, stopping when you are about halfway through. Next, slice down the length of the pepper, stopping at the base. The two lines form a T shape, exposing the seeds. With the back of a spoon, scrape out the seeds. Be careful not to ding up or rip your pepper as you scrape. Rinse each pepper lightly to remove any stubborn seeds. Set aside.
- In a food processor, combine cream cheese, grated pepper jack cheese, salt, and pepper. Blitz the living hell out of it until it’s smooth. It helps to stop the machine and scrape down the sides of the bowl a few times. Transfer filling to a piping bag.
- Gently squeeze the top and bottom of the pepper to open it in up. Pipe in filling, adding as much as you can while still being able to pinch the pepper shut. You might need to practice on a few before you nail it. That is okay; that is just how it goes with cooking. You got this. The filling has a tendency to ooze out of the pepper. Don’t stress it; just pinch the pepper shut and scrape off the extra filling with a knife.
- Heat oil. Start by pouring oil into a large pot and placing on the stove. Begin heating, monitoring the temperature with a thermometer. We’ll be frying at 400 °F / 204 °C. That is very hot—so proceed carefully! While the oil heats up, set up your frying station.
- Grab three medium-sized bowls and line them up. You’ll also need three trays or large plates. Sift your flour into a bowl. Crack all the eggs into another bowl and whisk the dickens out of them. Add crumbs to the third bowl and whisk to combine. Grab a tray and place it between the flour bowl and the crumb one. We are about to coat these peppers, people.
- Transfer as many peppers as you can to the first bowl of flour. Start slow; there is no rush here. Lightly toss them around so that all sides are evenly coated in flour. Set those aside on the tray, and continue tossing the rest. Once they are all coated, set up a clean tray next to your breading station and move on to the egg and bread crumbs. Transfer several coated peppers to the egg bowl, making sure they get an even layer of egg. Use the same hand to drop them into the bread crumb bowl. Coat each pepper in crumbs, and use your other hand to move them onto the clean tray. Repeat the process until all of your peppers have been coated.
- Bread again! Clean up your flour, eggs, and crumbs as needed before you start on the second coating. Transfer peppers to a tray. At this point, you can stop and store the peppers if you are making them in advance.
- Once your oil has heated to 400 °F / 204 °C, you can begin frying. Line a clean tray with paper towels. Now, drop two or three peppers into the oil, then time how long it takes to get them golden brown—it should be about 45–60 seconds. Remove when they look good, and cut them open to make sure the filling is warm. (Be careful—the insides of these bad boys should be molten. Allow the pepper to cool before you sample.) You can keep testing one or two at a time until you have fully dialed in your process. Once you’ve got the process down, use tongs to drop peppers into the oil, about 8–10 pieces at a time. Fry for 45–60 seconds, or until they turn golden brown. With your tongs, transfer the peppers to the towel-lined tray. Then get ready to eat!
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