The classic popper gets a Cajun crawfish twist with this recipe that can be made on the grill, oven or smoker!
Very few people can turn down a delicious bacon wrapped popper. And they’re practically irresistible when the cheesy filling is studded with meaty crawfish tails!
You can make these in a grill, pellet smoker or even the oven. I used an indirect grill with Kingsford original charcoal to get a boost of char grilled flavor while still crisping up the bacon nicely. I have included instructions for all three versions in the recipe. Whichever you choose to use, you may want to put the poppers on a wire rack to make them easy to lift in or out all at once.
If you choose to use a grill, you will need to set it up for indirect cooking. You can check this quick and easy guide for setting your grill up for two zone cooking.
You might have noticed I was fairly conservative with the bacon here – it’s not for cost saving reasons but rather that a single “wrap” of bacon often cooks better than a popper with lots of bacon layers. When you use a piece of bacon that is too long, the inner layers are usually rubbery even if the outside is crispy. BUT – if you are a mega-bacon person, feel free to double the recommended bacon amount and use a whole strip per popper.
1 tablespoon Hardcore Carnivore Red or Cajun style seasoning
16 oz cream cheese, softened
4 oz shredded cheddar
18 slices of bacon (about 1 lb)
2 additional teaspoons of seasoning
Start by cutting the jalapeños lengthwise to create two halves. Scoop out and discard the seeds.
In a large bowl, combine the crawfish meat, 1 tablespoon of seasoning, cream cheese and shredded cheese. Mix until well combined.
Slice the entire stack of bacon in half straight down the middle across the strips, so you end up with two smaller pieces of each strip.
Assemble the poppers by scooping some of the filling mixture into the hollow of the jalapeno pepper. It should be roughly level with the surface of the jalapeno and not too mounded. Next, wrap a piece of bacon around the popper then set aside. Repeat until all poppers are formed. They may be refrigerated like this for a few hours if you need to make them in advance.
Immediately before cooking, sprinkle the remaining 2 teaspoons of seasoning across the top of the poppers to promote a lovely bright color during cooking.
FOR COOKING ON A GRILL: preheat a grill set up for two zone cooking with the heat only on one side. It should be medium/high heat, about 375-400f. The poppers will be cooked entirely indirectly to prevent any bacon flare ups. Place the poppers cut side up on the indirect side of the grill with the lid closed, and leave to cook until the bacon is crisp and rendered, 30-40 minutes. Allow to cool briefly before serving.
FOR COOKING IN AN OVEN: Preheat an oven to 400f. Line a sheet pan with foil to catch any mess, then lay a rack on top of the pan. Line up the poppers on the rack with a little space between them so the bacon can crisp. Bake for 25-35 minutes until the bacon is crisp and rendered to your liking. Allow to cool briefly before serving.
FOR COOKING ON A SMOKER/PELLET GRILL: Preheat a smoker to 275f. Place the poppers cut side up into the smoker. Close the lid and allow to cook 45-60 minutes until bacon has rendered. Allow to cool briefly before serving.