These Vegan Baked Jalapeño Poppers are the ultimate summertime appetizer—crispy, creamy, and most importantly, VERY cheesy!
- 16 ounces (450 g) whole jalapeño peppers (12–14 peppers)
For the “Cream Cheese” Filling:
- 6 ounces (170 g) firm tofu, drained
- 1/3 cup (50 g) cashews, soaked for at least 2 hours in water
- 1–2 cloves garlic, peeled
- 1 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (about 1/2 a lemon)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
For the Batter:
- 1/2 cup (60 g) gluten-free all purpose flour blend
- 1/2 cup (120 ml) unsweetened soy milk (or another plant milk)
- 2 teaspoons nutritional yeast
- 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
For the “Breadcrumbs”
- 3/4 cup (120 g) medium-grind cornmeal
- 3/4 cup (68 g) blanched almond flour
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- Spray oil (optional)
- Prep: Preheat the oven to 425F and grease or line a baking sheet with a silicone mat. Wearing gloves (optional), use a knife to cut each jalapeño pepper in half – I like to leave a part of the outer skin intact, so it opens like a book. Use a small spoon or your hands to remove all of the inner white flesh and seeds from the pepper. Discard the seeds, and continue with the rest of the peppers.
- Make the “cream cheese”: add the tofu, cashews, garlic, lemon juice, and salt to a food processor. Blend for at least 45-60 seconds, scraping the sides of the processor as necessary. You should be left with a smooth and creamy spread similar to a loose cream cheese! Set aside.
- Make the coatings: In one small bowl, whisk together the flour, milk, nutritional yeast, paprika, and salt. In a separate bowl, combine the cornmeal, almond flour, and salt. (Note: I like to remove half of the “dry” mix and add it in about halfway through coating the peppers – this reduces clumping of the dry mix).
- Assemble: Use a small spoon to stuff the “cream cheese” mixture into each pepper, then close the two halves of each pepper to re-seal it. Then, using separate hands for each bowl, dunk the pepper into the batter first, followed by the dry mix. Transfer the pepper to a lined baking sheet, and repeat this process with the remaining peppers.
- Bake: Lightly spray the peppers with spray oil, if you would like them to brown more in the oven. Place the baking sheet in the middle rack of the oven and bake for 20 minutes. Then, transfer the peppers to the top rack of the oven and bake for an additional 17 – 22 minutes, until the coating is crisp and lightly browned in spots.
- Enjoy: let the peppers sit for 3 – 5 minutes before enjoying warm. These poppers are best served immediately, but leftovers can be stored in the fridge for up to 3 days and reheated in the oven, toaster oven, or air fryer until crisp. You can also freeze the peppers after baking for up to two months, and re-warm as necessary.
- Cream Cheese Filling: if you don’t want to make your own filling, feel free to use store-bought vegan cream cheese instead! You may want to either warm it slightly or blend it with a couple of tablespoons of plant-based milk, to make it easier to scoop
- Other Substitutions: I have not tested this recipe with any other flour substitutions, but I imagine that the “batter” would work with any regular or gluten-free flour. Different flours absorb different amounts of liquid, so I would start with half of the milk and increase from there until you get the consistency of a thick pancake batter.