39 Jalapeño Recipes That Turn Up The Heat

The jalapeño (Capsicum annuum) is a popular chile found on restaurant menus, in the grocery store, and in home gardens. The pepper is popular for a lot of reasons; they're easy to find, are a perfect size for slicing, and are ranked between 2,000 to 8,000 units on the Scoville scale — which is a tool used to measure a pepper's hotness. That's enough to generate a pleasant tingle but not to intimidate most eaters.

With all of those factors considered, it's unsurprising that jalapeños are the star of many recipes, ranging from snacks and dips to casseroles and sauces and — of course — any number of salsas and other Mexican-inspired or Southwestern dishes. We've taken a deep dive into some of the most delicious ways to make the most of the jalapeños' subtle heat and use this pepper to upgrade some of your favorite dishes. 

1. Spicy Chicago-Style Giardiniera

Quick-pickling is a fine way to showcase fresh vegetables, and it adds a bright pop of flavor and color to meals. One popular variety of quick pickles is a Chicago-style giardiniera, which brings a spicy heat to the vegetables courtesy of chile peppers.

This version gets its kick from jalapeños and serranos, which are simmered first to infuse the brine before being sliced and added to the other vegetables. Let the flavors infuse for a day or two, and the giardiniera will be ready to use.

Recipe: Spicy Chicago-Style Giardiniera

2. Jalapeño Biscuits and Gravy

There's so much to love about Southern biscuits and gravy, and this recipe kicks it up a notch by adding jalapeños to the biscuits and using chorizo instead of breakfast sausage. That Southwest spin transforms it from a breakfast into a party dish.

The genius part? After you cut your biscuits from the dough, bake both the biscuits and the rectangle of dough you've cut them from. The cutouts make a dozen wells that you'll fill with the sausage gravy and promptly dip your biscuits into. It's a minimum-waste solution for maximum fun!

Recipe: Jalapeño Biscuits and Gravy

3. Jalapeño-Lime Three Bean Salad

Bean salads are a staple at summertime barbecues, but they also make for a healthy and satisfying lunch option or side dish for any time of year. While other recipes might include ingredients like vinegar and sugar, this one stays true to the components of the classic bean salad.

It's bright and festive in flavor and appearance, with colorful tomatoes, bell and jalapeño peppers, cucumbers, avocados, and a tang of lime juice. It's also full of fiber and protein-dense chickpeas, kidney beans, and black beans. This recipe is both vegan and gluten-free. 

Recipe: Jalapeño-Lime Three Bean Salad

4. Cheddar Jalapeño Honey Scones

A bit of sweetness always pairs well with chile heat, and that's the idea behind these savory scones. Plus, the combination of cheese and jalapeños is a no-brainer — like on a plate of classic nachos.

Honey provides some additional benefits to these scones besides flavor. It's hygroscopic, which means that it doesn't just add moisture to a recipe, but it also retains it. Cheese, jalapeños, and extra-moist scones: How can you go wrong?

Recipe: Cheddar Jalapeño Honey Scones

5. Fiery Instant Pot Pinto Beans

The Instant Pot does a lot of things well, and beans are one of them. That's a good thing because dried beans are both a cheap and filling meal option.

This recipe takes advantage of the Instant Pot's sauté function to prepare the colorful aromatic vegetables, including the jalapeños. This cooking method gives the beans their flavor and subtle chile heat, then uses a pressure cooking function to finish everything off. The prep time is less than 30 minutes, and the cooking process itself is about as hands-off as it can be. 

Recipe: Fiery Instant Pot Pinto Beans

6. Colorful Pomegranate Guacamole

Guacamole is everything you'd want in a dip. It's rich, flavorful, and full of healthy nutrients. Yet, for all its virtues, if there's one thing guacamole lacks, it's color.

This take on the ever-popular dip meets that color contrast deficiency head-on. The addition of pomegranate seeds to the usual jalapeños, onions, and avocados livens up the guacamole with the seeds' signature tang, a bit of crunch, and, above all, a bold red hue.

Recipe: Colorful Pomegranate Guacamole

7. Broiled Jalapeño Poppers

Cheese-stuffed jalapeño poppers are a perfect at-home appetizer, whether you're hosting a Super Bowl tailgate or a baby shower. This version puts bacon in the filling rather than wrapping peppers in bacon. You still get lots of meaty flavors but with less bacon — so you can double the amount of peppers you planned to make.

