Jalapeño Popper Grilled Cheese

April  1, 2022
14 Ratings
Photo by Julia Gartland. Prop Stylist: Anne Eastman. Food Stylist: Yossy Arefi.
  • Prep time 15 minutes
  • Cook time 20 minutes
  • makes 2 sandwiches
Author Notes

Just like what it sounds like—a jalapeño popper, reborn as your new favorite grilled cheese. If two peppers per sandwich seems outrageous, it is, but in a good way. The char from the broiler mellows the heat from sharp and stingy to smoky and warm. (And if you don’t like spice at all? Well, you’re in the wrong place.) You’ll notice that the recipe offers two paths: crispy bacon or barbecue potato chips. Obviously one way to think about this is: Do you eat meat or nah? But even if you do eat meat—not to pick favorites but, yeah, to pick favorites—the potato chips snatched my heart. —Emma Laperruque

Test Kitchen Notes

This recipe is a part of Cheese Week—seven days of recipes and stories, all cheese—presented by our friends at Proudly Wisconsin Cheese —The Editors

What You'll Need
Watch This Recipe
Jalapeño Popper Grilled Cheese
  • 4 large jalapeños, halved lengthwise and seeded
  • 4 slices bacon, halved crosswise—or 2 big handfuls barbecue potato chips
  • 4 slices sandwich bread, such as white or sourdough
  • 4 slices Pepper Jack cheese
  • Garlic powder, for sprinkling
  • Salted butter, at room temperature, for smearing
  1. In the oven or a toaster oven, heat the broiler to high with a rack no more than 6 inches from the heat source. Line a sheet pan with foil. Add the jalapeños, cut side down. Broil until blackened and flattened, rotating the pan halfway through, 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer the jalapeños to a small bowl and use the foil to tightly cover, so the jalapeños can steam for a few minutes. Peel away and discard the skins.
  2. Meanwhile, if you’re using bacon, add it to a (preferably cast-iron) skillet and set over medium heat. Cook for about 8 minutes, flipping halfway through, until it’s as crispy as you like. Transfer the bacon to a plate and pour the fat into a heatproof jar. (If you’re using potato chips instead, skip this step.)
  3. Lay 2 slices of bread on a work surface. Top each with a slice of cheese, 4 jalapeño halves, half the bacon or potato chips, another slice of cheese, and another slice of bread.
  4. Generously smear both sides of each sandwich with butter, then lightly sprinkle all over with garlic powder. (Psst: If you’d like an extra-bacony sandwich, you can use the rendered bacon fat instead of butter, or a combo.)
  5. If you cooked bacon, return the skillet to medium heat; if not, set a (preferably cast-iron) skillet over medium heat. Add the sandwiches and cook until crispy on both sides and melty in the middle, 5 to 8 minutes total. (If the sandwiches are browning too quickly, lower the heat as needed, and if the pan looks too dry at any point, add a smidge of butter.)
  6. Cut in half, sprinkle with salt if you’d like, and devour immediately.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Judi Hark
    Judi Hark
  • Emma Laperruque
    Emma Laperruque
  • Linda D
    Linda D
  • Patty
Emma was the food editor at Food52. She created the award-winning column, Big Little Recipes, and turned it into a cookbook in 2021. These days, she's a senior editor at Bon Appétit, leading digital cooking coverage. Say hello on Instagram at @emmalaperruque.

12 Reviews

Judi H. May 20, 2024
I haven't made this yet, but can't wait to give it a try! My husband will get the bacon version and I will have the BBQ potato chips! So looking forward to this!
Linda D. August 29, 2022
So simple and so delicious, Emma. Thank you!
Patty May 12, 2022
I wanted to make these but didn't have bacon or potato chips so I used spam and it was delicious! I will definitely make these again.
Emma L. May 12, 2022
Rut April 21, 2022
BBQ chips! 😍
brushjl April 18, 2022
Great use for leftover Easter ham. Delicious.
Kimcolin7679 April 12, 2022
This was surprisingly delicious because it was so easy! I really appreciated the alternate chips option since I don’t eat meat but the rest of the fam does, that and the garlic powder and salt made the simplest touches the best. Yum 🤤
ClumsyMunky April 9, 2022
Just tried this with the BBQ chips and it was amazing. Could definitely leave off the chips if you don’t have any. I made a chunky sauce out of jalapeño-raspberry jam and a little sour cream. So delicious.
JujuB53 April 5, 2022
Potato chips are the premier choice - thanks. Friday night gathering with ice cold beers, IPA's, New Belgium's, and O'dell brewery's plus add some "Coors" since I live in Colorado. The sandwich is the star though!
Sel April 5, 2022
Dam!!!! for the past few years i have been making what i call a chili relleno sandwich. First make the chili relleno, the day before. save. Then proceed with the recipe above but use the rellenos made before. Now, i have never used the bacon, but i will be.
By the way, i do roast my fresh Pasilla peppers, i like the roomier in this pepper. More room for more cheese or what have you. You can roast the jalapenos and just cozy them into the pasilla for the heat.

Anyone ever have a chili relleno burrito? Basically, this is the one we speak about, only in a sandwich.
agarza73 April 5, 2022
Who says it has to be either-or, BBQ potato chips OR Bacon? I am a big fan of both and to me that is the "Ultimate" Jalapeño Popper Grilled Cheese sandwich. Pile them both on!
Sel April 5, 2022
Anything goes when it comes to deliciousness.