If you grabbed a dictionary and looked up the definition for amuse bouche, there would surely be a photo of our Bacon-Wrapped Stuffed Peppadews next to the words. These little bites of heaven are stuffed with our favorite herbed cheese, wrapped in salty bacon and popped into the air fryer until irresistibly crispy and creamy. The perfect happy hour treat!
Bacon-Wrapped Stuffed Peppadews
Even though most of us might associate the term “happy hour” as a period residing primarily as a hump day through Sunday activity, I will argue there is no better day than Monday to have an excuse to pour a drink and eat our weight in Bacon-Wrapped Stuffed Peppadews.
These little jewels of flavor are the ultimate happy hour treat with their dainty bite-sized status and seemingly endless flavor. From the herbed fresh cheese we stuff inside the briny, slightly spicy pepper to the salty, crispy bacon-wrapped exterior, these bad boys were made for snacking.
If you’re into the olive bar at the grocery store, then you’re likely familiar with a cheese-stuffed peppadew pepper. They’re the perfect combination of creamy, tangy, slightly spicy, and sweet, and I’ve become quite smitten with them. (We actually have a recipe for them from a hundred years ago here.)
Recently we discovered bacon-wrapped stuffed peppadews at a local Kansas City restaurant that are arguably the best one bite wonder we’ve come across (although if you peruse our Appetizer archives you’ll find some heavy contenders), so of course I vowed to replicate them at home.
Their version of Stuffed Peppers requires something I didn’t want to mess with – the deep fryer. Instead, just as we did with our Crispy Taquitos and Brussels Sprouts, we opted to use the air fryer to mimic the crispiness of a deep fryer without the added fat and calories.
What are peppadew peppers?
These tiny little peppers are bright red in color and look very similar to a cherry pepper, but are much sweeter. Peppadew is actually the brand name, as the pepper itself is called a Juanita pepper and found in South Africa. You rarely find them in their original state, instead, much like a cherry pepper, you can find them brined in a sugar and vinegar brine and stored in a jar.
Most varieties have some level of heat to them, but the sweet, tanginess is the most pronounced flavor. They would be great sprinkled over our favorite Pepperoni and Bacon Pizza and would make a phenomenal addition to a grilled cheese sandwich. Oh wait! We’ve done that already.
What you’ll need
Peppadew peppers. Again, you can find these guys in the olive section at the grocery store. For every dozen peppers, you’ll need about five ounces of cheese, so keep that in mind. Be sure to grab peppers that are all similar in size so they cook in the same amount of time.
Herbed cheese. You could go quite a few directions here. We love to use a local herbed goat cheese, which may not be available near you, so any herbed goat cheese or cream cheese will work great.
Bacon. When I was testing this recipe, I experimented with a few different thicknesses and flavors of bacon and found thick-cut to work the best. The thinner pieces worked as well, but little bits and pieces tend to char before the rest of the bacon is done cooking.
Toothpicks. Even though this isn’t technically an ingredient, it is essentially for keeping the bacon adequately attached to the bacon and pepper.
Let’s make Stuffed Peppadews
Dry the peppers. If there is excess moisture on the peppers, the bacon will have a harder time crisping up in the air fryer. I like to drain them and them blot them with a paper towel before stuffing the peppadews.
Stuff the peppers. Depending on the size of your pepper, you’ll need to about two teaspoons of cheese to stuff inside the pepper. Be sure to stuff them all the way to the top and get in every little crevice. I like to do this by pushing the back of my teaspoon into the mixture to compress it.
Wrap the peppers. Wrap a piece of bacon around the pepper. The bacon will obviously be too long to only wrap around the pepper once, so use kitchen shears to cut the bacon. Because bacon shrinks up as you cook it, make sure to cut it where it overlaps over itself for about 1/4-inch. It’s okay if the bacon is wider than the pepper.
Secure the bacon with a toothpick.
Chill the peppers. Place the peppers on a plate or baking sheet and pop into the freezer for 20 minutes to chill the cheese. If you skip this step, the cheese will simply melt and ooze out of the pepper before it’s done cooking.
Cook the peppers. Preheat your air fryer at 380 degrees. (Our air fryer only goes in 20-second increments, if yours does not go to 380, 375 or 390 will work.) Place the stuffed peppadews into the basket of the air fryer. Don’t overcrowd them. We can fit about half in at a time.
Cook for seven minutes.
Substitutions and Tips and Tricks for Recipe Success
- It’s not necessary to pre-heat the air fryer. Simply add 3-4 minutes to the time if you don’t.
- Use your favorite soft cheese. Herbed goat cheese or cream cheese is what we usually use, but honey goat cheese or even honey walnut cream cheese would give off a lovely sweet and savory vibe.
- If you use thinner bacon, it will take less time to cook.
- Drizzle with hot honey just before serving for an extra layer of flavor.
- Remember, pick peppadew peppers that are similar in size.
- If you do work in batches, be sure to clean the air fryer before the next batch.
Tools/Pretty things used in today’s post
- Air fryer. We love this one, but I imagine they’re all great.
- 18 peppadew peppers
- 5 oz herbed goat or cream cheese (honey goat or chream cheese would also be delicious!)
- 6 slices thick-cut bacon (we used this exact brand and variety)
- honey for drizzling
- Air fryer
- Drain the peppers. Pat dry with paper towels on the inside and outside.
- Use a 1/2 teaspoon to stuff the peppers to the top with cheese. Place all of the cheese-stuffed peppers in the freezer to chill for 35 minutes.
- Pull the peppers out and wrap in bacon, making sure the bacon covers the opening of the pepper where the cheese is at. Overlap the bacon about 1/4-inch over itself, making sure the bacon is tightly wrapped, secure with a toothpick. Cut off the excess bacon. Use the leftover piece of bacon to make the next pepper. Depending on the size of the pepper and bacon, I usually get 2-3 peppers wrapped per piece of bacon.
- Preheat the air fryer to 380 degrees according to the package directions. If you have to wait for the air fryer to preheat, pop the bacon wrapped peppers back into the freezer.
- Add as many peppers as you can to the bottom of the air fryer. Make sure none of the peppers are touching. I usually work in two batches and can fit 8-10 peppers per batch. Set the timer to five minutes. After five minutes, carefully flip over each pepper. Close the air fryer again and set the timer for another 5 minutes. Check on them after three more minutes, if they are brown and crispy remove. If not continue to cook for the remainder of the time. If needed, add another minute or two.
- Drizzle with honey just before serving. Serve immediately.