Jalapeño Popper Chicken

I can barely believe there was a time that I didn’t think I liked jalapeño  poppers, but I’ll never go back again! Growing up, I was not into snacks or meals with savory cream cheese. If it wasn’t in a cheesecake, I didn’t want it. Now, I’m a fan of the seemingly endless things you can do with a brick of cream cheese, and this chicken dish is a favorite of my family and friends.

Not only is the dish easy to customize, it’s also versatile. You can either shred the chicken or omit it all together and make a dip out out of it. It pairs well with tortilla chips, pita chips, or raw vegetables!

This dish is low-carb/keto, but it’s a bit calorie-dense. I like to add a side salad or a vegetable medley to my plate to balance it out. I don’t eat meals like this every day, but it’s okay to indulge once in a while, and depending on which ingredients you choose to use and how much you eat, it can be totally doable with your macros or daily calorie allotment.

Remember, the best part about this dish is that you can tailor it to fit your lifestyle. You can use non-dairy or lower-fat cream cheese, you can choose to use non-dairy (or just a lesser quantity of shredded cheese), and you can use turkey bacon, Morning Star vegetarian bacon, imitation bacon bits, or omit it completely.

For this dish, you will need:

  • 1.5-lb chicken breasts or tenderloins
  • 5-6 medium/large jalapeño  peppers
  • Butter or oil
  • 1 small yellow onion
  • 8 oz cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup mozzarella
  • 1 cup cheddar
  • 1/2-lb bacon
  • Salt, pepper, paprika, garlic powder, and onion powder

First, I bake the chicken. My foolproof way of baking chicken is to grease a glass baking dish with butter. Add the chicken to the pan and season generously with salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, and paprika. I cover it with wax paper that I’ve also greased in butter. This way, the butter drips onto the chicken and keeps it juicy while it roasts off. I bake at 400 for 40 minutes.

While the chicken is baking, I chop the onion and jalapeño peppers into chunks. I use gloves to scrape the seeds out of the peppers. You can leave some or all of them in if you would like the dish spicier. I prefer a roasted taste for the peppers, so I saute them in a pan with the onions. You can saute them in butter or any type of oil.

I cook the peppers and onions off until they are softened. During the last 10 minutes of baking the chicken, you can add the bacon to the oven (also at 400) and cook until crispy. While that’s going, add the peppers and onions to a bowl and mix in the cream cheese and mozzarella. It will take on a gooey consistency. Because I go for big flavor, I season the cream cheese mixture, too – I use the same seasonings I use on the chicken, but you can add whatever you’d like to make the flavor pop! When the bacon is ready, crumble.

After you take the chicken out of the oven and drain any fat/water, spread the cream cheese mixture over the chicken. Sprinkle the cup of cheddar on top, and crumble the bacon over the cheddar. Lower the oven to 325 and bake for an additional 20 minutes.

Once cooled, the chicken is ready to serve! My husband eats half the pan the first night, but it’s pretty easy to portion off for meal prep, and if you add some veggies or a small salad, you have a great post-workout meal!

If you try this, I hope you enjoy, and let me know what you think!

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