Cheesy Jalapeño Popper Chicken

published Jun 19, 2022
Jalapeño Popper Chicken Recipe

All the spicy, cheesy, gooey components of the classic bar snack come together in this easy weeknight dinner.

Serves4

Prep20 minutes

Cook37 minutes to 45 minutes

Jump to Recipe
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a piece of cooked chicken breast with melted cheese and jalapenos on top, cut open
Credit: Sahara Bohoskey

Jalapeño popper chicken is inspired by the game-day classic snack of stuffed spicy green jalapeño peppers with cream cheese, pepper Jack, and bacon bits. The only difference here is the addition of chicken breasts to turn it into dinner. 

What Is Jalapeño Popper Chicken?

This jalapeño popper chicken is a prime example of an easy-yet-satisfying dinner. Humble chicken breasts are stuffed with creamy, tangy, and, most importantly, spicy filling made of cream cheese, shredded cheese, bacon bits, and a mix of fresh and pickled jalapeños.

How to Make Jalapeño Popper Chicken

The chicken is stuffed and then pan-fried first to get a lovely golden hue. It’s then finished off in a high-temp oven. I do this for two reasons: The high temperature ensures the chicken breasts — notorious for its dryness — cooks fast and keeps its moisture, and secondly, so the creamy cheesy filling doesn’t completely melt away but instead, is just warmed though and melty.

Credit: Sahara Bohoskey

What Goes Well with Jalapeño Popper Chicken?

While the chicken is roasting, I recommend preparing a green salad like this simple arugula salad or sautéed green beans.

Jalapeño Popper Chicken Recipe

All the spicy, cheesy, gooey components of the classic bar snack come together in this easy weeknight dinner.

Prep time 20 minutes

Cook time 37 minutes to 45 minutes

Serves 4

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • 3 1/2 ounces

    cream cheese (about 1/2 cup)

  • 4 slices

    bacon

  • 4

    medium jalapeños, divided

  • 10 ounces

    pepper jack cheese

  • 8 ounces

    sour cream (about 1 cup)

  • 1 teaspoon

    garlic powder

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    smoked paprika

  • 1 teaspoon

    kosher salt, divided

  • 1 teaspoon

    black pepper, divided

  • 4

    boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 2 pounds total)

  • 8 to 10

    toothpicks

  • 2 tablespoons

    vegetable oil

Instructions

  1. Place 3 1/2 ounces cream cheese (about 1/2 cup) in a medium bowl and let sit at room temperature until softened, 35 to 40 minutes. Meanwhile, arrange a rack 4 to 6 inches from the broiler element and heat the oven to 400°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil.

  2. Place 4 bacon slices in a single layer on the baking sheet. Bake until browned and fat has rendered out, about 15 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate and pat off any excess grease. Once cool enough to handle, crumble the bacon with your hands or cut into 1/4-inch pieces.

  3. Cut 4 to 8 thin rounds from 1 medium jalapeño. Trim and dice the remaining part of the cut jalapeño as well as the remaining 3 medium jalapeños (about 1 cup). You can keep some of the seeds if you want the spice, or discard completely. Grate 10 ounces pepper jack cheese on the large holes of a box grater (about 2 1/2 cups).

  4. Add the bacon, diced jalapeños, 2 cups of the pepper jack cheese, 8 ounces sour cream (about 1 cup), 1 teaspoon garlic powder, 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika, 1/2 teaspoon of the kosher salt, and 1/2 teaspoon of the black pepper to the cream cheese and mix until combined.

  5. Cut pockets into 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts: Working with 1 breast at a time, place on a cutting board. Press a hand on top of the breast and carefully insert the tip of a chef's knife into the thickest part of the chicken breast. Cut an opening about 3 inches wide, then cut 3/4 of the way through the breast to create a pocket without cutting all the way through. Season the outside and pocket of the chicken breasts with the reamining 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper.

  6. Stuff each chicken breast with about 1/4 cup of the cheese filling. Be sure not to overfill and leave about 1/4-inch of the opening free. Close the pockets by weaving 2 to 3 toothicks through each one.

  7. Heat 2 tablespoons vegetable oil in a large oven-safe frying pan over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the chicken and pan fry on the bottom until golden brown, 3 to 5 minutes. Flip the chicken and transfer the pan to the oven. Bake until the thickest part of the chicken registers at least 165°F on an instant-read thermometer, 15 to 20 minutes.

  8. Remove from the oven. Switch the oven to broil on high. Sprinkle the chicken with the remaining pepper jack cheese. Broil until the cheese is melted and lightly browned, about 3 minutes. Let the chicken rest for 5 minutes before serving.