I remember (years ago… before I was vegan) eating delicious jalapeno poppers at some local restaurant like Chili’s or somewhere. I absolutely loved them. When I went vegan, I sadly thought I was giving up these deliciously sinful cheese filled treats. WRONG!! I don’t know if it was being sick this last week (ironically from a COLD) or what it was exactly that gave me the desire to attempt to make these hot & spicy body cleansing (or clogging, depending on how you look at it) appetizers, but, boy am I glad I did!
I honestly usually look for the healthy way to eat something… you know, the “bake it instead of fry it” kinda thing, but I think these are one of those little treats that you just gotta fry up. It’s part of what makes them so bad and so good at the same time! And let me tell ‘ya… these suckers were HOT… but hey… some like it hot. (By the way, I love that movie. If you haven’t seen it, rent it!). I should also mention that I did NOT allow my kids to have any of these! This was something my husband and I HAD to be greedy with, for the sake of the children! Heeheehee 😉
You know, now that I think of it, I probably didn’t need to plant 3 jalapeno plants in my garden at the same time. I mean, WHO eats that many jalapenos! The way I see it, you plant and you learn from your mistakes. (Note to self: next year 1 jalapeno plant will be entirely sufficient for my family… and 2 if I feel like giving a bunch away!)
** You may seriously want to consider using gloves when handling the jalapenos. I didn’t use any… I didn’t have any… I will say, I was pretty careful when cleaning out the jalapenos. I washed my hands immediately after and also rubbed them with a slice of lemon very thoroughly… I don’t know why but I feel like someone once told me that that helped… Vinegar is also supposed to remove really strong smelling things, like onion or garlic… maybe rubbing some vinegar on your hands would be helpful. (update: I accidentally wiped the edge of my eye the day after making these, and… well, let me just say I strongly urge you to use gloves! There must’ve been a trace amount of jalapeno oil on my hands cause it got in my eye and burned like hell!)
I didn’t have panko bread crumbs on hand, so I actually tore up some extra bread we had lying around into little teeny tiny bits/crumbs. A food processor would probably have done the job too. I crushed a couple Ritz-style crackers in there as well. Voila. Homemade bread crumbs.
Vegan Jalapeno Poppers
Please be advised that the filling could EASILY be halved. I have an entire half batch of cream cheese yummy mix sitting in the refrigerator… which would’ve been great if I was making 24 jalapeno poppers! But hey.. now I have a flavored cream cheese spread for bagels!
YOU WILL NEED:
- 12 jalapenos, prepared as desired (see directions below)
- 1-2 cups bread crumbs
- 8 oz vegan cream cheese
- 1/2 cup shredded vegan gourmet cheddar cheese
- 2 tsp Frontier brand “bacon bits” (optional, but recommended!)
- 1/2 cup unbleached flour
- 1/2 cup cornstarch
- 1 cup milk whisked with 3 Tbsp ground flax seeds
*** READ THIS BEFORE FILLING THE JALAPENOS ***
I tried these 4 methods of filling the jalapenos to see what would be easiest:
Method 1 – slicing the peppers in half lengthwise. This made for easy scraping and removal of seeds & veins. Definitely the fastest way… seems to make more since every 1 jalapeno becomes 2. Just a matter of preference. Do you want half peppers or whole? May be easier for some people to eat them this way, since they don’t have to take such giant bites… ideal for parties. I was worried they wouldn’t cook well since the cheese was exposed but I was pleased with the surrounding breaded outcome.
Method 2 – Cutting off the tops, carving out the insides and after filling the pepper, cementing the top back on with the filling mixture. It was kinda hard to fill the pepper with the cheese unless you squirt it in with a baggie or frosting bag thingy. I didn’t use one and it felt I wasn’t filling it enough and taking forever. Plus, it was hard to roll these in the mixtures without the tops coming off 😦
Method 3 – Cutting a “T” shape into the jalapeno and then carving out the insides. A little tricky to not crack it, but easy enough to make it one of my favorite methods. Easy to tell when they are nice and full!
Method 4 – Cutting a skinny triangle out of the jalapeno side, filling the pepper and sticking the triangle back in. Fast. Efficient. Easy.
I suggest you experiment with each method and decide what YOU think is easiest.
Okay… here we go… Time to make the poppers!!
1) Dip the filled jalapeno into flour/cornstarch mixture. Then dip in milk. Set aside to “dry” for a moment.
2) Dip again in flour, then milk, then cover entirely in breadcrumbs. Set aside and prepare remaining peppers. (This method makes a nice thick breaded covering surrounding your jalapeno. You could also simply dip the pepper in flour-to-milk-to-breading and then fry it, but the above mentioned extra dip made a more thorough coating.)
3) Fry 2-3 minutes in vegetable oil heated to 350 F, until nicely browned. Let cool on paper towel for 3-4 minutes to avoid burning your tongue (you know, cause you don’t want to burn your tongue THAT way!) 🙂