Somehow we always grow too many hot peppers. How to use them up? As well as freezing, drying, jellying, and fermenting, I make poppers. These fresh-from-the-garden, gluten-free, hot pepper poppers are an autumn treat that quenches any impulse to buy expensive, frozen, deep-fried jalapeño poppers from the grocery store.

The busy harvest season requires plenty of creativity!


  • 10 medium jalapeño or 16 Hot Hungarian peppers
  • 6 ounces chèvre or cream cheese at room temperature
  • ¾ cup grated old cheddar cheese
  • 1 clove garlic finely minced or ¼ tsp garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon hot salt or table salt — see crafting-hot-pepper-salt
  • ½ cup of gluten-free bread crumbs, cracker crumbs, or a combination of the two.

Prepare the Peppers

Wash and dry the peppers. Cut off the stems close to the body. Be careful to leave the entire top of the pepper intact. You are aiming for boat shapes – if you cut off too much, the cheese will ooze out.

For jalapeños, cut lengthwise into two even halves. Each pepper makes two poppers.

For Hot Hungarian peppers, slice off one side to make the boat shape. Each pepper makes one popper. (Mince and freeze what you cut off to add to chili and stews or sprinkle on pizza.)

Scoop out the seeds and pith using a teaspoon. You might want to wear gloves if your skin is sensitive to the hot oil of the peppers. It lingers. Don’t touch your eyes!

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a baking pan with parchment paper.

Make the Filling

Cream the chèvre, cheddar cheese, garlic and hot salt until well mixed.

With clean hands, roll a small log of cheese filling for each pepper shell. Start with a tablespoonful and adjust the amount as needed. Press the filling into the shell.  

Pour the crumbs into a small, flat bowl. Grasp each cheese-filled pepper popper and press it upside down into the crumbs to cover the cheese. Then place it right side up on the baking sheet.

Bake for 20 minutes at 400°.

If you can take even more heat, hot pepper jelly is a sweet garnish.