Learn everything you need to know about how to make smoked jalapeno poppers!
These delicious jalapenos are stuffed with a cheddar cream cheese filling, wrapped in bacon, and then smoked to perfection.
Whether you've got a gas or charcoal grill, a Traeger or Pit Boss pellet grill, or even a Masterbuilt electric smoker, we've got you covered!
What are Smoked Jalapeno Poppers?
You've probably seen conventional deep fried jalapeno poppers in the appetizer section of every casual chain restaurant you've ever dined in.
They are essentially jalapeno peppers scooped out and filled with cream cheese, coated in breading, and then deep fried.
While there are some delicious homemade deep fried jalapeno popper recipes out there, including this one from The Spruce Eats, you know we are all about smoking things around here, so we figured...why not make some smoked jalapeno poppers?
And while we were at it, we thought, why not wrap them in bacon?
What we ended up with were an amazingly delicious appetizer we'd be proud to bring to any outdoor barbecue, 4th of July picnic, or Super Bowl party.
Let's go over how to make them!
How to Prepare the Jalapeno Poppers for Smoking
Prepare the Smoked Jalapeno Popper Filling
First you want to get your filling ready. Here are the ingredients you will need:
- 8 ounces of cream cheese (smoked or regular)
- 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
It's easier if you soften, (or better yet, smoke the cream cheese) first. Then mix everything together in a small mixing bowl.
Slice, Scrape, and Fill the Jalapenos
Next you are going to slice the jalapenos in half lengthwise and scrape out the ribs and seeds with the edge of your knife, otherwise they will be EXTREMELY spicy.
Even if you like spicy food, we strongly encourage you not to skip this step.
And make sure to either wear gloves or wash your hands REALLY good and DO NOT touch your eyes when handling the insides of jalapeno peppers.
Once they are scraped out, fill each half with a spoonful of the filling you made and spread it from end to end.
Wrap in Bacon
Now you are going to wrap each filled jalapeno popper in bacon to hold it all together.
Cut each strip in half first and make sure to use regular thin bacon (not thick cut) as it will wrap around each popper much more easily like prosciutto.
Lastly, you can sprinkle a little of your favorite BBQ rub on the outside to give the smoked jalapeno poppers some extra BBQ flavor and a little more color.
Use a Grill Basket or Phat Mat
We placed our smoked jalapeno poppers directly on our oiled pellet grill grates, but next time we would use one of our grill mats or even agrill basket to make it easier to move them around all at once.
We are particular fans of the ORDORA Portable Grill Basket because it comes with its own handle, making it much easier to manage and move lots of delicate food, even shrimp, scallops, and asparagus around with one quick motion.
Another option is to use a grill mat, which are becoming increasingly popular in many BBQ circles, especially for delicate veggies and small seafood like oysters.
Our personal favorite is the PhatMat Non Stick Grill Mat.
Just throw it down on your grill to keep your food all in one place and you can slide it around as needed to make room for other food without having to move each individual item.
It keeps your grates really clean, and when you are done, you just throw it right in the dishwasher!
Best Wood for Smoked Jalapeno Poppers
Fruitwoods such as apple and cherry as well as oak will give you a subtle smoke flavor on your smoked jalapeno poppers.
We chose to use some Bear Mountain Gourmet Blend pellets for our smoked jalapeno poppers on our Pit Boss pellet grill.
They have a nice all around smokey flavor profile that includes some fruitwoods but also oak and hickory without becoming too overpowering.
Best Times and Temperatures for Smoking Jalapeno Poppers
Best Temperature to Cook Smoked Jalapeno Poppers
Because we need to cook the bacon well and render out the fat, we can't smoke these completely low and slow.
The bacon, while it would EVENTUALLY cook, would be unappetizing and chewy rather than giving us a nice crispy "bite through" on our smoked jalapeno popper.
On the other hand, if we smoke too hot, the bacon will burn before the fibrous jalapeno pepper has fully cooked and softened on the inside.
