High-protein low-fat jalapeño poppers

High-protein low-fat jalapeño poppers

I love jalapeño poppers. I can eat ten in one sitting, I’m not even joking. But the traditional version has a lot of saturated fat and cholesterol. My recipe is high in protein and low in fat, yet it tastes just like the original version, only it’s better for you. The main swap I do with my recipe is changing out the cream cheese for tofu and cottage cheese. I think the combination of tofu and cottage cream creates a really nice, firm, and creamy base that has the texture of cream cheese, and by adding spices and flavorings, it’s even tastier than the original version. 

jalapeño poppers with ranch dressing

Where did jalapeño poppers come from? 

I’d argue that jalapeño poppers aren’t as ubiquitous as an appetizer as artichoke-spinach dip, even though they are delicious. But it’s a popular snack at tailgates and sports bars, especially in the American South and Southwest. 

Jalapeño poppers are believed to have originated in Texas in the early 1970s and were thought to be inspired by the Mexican dish chiles rellenos, which are stuffed peppers, typically made with poblano peppers, smother with sauce. However, jalapeño poppers are made with jalapeño peppers, which are smaller and spicier, and they are typically stuffed with cream cheese and served with a cooling dipping sauce. 

There are some theories that the first jalapeño poppers were likely made by stuffing jalapeño peppers with cheese and then frying them. But like all things in life, the dish evolved to include different ingredients, such as bacon, scallions, and cream cheese. And the methods for cooking jalapeño poppers have also grown. Nowadays, they can be baked, grilled, or fried.

Jalapeño poppers quickly became a popular appetizer in Texas after they made their debut, and they soon spread to other parts of the United States. Today, they are one of the most popular appetizers in the country.

It is unclear who exactly invented jalapeño poppers, but there are a few different people who have claimed credit for the dish. One of the most popular claims is that jalapeño poppers were invented by Barbara Ann Smith, the owner of a restaurant in Corpus Christi, Texas, called The Anchor Bar. Smith claims that she created the dish in 1972 after being inspired by chiles rellenos.

Another person who also claims credit for inventing jalapeño poppers is Joe "Peppy" Hernandez, the owner of a restaurant in San Antonio, Texas, called Peppy's. Hernandez says he started serving jalapeño poppers in 1973. But in the end, no one really knows – one of the food world’s great mysteries. 

Can I make this jalapeño popper recipe vegan?

You can turn this high-protein, low-fat jalapeño popper recipe vegan in just a few steps. Instead of using cottage cheese for the base, I recommend swapping it out for firm tofu. With this adjustment, you’ll blend one block of extra firm tofu and one block of firm tofu together. The different textures will help create a creamy mixture once blended. You can also use vegan cream cheese if you don’t want to use tofu. And instead of using the shredded cheese blend for the panko bread crumb mixture, you can swap that out for vegan cheese. 

Recipe: High-protein, low-fat jalapeño poppers

Serves 6 to 8 people 

Prep time: 30 minutes | Passive cook time: 30 minutes| Bake time: 25 minutes | Total cooking time: 1 hour and 25 minutes 


  • 12 medium to large jalapeño (makes 24 jalapeño poppers) 

Cream filling for poppers 

  • 16 ounces of extra firm tofu 
  • 16 ounces of cottage cheese (I use the low-fat option from Good Culture, which has 14 grams of protein)
  • ¼ cup nutritional yeast 
  • ¼ raw or roasted cashews 
  • 1 teaspoon of lemon zest 
  • 2 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon of miso 
  • 1 tablespoon of low-fat mayo
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons of water (as needed for blending) 
  • 2 tablespoons of fresh herbs minced (parsley, thyme, oregano, tarragon, dill) 
  • 6 cloves of garlic
  • ½ tablespoon of mustard
  • Dash of paprika 
  • Salt and pepper to taste 

Crispy topping 

  • ½ cup of panko bread crumbs 
  • ½ cup shredded cheese (blend of parmesan, provolone, asiago, mozzarella)
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes 
  • Salt and pepper to taste 
  • 1 tablespoon of avocado oil 


1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. 

2. Wash your jalapeño poppers thoroughly. I like to use gloves while slicing the jalapeño in half, lengthwise.

Hollowed out  jalapeño pepper

3. Once you slice all your jalapeños in half, scoop the seeds and ribs out the jalapeño with a spoon. You don’t need the guts of the jalapeño for the remainder of this recipe, but you can save the insides to make hot sauce for later. 

try of prepped jalapeños

4. Let’s move on to our filling. You’re going to need a good blender to make this creamy filling which is a combination of extra firm tofu and cottage cheese. Take all your ingredients, EXCEPT for your fresh herbs, and toss them into your blender.

Tofu, cottage cheese, cashews and other ingredients added to blender

5. First, pulse your ingredients in your blender. If your blender needs liquid to mix everything together, add a little bit of water at a time until it comes together and is a smooth paste. It should look like cream cheese or a very smooth hummus if it was blended well. 

Creamy base for poppers

6. Once you have your creamy mixture, pour it into a bowl and stir in your finely chopped herbs.

Herbs in cream mixture

7. Cover your cream base with a towel or plastic wrap and put it in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes to help the mixture stiffen up. You can leave it in the refrigerator overnight if you want to prep this dish in advance. 

Mixed cream mixture with herbs and spices

8. As the cream base chills, let's make the crispy topping. In a bowl, mix in your panko, shredded cheese, salt, pepper, and seasonings. Add in your oil and stir everything together. Set aside. 

Crispy topping with panko breadcrumbs and shredded cheese

9. Now, we’re ready to assemble our poppers. Take your hollowed-out jalapeño and pipe in a tablespoon of the cream base into the pepper.

Add cream mixture to the hollowed jalapeños

10. Once you fill all your peppers, sprinkle your panko mixture over your filled jalapeño poppers. 

Crispy topping mixture added to jalapeños

11. Place your poppers on a baking tray that is lined with parchment paper. Bake in the oven for 25 to 30 minutes, until the crispy topping gets golden brown. Remove from the oven and let the poppers cool for 10 minutes. 

Baked, golden, crispy jalapeño poppers

12. Serve with your favorite dip, I like using ranch of Caesar dressing. 

Did you make this recipe? Let me know if you liked it by leaving a comment! 

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