Pepper Poppers Perfect for Fall Get-Togethers | The Source Weekly - Bend, Oregon

Pepper Poppers Perfect for Fall Get-Togethers

Wrapped in bacon and stuffed with chicken and cream cheese, these sweet and spicy peppers are a crowd pleaser

Even though the daytime high temps have been in the 70s and 80s lately, the calendar tells us it’s fall and all the usual autumn activities are happening around us. Football is one of those activities and this American pastime brings us together for tailgating events, Sunday brunches and Saturday afternoon viewing parties. These poppers are perfect for all of the above!

Pepper Poppers Perfect for Fall Get-Togethers
Tambi Lane Photo
The wonderful thing about these poppers is how you can tailor them to your own tastes. Pictured here are a combination of jalapeno and sweet peppers filled with bacon, chicken, cream cheese and shallots.

Bring these poppers to a potluck and everyone will be asking you how you did it. And how you do it is very easy. The beauty of these tasty snacks is how you can substitute ingredients and cater the recipe to your own liking. For example, the meat you use can be chicken or turkey or even duck if you’re into wild game. Heck you could even leave the meat out if you wanted. If you don’t like the heat of jalapeño peppers, you can substitute those smaller sweet peppers that are readily available at most grocery stores these days. I like to use a mix of jalapeño and sweet peppers; that way there’s something for everyone. You can add more flavor with shallots, onions or garlic and use whatever spices you like for extra punch, such as chili powder, cumin, oregano, parsley, etc.

A version of this recipe first appeared in a cookbook I coauthored with country music star Kix Brooks. “Cookin’ it With Kix” (copyright W Publishing, an imprint of Thomas Nelson, 2016) is a compilation of some of Brooks’ favorite family recipes and the stories and traditions behind those recipes. You’ll find Brooks’ version of poppers in the chapter entitled Cooking in the Woods. He makes them with duck breast and shares the story of the first time he ate duck with bacon on a deer hunting trip with his dad when he was a young boy.

I was also the recipe tester for that cookbook, which gave me the chance to first make the original version and then experiment with my own ideas. This recipe evolved from all that testing in my home kitchen.

Bacon Wrapped Pepper Poppers

Makes 12 poppers

· 1 pound bacon, with 3 slices set aside to make bacon bits

· 1 pound chicken, turkey or duck breast meat, cut into strips (I prefer chicken thighs)

· Salt and pepper, to taste

· 1 package cream cheese, softened

· crumbled bacon bits

· ½ cup finely chopped shallots or onions

· A dozen jalapeño peppers or small, sweet peppers or a combination of both, tops cut off and seeds removed

· vegetable oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 

Lay bacon slices (reserving 3 slices for bacon bits) in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake until the fat is rendered out but strips are not crispy. This will take 20-30 minutes depending on your oven.  Remove bacon from oven and let cool while assembling poppers. 

Fry the other three slices of bacon in skillet on medium-high heat until extra crispy. Remove bacon from skillet, reserving bacon grease. Set bacon aside to cool and then crumble it into bits.

Salt and pepper the meat on all sides. Reheat the skillet with the bacon grease and add chicken, turkey or duck strips. Turn strips frequently until completely done with no pink inside. Remove strips from skillet and drain on paper towel. Once cool, cut the meat into small pieces or chunks.

Mix softened cream cheese, cooled meat, bacon bits and shallots together in a bowl. Mix until well combined. Taste the mixture. Add more salt and pepper or any other spices to taste.

Using a spoon or your fingers, stuff each pepper with the cream cheese mixture. Wrap a piece of the partially baked bacon around each pepper, securing with a toothpick. Lay the stuffed peppers on a lightly oiled baking sheet or stand them up in a popper pan. Bake at 350 degrees until bubbling and bacon is crispy.

About The Author

Donna Britt

Food writer, food stylist, recipe tester, cookbook editor, podcast producer/host are a few of the creative hats Donna Britt wears. Donna loves to hike, paddle board and spend quality time with family and friends. Oh, and she also collects cookbooks and cast iron cooking vessels.
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