For this reason we are going to smoke our jalapeno poppers at a nice middle of the road 300°F with INDIRECT heat.
If you are using a gas or charcoal grill, will discuss how to set those up for indirect heat below.
How Long Does it Take to Smoke Jalapeno Poppers?
The amount of time it takes will vary a little depending on your grill or smoker and also the size of your jalapenos.
We found it took about 1 hour and 15 minutes to completely cook our smoked jalapeno poppers.
Once the bacon has changed from a pink to a nice dark color and feels firm when you tap it, the jalapeno poppers are likely done.
Setting Up a Grill or Smoker for Smoked Jalapeno Poppers
New to smoking?
Below are the best instructions for setting up different types of grills and smokers to smoke your jalapeno poppers.
Smoked Jalapeno Poppers in a Vertical or Offset Charcoal Smoker
Fill your firebox or lower charcoal basin with about a chimney's worth of unlit charcoal and create a small hollowed out depression in the center where you can add your lit briquets.
If your smoker comes with a water pan, like the Weber Smokey Mountain, go ahead and fill it.
Light a charcoal chimney about ¼ of the way and wait about 10 minutes for them to fully ignite.
Once lit, add the lit briquets to the center depression you created.
Keep the top vents half closed and the bottom dampers about ½ way open until the temperature is in the 250°F range.
Add 1 chunk of smoking wood once the smoker is up to temperature, grease the grill grates, and put your jalapeno poppers on.
Then slowly close down the top and bottom dampers to only about ¼ open until you are maintaining a temperature of 300°F.
Continue to adjust the dampers open and closed as necessary to maintain this temperature
Smoked Jalapeno Poppers in a Propane or Electric Smoker
Propane and electric options are some of the easiest smokers for beginners to start with.
For Propane: Open your gas valve and light the bottom burner. Adjust it to keep the temperature no right at about 300° F.
Need a refresher? Check our our Complete Guide to How to Use a Propane Smoker HERE.
Fill the smoking wood tray with your chosen wood chips and keep the top vent closed about ½ way.
Oil the trays and place your jalapeno poppers on the top racks as far as away from the burner as possible.
If your propane smoker tends to run hot, place a foil pan filled with water on the tray below the jalapeno poppers to act as a buffer.
Go ahead and fill the water pan if there is one.
Oil the trays and place your jalapeno poppers on the top racks.
However, we recently found a great solution.
If you are tired of having to reload fresh wood chips into your electric smoker, especially on longer cooks like pork butt and brisket, then check out this Masterbuilt Automatic Slow Smoker Attachment.
It basically burns new fresh wood chips at a constant rate, much like how a pellet grill works, freeing you up to do other things while getting your food nice and smokey!
Smoked Jalapeno Poppers on a Pellet Grill
Fill the pellet hopper with your choice of smoking wood pellets.
Let the pellet grill run through its start up process. When the pellet grill has come up to temperature, place your jalapeno poppers on the oiled grill grates, or preferably in a grill basket, or on a Phat Mat, and close the lid.
Turn and rotate the smoked jalapeno poppers as needed depending on how even the heating of your pellet grill is.
Never used a pellet grill before? Read our Ultimate Guide to Pellet Grills to learn why they are so easy and how to set one up for success every time.
Smoked Jalapeno Poppers on a Gas or Charcoal Grill
On a gas or charcoal grill you will likely need to use a smoker box filled with wood chips, or a pellet tube smoker filled with wood pellets.
Think you need a fancy smoker to smoke food at home?
Great smoked food can be made right on your current gas or charcoal grill.
If you are unfamiliar with these gas grill smoking devices mentioned above, no worries, we have you covered!
Or check out this handy comparison between smoker boxes and pellet tube smokers if you can't decide which is right for you.
In the case of smoked jalapeno poppers, we would opt for the pellet tube smoker on a gas grill since you need to smoke them for about 75 minutes.
