Vegan Jalapeño Poppers are an easy-to-make vegan appetizer loaded with cream cheese, cheddar, chives, and topped with panko breadcrumbs (all vegan and plant-based of course!). All you have to do is mix the filling, load the jalapeño halves and bake for the most delicious appetizer or snack ever! Air fryer instructions also included.
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Hey Internet, we've got a really delicious snack or appetizer for you today. Vegan jalapeño poppers are creamy, cheesy, savory, and a tiny bit spicy (leave the seeds in for more spice!). And they're so easy to make!
If you're cooking up a storm for football season's big game (any sports game, really) or any other event where you need delicious finger foods, try my other vegan game day recipes. You'll love my most popular vegan appetizers and snacks such as vegan egg rolls, vegan crab rangoon, vegan teriyaki cauliflower wings, vegan pigs in a blanket, vegan pierogi, vegan buffalo chicken dip, vegan kale artichoke dip, panko tofu, seitan chicken nuggets, and more!
But today we're here to talk about making this awesome vegan jalapeño poppers recipe. I keep saying it's so easy because it really is, and it's the best appetizer to make for any occasion. My partner Paul, who claims not to be a cook (he's very wrong about that in my opinion, though), did all the testing and creating for this recipe.
This recipe uses jalapeño peppers, vegan cream cheese, vegan cheddar cheese, nutritional yeast, chives, and panko bread crumbs for a slightly spicy but delicious dish.
If you're sensitive to spicy food, you could definitely use mini bell peppers instead! And if you want more spice, leave the white rib inside the pepper in or add a little cayenne pepper to your cheesy filling.
If you've ever wondered how to make jalapeño poppers vegan, this is the easiest recipe and makes a REALLY delicious vegan appetizer or snack. It's only a little different from traditional poppers and I promise it's just as easy and straightforward to make. The best part is that gooey melty cheesy filling!
Why You'll Love These Vegan Jalapeño Poppers with Cream Cheese
- So Delicious: All eaters will enjoy these vegan jalapeño poppers. Non-vegans might not even guess this party appetizer is dairy-free! They're so cheesy, creamy, and flavorful without any animal products. This is a vegan recipe both plant-based eaters and non-plant-based eaters will enjoy.
- Simple Ingredients: There's a short list of ingredients for these vegan cream cheese jalapeño poppers, and you should be able to find the ingredients at your local grocery store.
- Easy to Increase the Recipe: Double or triple the recipe if you're serving a lot of people as these vegan baked jalapeño poppers will go fast! It's the perfect appetizer to bring to a party, too.
- Make Ahead: You can easily make the vegan cream cheese filling up to 2-3 days ahead of time. I recommend letting the filling sit on the counter for 20-30 minutes to soften enough for you to easily stuff the jalapeños. If you want to pre-fill your halved jalapeños, you also have the option of doing that, but I recommend doing it no more than 24 hours in advance and you'll need to lay them flat in the fridge, ideally on a baking tray or plates lined with parchment paper.
Grab these simple ingredients the next you’re at the supermarket. See the recipe card at the bottom of this post for full ingredients, instructions, and accurate nutritional information (to the best of my ability, please consult your physician or healthcare professional if you have specific dietary needs).
- 12 Fresh Jalapeños: Try to pick jalapeños that are firm and similarly sized. Go for a medium size, about 3-4 inches in length. I prefer to pick jalapeños that are not curved as they can be a bit more finicky to cut, seed, and stuff. How many poppers this recipe makes depends on the size of the jalapeños.
- 6 Ounces Vegan Cream Cheese: Many different brands of vegan cream cheese will work in this recipe (just double check the ingredients list to make sure it's vegan). Try to go for one that is not crumbly. We like Tofutti or Philadelphia (they now make several plant-based cream cheeses) the best. You can also use homemade vegan cream cheese. We have a tofu cream cheese recipe that is delicious and would work well in this recipe. Some recipes use raw cashews or sunflower seeds and those will also work.
- 4 Ounces Vegan Shredded Cheddar Cheese: Use a brand you enjoy. We used Violife and it turned out quite well. Other vegan cheese brands we enjoy include Follow Your Heart, Chao, and Daiya (they have a new formula and I swear it's so much better). You can also make our homemade vegan cheddar cheese block that shreds when used on a coarse grater, OR you can try our 5 minute stretchy melty vegan cheddar sauce. Instead of mixing it into the cream cheese, stuff your jalapeños with the mixture and spoon on the sauce, then top with panko bread crumbs and bake.
