Shrimp & Cream Cheese Stuffed Jalapeños

I have written on several occasions about these glorious smoked, bacon wrapped, cream cheese stuffed jalapeños (known in the smoking community as Atomic Buffalo Turds or ABT's for short). Well.. this week I have taken that same concept and added a jumbo shrimp into the jalapeño pepper just before stuffing it with cheese and they are amazing.

Quite easy to prepare and it doesn't take them long to smoke so these make excellent smoked appetizers for things like 4th of July get togethers and other events that call for finger foods and between-meal crowd pleasers.

Helpful Information
  • Prep Time: 1 hour
  • Cook Time: 3 hours
  • Smoker Temp: 225°F
  • Meat Finish Temp: N/A
  • Recommended Wood: Pecan
What You'll Need
  • Jalapeño peppers (Each pepper makes 2)
  • 8 ounces cream cheese (makes enough mixture for about 20 stuffed peppers)
  • 1 cup of shredded cheddar
  • Jeff's original rub recipe (purchase the recipe here)
  • 1 lb shrimp (jumbo or 21/25 pieces per pound)
  • 1 lb of thin or original sliced bacon (the kind I use has 13 slices and allows me to wrap 26 peppers)
Prepare the Shrimp

Get the shrimp ready first thing so they can marinate while cleaning the peppers and making the cream cheese mixture.

I buy the jumbo (21/25 shrimp per pound) or slightly larger if I can find them.

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If they are frozen, place them in a colander and run cold water over them for about 3-5 minutes until they are thawed.

I usually remove the shell before I marinate them in my original rub (purchase the recipes here).

To marinate them, place the peeled shrimp into a large ziptop bag and pour about ¼ cup of rub down into the bag.

Zip the bag closed and gently massage and/or roll the bag until all of the shrimp are well coated with the rub.

If you like, you can pour in a little olive oil to help form a paste but it's not really necessary.

Once they are well coated, place them in the fridge for about 30 minutes to an hour. My rub flavors them very nicely without covering up the natural great taste of the shrimp.

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When the shrimp are finished marinating, pour them into a bowl for easy access during the stuffing process.

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Clean the Peppers

For this version of stuffed jalapeño peppers, I recommend choosing the largest jalapeños you can find. This gives you plenty of room to place a jumbo sized shrimp in there along with plenty of the cream cheese mixture.

Each pepper gives you two stuffed peppers so figure out how many you want to make then get half that many peppers.. (plus an extra 20 like I always tend to do!)

You really can't have too many of these.. they are that good.

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Cut the peppers in half lengthwise and clean out the seeds and ribs using a sharp knife.

Note: I took an old teaspoon and sharpened the edges with a file. This makes a great tool for scraping out the seeds and the ribs.

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The peppers are ready to be stuffed at this point so set them aside for now.

Make the Cream Cheese Mixture

What's not to like about cream cheese mixed with shredded cheddar and a generous bit of my rub mixed in for great flavor!

I have discovered that I can usually stuff about 20 pepper halves with a single recipe of cream cheese mixture. Just something to give you an idea of how much you might need to make for the number of peppers you want to stuff.

To make the cream cheese mixture, let the cream cheese sit on the cabinet for about an hour so it can soften.

Plop it into a large bowl.. (it does plop so that's a professional explanation of the process)

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Add about 1 cup of shredded cheese.. that's about a handful if you don't want to measure real closely.

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Pour on about 2-5 TBS of my original rub (purchase the recipes here) depending on how much you like it ;-)

I tend to use about 3-4 depending on my mood and it may be more than that if I lose count.. I'll add on an extra spoonful for good measure if I can't remember how many  I've done so far.

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Mix it up real good.. a fork works great for this.

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The mixture is now ready to use, set it aside.

Stuff the Peppers with Shrimp and Cream Cheese

Now that everything is ready, we can finally stuff the the peppers.

Lay a shrimp into the pepper half.

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Since shrimp like to curl up into a “C”, I made several cuts in the shrimp body to help it lay more flat.

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Stuff cheese on top and around the sides of the shrimp using your fingers.. there's not a better tool available for this part of the process.

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You can be as neat or as messy as you like here. It will be covered with bacon, so no one will ever know if it's not perfect. It will taste perfect either way and that's what really matters.

Wrap with Bacon

Cut strips of bacon in half and wrap the halved slices around the pepper trying to end up at the bottom.

This allows the pepper to sit on the bacon and keep it in place. Some folks use toothpicks and I have done it but since discovered that it's really not all that necessary. The bacon is sticky and easily stays in place.

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Place the stuffed, bacon wrapped peppers on a Bradley rack, if you have one, for easy transport to and from the smoker. If your smoker grate is large enough, you won't even have to take the peppers off of the rack while they cook.

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Please note: I dusted a batch of these with my “Jeff's naked rib rub” (purchase the recipe here)  just before they went into the smoker and they were extremely tasty.. I highly recommend that you follow suit and do the same!

Get the Smoker Ready

I say this a lot but I will repeat myself for the sake of those new to the list – It does not matter if you are using electric, charcoal, gas or wood as a heat source for your smoker, as long as you maintain the proper temperature in your smoker and cook the food until it reaches a certain temperature or level of doneness, it will be better than anything you can make inside in your oven.

