Baked Jalapeno Poppers with Sweet & Spicy Apricot Sauce
Serves: Makes 14-16 whole poppers, or 28-32 half poppers
  • For the dipping sauce:
  • ¼ cup apricot preserves
  • ¼ tsp. ginger powder
  • ¼-1/2 tsp. red chile flakes, to taste
  • ⅛th-1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper, to taste
  • 1-2 tsp. water, as needed
  • -
  • For the poppers:
  • 8 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup grated pepper jack cheese (or monterray jack, mozzarella, or cheddar)
  • 14-16 jalapenos, depending on size
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 TBSP milk
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour (or gluten-free blend)
  • 1½ cups panko breadcrumbs (or gluten-free alternative)
  • 1½ tsp. kosher salt (or ¾ tsp. sea salt)
  • 1 tsp. sweet paprika
  • ½ tsp. onion powder
  • ½ tsp. garlic powder
  • pinch of cayenne
  • pinch of black pepper
  • cooking spray
  1. For the sauce:
  2. Mix together the apricot preserves, ginger powder, chile flakes, and cayenne. Taste, and adjust the cayenne and chile flakes as needed. If the sauce is too spicy, add more preserves. Stir in the water as needed to thin to desired consistency. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge.
  3. For the poppers:
  4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray, and set aside.
  5. In a bowl, mush together the cream cheese and grated cheese. Set aside.
  6. Wearing latex-free gloves, make an incision down the length of each jalapeno. At the top of each incision, near the stem, make a small cross-wise cut like the letter T. Gently peel back either side of the jalapeno to reveal the stem and seeds inside. Using the tip of your knife or your fingers, remove the seeds and veins (or, if you have a set of metal measuring spoons, I find the ½ tsp. measure to be perfect for scooping everything out cleanly).
  7. Alternatively: to double the number of poppers, cut each pepper in half lengthwise, and remove the seeds and veins from each half.
  8. Stuff each pepper (or half pepper) with the cheese and cream cheese mixture, and set aside.
  9. Prepare your breading ingredients: In a shallow bowl, whisk together the eggs and milk, and set aside. Place the flour in another shallow dish, and stir in a pinch of salt and pepper. Set aside. In a separate dish, combine the bread crumbs and all of the spices.
  10. Dip each stuffed pepper into the egg mixture, then dredge lightly in the flour, shaking off any excess. Once all of the peppers have been dredged in flour, dip them again in the egg mixture, then roll in the breadcrumbs to coat thoroughly.
  11. Once all of the peppers have been rolled in breadcrumbs, place them on your prepared baking sheet and spray the tops of the peppers lightly with cooking spray (this will help them brown, and not burn). Bake until golden brown and crispy, about 30 minutes. Let cool 3-5 minutes before digging in.
These poppers can easily be made gluten-free, just by swapping the flour and breadcrumbs for their gluten-free counterparts. Whatever kind you use, just be sure the breadcrumbs are panko for that nice crispy exterior, sans the deep frying!
Recipe by Will Cook For Friends at