Appetizer Side Dish Snack

Pepper recipes abound for whatever might pop up

These grilled jalapeno poppers feature sharp cheddar along with bacon instead of the traditional cream-cheese-filled offering. The combination of flavors is a delicious change of pace.

If you have read this column for any length of time, you know that I am, in no way, a gardener. Despite that, I still follow a Kansas gardening group on Facebook, and I love seeing the posts of beautiful gardens, weird plants and bugs that show up in people’s yards and discussions about how to keep everything alive.

One of my biggest fascinations this summer is with what local gardeners are calling “peppergate.” Apparently, a large seed manufacturer mixed up pepper seeds, and as plants are popping up and peppers are growing, people are discovering that their gardens aren’t producing exactly what they thought they would.

Unfortunately, that means many people who thought they were growing bell peppers are ending up with spicy ones instead. That has to be so frustrating.

In our house, we’re not scared of spicy peppers, although I almost exclusively use them to make salsa, so I was excited to try something a bit different—especially since Joey was firing up his smoker, and that meant I could make him actually cook my experiment for me.

I ended up making some jalapeno poppers that were a bit different from most recipes, because they used sharp cheddar instead of cream cheese, and they were certainly worth the try.

This recipe comes from the blog “Sur la table” and featured a recipe by chef Steve Raichlen. You can find the original post at I added seasoning to my version and didn’t add almonds like the original recipe dictated.

Also, I used a jalapeno grill rack to make mine, which lets you stand the peppers upright while they roast. If you don’t have one, you can cut your jalapenos lengthwise instead. They may cook a little quicker that way, so be sure to keep your eye on them.


Grilled Jalapeno Poppers

These grilled jalapeno poppers feature sharp cheddar along with bacon instead of the traditional cream-cheese-filled offering. The combination of flavors is a delicious change of pace.
Course Appetizer, Side Dish, Snack
Keyword bacon, barbecue rub, barbecue seasoning, grilled, jalapeno peppers, jalapeno poppers, sharp cheddar cheese, smoker


  • 8 to 10 large straight(ish) jalapeno peppers
  • 4 to 6 ounces sharp cheddar cheese
  • 3 to 6 thin slices bacon
  • Barbecue seasoning of your choice


  • You’ll want to get your grill heated up to about 375 degrees.
  • To prepare your jalapenos, cut the tops off of each, and carefully scoop out the seeds and ribs inside.
  • Cut the cheese into sticks that leave at least one-eighth of an inch clearance all the way around when you slide them into the jalapenos.
  • Cut the bacon slices into three pieces (not length-wise; you want short, wide pieces).
  • Pour about two tablespoons of barbecue seasoning on a small plate.
  • To assemble the poppers, roll a cheese stick in the seasoning, wrap the bacon tightly around it, and stuff it into the prepared jalapeno. Continue until all the jalapenos are filled.
  • Roast upright in a rack on your grill or smoker for 20 to 30 minutes or until the jalapenos are tender and the bacon is cooked through.
  • Serve hot.

These were a nice change of pace from traditional poppers. I really liked the combination of the sharp cheese with the spicy pepper and a little sweet from the barbecue seasoning.

The other nice thing is you can customize this for however many people you’re feeding. The original recipe made 18. I ended up making 10, because we didn’t have a ton of people coming over.

I can’t tell you how these reheat, as we didn’t have any left over, but I would guess they’re one of those things that’s best eaten right away.

If you happened to be a victim of “peppergate” this year, hopefully you’ll be able to find uses for all of your garden surprises. For me, this might be the first summer I’m pretty glad I just get my produce from the grocery store; gardening is already hard enough.

This piece first appeared in print on Aug. 10, 2023.

Spice Up Your Life is a weekly newspaper column written by Lindsey Young in south central Kansas. If you are interested in sponsoring this column, please contact us through the “Contact Lindsey” link at the top of the page.

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