This grilled Cheddar-jalapeño popper sandwich is stuffed with cream cheese, chile pepper, garlic, cumin, sharp Cheddar, and bacon. Just like those irresistible poppers you down with beer except in an over-the-top rich and gooey sandwich sorta way.
“Happy, happy, happy! A big fat sandwich of deliciousness.” That’s one heck of an endorsement that came from one of our recipe testers. And it pretty much captures the enthusiasm of everyone who tried this inspired grilled Cheddar and jalapeño popper sandwich. And while it takes bravado and a touch of genius to come up with the idea for this brilliant interplay of tangy cream cheese, salty bacon, and warm chile, it barely takes any effort to make it happen in your home kitchen. Melty, cheesy, and mood-lifting, indeed.–Jenny Howard
*NOTE: How To Make This Grilled Cheese Sandwich As Hot (Or Not) As You’d Like
You can easily tweak the heat in this grilled cheese sandwich to exactly suit your liking. Turbo-charge it by using 2 full jalapeños for the cream cheese mixture. You can also amp up the overall heat by using a peppered cheese or opting for a chile-flavored cream cheese. Or tame the heat by using fewer chiles and removing some or all of the seeds and membranes prior to chopping. (This is where most of the tongue-tingling fire resides.)
Grilled Cheddar-Jalapeño Popper Sandwich
- 7 ounces cream cheese preferably full-fat, at room temperature
- 1 to 2 jalapeños or other green chile peppers seeds and membranes removed if desired*, finely chopped (see NOTE above)
- 1/2 to 1 teaspoon ground cumin to taste
- 1 clove garlic minced
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 3 tablespoons (1 1/2 oz) unsalted butter at room temperature
- 8 slices sturdy white bread such as sourdough or rustic white
- 8 to 9 ounces sharp Cheddar coarsely grated
- 8 slices bacon (not thick cut) cooked until crisp (optional)
- In a small bowl, stir together the cream cheese, jalapeño or green chile, cumin, garlic, and a few grinds of pepper. Taste and, if desired, add more cumin or pepper.
- Place the bread on a baking sheet. Spread butter on 1 side of each slice of bread. Flip 4 slices of bread and spread each of these with an equal amount of the cream cheese mixture (about 3 tablespoons per slice). You may have a small amount of cream cheese left over. Scatter the Cheddar over the cream cheese, dividing it evenly, and, if using bacon, finish with 2 slices per sandwich. Top with the remaining 4 bread slices, placing them with the buttered sides facing out.
- Place a large skillet over medium to medium-high heat. Fry the sandwiches, in batches if necessary, until golden brown on each side with the cheese melted through in the middle, 3 to 4 minutes per side, give or take a little given the exact heat under the skillet.
- Remove the skillet from the heat. Serve the grilled cheese sandwiches immediately, sliced in half if desired.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
These grilled cheese sandwiches were an experience! We liked the tang of the cream cheese along with the salty cheddar and loved the heat of the pepper. We used 1/2 pepper per sandwich. (We tried them with and without the jalapeño seeds and said a unanimous “YES” to including the seeds!)
There was so much cheese piled high on the bread but there was little oozing, keeping the sandwiches pretty neat and tidy for the most part.
My bread was Pepperidge Farm “Farm House Hearty White” and I used sharp Cheddar. I did not use bacon. I wish the cumin had been more noticeable, though. I would even double the amount next time.
We devoured the grilled cheese with the Easy Tomato Soup (sans orzo) for a scrumptious weeknight dinner.
I never thought a sandwich for dinner would be such a hit, but it was! All the flavors complemented each other and the bacon put it over the top. This was a flavorful sandwich and filling.
I used sourdough bread and Cabot Sharp Cheddar.
Happy happy happy after eating this grilled cheese, a big fat sandwich of deliciousness! I had a very plump sandwich using less than half of the cream cheese mixture and plus or minus 3/4 of the grated Cheddar. As it was, it was difficult to flip the sandwich over and I used a combination of one hand plus a spatula to prevent it from falling apart in the flip. I fried for approximately 3 minutes on each side, which created a sandwich that was both beautifully golden in color and with fully melted cheese.
I used a sturdy Italian bread which worked fine. I used a rich and buttery award-winning Wisconsin cheese recommended by my cheesemonger. It melted beautifully and melded well with the cream cheese mixture. I used a fresh jalapeno. (I had pickled some jalapenos for a class I was teaching and considered using them and would consider the pickled ones next time.)
I would consider trying this with the pepper or the smoked versions of the same cheese and/or smoked cumin.
Jalapeno poppers are amazing on their own but when you turn them into a grilled cheese sandwich and add bacon, what is there to say? So the only variable was the recipe itself, which proved quick and easy.
Genius idea chopping up the jalapenos and mixing with the cream cheese and the dash of cumin added the perfect earthiness to counter all that cheese. And boy, these sandwiches were cheesy. But not overwhelmingly so. All the flavors and the crunch of the bread and jalapenos made a really great sandwich.
I used Arnold Country Buttermilk and it worked very well. Nice and sturdy with a good crunch. I used Cabot NY Extra Sharp Did I use bacon? Of course!
In terms of the recipe, it was messy because you’re dealing with shredded cheese, but that wasn’t really a problem. One thing I would do differently is put the sandwiches together, butter one side, flip that onto the pan then butter the other side. Buttering the bread before putting the sandwiches together increased the mess factor. Small potatoes, though, overall.
I used a big electric skillet to cook them and that worked well. I was able to do all four sandwiches at once.
This is a quick lunch or dinner choice that’s nicely flavored with a spicy cream cheese and Cheddar blend. The jalapeño came through nicely along with the sharp Cheddar and bacon. We happened to have 100% of the ingredients on hand, so this came together very quickly.
I used sourdough bread and sharp Cheddar. I also used a bacon beer jam that I had made the previous week.
I found this sandwich tasted just like a jalapeno popper but better because there was more cheese!
The instructions were easy to follow and I definitely recommend the addition of bacon to give the sandwich some texture and crunch against the creaminess of the cheese. Also, I like how you can control your heat level on how you decide to dice your jalapeños and the amount of seeds you leave in!
I feel you can’t really go wrong with the Cheddar you choose! This sandwich is a great way to elevate your basic grilled cheese.
I used a handmade white loaf that I had sliced and put in the freezer. It worked perfectly after I let the slices thaw for a few minutes. I used a sharp black pepper Cheddar and it was amazing. I do feel the amount of shredded cheese is a bit much. I can’t believe I’m going to say this, but it was too much. 🙂 I’d maybe cut it back an ounce or an ounce and a half.
Overall, I and the husband enjoyed this very much! The bacon is a great option!
As someone who likes spicy food, I expected this to be a variation on the spicy jalapeno poppers I love. Instead, it was more a variation on a grilled cheese sandwich. I used the full 2 jalapeños but I did seed them. The emphasis seemed to be more on the sandwich than on the popper.
It was a good sandwich but not a particularly spicy one. I’d make one again but add more cumin or jalapeno seeds or something to enhance the spice.
I used Panera Bread’s Rustic White bread and a Sharp Cheddar. I made 2 sandwiches with bacon and 2 without. Everything is better with bacon and these sandwiches were no exception. However, they were good without bacon as well.
Originally published April 27, 2019