What are Some Dishes Prepared with Jalapenos?

Diane Goettel
Diane Goettel

Jalapeno peppers are very important part of South American and Central American cuisines. The jalapeno is a small chile pepper that offers hot, spicy flavor to dishes. Jalapenos are almost exclusively red or green. Some of them have patches of each color. In Mexico, the jalapeno has a number of different names. The peppers are also known as huachinangos, chiles gordos, and cuaresmenos. Chipotles, an important staple in Central American and South American cuisine, are made from dried, chopped jalapeno peppers. Therefore, any dish with chipotles is actually prepared with jalapenos.

A jalapeno pepper.
A jalapeno pepper.

Many medium to hot salsa dishes are prepared with jalapenos. Pico de gallo, a particularly chunky traditional salsa is almost always prepared with jalapenos. Guacamole, an avocado-based dip, is also often prepared with jalapenos. Jalapenos are often finely chopped and added as a topping or garnish to burritos, enchiladas, and tostadas. When these dishes are prepared with jalapenos, they are afforded a lovely spicy kick. Ceviche, a traditional fish dish, is also often prepared with jalapenos. Jalapenos are also delicious in black bean soup. Furthermore, chili can be added a fantastic flavor boost with the addition of some chopped jalapenos.

Chili can be spiced up with jalapeno peppers.
Chili can be spiced up with jalapeno peppers.

Jalapenos have been adopted by other cuisines as well. Many pizza parlors offer pizza prepared with jalapenos as a topping. When the jalapenos are warmed in the oven, the natural oils are released into the cheese on the pizza, creating a delicious and spicy treat. Some burger joints have also added jalapenos to their topping menus. A traditional American cheeseburger prepared with a sprinkling of jalapeno peppers is absolutely delicious. Jalapeno “poppers” have become common bar menu fare over the past few years. A jalapeno popper is a whole pepper stuffed with cheese (generally a mild white cheese such as mozzarella), breaded, and deep fried. In fact, many restaurants serve jalapeno poppers along with cheese sticks, buffalo wings, and french fries on their appetizer platters.

Many people put jalapenos on their pizzas.
Many people put jalapenos on their pizzas.

Seafood dishes prepared with jalapenos are especially delightful. A sprinkling of minced jalapenos can add a wonderful flavor dimension to lemon butter sauces and garlic sauces. Jalapenos also are fabulous in many fish and chicken-based soups.

Spicy dips may be made by mixing avocados with jalapenos.
Spicy dips may be made by mixing avocados with jalapenos.

It is important to note that jalapeno peppers are very spicy and cannot be tolerated by everyone's constitution. Furthermore, excessive consumption of spicy peppers can cause problems in the esophagus, stomach, and entire digestive tract. Used in moderation, however, they are a healthy and delicious addition to many dishes.

Hot peppers are used to create spicy sauces and salsas.
Hot peppers are used to create spicy sauces and salsas.
Jalapenos may be used in guacamole.
Jalapenos may be used in guacamole.
Diane Goettel
Diane Goettel

In addition to her work as a freelance writer for wiseGEEK, Diane is the executive editor of Black Lawrence Press, an independent publishing company based in upstate New York. She has also edited several anthologies, the e-newsletter Sapling, and The Adirondack Review. Diane has a B.A. from Sarah Lawrence College and an M.A. from Brooklyn College.

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Discussion Comments

tigers88

My mom always has a jar of jalapeno jelly in her refrigerator. I guess she first had it on a trip to Mexico with my dad in the 60s and has loved it ever since.

It has heat from a jalapeno but not as much as you would expect. Like most jellies, it is mostly sweet. You can eat in on lots of things and I know some people use it on everything from meat to bagels.

I am not a huge fan of it but it's not the worst thing I've ever tried. It's not even the worst jelly I have ever tried.

truman12

I have a great recipe for stuffed jalapeno poppers. You basically stuff a hollowed out jalapeno with a cheese blend and then bake it in the oven until it is all melted. The jalapeno gets a nice crisp char on the outside and then you have the warm melty cheese in the middle.

My cheese stuffed jalapeno poppers are a hit at just about any party and I am planning on making them for the Superbowl next weekend. They are cheap to make and delicious to eat and they provide the kind of heat that is often missing from buffet tables.

One important warning though. If you decide to try and make your own, be sure that you remove all of the seeds from each jalapeno before you stuff it with cheese. The majority of the heat is in the seeds. If you leave one in your guests could get a mouth full of lava.

gravois

You can put jalapenos into just about anything that you want to add a little bit of zip to. It doesn't have to be just Mexican or Latin cuisine either. I have used jalapenos in Italian and Indian cooking and they already show up in some Asian dishes as well.

The jalapeno is great because it provides some real heat without being overwhelming. It also has a great flavor. Even people who do not like spicy foods can often tolerate a little bit of jalapeno and there is no flavor like the flavor that comes from fresh chile peppers.

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