This recipe is relatively quick and easy to throw together. Once your broiler is set up, you can have your poppers ready to serve in under 10 minutes.

Recipe: Broiled Jalapeño Poppers

8. Spicy Pinto Beans

Beans are a versatile, relatively inexpensive meal staple. This spicy, chorizo-filled recipe makes for a supercharged side dish for your next barbecue. Or, you can spruce it up with add-ins for a weeknight dinner.

The best part is that the recipe is straightforward to prepare. You'll only need to allocate 15 minutes of prep and a couple of hours for simmering. Even if you didn't soak your beans overnight, you can still start them in the afternoon and enjoy them for dinner.

Recipe: Spicy Pinto Beans

9. Spicy Black Bean Dip

Hummus is arguably one of the most widely recognized bean dips, but this spicy alternative might just become your new favorite. Black beans provide a rich base of flavor, with added brightness and punch from cilantro, cumin, garlic, lime juice, and a couple of jalapeños.

The great thing about this dip is that you can enjoy it in the spur of the moment. Just drain a can of beans (or use leftover black beans), chop the fresh ingredients, and in just five minutes, you'll be reaching for the chips.

Recipe: Spicy Black Bean Dip

10. Spicy Jalapeño Shrub Cocktail

If you're a pepper lover, you've probably eaten your fair share of jalapeños. But when was the last time you drank one? It's not as crazy as it sounds: Pepper heat works beautifully in lots of beverages, and infusing jalapeños into a shrub is a great way to slip some heat into a cocktail.

This recipe starts by infusing berries and jalapeños to make a cocktail shrub, then builds a lime and gin cocktail to showcase those flavors. It's a perfectly balanced beverage for summer sipping. 

Recipe: Spicy Jalapeño Shrub Cocktail

11. Air Fryer Jalapeño Poppers

Air fryers have become a highly-regarded kitchen gadget over the last few years, and they're great for prepping quick snacks. That's why we developed a version of jalapeño poppers that harnesses the utility of the appliance. 

The recipe calls for whipped cream cheese filling and uses panko breadcrumbs for crunch and textural contrast. Just remember to wear gloves when you're halving the jalapeños and removing the seeds. Otherwise, if you have capsaicin on your fingers and absent-mindedly rub your eyes, you'll regret it.

Recipe: Air Fryer Jalapeño Poppers

12. Cuban Black Beans

Black beans have a distinctively rich and meaty taste to begin with, and you can dial up the flavors even more by simmering the beans with plenty of spices and aromatics, as in the case of this recipe.

The flavor-boosting aromatics in our Cuban black beans include garlic, jalapeños, onions, bell peppers, cumin, coriander, and smoked paprika. Fresh cilantro and lime juice play off the earthiness of the spices to brighten the flavors in the finished dish. Serve the beans over rice, in a tostada, or as a side dish with meals.

Recipe: Cuban Black Beans

13. Citrusy Fish Tacos with Grapefruit Salsa

Is there anyone out there who doesn't like fish tacos? While there are plenty of ways to make fish tacos, this version stands out from the pack thanks to its use of a unique citrus: the grapefruit. 

First, make the grapefruit-jalapeño salsa, and then cook the seasoned fish separately before assembling the tacos. The bright, fresh combination of flavors makes it a real knockout, and everything comes together in well under 30 minutes.

Recipe: Citrusy Fish Tacos with Grapefruit Salsa

14. Turkey Taquitos with Cranberry Chipotle Salsa

Thanksgiving and Mexican food collide with this non-traditional turkey taquito recipe. The familiar flavors of turkey, mashed potatoes, and cranberries are all there, but so are the bold notes of jalapeños, cumin, chili powder, and chipotle.

The recipe calls for whole potatoes and ground turkey, but that's not mandatory. If you have holiday leftovers, by all means, start with those instead.

Recipe: Turkey Taquitos with Cranberry Chipotle Salsa

15. Butternut Squash Taco with Pomegranate Pico

One of the best things about tacos is their versatility; you can fill them with just about anything you like. That includes vegetarian fillings, like these butternut squash tacos.

The key to these unique tacos isn't the sweet, mellow squash. Instead, it's the jalapeño-fueled pomegranate pico — which adds the tart, crunchy seeds to the usual tomato and onion combination. If you roast the squash beforehand, you can assemble these tasty tacos as quickly as the tortillas leave your skillet.

