We are huge chili pepper fans at my house, so these Jalapeno Poppers with Sausage and Cream Cheese are always devoured quickly. Fresh jalapenos are stuffed with a simple mixture of cooked ground sausage, cream cheese, green onions, and plenty of cheddar cheese then finished in the oven. The finished product is delightfully crunchy + creamy, with the perfect amount of kick from the jalapenos to warm everything up.
These Jalapeno Poppers are equally welcome as an appetizer for parties or served as a main dish alongside a simple salad — ok, let’s be honest – more often alongside chips and guacamole (that’s salad-y, right?).
Let’s talk about capsaicin for a moment (aka what makes jalapenos spicy)
Did you know that chili peppers aren’t all spicy? Capsaicin, the naturally occurring compound that is responsible for a pepper’s heat, is found at varying levels based on the type of chili pepper. Yes, jalapenos can be spicy. However, they don’t rank very high on the Scoville scale (which measures the heat of chili peppers in relation to the amount of capsaicin generally found in them). Here are a few examples on the Scoville scale, rated in Scoville heat units (SHU):
- Carolina Reaper 800,000-3,200,000 SHU
- Habanero 100,000-350,000 SHU
- Serrano 10,000-23,000 SHU
- Jalapeno 3,500-8,000 SHU
- Poblano 1000-1,500 SHU
- Bell 0-100 SHU
As you can see, the jalapeno has a fairly low average SHU relative to it’s spicier counterparts, owing to the amount of capsaicin found in the average pepper.
How to choose the right jalapenos for your preferred spice level
Just like humans, jalapeno peppers can get stressed out and also get stretch marks. When a pepper goes through exceptionally hot days and infrequent waterings, it stresses the plant and creates white lines or “stretch marks” indicative of extra spicy “stressed” peppers. As the plant ages, the pepper accumulates more stress lines and are often found to be spicier than their smoother, younger counterparts. An older pepper will also begin to turn red, which can lend a bit more sweetness to the pepper, but you’ll still want to pay attention to the stretch marks because even a sweet pepper can pack a lot of heat.
- Prefer a spicier pepper? Choose those with stretch marks indicative of a stressed and spicier pepper.
- Prefer a milder pepper? Choose those that are smooth and waxy with little to no stretch marks.
Still worried about the heat?
You may have heard that a jalapeno’s capsaicin is found in the seeds – This is only sort of true. The capsaicin is actually found in the highest concentrations in the pith and ribs of the pepper (the white part). The seeds are surrounded by the pith and ribs which is why they get blamed as the primary culprit. So, if you want to lessen the heat of a jalapeno pepper without sacrificing the flavor they bring, scrape as much of the white pith and ribs out as you can.
Pro tips for cleaning jalapeno peppers
If you’d like to avoid the classic capsaicin burn on your hands while prepping the jalapenos, plan on wearing kitchen gloves (or pop your hand into a sandwich bag) to clean out the seeds, pith, and ribs of the peppers. If you prefer not to wear gloves, you can clean your peppers out with a spoon or a small paring knife, however, remember that the capsaicin will linger on your skin for a long time (so don’t touch your eyes!). If you do happen to get some on your skin, I’ve found that the best remedy for washing it off is a splash of alcohol or a good grease-cutting dish soap rather than hand soap.
Delicious swaps for the sausage
If you’re not a fan of sausage, these Jalapeno Poppers are also delicious filled with ground beef or ground turkey instead. If you’re opting for a meat-free version, these jalapeno poppers are also tremendous simply filled with the cream cheese, cheddar cheese, and green onions; though you may consider increasing the amount of cream cheese used by an additional 4oz if making them this way.
What tools do I need to make this recipe?
- A cutting board
- A chefs knife
- A paring knife – OR – kitchen gloves (to wear while cleaning the insides of the jalapenos)
- A baking sheet
- Parchment paper or a silicone baking sheet liner
- A saute pan
- A wooden spoon or spatula
- A regular spoon (for filling each pepper)
Are you looking to upgrade to your cooking tools or replenish your pantry? Check out my kitchen tools shop page and pantry staples shop page to find my must-have kitchen tools, pantry items, and other Whip & Wander favorites.
How long will these Jalapeno Poppers with Sausage and Cream Cheese Keep?
When stored properly in airtight containers in the refrigerator, these Jalapeno Poppers with Sausage and Cream Cheese should keep for up to 4 days.
A note for special diets
These Jalapeno Poppers with Sausage and Cream Cheese are grain-free, gluten-free, low-carb, and friendly for Keto diets.
If you’d like to make this recipe friendly for Low-FODMAP diets, a lactose-free cream cheese can be substituted for traditional. The cheddar cheese included in this recipe is already Low-FODMAP friendly as most cheddar naturally contains only trace amounts of lactose (0.5 grams or less).
Jalapeno Poppers with Sausage and Cream Cheese are a creamy and spicy appetizer made friendly for gluten-free, low-carb, keto, and low-fodmap diets.
- 1 lb jalapenos (about 8–10 large or 16 small)
- 1 lb Italian sausage, ground (If you are Low-FODMAP make sure you choose one free of garlic and onion or sub for traditional ground sausage)
- 8 oz cream cheese, softened (if low-fodmap swap for this lactose-free one)
- 1 1/2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded and divided
- 1 cup green onions, chopped (if low-fodmap make sure you use just the green tops)
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 C). Line a large baking tray with parchment paper or a silicone baking sheet.
- On a cutting board, carefully slice each jalapeno in half length-wise. If you prefer, you can also slice the tops off as you won’t eat that part, but I prefer to leave them on because they look nicer.
- Scoop out all of the seeds, taking as much of the white pith and ribs as you prefer based on your heat preference (the white ribs and pith are where the majority of the heat is). I always like to give my peppers an extra rinse afterward, to make sure all the seeds have come out.
- Transfer the jalapeno halves onto the baking tray, cut side up, and set to the side.
- In a large saute pan, brown the sausage, breaking it up with a wooden spoon or spatula.
- Add the green onions, softened cream cheese, and 1 cup of the cheddar cheese to the pan, reserving the remaining 1/2 cup cheddar for later. Stir until melted and evenly combined, then remove from heat.
- Spoon the filling into each jalapeno half.
- Sprinkle the remaining 1/2 cup cheddar cheese across the tops of the peppers.
- Transfer the jalapeno poppers to the oven to bake for 25-30 minutes. I usually pull them out when the edges of the pepper start to look slightly darker and the cheese is totally melted, but not so late that the pepper is supremely squishy – I like to keep a bit of crunch!
Nutritional information on Whip & Wander is provided as a courtesy and is approximate only. We cannot guarantee the accuracy of the nutritional information given for any recipe on this site.
- Serving Size: 2 halves
- Calories: 168
- Sugar: 1 g
- Sodium: 295 mg
- Fat: 14 g
- Saturated Fat: 7 g
- Carbohydrates: 3 g
- Protein: 7 g
- Cholesterol: 45 mg
Keywords: Jalapeno Poppers with Sausage and Cream Cheese