- 3 Tablespoons Chopped Fresh Chives: So fresh and flavorful in this recipe!
- ¼ Cup Nutritional Yeast: This adds flavor and helps the cream cheese mixture hold together.
- 1 Teaspoon Garlic Powder and 1 Teaspoon Onion Powder: For added flavor!
- ⅓ Cup Panko Bread Crumbs: These add a golden brown crunchy coating to our vegan jalapeño poppers.
- Cooking Spray, Optional: If you spray the oil (olive oil, avocado oil, etc.) onto the breadcrumbs, it does help encourage browning, but it is not necessary. We do not recommend adding vegan butter to your panko crumbs, as in our experience it melts and encourages the cream cheese mixture to run out of the jalapeños and all over the baking sheet! (The "regular version" of traditional jalapeño poppers often uses buttered panko breadcrumbs.)
- Jalapeños: If a spicy jalapeño pepper isn't your thing, try stuffing mini bell peppers instead! Or, if you like spicy, try other spicy peppers, or leave the jalapeño's white rib in, or add cayenne pepper, chipotle pepper powder, or black pepper to the mixture. Some people add chopped pickled jalapeno pepper.
- Vegan Cream Cheese: Vegan ricotta or homemade tofu ricotta may also work.
- Vegan Shredded Cheddar Cheese: You can use any other cheese you like. If you bought a block cheese, shred it yourself with a coarse grater.
- Fresh Chives: If you cannot find fresh chives, you can use 1 tablespoon of dried chives. Alternatively, use chopped green onion or cilantro.
- Nutritional Yeast: I don't recommend omitting this but you could try almond flour instead. Or traditional fine breadcrumbs.
- Garlic Powder and Onion Powder: Use any other spices you prefer, but these add nice aromatic flavor to the poppers.
- Panko Bread Crumbs: While regular breadcrumbs (the finer textured crumbs) may work, I think they absorb too much moisture, and panko does a much better job of giving you that extra crunch on top and a better end result. Use gluten-free breadcrumbs if needed.
- Cooking Spray: If you don't care how golden brown your poppers get, feel free to skip this step.
How To Make Vegan Jalapeño Poppers
- Set Up: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit (200 degrees Celsius) and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Also, get your vegan cream cheese out of the fridge to let it soften. This is an important step because it's easier to mix when it's closer to room temperature.
- Wear gloves: (A little tip: wear gloves! I always wear food-safe gloves when working with hot peppers. Remove them afterward and wash your hands before touching your skin or anything else.)
- Prepare the jalapeño peppers: Slice each pepper lengthwise and scoop out the seeds and membranes using a small spoon. I find the best way to do this is to use a grapefruit spoon, it makes this process a lot easier. Discard the seeds and membranes. Remove the long white rib for less spicy vegan jalapeño poppers or leave it in if you like spicy food.
- Make the filling: In a medium to large bowl, mix together the vegan cream cheese, vegan shredded cheddar cheese, chopped chives, nutritional yeast, garlic powder, and onion powder. If the mixture is too firm, don't be tempted to add non-dairy milk or anything like that. I highly recommend letting the vegan cheese mixture sit for another 10 minutes or you can slightly warm it in the microwave, testing it at 10 second increments. You want the mixture to be just soft enough to mix, not liquid.
- Stuff peppers: Using a gloved hand to hold each jalapeno, fill each pepper half with the cream cheese mixture. Place each stuffed pepper filled side up on your lined baking tray.
- Add breadcrumbs: Using a light hand, top each stuffed jalapeño with a thin layer of panko bread crumbs. If you like, mist everything with the cooking spray.
- Bake: Place the tray in the center rack of the oven and bake for 14-18 minutes until the panko is lightly golden brown. Do not over bake, as it can cause the jalapeño to soften too much and the filling can run out.
- Air fryer instructions: To make air fryer jalapeno poppers, place as many stuffed peppers as will comfortably fit in your air fryer basket in a single layer. I do not recommend crowding them too much though, as they can be hard to remove when they're done. Air fry jalapeno poppers for 4-8 minutes at 375 degrees Fahrenheit (190 degrees Celsius). Again, try not to overcook because the filling can run out if the pepper softens too much.