Recipe: Butternut Squash Taco with Pomegranate Pico

16. Vegan Seven-Layer Dip

If you have a party and there's no layered dip, is it even a party? Those layers of refried beans, cheese, and sour cream are just begging to get scooped up by a chip.

If you and your friends are vegan, you can still indulge in this vegan seven-layer dip. You can make the homemade vegan cheese and sour cream yourself, as the recipe directs, or just go with store-bought versions. Either way, you'll get a dip that everyone, even the omnivores, will love. 

Recipe: Vegan Seven-Layer Dip

17. Plant-Based Chipotle Corn Chowder

Some of the most-loved comfort foods are soups — one of the best being corn chowder. Typical recipes are made with milk and may include bacon or other pork products for flavor, which is great for omnivores but not for vegans.

This spin on corn chowder creates a version omnivores might envy. It's built on a deep base of flavor from onions, garlic, jalapeño, and spices, with chipotles in adobo. The chipotles, although uncommon in most corn chowder recipes, bring some smokiness in place of the pork. Lastly, the soup is finished with frozen corn and creamy soy milk. It's 100% plant-based and 100% delicious.

Recipe: Plant-Based Chipotle Corn Chowder

18. Cheesy Carne Asada Nachos

It's hard to go wrong with nachos. After all, who doesn't like chips with melty, gooey cheese? That being said, you can make your recipe even better by ramping up the protein. Seasoned ground beef is one way to do that — but we can confidently say that carne asada is even better.

That's what you get with this version of carne asada nachos. The nachos are topped with seared, marinated skirt steak and quick-and-dirty versions of pico de gallo and guacamole. The recipe comes together in well under an hour, and we can assure you it's time well spent.

Recipe: Cheesy Carne Asada Nachos

19. Vegan Refried Lentil Nachos

There are tons of toppings to add to your nachos to make them more filling, including ground beef, carnitas, or refried beans. But this recipe utilizes a different topping: refried lentils. 

This unconventional spin on classic nachos hits all the right comfort food notes while still using plant-based ingredients like lentils, onions, jalapeños, tomatoes, and cashew-based queso. If you make the lentils and queso ahead of time or use store-bought products, you can have your nachos ready the moment the craving strikes. 

Recipe: Vegan Refried Lentil Nachos

20. Turkey Enchilada Skillet

Enchiladas are not the most technically challenging of dishes to make, but the prep — while simple — involves a lot of steps. Putting together a deconstructed version of the dish, like this turkey enchilada skillet, gives you the same bold flavors with much less effort.

This one-pan meal takes just five minutes of prep and 25 minutes on the stovetop, so it's ideal for quick weeknight meals. It's gluten-free if you use corn tortillas, and you can easily swap the turkey and cheese for plant-based alternatives to make it vegan-friendly. 

Recipe: Turkey Enchilada Skillet

21. Baked Black Bean Flautas

Frozen convenience meals are an industry in themselves and are particularly useful for weekdays when you don't have time to cook. But if pre-made meals don't fit your lifestyle or your budget, quick and tasty meals like these black bean flautas can fill that gap.

The beans get their rich flavors from jalapeño and Anaheim chiles, onion, lime, and spices, including cumin, chili powder, and smoked paprika. The flautas come together in nearly an hour total and are perfect for novice cooks and jalapeño lovers alike.

Recipe: Baked Black Bean Flautas

22. Esquites (Mexican Street Corn Salad)

Corn on the cob may be good, but Mexican-style street corn, or elote, is even better. It's slathered in a rich, cheesy crema with notes of chile and lime for a wonderful, albeit messy, treat.

For a convenient way to enjoy the same elote flavors while keeping your hands and clothes clean, strip the corn from the cob and mix all the toppings into a refreshing salad. Charring the corn takes 30 minutes, but if you're in a hurry, you can use frozen or canned corn as a substitute. 

Recipe: Esquites (Mexican Street Corn Salad)

23. Pinto Bean Tostadas

Tostadas are hard to describe to somebody who's never seen or eaten one. Some call it a hard-shell taco served open-faced, while others just think it's a really big nacho. Regardless, we think we can all agree that they are nothing short of delicious. 

The base of this recipe is made from homemade refried pinto beans, seasoned with a kick from the jalapeños in the pico de gallo. You can also substitute with canned refried beans, but it might not be suitable for plant-based eaters if it contains pork lard. 