If using a charcoal kettle style grill like in the picture below, use one chunk of smoking wood.
Set up your gas or charcoal grill for indirect cooking with only one burner or a small amount of lit briquets on one side and plan for your jalapeno poppers to be on the other side.
Remember, we are smoking the jalapeno poppers INDIRECTLY, so as not to burn the bottoms.
Once the temperature of your grill is around 250°F, place your smoker box or pellet tube smoker over the lit burners or place a chunk of wood on the lit charcoal and once smoke begins coming out, place your jalapeno poppers on the opposite side on the well oiled grate.
Continue bringing the temperature up to 300°F and smoke at this temperature for about 75 minutes, rotating for even cooking as necessary.
Check out our Favorite Gas Grills priced UNDER $200 Here.
Serving Smoked Jalapeno Poppers
Carefully remove the smoked jalapeno poppers from the grill or smoker and set on a wire rack, cutting board, or plate to cool before serving.
After that, all that's left to do is enjoy!
Smoked jalapeno poppers are a great appetizer to share at a barbecue or a tailgating party along with some smoked chicken wings, the always fun smoked pig shots, or our smoked bacon cheddar cream cheese dip.
Smoked Jalapeno Poppers
- Smoker, Grill or Pellet Grill
- Wood for smoking (chunks, chips, or pellets).
- Cutting Board
- Small Mixing Bowl and Spoon
- BBQ Tongs
- Grill Mat or Basket optional
- 12 Jalapenos Cut in half lengthwise, seeds and ribs removed
- 1 package Bacon Thin, NOT thick cut
- Your Favorite BBQ Rub optional to sprinkle on top
- 8 ounces Cream cheese smoked or regular
- 1 cup Shredded Cheddar Cheese
- 1 teaspoon Garlic Powder
- ½ teaspoon Onion Powder
- ½ teaspoon Salt
- ½ teaspoon Ground Black Pepper
- Preheat Grill or Smoker set up with INDIRECT heat to 300°F. Fill the water tray if there is one.
Prepare the Jalapeno Popper Filling
- Soften the cream cheese on the counter for 10-20 minutes before mixing.8 ounces Cream cheese
- Shred the cheddar cheese.1 cup Shredded Cheddar Cheese
- Mix the cream cheese, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and pepper together in a bowl.1 teaspoon Garlic Powder, ½ teaspoon Onion Powder, ½ teaspoon Salt, ½ teaspoon Ground Black Pepper
Slice, Scrape, and Fill the Jalapenos
- Slice the jalapenos in half and remove the ribs and seeds with the edge of your knife.12 Jalapenos
- Fill one of the scraped out jalapeno halves with a spoonful of the cream cheese mixture and spread from end to end,
- Repeat this with each jalapeno half.
Wrap in Bacon
- Cut each strip of bacon in half first and make sure to use regular thin bacon (not thick cut) as it will wrap around each popper much more easily like prosciutto.1 package Bacon
- Start at one end and wrap around to the other end overlapping slightly each time so that the entire jalapeno is wrapped end to end in bacon.
- Repeat with the rest of the jalapeno poppers and then sprinkle some BBQ rub on top of each one if you wish.Your Favorite BBQ Rub
Smoke the Jalapeno Poppers
- Place your smoking wood chunk on the hot charcoals if using a charcoal grill or pellet tube or smoker box if using a gas grill. If using a propane or electric smoker, fill the wood chip tray.
- Oil the grill grates and carefully place the bacon wrapped jalapeno poppers on the preheated grill or smoker set up for indirect heat. Close the lid or door.
- Rotate around as needed for even cooking. Use a grill mat to make this easier.
- Smoke for about 60-75 minutes until the bacon is dark and mostly crispy.
Remove and Serve
- Carefully remove the smoked jalapeno poppers from the grill or smoker.
- Let cool on a wire rack or cutting board for 10 minutes, then eat and enjoy!