Setup your smoker or even your grill for indirect cooking at 225°F and once it is holding a steady temperature, you are good to go.

If your smoker has a water pan, use it.

I recommend having enough dry smoking wood to last the full duration. Pecan wood is great on these but any smoking wood will work.

Smoke the Stuffed Jalapeños

Once your smoker is ready, place the stuffed, bacon wrapped peppers directly on the smoker grate or if you placed them on a Bradley rack (which I often use as well) just set the rack right on the smoker grate.

For most meats and foods we cook to temperature but for these, you are looking for a pepper that is soft, cheese nice and melty and bacon as crispy as possible. I can tell you that the bacon will not get very crispy in 225 °F heat but it should not be chewy.

Use the thinnest sliced bacon you can find for best results.

If you want the bacon to be crispy, remove the peppers when they are almost done and place them on a hot grill for a few minutes or even under the broiler in your home oven. Keep a close eye on them since you want the bacon to crisp but you don't want to burn anything.

I have found that 3 hours is usually perfect for these but it doesn't hurt to start checking them at 2 hours in and, of course, the only way to check them is to eat one ;-)

Serve the Stuffed Jalapeños

If there's any left after you have tested and tested to make sure they end up perfect, set them out for your guests and watch them disappear right before your eyes.

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Notes/Comments:
  • Don't feel like you are confined to using shrimp.. you could also use pieces of chicken, pulled pork, little smokies, you get my drift.
  • Don't like “hot” jalapeños? Soak the halved and cleaned jalapeños in a bowl of Sprite® for a couple of hours. The longer you soak them, the milder they will be. The sprite will be very spicy due to the “hotness” leaching out of the peppers.
  • You might be thinking that the shrimp will be overcooked with 3 hours of heat but, somehow, the cheese and bacon protect them and even though they are cooked a lot longer than what you normally would, they taste amazing inside of the jalapeño pepper and cream cheese.
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Printable Recipe

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Print Recipe
5 from 3 votes

Shrimp & Cream Cheese Stuffed Jalapeños

Smoked jalapeño peppers stuffed with goodies are an amazing appetizer and this version stuffed with a jumbo shrimp and a cream cheese mixture take things to a whole new level.
Prep Time1 hr
Cook Time3 hrs
Servings: 6

Ingredients

  • Jalapeño peppers (((Each pepper makes 2)))
  • 8 ounces cream cheese (((makes enough mixture for about 20 stuffed peppers)))
  • 1 cup of shredded cheddar
  • Jeff’s rub recipe
  • 1 lb shrimp ((Jumbo or 21/25 pieces per pound))
  • 1 lb of thin or original sliced bacon (((the kind I use has 13 slices and allows me to wrap 26 peppers)))

Instructions

Prepare Shrimp

  • Remove shells from shrimp
  • Put the shrimp down into a ziptop bag with about ¼ cup of Jeff's rub and shake/roll to coat.
  • Place bag of shrimp in the fridge for 30-60 minutes to marinate

Prepare Jalapeño Peppers

  • Cut peppers in half lengthwise
  • Remove seeds and veins completely

Prepare Cream Cheese Mixture

  • Mix 8 ounces of cream cheese with 1 cup of shredded cheddar and 3 TBS of Jeff's rub
  • Mix well to combine ingredients

Stuffing the Peppers

  • Lay marinated shrimp into pepper half
  • Make partial cuts into the body of the shrimp to help it lay flat
  • Stuff cream cheese mixture over the top and sides of the shrimp to fill pepper half
  • Wrap half strips of bacon around stuffed pepper halves

Smoking the Stuffed Jalapeño Peppers

  • Set up smoker for cooking at about 225°F
  • Place stuffed peppers directly on smoker grate
  • Smoke with pecan wood (or other smoking wood) for about 3 hours or until peppers are soft
  • For crispy bacon, place peppers under oven broiler for a few minutes watching them closely
  • Serve immediately!

 

21 Comments

  1. SmokinDogs October 20, 2019 at 3:43 pm - Reply

    5 stars
    Working on my third time making these. We always make lots of extras then flash freeze them on baking sheets and put'em in freezer bags for those times my smoker is buried in snow ;) It IS Buffalo after all!

    Awesome recipe, Jeff!

  2. Lori September 6, 2018 at 7:20 pm - Reply

    Instead of ruining a spoon, I use a grapefruit spoon. Works like a charm!