Recipe: Pinto Bean Tostadas

24. Oven-Roasted Chile Rellenos and Tomatillo Salsa

Stuffed peppers are a yummy dish in any form, but stuffed chile rellenos may just be the best of them all. The chiles are usually stuffed with cheese (and occasionally meat) before they're battered and fried. We love the traditional preparation, but it is certainly heavy and greasy.

This spin on the classic recipe bulks up the filling with well-seasoned black beans and skips the greasy frying experience in favor of roasting. It's faster, simpler, and will leave you feeling like you could eat a couple more. 

Recipe: Oven-Roasted Chile Rellenos and Tomatillo Salsa

25. Homemade Chilaquiles

If you like chilaquiles, which are akin to "breakfast nachos," you'll love this version made with scratch-made salsa and freshly fried chips instead of the store-bought versions.

The chips made fresh from tortillas are a fabulous addition, but the real highlight is the salsa. The jalapeño, onion, and tomatillos are lightly charred in the oven, which gives the sauce a smoky flavor that plays well with the fried egg and other fresh toppings.

Recipe: Homemade Chilaquiles

26. Fresh Pico De Gallo

There are many salsas, but pico de gallo — possibly the simplest of all –- makes a case for being the tastiest. Its freshness and simplicity set it apart and make it one of the easiest salsas to crank out for fast weeknight enjoyment.

This take on pico de gallo hits all the classic notes without any arduous prep work. It takes just a few minutes to chop the onions, tomatoes, cilantro, and jalapeño and toss them in a bowl with salt and lime juice to taste.

Recipe: Fresh Pico De Gallo

27. Best Duck Confit Tacos

Duck confit is one of the best French dishes, and tacos hold the same status as Mexican cooking. Combining them might seem odd at first, and the duck shares some texture or preparation similarities with the popular Mexican carnitas. 

This recipe calls for searing the confit, which you can find pre-made in some supermarkets, and pairs it with tart, subtly spicy cranberry salsa to balance the duck's richness. It's delicious evidence that trying a fusion recipe, no matter how unconventional, is undoubtedly worthwhile. 

Recipe: Best Duck Confit Tacos

28. Cheesy Salsa Verde Chicken Enchiladas

Cuisines around the world have their version of a tasty filling wrapped in dough and baked in sauce, from Italian cannelloni to Ukraine's cheese-filled nalysnyky. Enchiladas are another filled dough recipe that can be upgraded to levels, including with the help of a tomatillo-based salsa verde. 

This recipe swaps out corn tortillas with flour tortillas for a better texture. The fresh flavors of the salsa, combined with a punchy sour cream garnish, make these enchiladas a perfectly light, bright-tasting summer dish.

Recipe: Cheesy Salsa Verde Chicken Enchiladas

29. Bacon Jalapeño Pineapple Cheese Ball

Cheese and parties are a fantastic combination. It's almost obligatory that a celebration offer some kind of melted, scoopable, or dippable cheese for guests to snack on — like this bacon jalapeño pineapple cheese ball recipe.

This appetizer hits all the right notes with the spicy jalapeño, smoky and savory bacon, sweet pineapple, and pecan crust. Just be sure to stock up on crackers before you pull out your mixing bowl. 

Recipe: Bacon Jalapeño Pineapple Cheese Ball

30. Fire-Roasted Salsa

Any good salsa recipe is packed with bold flavors, but the best still find ways to crank things up a notch or two. Such is the case with this salsa recipe — which is perfect for serving with homemade tortilla chips. 

The usual salsa ingredients are here — jalapeños, lime juice, onions, garlic, cumin, and cilantro — but the fire-roasted tomatoes make all the difference. The canned fruit brings a subtle smoky note that's enhanced by the cumin and takes this recipe a notch above the others. 

Recipe: Fire-Roasted Salsa

31. Classic Ceviche

Fish is a wonderful source of lean protein, but it's easy to overcook — even if you're careful. That's what makes ceviche so appealing. Rather than being cooked conventionally with heat, it's "cooked" with a flavorful, acidic marinade.

Ordinarily, that acidity comes from lime juice, but in this version of classic ceviche, the marinade is made with rice vinegar, too. It gives a more balanced flavor to the fish and rounds out the harsh profile of other ingredients. The ceviche needs at least two to three hours in the marinade but should be eaten within a day. 

