Jalapeño Popper Stuffed Chicken Breast

by Alonzo Cantu January 23, 2020 5 min read

Jalapeño Popper Stuffed Chicken Breast

Jalapeño poppers are a classic, simple, and delicious appetizer here in south Texas. Throwing a party? You must have poppers. Watching football? You must have poppers. Eating dessert?! You MUST have p… Okay, you get the point! Texans love their poppers, and sometimes you get the feeling they could be a meal all on their own. If you thought poppers could only be the starter to your main course, think again! We took all the parts of a popper and stuffed them inside a juicy chicken breast wrapped in bacon. These jalapeño popper stuffed chicken breasts will turn your favorite appetizer into your new favorite meal.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 2 chicken breasts
  • 1 jalapeño
  • 2 oz cream cheese
  • 2 oz cheddar cheese
  • 8 slices bacon
  • Toothpicks

The Filling:

A classic jalapeño popper is filled with cream cheese and wrapped in a slice of bacon, but for this stuffed chicken we added a little something extra: cheddar cheese. Not only is cheddar tasty, it adds a nice pop of color when you slice into the chicken. Plus, anything stuffed should be cheesy by default, right? And I know what you’re thinking: 1 oz of cheddar and cream cheese per chicken breast? That can’t possibly be enough! Resist the urge to over stuff these chicken breasts. Overstuffing can lead to most of your filling coming out during the cooking process. Don’t forget, all this creamy filling is going inside a small pocket inside your chicken breast, and most chicken breasts will vary in size. The filling in this recipe could potentially be too much filling or not enough depending on the size of your chicken, so use your best judgement when stuffing your chicken.

The Jalapeño: 

One of my favorite parts of a popper is the contrast of crispy bacon with a tender jalapeño. When you think of how a popper is cooked, the bacon and jalapeño are getting the direct heat while the filling gets enough heat to be hot and creamy. However, when stuffing the chicken breasts, the jalapeño is part of the filling. It’s not getting the same direct heat that the bacon and chicken are getting, and therefore, your jalapeño might not come out as tender. My solution to this is to precook the jalapeño before stuffing it into the chicken. Now this step is completely optional. If you don’t mind the texture of the jalapeño with more bite to it, then you can stuff it as is. Much like the chicken breasts, the jalapeños will vary in size. The jalapeño I used in this recipe was on the larger side, so half a jalapeño was perfect for one chicken breast. If your jalapeños are on the smaller side, you can probably use a whole jalapeño per chicken breast. 

The Process:

If you decide precooking the jalapeño will result in the best texture for you, make sure to do this step first so that the pepper has time to cool before you stuff your chicken. Start by slicing the jalapeño in half and remove the seeds. Because this was a large jalapeño, I decided to cut it in fourths. In a small pan on medium heat, cook the jalapeño until it starts to get tender. I find covering with a lid helps the pepper to steam and become tender without blistering the pepper too much. It does not need to be completely tender throughout the pepper; just enough to give it a head start. Allow it to cool.

Next, cut two 1 oz chunks of cream cheese (about two tablespoons per chicken breast if you are using a tubbed cream cheese). For the cheddar, I cut two chunks off the block of cheese that ended up being a little less than 1 oz each. Pay attention to the size of your chicken breast and adjust the filling if needed.

To make the pocket inside the chicken, take a sharp knife and insert it into the side of the chicken breast, starting about ½ an inch from the top and ending about ½ an inch from the bottom of the chicken breast. Make sure not to cut all the way through to the other side of the chicken breast. Your goal is to create a big enough pocket to put all the filling without cutting through any of the sides as this will create a greater chance of your filling seeping out. Season the chicken breast inside and out with salt and pepper or your favorite BBQ rub.

Add the cream cheese, cheddar cheese, and jalapeño slices into the pocket inside the chicken breast. Cutting the cream cheese, cheddar, and jalapeño in similar shapes and sizes will help make it easier to stuff, but don’t worry if it gets a little messy. 

Now it’s time to wrap. First, make sure to pay attention to which side of the chicken breast has the opening so you can use toothpicks to help keep it closed. I used 4 slices of bacon for each chicken breast. As mentioned before, your chicken might be slightly smaller or larger so you might only need 3 slices, or you may need more than 4. Starting at one end, wrap the bacon around the chicken, slightly overlapping where the slices meet so that the bacon helps keep the stuffing inside. Slightly overlap the next slice of bacon where the previous slice ended until the whole chicken breast is wrapped. Insert toothpicks around the side where the opening is to help keep it closed so the stuffing does not come out. You can also use a couple toothpicks to help hold the bacon together in the spots where the slices met up so that it doesn’t come apart.

This recipe is great to make ahead of time and let sit in the refrigerator until you’re ready to cook. To cook these chicken breasts, I used my pellet smoker at 350°F for about 45 minutes or until the internal temperature reached 165°F. If you don’t have a pellet smoker, don’t panic! A charcoal or gas grill and even the oven are great options too. Just maintain the same cooking temperature and make sure the internal temperature of your chicken reaches 165°F. You can also top your chicken with your favorite BBQ sauce when it comes close to being done so that the sauce gets tacky without burning. When the chicken is done cooking, allow it to rest for at least 5 minutes. You don’t want to lose any of the juice or filling from your chicken. Trust me when I say, the only thing better than the way this chicken looks is the way it tastes!

Popper Stuffed Chicken

Prep Time: 10 minutes     Cook Time: 45-50 minutes

Serves: 2

2

Chicken breasts

2 oz

Cream cheese

2 oz

Cheddar cheese

jalapeño

8

Slices of thin bacon

  1. Slice 1 jalapeño in half and remove the seeds. If it is large, cut it into fourths. Cook the jalapeño slices in a pan using a lid to help steam them and get the a little tender. Allow to cool. (Optional)
  2. Cut two 1 oz pieces of cream cheese and two small slices of cheddar cheese (a little less than an oz each).
  3. Using a sharp knife, cut a pocket into the chicken without cutting through to the other side. Season the chicken with salt and pepper or your choice of seasoning.
  4. Fill the pockets with a piece of cream cheese, cheddar, and half of the jalapeño slices.
  5. Wrap the chicken with bacon (about 4 slices) and use toothpicks to secure. Use the toothpicks to help keep the opening of the pocket closed.
  6. Cook the chicken at 350°F for 45 minutes using a pellet, charcoal, or gas grill or the oven. Make sure the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165°F.
  7. Allow the chicken to rest for 5 minutes before slicing.
Alonzo Cantu
Alonzo Cantu


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