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Vegan Jalapeño Poppers with Lemon Cashew Cream

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When I was a teenager, jalapeño poppers were one of my favorite appetizers. There's just something about a jalapeño pepper stuffed with a creamy filling and wrapped in a crunchy breaded crust. Recently, I was reminded of my beloved snack, and decided to make a vegan version.

When I looked around the internet, all of the vegan recipes were open-faced stuffed jalapeños, without the breaded coating that I remember. While those stuffed jalapeños do look pretty, they just weren't quite what I was looking for. So I set out to make my own. And I soon realized why all those recipes were made without the coating: it's not easy to get jalapeños perfectly coated! However, after weeks of trial and error, I've finally come up with a method that creates the perfect crunchy coating.

This recipe involves quite a few steps. Although I'd like to be able to make it easier, each step is critical to creating perfect jalapeño poppers. You'll start by boiling the jalapeño halves for three minutes, then putting them in an ice bath to stop them from cooking. You'll then stuff the jalapeños with lemony cashew cream and pop them in the freezer to firm up the cream so it retains its shape and doesn't drip out while you're applying the coating. The coating itself has 4 layers: a layer of batter, a layer of flour, another layer of batter, and a final layer of breadcrumbs. Before the second layer of batter, you'll need to let the first layer set to ensure that you have a good base that the second layer can stick to evenly. Finally, you'll fry the poppers!

If you prefer, you can also bake these poppers instead of frying them, however frying creates the best texture. To bake them, bake at 475 degrees Fahrenheit for about 25 minutes, turning halfway through. Then broil on low for 2 minutes per side. Air frying may work for these poppers, as well, although I haven't tried it myself. (If you do try air frying, please leave me a comment below and let me know how they turned out!)

To create a dairy-free substitute for the cream cheese filling, I used cashew cream with lemon juice, nutritional yeast, coconut aminos, onion powder, and garlic powder. Feel free to adjust the amounts of these flavors to suit your own taste! I did find that a stronger taste works better in this recipe; what tasted too strong on its own tasted just right when it was stuffed inside these poppers.

Jalapeño poppers make a great party or gameday appetizer.

Vegan Jalapeño Poppers with Lemon Cashew Cream

Yield20 jalapeño poppers

Prep Time80 minutes

Cook Time10 minutes

Total Time90 minutes

Ingredients

  • 10 jalapeño peppers, cut in half length-wise, seeds and ribs removed

  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour

  • 1 3/4 cups panko breadcrumbs

  • oil for frying

Cashew Cream Filling

  • 1 1/2 cups cashews, soaked

  • 1/2 cup lemon juice

  • 6 tbsp. maple syrup

  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast

  • 1/2 tbsp. low-sodium soy sauce or coconut aminos

  • 1/2 tbsp. salt

  • 1/2 tbsp. onion powder

  • 1/2 tbsp. garlic powder

Batter

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour

  • 2 tsp. garlic powder

  • 2 tsp. onion powder

  • 2 tsp. salt

  • 2 tsp. sugar

  • 1 tsp. baking powder

  • 1/4 tsp. white pepper

  • 1 1/4 cups water

Instructions

  1. Cut jalapeño peppers in half length-wise, then boil them in a medium saucepan for 3 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to remove the jalapeños, and immediately put them in an ice-water bath to stop them from cooking further.

    Jalapeños, cut in half length-wise.
  2. Your cashews should be soaked in water for 2 hours in advance, unless you have a high-speed blender. Add soaked cashews, lemon juice, maple syrup, nutritional yeast, low-sodium soy sauce, 1/2 tbsp. salt, 1/2 tbsp. onion powder, and 1/2 tbsp. garlic powder to a blender and blend until smooth (2-4 minutes, depending on your blender).

  3. Fill each jalapeño half with lemon cashew cream. The cream should be piled higher than the jalapeño itself, to give the poppers a rounded shape. Transfer the jalapeño halves to a baking tray, and place in the freezer to allow the cream to firm slightly, about 10-15 minutes.

    Jalapeños filled with cashew cream
  4. While the jalapeños are in the freezer, prepare the coating batter. In a medium mixing bowl, add 1 cup flour, 2 tsp. garlic powder, 2 tsp. onion powder, 2 tsp. salt, sugar, baking powder, and white pepper, and mix. Then add water and mix well until there are no lumps remaining. Separately, on a small plate, add 1/4 cup flour.

  5. Remove jalapeños from the freezer. Dip one jalapeño in the batter, using a spoon to coat the entire pepper, except for the stem. Then, using the stem to hold the pepper, pull the jalapeño out and allow any excess batter to drip off. Then place the pepper on the plate with flour, and turn the pepper to ensure it's entirely coated. You can use a separate spoon to add flour to places that get missed. Then, place the coated jalapeño on a wire rack to dry. Repeat with the remaining peppers, adding more flour to the plate as needed.

    The flour may be absorbed into the batter in some places after it's been setting for a while; this is normal.
  6. After the jalapeños' first coat of batter has set (around 20 minutes), you can apply the outer coat. Remove the plate of flour, and prepare a second plate with 1/4 cup of breadcrumbs. Dip a jalapeño in the batter and coat it just as you did in the previous step. Then place the pepper on the plate of breadcrumbs and turn to coat, using a spoon to fill in empty spots as needed. Return the pepper to the wire rack to dry, and repeat with the remaining jalapeños, adding more breadcrumbs to the plate as needed.

    Ensure that your batter and breadcrumbs are evenly coating your jalapeño poppers.
  7. In a large saute pan, heat about 1 inch of oil over medium heat, until it's about 350 degrees Fahrenheit. When the oil is ready, it should ripple, and will crackle if a drop of water is tossed into it.

  8. When the oil is ready, use a metal spatula to add each jalapeño popper to the pan, leaving some space between each popper. Allow the poppers to cook for 2-3 minutes, or until the breading is golden brown, then turn the poppers to cook the other side another 2-3 minutes. Use the spatula to remove the poppers from the oil and place on paper towels to drain. Allow to cool slightly before serving.

Notes & Hints

When cutting and handling jalapeños, be careful to only handle the skin on the outside. The heat can transfer to your hands easily. You may wish to wear gloves when cutting jalapeños and removing the seeds.

To soak cashews, place in water for 2 hours, or boil for 10 minutes. This step is not necessary if you have a high-speed blender.

This recipe made enough filling and batter for 20 jalapeño halves in my tests. However, if your jalapeños are very small or very large, you may need more or less batter/filling to fill 20 halves.

If you prefer, you can also bake these poppers instead of frying them, however frying creates the best texture. To bake them, bake at 475 degrees Fahrenheit for about 25 minutes, turning halfway through. Then broil on low for 2 minutes per side.

StephSunshine

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Steph Sunshine

Hi! I'm Steph, and I love to explore vegan food, health, and of course, the world. I'm sharing my best vegan recipes, and things I've learned and loved from my travels and health journeys.