It’s definitely appetizer season, isn’t it? Every grocery store flyer seems to have all their frozen appetizers and hors d’oeuvres on sale. People want to stock up and have them at the ready for an impromptu (or planned) cocktail party. I have yet to find a gluten-free and vegan option in these pre-made frozen treat boxes.
And that’s okay. Because of these.
Yeah, that’s right. These are vegan and gluten-free jalapeño poppers.
So, sure it’s not something you’re going to whip up as fast by just pulling out a box of frozen something-or-other. But it doesn’t take terribly long to make these to enjoy the same evening. But what’s also great about this recipe is that you can make these in advance, throw them in the freezer and when you’re ready, you can basically pull them out of the freezer and bake them up just like everyone else does with their store-bought stuff.
A lot of other vegan recipes call for store-bought vegan cream cheese and if you’re able to find it and don’t feel like making your own cheesy filling with almond ricotta then you can definitely use an 8-ounce package of store-bought vegan cream cheese. You’ll need to thin it out slightly with some almond milk to get the right consistency and volume for this recipe. I’ve included the amount and instructions for this option in the recipe.
Since I developed this recipe using my homemade almond ricotta/feta recipe I recommend you give that a try over the store-bought stuff. This is my recipe for almond ricotta. You can make this stuff quite a bit in advance and keep it in an air-tight container in your refrigerator for up to a week (or longer, sometimes) until you’re ready to make your poppers.
Don’t forget that jalapeños differ in size, so you might end up with extra filling if yours happen to be a bit smaller than mine were; or if you get mammoth-sized jalapeños you may only have enough filling to stuff ten.
If your gluten-free dry bread crumbs aren’t very fine you may want to blend them up in a food processor or blender to make them into fine dry bread crumbs. That’s more of a personal preference thing, though.
I enjoyed these as-is hot out of the oven. Levi did too, but he’s a sauce freak so he ended up trying every single condiment he thought might work – and some strange ones too. The verdict was that Thai sweet chili sauce was a great dipping sauce if you want some sweetness and more heat than what the poppers already have. If you’re into that sort of thing, that is. I wasn’t. I guess I’m a popper purist.
Safety First: I feel like I should put a note here about working with jalapeños, for safety and whatever. I often assume that people already know kitchen basics but in reality a lot of people coming to my site are just learning how to cook and navigate their way in the kitchen. For all you folks who have never worked with hot peppers before (or everyone, really) please make sure to wear rubber or latex gloves while working with the peppers and thoroughly wash your hands and all surfaces afterward. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth while working with the peppers.
Feeling Hot! Hot! Hot!: As far as spiciness is concerned, jalapeño peppers are relatively low on the Scoville scale in comparison to some of the big bad spicy ones like the Naga or habanero peppers. It’s also good to remember that the heat in hot peppers come from membrane – the pith – so if you remove as much of that from the pepper it’ll reduce the heat considerably. That being said, my jalapeño poppers still had a bit of spiciness and heat to them so if you or your guests aren’t into spicy foods or are super sensitive to peppery stuff, I’d pass on this recipe.
Making Ahead: If you’re making these in advance prepare them as indicated but don’t bake them. Freeze them on the baking sheet for about an hour, then transfer the hardened poppers to a resealable freezer bag to store in the freezer until ready to use. When you’d like to bake these up, just place the frozen poppers on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake at 350°F for about 45 minutes. Let sit 5 minutes before serving.
- 12 large jalapeño peppers
- 1¼ cups vegan almond ricotta (recipe link in blog post), or 8 oz. store-bought vegan cream cheese + ¼ cup unsweetened plain almond milk
- 1½ cups Daiya cheddar shreds
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder, divided
- ¼ teaspoon seasoning salt, divided
- ¼ cup brown rice flour
- ½ cup unsweetened plain almond milk
- 2 tablespoons gluten-free flour of choice
- 1 cup gluten-free dry bread crumbs
- ¼ teaspoon paprika
- ½ teaspoon dried parsley
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Cut the stems off each jalapeño pepper. Cut in half length-wise and scoop out all seeds and white pith. Rinse and pat dry.
- In a medium bowl combine vegan ricotta and Daiya cheddar shreds. (If using store-bought vegan cream cheese, thin it out with the ¼ cup almond milk and beat to a smooth consistency before mixing in the Daiya cheddar shreds.) Add in ¼ teaspoon garlic powder and ⅛ teaspoon seasoning salt. Mix well.
- Fill each jalapeño pepper half with the cheesy mixture. Do not overstuff the peppers. The filling should be level with the sides of each pepper half. Place on a baking sheet and refrigerate for at least 10 minutes to help the filling set.
- In a shallow dish mix brown rice flour with the other ¼ teaspoon garlic powder and ⅛ teaspoon seasoning salt.
- In another shallow dish whisk the second amount of almond milk with gluten-free flour.
- In a third shallow dish combine gluten-free dry bread crumbs, paprika and dried parsley.
- Dredge each stuffed jalapeño pepper half gently with brown rice flour mixture. Shake off excess and return to the baking sheet. Let sit for an additional 10 minutes in the refrigerator.
- Dip each jalapeño pepper half in the slightly thickened almond milk mixture. Let any excess drip off. Dredge in the bread crumbs gently, coating evenly. Place each breaded half on the prepared, parchment-lined baking sheet.
- Bake in preheated oven for 35-40 minutes until the filling is melty and heated through and the breading has browned up slightly.
- Let sit 5 minutes before serving.