Pimento Cheese Jalapeño Poppers
The easiest way to make perfect jalapeño poppers is to stuff them with pimento cheese. And the best pimento cheese for this technique is made with cream cheese. Don’t @ us if you’re a true Southerner and believe there’s no cream cheese in pimento cheese! We’re using this Yankee-ish type for the sake of the recipe’s success. The cream cheese adds a sticky richness that helps the filling stay together as it warms up under the bread crumb coating. All of which is to say that purchased pimento cheese really won’t work as well in this recipe, since most of it is not made with cream cheese. So make your own! Photograph © Eric Medsker Author © Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough
Servings Prep Time
16Servings 10Minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
8Minutes 5Minutes
Servings Prep Time
16Servings 10Minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
8Minutes 5Minutes
  • 8large fresh jalapeño chiles
  • 1/3cup shredded sharp American cheddar, about 1 1/2 ounces cheese
  • 6tbsp regular or low-fat cream cheese, at room temperature, 3 ounces, do not use fat-free cream cheese
  • 1tbsp minced drained jarred pimiento
  • 1/4tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4tsp onion powder
  • 2large eggs
  • 1/3cup regular or low-fat milk
  • 3cups Italian-seasoned regular or whole wheat bread crumbs
  • Olive oil spray
  1. Split each jalapeño in half lengthwise through the stem. Use a small spoon to scrape out the seeds and membranes, discarding all of them. Make sure you wash your hands with soap and water after working with the chiles. If you’re particularly sensitive, wear latex or rubber gloves.
  2. Mix the shredded cheese, cream cheese, pimientos, garlic powder, and onion powder in a small bowl until well combined. Fill each jalapeño half with this mixture, smoothing the top of the filling flat with the cut sides of the jalapeño.
  3. Whisk the eggs and milk in a small, shallow bowl or on a soup plate until very well combined. No bits of egg white should be floating in the mix. Spread the bread crumbs on a small serving plate.
  4. Dip a filled jalapeño half in the egg, coating all sides and turning as needed. Pick it up, let the excess drip off, and set it aside.
  5. In the bread crumbs, turn all ways, even on the ends, to get an even coating. Set aside, and then repeat this process with the remaining stuffed jalapeño halves. Generously coat them on all sides with olive oil spray.
  6. Set the machine to Air Fry. Set the temperature to 400 °F and the timer to 10 Minutes (which will be a little more than you need). Press Start.
  7. When the machine beeps, indicates Add Food, or is heated to the proper temperature, set the coated jalapeño halves in the basket or on the tray, stuffing side up, in a single layer with at least 1/2 inch of space around each popper. Use separate trays or work in batches as necessary.
  8. Air-fry, undisturbed and ignoring any Turn Food indicator, until the coating is crunchy and well browned, about 8 Minutes. If you’ve used multiple trays, swap them top to bottom about halfway through the cooking process.
  9. Turn Off the machine and use nonstick-safe kitchen tongs to transfer the stuffed jalapeños to a serving platter or plate. Cool for at least 5 Minutes before serving warm or at room temperature.
  10. The stuffed poppers will stay fresh at room temperature for about An Hour. They don’t store well overnight. But refresh any that have gone soggy after about 1 Hour by heating them in a single layer in a 375°F air fryer for 2 Minutes.
Upgrade this Recipe:
  1. Skip the breading altogether, both the egg and water dip and the bread crumbs. Instead, wrap a thin slice of bacon around each stuffed jalapeño half, spiraling the bacon in overlapping turns so that it covers the whole jalapeño. Air-fry as directed.
  2. During the last minute or two of cooking, brush the bacon with maple syrup or sweet red chili sauce for a glazed coating.