Spicy Chicken and Bacon Poppers

Next weekend copious amounts of meat will be thrown onto grills across the U.S. to celebrate the Fourth of July holiday and to that we say, save a seat at the picnic table for us! There’s no need to sweat the main course – just pick one of these easy meat marinades and you’ll be set – but keep in mind that picnicking on the 4th usually starts early in the day and by the time those fireworks are bursting in air your guests are likely to be a bit peckish again. It’s the perfect time to pull out a plate of Spicy Chicken and Bacon Poppers; just make sure you try one before putting the plate out because we guarantee this spicy bite-sized, protein-packed snack will go fast.

Each bite is a perfect combination of spicy pepper, juicy chicken and salty, crispy bacon. The MDA reader that submitted this recipe for the Reader-Created Cookbook Contest stacks up as many pickled jalapenos on the popper as they can stand for an extra-spicy version, but you can modify the recipe to tone down the heat. If you can’t find pickled jalapenos (or your local market is out of them, like ours was) jarred pepperoncinis are a perfect substitute. Simply slice off the top, clean out the seeds and slice the pepper open so the raw chicken fits inside. Wrap the bundle up with a slice of bacon and secure with a toothpick or skewer then throw ‘em on the grill. Over medium heat the poppers will take 8-10 minutes per side to crisp up and cook through. The aroma of bacon in the air will make you want to eat the poppers right off the grill, but for the sake of convenience consider making them ahead of time for the 4th of July, as they are equally delicious if kept in the fridge and served hours later.

As if this recipe wasn’t mouthwatering enough, our anonymous MDA reader had to take it one step further by suggesting we dip the poppers in our favorite creamy dressing. Since we happened to have a batch of homemade Ranch dressing in the fridge we gave it try. Not to be overly dramatic, but the combination of  cool, creamy dressing with the spicy, salty popper was pretty much like heaven.

With or without dip, these Spicy Chicken and Bacon Poppers are our new favorite appetizer and we can’t wait for the 4th of July to serve them up again!


  • Makes 6-8 poppers
  • 1 large chicken breast
  • 6-8 pickled jalapenos or pepperoncinis
  • 3-4 strips of bacon


Cut chicken breast into 1″ cubes. Marinate the chicken with salt and pepper, jerk seasoning or your favorite seasoning and oil.

Place 1-2 slices of pickled jalapeno on each piece of marinated chicken or slice open a pepperoncini and put a piece of chicken inside.

Wrap 1/3 –1/2 of a piece of bacon around the chicken and secure each popper individually with toothpicks or spear multiple poppers on a skewer.

Over medium heat, grill the poppers until the chicken is cooked through and the bacon is crisp, about 8-10 minutes a side.

And if you’re so inclined….

Homemade Ranch Dressing

  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1 garlic clove, minced and mashed into a paste
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped fresh herbs (chives, parsley, dill or a blend of all three)
  • 1 teaspoon celery salt
  • salt and pepper to taste

Whisk ingredients together. Taste, then tinker with it until it tastes good to you. Kefir or Greek yogurt can also be used, apple cider vinegar can make it more acidic, and additional spices can be added.

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51 thoughts on “Spicy Chicken and Bacon Poppers”

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    1. These are so simple and look so good I’m disappointed that I never thought to make them first.

  1. I am going camping for the 4th with my brother and a few other people. He is not totally primal but is heading in that direction. I can not wait to have long talks with him during the 3 day camping trip in Wisconsin Dells about the primal lifestyle.

    I am sending this recipe to the printer immediately so my brother and I can make them on the grill for the 4th of July.

    Thanks for sharing this Mark!!!!!!!!

  2. I’m definitely going to be throwing these on the grill for the 4th! Show everybody just how good Primal tastes!

  3. Love recipes like this! May I suggest canned green chile for those who can’t take the heat! Also a dab of cream cheese with the chicken gives a great creamy compliment.

    In Texas Sept usually provides a similar dish, but includes wild dove, ( dove breast, pepper, onion, & cream cheese wrapped in bacon) makes my mouth water just thinking about it!