- Serve: Serve immediately (let them cool a few minutes before eating, though!)! If you want a dipping sauce, try my nut-free vegan ranch dressing or some hot sauce if you really like spicy food.
- Protect Yourself: Wearing gloves while slicing (and filling) the jalapeños will protect your skin. Even if you think it won't bother you, you REALLY don't want to get the jalapeño oil on your fingers and then touch your eyes (ouch). It's much safer to use food handling gloves and avoid issues like that. I picked up a big box of food safe gloves when I was chopping Thai chilies for my vegan drunken noodles and vegan tom kha and it makes a big difference.
- Grapefruit Spoon: Scooping the seeds is a lot easier with a grapefruit spoon! The spoon is more triangular and the edges are serrated, making it super easy to scrape out the pepper's white membranes and seeds.
- Don't Overcook the Poppers: If you cook them too long, the jalapeños will soften and the creamy filling can run out during the cooking process.
- Toaster Oven Instructions: You can also make these poppers in a toaster oven! Add them in a single layer to your toaster oven tray and bake at 400 degrees Fahrenheit (200 degrees Celsius for 14-18 minutes until the panko is lightly golden brown. Do not over bake.
- Best the First Night: These vegan jalapeño poppers are best the first night. You can find storage and reheating instructions below, but if you don't think you will eat the whole batch (it makes about 24 pieces), you might want to halve the recipe.
- Try Making Vegan Bacon Wrapped Jalapeño Poppers: Skip the breadcrumbs and wrap each popper with a strip of vegan bacon. This will also help keep the cheese mixture in.
Serve these vegan jalapeño poppers along with a bunch of other appetizers for the big game, movie night, or any gathering. For simplicity, serve them alongside some tortilla chips and your favorite salsa or black bean dip.
If you want to serve this great recipe as a side dish, I recommend a main course of sweet potatoes or rice, black beans, and maybe a small bowl of guacamole!
Looking for a dipping sauce? Try my vegan ranch dressing! If you want to make it bleu cheese style, try adding a bit of vegan bleu cheese crumbles (there are a few brands out there now making vegan bleu cheese!). You could also use hot sauce, my nut-free vegan queso, cashew cream, or sunflower seed cream (if making either of these I would add a tablespoon of lemon juice (or more to taste).
While these poppers are best eaten immediately (after they cool a little, of course!), you can store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. If you have a lot of leftovers, separate layers of poppers with sheets of parchment paper or wax paper.
Reheat in a skillet over medium high heat, in the air fryer, toaster oven, or oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit (180 degrees Celsius) until just warm enough. Keep in mind that they will be softer after reheating. My partner has also eaten them cold and says they're pretty good that way, but says they truly are best the first night.
Frequently Asked Questions
They are a little spicy but there are a few things you can do to lower the heat. Remove the seeds, membranes, and center rib. The rib is a long white strip inside the jalapeño when you cut it. Remove this with a grapefruit spoon or a small knife. The vegan cream cheese filling also cuts down on the spice level. If you can't have any spicy food, try stuffing mini bell peppers instead!
Sure, just use gluten-free panko bread crumbs. Rice crumbs are also a good option (it's a specific gluten-free bread crumb replacement; do not use rice).
No, not traditionally. They're usually made with dairy cream cheese and cheddar. Sometimes also butter! Our vegan jalapeño poppers recipe uses vegan analogues to keep this recipe plant-based.
Our vegan version is a lot healthier than a traditional jalapeño popper since vegan cream cheese and vegan cheddar do not contain cholesterol. They are also lower in saturated fat. However, this is an indulgent vegan recipe, for sure. Pair it with a healthier meal for a balanced treat.
More Vegan Appetizer Recipes
- Vegan Buffalo Chicken Dip
- Vegan Pigs in a Blanket
- Gluten-Free Vegan Teriyaki Cauliflower Wings
- Vegan Pierogi with Potato and Leek
- Vegan Kale Artichoke Dip
- Vegan Brie or Vegan Baked Brie with Puff Pastry
- Gluten-Free Vegan Meatballs
- Vegan Egg Rolls
- Vegan Crab Rangoon
- Lentil Slider "Cheeseburgers"