  3. tybme September 6, 2018 at 9:25 am - Reply

    Maybe I missed something as I only scanned the recipe – nice twist on standard ABT's by the way – but in What You'll Need – I don't see Shrimp listed. Just an FYI

    What You'll Need
    Jalapeño peppers (Each pepper makes 2)
    8 ounces cream cheese (makes enough mixture for about 20 stuffed peppers)
    1 cup of shredded cheddar
    Jeff’s rub recipe
    1 lb of thin or original sliced bacon (the kind I use has 13 slices and allows me to wrap 26 peppers)
    Instructions
    Prepare Shrimp
    Remove shells from shrimp

  4. Andrew March 7, 2017 at 12:17 pm - Reply

    5 stars
    Jeff,
    My wife and I have bought your rub recipe and are both subscribers to your weekly smoking recipes. I have to say that this ABT recipe is one of my favorites although I have yet to try it with the shrimp. My wife absolutely loves the smoked salmon. You are doing some amazing things here and I find myself getting excited on Wednesday night in anticipation to receiving the latest recipe on Thursday morning! With spring and summer around the corner, I will be putting my smoker to work soon and will have the neighborhood smelling delicious!
    Thanks and keep up the great work!
    – Andrew & Andrea

    • Jeff Phillips March 8, 2017 at 10:08 am - Reply

      Thank you! I love my job ;-)

  5. Ken Albach August 17, 2015 at 8:01 pm - Reply

    Do you use the rub with the brown sugar to marinate the shrimp & for the cheese mix.or the Texas naked rib rub?

  6. Robert Thompson July 11, 2015 at 12:48 pm - Reply

    can you stuff and smoke poblanos, has anyone tried

    • ben arnold July 22, 2015 at 2:33 pm - Reply

      Robert,
      I tried it with some Anaheims which are very close to poblanos and they were great over the July 4th weekend. The reason I got the Anaheims was because the store was out of Jalapenos! Arrghh… I did add some thin Bhut Jolokia (ghost pepper) slices (hidden under the bacon) to a couple of them for me and one of my special friends. They were Goot-an-Hot.

      I just bought some more yesterday and plan on making them again in a day or so. I also like to place them on the grill for a few minutes to crisp up the bacon.

  7. Robert Thompson July 11, 2015 at 12:48 pm - Reply

    we have done the jalapenos for several years and they are always fabulous. I have a poblano pepper plant with about 40 small size on it, has anyone stuffed and smoked those. I think they would be great.???

  8. Darsol July 6, 2015 at 9:35 am - Reply

    5 stars
    For scooping out the Jalapeno's, my wife wouldn't let me sharpen a spoon. She found that a small mellon ball scoop works great for scooping out the seeds.

  9. Mike Jackson July 2, 2015 at 11:00 pm - Reply

    Jeff, I have tried nearly all of the meals you have printed and found them all wonderful. But I need to know where I can get a Bradley rack for my smoker??? I have looked in several stores and just can not find them. Thanks!

    • Bob July 6, 2015 at 1:31 pm - Reply

      My wife got my Bradley Racks for me from Amazon. Just used them for the first time yesterday smoking some jerky. Love them. They may have them at Bass Pro, if I recall from my trip there a few months ago.

  10. Bob July 2, 2015 at 9:49 am - Reply

    Thanks for the idea Jeff! At my house, we call the standard version “wolf turds”, and I make a number of them with the small colored bell peppers for those that don't like spice (and call them “puppy turds”). Generally I stuff with cream cheese and Mexican pork chorizo. My wife likes shrimp, so I'll try out some “surf turds” next time for her.

    A note of experience for those making this. You are not kidding when you say to use thin bacon. Thick bacon just gets mushy. However, if your bacon is too thick, just use a meat tenderizer hammer (on the smooth side) and pound it out thin.

  11. audrey January 30, 2015 at 7:20 am - Reply

    Can the peppers be cook in the oven.

  12. audrey January 30, 2015 at 7:18 am - Reply

    Can then be cook in the oven

  13. Don Walton January 3, 2015 at 3:47 am - Reply

    Dear Jeff,

    I received an xmas gift from winecountrycraftsman.com of wine barrel chips, 6 different flavors, malbec, syrah, zinfandel, chardonnay, cabernet, and pinot noir.
    I know they have wine parrings with food, but there was none listed with shipment.
    Have you had any experience with smoking oak wine flavored chips/chunks? They
    also showed no reviews on website.

    Thanks, Don

  14. J. Jouett November 18, 2014 at 7:57 pm - Reply

    Try jalapeno stuffed with pineapple and cream cheese.

  15. Brian August 14, 2014 at 1:03 pm - Reply

    I can't tell by the picture, but I assume these are pre-cooked shrimp….dumb question I'm sure.

    • Jeff Phillips August 19, 2014 at 12:13 am - Reply

      No dumb questions around here.. ok, maybe that one a while back but we won't talk about it ;-)

      These are raw shrimp since they will easily get done in about 20-25 minutes or so at smoking temperatures. They cook much longer than this inside of the cream cheese and somehow they are still really good after the long cook time.

  16. Darden August 11, 2014 at 9:42 am - Reply

    I made the jalapeno shrimp poppers for 4th of July weekend. They were a huge hit. My shrimp were not quite big enough, so we didn't get much shrimp flavor. I will try jumbo shrimp in the future. And I used a whole piece of bacon per jalapeno, a half just didn't cover the jalapeno. I will make these again and again, with our without the shrimp. Jeff's rub is perfect with the cheese filler.

  17. Cliff Farris July 4, 2014 at 10:45 am - Reply

    As a landlubber, I have had tremendous problems cooking shrimp. How do they come out in this recipe? Sounds like they would be cooked real well.

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