  4. I am going to try this with small capsicums, don’t like things too hot. It’s winter here at the moment and I miss BBQ’s so badly and sun and the beach….oh I miss summer so much

    1. I’d use Anaheims as we are completely wimpy in the pepper department.

  5. well these are DEFINATELY on the list of MUST cook. Not sure if the kids will be happy but hubby and I might just have them for dinner on the weekend!!!!Might tart them up a bit and use procuitto and a cream cheese filling, so we can have 2 versions.
    mmmmmmmmmmm… bacon!!!

  6. Oh my. This looks soo very delicious. For the cream cheese version does the cheese go in the pepper before grilling? I suppose that makes sense, like poppers, but wouldn’t it melt out of the pepper a bit? I WILL be making these for my family on the 4th, and would love any vegetarian versions for the odd ball out.

    1. google for “ABT jalapeno” and you’ll find a ton of great recipes.

      1. Looks like you can find quite a few ABTs out there on the Internet. My mouth is watering just thinking about this popper.

  7. OMG. I love jalapeno poppers and always wished there was a good substitute. Here we are!

  8. I adapted it using red and green peppers. Cook chicken fill halp of pepper with it (and cheese which my sister did) then wrap in bacon and put in oven for twenty minutes until bacon is crispy. Yum

  9. Oh hello! I will definitely be making these next weekend for an appetizer but mixing it up with some Habaneros as well. My mouth is already watering at teh thought.

  10. What a great idea! I’ll be making these for our 4th of July BBQ….

    I just recently mastered my own ranch dressing and am quite excited! I got tired of passing it up and decided to take the plunge!

  11. We made these last night with some primal ranch on the side. They are delicious!

  12. Can someone tell me if it would work to use fresh jalepenos or does it have to be pickled?

  13. this looks so yummy. do you mind if i link it to your site? thanks. (if not, let me know.)

  14. I was the reader that submitted this one, glad everyone likes it. The first time I had them it was actually made with pheasant, so I imagine that any lighter meat would be great. I tried the same thing with various sausages as well, not the best, but you can’t go too wrong when you wrap something in bacon!


  15. I made these for the 4th party and they were such a hit! Put them in a bbq basket that holds small things tight so I could turn them easily. Made 35 with a large jar of peppers, about 2 large chicken breasts and used 1/2 strip of bacon each. Wow and thank you!

  16. Since I read this recipe, I have been experimenting with a variety of fresh peppers with different amounts of heat. I have been using bigger peppers that can hold 1/4 to 1/3 of a breast each.

    All I can say is that these are a staple food at all of my cookouts now. Just awesome.

  17. Chris Wiz, I, too, Have been experimenting, both with various peppers and meats. Our now favorite combination is Anaheim Peppers cut in half through the middle; seed and trim; cut a slit vertically in each half. I make my own sweet chicken Italian sausage which I stuff inside the Anaheims and wrap each pepper half with a slice of bacon, secured with a toothpick. BBQ until bacon is crisp and chicken sausage is cooked through (test with an instant read thermometer if you wish). By all means, serve these with your homemade ranch dressing. I’m going to try roasted poblanos next. Not sure what kind of sausage Agatsu used, but my recipe is right on for us. Also, I believe you could use fresh jalapenos; I wouldn’t only because we are wimps when it comes to spicy hot foods, preferring the taste of the pepper over the hotness.

  18. Just made this for the family. OMG! I didn’t have skewers so I changed a few little details. I rubbed the inside of the peppers w cream cheese. Cooked the chicken bits in little pieces in a skillet (almond oil) to stuff in he peppers. Then wrapped half a slice of the bacon around each before adding them to the skillet. I think the extra bacon held together just fine when I put the exposed end down first in the pan. Again, OMG! thanks so much for sharing this!!!

  19. Made these without the dressing for a party I attended. They were devoured quickly. The next time I make them I’ll be making 3x as much! Yummy!

  20. Grilling season in Texas is a bit longer than what most people get. 🙂 Just tried these tonight, and I cannot wait for the next time we have a party to try these on other people. Absolutely amazingly good.

    1. Absolutely! In the rainy Pacific NW, I do these in the oven OFTEN! although I have been known to bbq a salmon in the snow….

  21. Whidbey Islander here, so feel the same pain! Plus, my BBQ got blown OFF the porch in one of the crazy wind storms in March, sooo…oven. Any thoughts on temp and time?

  22. One of my friends made this for a group social we were had today. It’s an amazing recipe. Thank you so much!

  23. Another great recipe – or certainly seems that way & I’ve got to make.