When game day rolls around, tailgating reigns supreme. And as a self-proclaimed backyard tailgate expert, I can assure you the menu is key. Good times with good people can only be enhanced by good food and brew—and dishes falling into the categories of spicy, cheesy and meaty are guaranteed crowd pleasers.

Which means that if you can combine these primary components of deliciousness, your guests’ taste buds are sure to be wowed. Our bacon-wrapped, cheddar-and-sausage-stuffed Jalapeño Poppers recipe checks all these boxes, so get ready for a taste explosion they’ll never forget.

Ingredients
12 Large Jalapeño Peppers
¼ lb Sausage
12 Thick Cut Bacon Slices
2 cups of Cream Cheese (room temperature)
1 Small Shallot, diced
2 oz Sharp Cheddar Cheese, shredded

sausage-skillet

Prep
Began by sautéing the diced shallot and sausage until cooked through and golden brown. Once finished cooking, let the sausage mixture cool. While the sausage is cooling, prep the jalapeños to be stuffed. Begin by slicing them lengthwise right down the center into two equal halves. Then carefully remove the seeds and veins from the inside of the jalapeño, leaving an open space to be stuffed.

Mix the softened cream cheese, cheddar and sausage together in a bowl until homogenous. Using a spoon, fill one half of each jalapeño pepper with the mixture until it is slightly over the top of that half. Cap off with the other half of the jalapeño and put in the freezer for at least an hour. This step is an absolute must to ensure that the mixture will not completely melt out when being cooked.

While the jalapeños are freezing, use a rolling pin to individually roll out the 12 strips of bacon, elongating them to wrap completely around the jalapeños. This also thins the bacon out a bit, making it easier to crisp during the cooking process.

Once the jalapeños are frozen, wrap each one completely with a strip of bacon using one toothpick to hold the entire package together.

jalapenos-cutting-board

Method
I prefer to use a smoker for the cooking process. Low and slow is my preference, adding a smokier flavor to the poppers and crisping up the bacon just right. Do not feel obligated to do so though; you can absolutely use a standard grill or even cook them on the stovetop in a pan, browning the bacon on all sides to your liking.

If using a smoker, set the temperature to 350 degrees and place on the smoker. When the bacon is crispy on one side, about 30 minutes, turn once and repeat on the other side.

Meal
Serve this tasty app with some chunky blue cheese. You know, because there’s just not enough cheese and fat involved in this dish already. Have some ice-cold pilsners or another lighter beer at your disposal, because these guys can be spicy—or just because beer makes everything better.

jalapeno-poppers-grill-after