Game Day grub doesn’t get more quintessential than jalapeño poppers and buffalo chicken, but when you combine the two in our Air Fryer Jalapeño Poppers? Finger food nirvana. Thank you so much to Oster Kitchen for sponsoring today’s post!
Air Fryer Jalapeno Poppers
When it comes to game day food I’ll take all the the cheeseburger sliders, all the dips and pretty much anything and everything under the sun I can inhale without utensils. While my husband shares the same sentiments, his loyalty lies with anything and everything buffalo chicken. And why shouldn’t it?
Today we’ve combined his favorite buffalo chicken dip (this Buffalo Chicken Dip is our favorite), condensed into down into a tidy filling and stuffed it generously inside fiery jalapeno halves. As the name implies these guys are Air Fryer Jalapeño Poppers which means we’re letting our Oster® Digital RapidCrisp™ Air Fryer Oven do most of the work.
You could simply stuff them with the chicken, hot sauce, cheddar and cream cheese mixture and let them be but we’ve gilded the lily a bit by wrapping each popper in a salty, crunchy piece of bacon. And if you’re anything like me, you don’t want to skip this step.
Even better? Prep them the day in advance (this actually works even better) and simply pop them in the air fryer right before your guests arrive.
Ingredients in Air Fryer Jalapeno Poppers
Jalapeños. Look for jalapeños large in size so you can easily stuff and wrap them. Also you don’t want them curled funny, try to find ones that will sit flat on a baking sheet so the filling doesn’t spill out.
Cream cheese. Unless I’m baking I almost always use low-fat cream cheese. If you have a strong opinion and don’t want to use low-fat, of course full fat is fine as well.
Cheddar cheese. Use the sharpest cheddar you can find! You can also use a 2% milk sharp cheddar to reduce the fat and calories a bit.
Scallion or chives. In my recipe development of this recipe I used both scallion and chives, either work. Just make sure to finely chop the scallions if that’s what you decide to use.
Chicken. We use leftover chicken or rotisserie. Use a sharp knife to chop the chicken very finely.
Hot sauce. When it comes to buffalo chicken, Frank’s hot sauce is the only way to go!
Bacon. I used both center cut bacon and regular bacon. Just be sure you don’t use thick-cut bacon or the jalapeno poppers will take too long to cook.
Let’s make Jalapeño Poppers
Prep the jalapeños. If you’ve ever prepped jalapeños for jalapeño poppers without gloves, then you know to not ever do this again. If you don’t have gloves, you can use two small plastic baggies to protect your fingers. I usually cut them in half without gloves and then put them on when it comes time to scrape out the seeds and membranes.
Make the filling. Add the cream cheese, cheddar cheese, hot sauce, salt, green onion and chicken to a small bowl. Mix until everything is combined.
Stuff. Use a small measuring spoon to fill each jalapeño half. Be sure you don’t overfill them so they don’t bubble over too much during the cooking process.
Wrap in bacon. If you feel like throwing caution to the wind, use a whole piece of bacon to wrap each jalapeño. The bacon does shrink considerably while cooking so it’s not a bad idea to do this. If you want to cut fat and calories a little bit, use a half a piece of bacon.
If you’re using center-cut bacon, you’ll want to make sure to use a whole piece as they tend to be smaller than a traditional piece of bacon.
Use a toothpick or two on the bottom to secure the bacon to the jalapeño. If you don’t secure the bacon, it will simply shrivel up and fall off the jalapeño while cooking.
Chill. It’s really important to chill the jalapeno poppers before you cook them otherwise the filling will bubble up too much and spill out of the jalapeno. Chill for at least an hour or even better, make them the day before and chill until you’re ready to eat.
Cook the poppers!
You can cook these guys a number of ways but we like to use our Oster® Digital RapidCrisp™ Air Fryer Oven. Not only does it crisp the bacon up perfectly but it does so in a fraction of the time it would take to bake in the oven. It’s also a heck of a lot healthier than throwing them in the fryer to crisp up.
The majority of the time we’re using the oven for the air fryer, but it also bakes normally, broils, toasts and dehydrates food which is so nice. While I wouldn’t necessarily promote cooking the poppers in advance if you do have to for some reason, you can simply use the bake or broil function to reheat them later.
All you have to do is place the jalapeños poppers in the air fryer basket, shut the door, set the temp and timer and let it go. Please not, it’s really important to follow the instruction here. This was one of those recipes that needed to be tested seven or so times to achieve a perfectly crisp but not charred jalapeno popper.
Here’s the secret:
- As we mentioned before, be sure you chill the poppers before.
- Preheat the air fryer. The times I did not preheat the air fryer, the bacon started to burn before it began to render fat.
- Start at a high temperature. This will help the bacon to begin the crisping process.
- Lower the temp after a few minutes. This allows the bacon to finish cooking without burning.
Can I make these in advance?
Yes! As we mentioned before, we actually prefer you prep them in advance. We just don’t recommend cooking them in advance. Because they cook so quickly in the air fryer, you simply move them from the fridge to the fryer and in about 10 minutes you’ll have perfect poppers.
Do I have to use bacon?
No! If you want to skip the bacon, go for it. Here’s what I’d recommend instead:
- Mix 1/3 cup panko with one tablespoon olive oil, salt, pepper, and two tablespoons parmesan cheese. Sprinkle one top of each popper.
- Air fry at 350 degrees for 5-6 minutes.
Substitutions and Tips and Tricks for Recipe Success
- Try to avoid buying small jalapeños. The bigger ones are easier to stuff and easier to wrap in bacon.
- Don’t wrap the bacon around the jalapeño too tightly. The bacon will shrink so it will end up covering less surface after it crisps up.
- It’s okay if some of the filling spills over.
- Make sure your air fryer is clean. This is SO important. If your air fryer isn’t clean, the grease from the bacon will smoke. If you’re working in batches, make sure to wipe the drip pan clean after each batch.
- 7 large jalapeños
- 4 oz light cream cheese, softened
- 1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese (We use 2%)
- 1/2 cup finely chopped cooked chicken
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1/4 tsp kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp onion powder
- 1 tbsp + 2 tsp Frank's red hot sauce
- 1 1/2 tbsp finely minced green onion or chive
- 14 pieces bacon (center cut or regular, do not use thick bacon)
- toothpick for securing
- Mixing bowls
- Air fryer
- Use a sharp knife to halve each jalapeños. Wear gloves and scrape out all the seeds and membrane of each jalapeno half.
- Add cream cheese, cheddar, chicken, garlic powder, salt, onion powder, hot sauce and green onion to a small bowl. Mix until combined. Use a small teaspoon to fill each jalapeno. DO NOT OVERFILL. You want it to be flush or just below the top of each jalapeno.
- Take a piece of bacon and wrap it around each jalapeno popper. Secure with toothpicks. Repeat with all the jalapeno halves. Chill the poppers for at least one hour and up to a day.
- When you're ready to cook, preheat the air fryer for five minutes at 400 degrees. Add the poppers to the basket of the air fryer. Be sure you don't overcrowd the basket. No two jalapeno poppers should be touching. You may have to work in two batches.
- Close the oven door and set the temperature to 400 degrees and the timer to five minutes. Press start. After five minutes, reduce the heat to 350 degrees and cook another 7-9 minutes. Be sure to check on the bacon. Take them out when the bacon is golden and crisp. Serve immediately.