Recipe: Classic Ceviche

32. Pineapple Salsa

A perfectly ripe tomato offers a pleasant balance of sweet and tart flavors, and so does a pineapple. One difference is that it's much easier to find ripe, fresh pineapples at the supermarket, making them the perfect ingredient to add to your salsa. 

This tasty pineapple salsa calls for the fruit first to be drained in a colander to keep the salsa from being soupy before it's tossed with more conventional salsa ingredients like jalapeños, onions, cilantro, and lime juice. It's great on chips but really shines as a topping for grilled fish.

Recipe: Pineapple Salsa

33. The Best Irish Nachos

Nachos are a well-known appetizer, but you may not have never heard of Irish nachos. The latter has the same ingredients, except it uses crisp potatoes instead of tortilla chips.

These Irish nachos call for roasting the potato slices in your oven, then topping them with cheese, jalapeños, and chili con carne. This recipe is a flavorful way to repurpose your chili and give it new life. In addition, it also makes for a hearty platter, which can be a starter or an actual meal, depending on the number of people you're serving.

Recipe: The Best Irish Nachos

34. Spicy Chicken Fajitas

There are lots of ways to combine a tortilla with meats and vegetables, but fajitas may be the most appealing. Their colorful mixture of ingredients, served hot and sizzling on a cast iron skillet, appeals to all of our senses.

This version takes about 20 minutes to prep and a mere 15 to cook, which is plenty fast enough even for busy weeknights. The recipe calls for two jalapeños, but you can cut that number down for a milder meal or crank it up for more chile heat.

Recipe: Spicy Chicken Fajitas

35. Pork Chili Verde

All chili recipes are great, whether you're going for a recipe made with meat or just beans. But chili verde is a totally different animal that deserves the same (if not more) respect than the classic recipes. 

This recipe starts with roasted jalapeños, poblanos, and tomatillos, puréed with cilantro and onion to make a quick salsa verde. There's no need to pre-cook your salsa beforehand since that'll happen in your slow cooker as the pork simmers with the flavorful salsa. 

Recipe: Pork Chili Verde

36. Portobello Fajitas

The basic formula for fajitas is pretty simple. Add meat of your choice with some colorful veggies, turn up the seasoning, and serve it sizzling with tortillas. But if you're a vegan or trying to reduce your consumption of animal proteins, there are some options for you when it comes to fajitas. 

For example, you can use portobello mushrooms instead of steak or chicken. These massive mushrooms have a meaty flavor and texture bolstered by the forward flavors of jalapeños, cumin, garlic, onions, and smoked paprika. Even hardcore meat lovers will enjoy these, too. 

Recipe: Portobello Fajitas

37. Mexican Gazpacho Soup

Cold soups may not have the same appreciation in North America as in other parts of the world, but this version of a Mexican gazpacho will surely convince anyone to become a cold soup lover. It has appealing, bright, and fresh flavors that resemble summer in a bowl. 

This alternative take on the classic soup retains the onions, tomatoes, cucumbers, and bell peppers but dials up the intensity with Tabasco, jalapeños, and Worcestershire sauce. It's a little chunky — chopped, not puréed — but even so, this Mexican-influenced version packs the same summery freshness as the original.

Recipe: Mexican Gazpacho Soup

38. Fresh Mango Guacamole

Let's be perfectly clear about this: There's absolutely nothing wrong with traditional guacamole. It's a classic dip, and it doesn't need any tweaks to be great. That being said, there's also nothing wrong with wanting to change things up a little with a fruity and flavorful addition. 

This fresh twist on guacamole is an evolution, not a revolution. It calls for adding diced mango to the classic avocado and jalapeño dip. The mango's acidity balances the rich avocados, and its sweetness plays nicely with the chile heat. What's not to like?

Recipe: Fresh Mango Guacamole

39. Healthy Green Rice

Most culinary traditions have a staple starch to bulk up their meals, which can include potatoes, bread, pasta, cassava, or even plantains. Rice has a spot as one of the most appreciated of these starches, and few are more versatile than it.

Consider Mexico's green rice (arroz verde). It's a vividly green side dish enlivened with jalapeños, poblanos, herbs, and other boldly flavored ingredients. It's a bright, light side dish and will play an excellent supporting role in your Mexican-themed meals.

Recipe: Healthy Green Rice