The Ultimate Stuffed Jalapeños

Classic bar food, stuffed jalapeños are spicy chiles that are loaded up with cheese before being battered and deep-fried. We wanted to take this ideal game-time snack and make it even better, cutting the calories by half with this quick, easy recipe from our new book Comfort Food Makeovers.

BEFORE*: 220 calories, 15 fat, 6g sat fat
AFTER: 120 calories, 7 fat, 4.5g sat fat
*Numbers based on Cream Cheese Stuffed Jalapeños from T.G.I Friday's; 1 serving = 3 pieces

To make this appetizer more figure-friendly, we replaced the batter with bread crumbs and turned to the oven. A blanket of panko, toasted and sprinkled over the filling, provided so much crunch that tasters didn't even notice that our stuffed jalapeños were coated on the top only. A blend of reduced-fat cheeses delivered the best flavor and texture: Cheddar gave our filling its savory, cheesy flavor, while cream cheese contributed creaminess and a hint of tang. Scallions and chili powder livened things up, and a bit of lime juice added brightness to this revamped bar snack.

Stuffed Jalapeños, from America's Test Kitchen

Serves 8

To remove seeds and ribs from jalapeño, cut it in half lengthwise. Then, starting at end opposite stem, use melon baller to scoop down inside of each half. When toasting panko, you have two options: the stovetop or the oven. To toast panko on the stovetop, place it in a 12‐inch nonstick skillet and toast it over medium‐high heat, stirring often, until well browned, 5 to 10 minutes. To toast panko in the oven, spread it over a rimmed baking sheet and bake in a 475‐degree oven until well browned, 7 to 10 minutes.

12 medium jalapeño chiles, preferably with stems
6 ounces 50 percent light cheddar cheese, shredded (1 1/2 cups)
4 ounces 1/3 less fat cream cheese (neufchatel), softened
2 scallions, chopped fine
2 teaspoons lime juice
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs, toasted
Vegetable oil spray

1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Line rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil.

2. Cut each jalapeño in half lengthwise through stem; remove ribs and seeds. Combine cheddar, cream cheese, scallions, lime juice, chili powder, and salt in bowl. Spoon cheese mixture evenly into jalapeños and transfer to prepared sheet. Top with toasted panko and spray lightly with oil spray. Bake until hot, 15 to 20 minutes. Serve.

Per Serving (3 pieces): Cal 120, Fat 7, Sat Fat 4.5g, Chol 20mg, Carb 7g, Protein 9g, Fiber 0g, Sodium 360mg

This recipe appears in our brand-new cookbook, Comfort Food Makeovers. We set the bar high and simply put flavor first when lightening up favorite dishes.