When you barbeque, whether it be ribs, chicken, brisket or whatever… you have to have sides to go along with it. I say sides, however it is more like appetizers and things to fill the time while your barbeque is getting ready to be devoured by the masses. I have my favorites. This post in particular is dealing with the southern favorite – the armadillo egg.
I am not sure if in every area of the country they are called armadillo eggs, in fact I know even here some people call armadillo eggs – jalapeno poppers. This is not true however, since jalapeno poppers are usually batter-dipped jalapenos that have been stuffed with cheese and then deep fried to a golden crisp. I do hear that term thrown around a lot though and whether it is out of mis-information or the fact that in some places that is indeed a “jalapeno popper”… you have to respect it and move along.
The armadillo egg seems horrible if you are a context clues type of person like me. You are thinking… well shit, I don’t want to eat an armadillo’s eggs… ewww! Settle down, don’t worry about it, you aren’t helping armadillos get rid of illegitimate babies or anything. There is no armadillo at all in these little guys. No armadillos were injured to bring you this post, just jalapenos, a few pigs and cheese from a cow… that should have went to a baby… that is likely dead because of your addiction to barbeque. But other than that, you should be able to sleep well tonight. 😉
So what is in armadillo eggs?
Good question. There are a few different variations – however the main ingredients are the same. An armadillo egg consists of three main ingredients – jalapeno pepper, cheese & bacon. Pretty simple eh? We are talking BBQ here, what did you think was going to be in it?
Now lets talk about the variants by region or by Bar-B-Que-er (Yeah I think I made that word up… thanks). The cheese is definitely where most variations come in. Cream cheese is used a lot, cheddar, Monterey jack and mozzarella even. Actually if it is cheese, you can stuff it in the pepper and then it melts… you can pretty much use it. Also the pepper can vary by region as well, however typically it is a jalapeno. Jalapeno peppers are hot by nature and depending on region can even be hotter. Since we are gardening nerds we know you can make a jalapeno hotter by the amount of water it receives. So obviously the heat of the pepper depends on how it was grown. I suppose any pepper could be substituted, I have personally tried habaneros, poblanos and a few other varieties all turned out fine. The bacon… well bacon is bacon is bacon is bacon. The only variation is the thickness of the bacon really. So if you like thicker bacon, get thicker bacon. If you like thinly sliced bacon, get thinly sliced. Still pretty simple eh?
I will give my two cents in regards to ingredients and I will focus on the preparation and eventual cooking of the armadillo eggs. I will detail the way in which I do it, obviously I am not an expert (I guess…), so if anyone has experiences of their own… feel free to comment about it and share your secrets. I share my secrets of barbeque simply because I do not feel it is anything that anyone else could learn if they set their mind to it, so why bother keeping it under wraps? Let us get started with the preparation.
Any secrets about the actual products/ingredients you use when making armadillo eggs?
Absolutely. Most of the hard parts can be address when buying the products themselves.
For instance, lots of people want to buy the biggest peppers they can find. That is great if you are eating stuffed peppers as a main course, but these are snacks remember? So when picking out peppers, be sure to grab short & fat peppers when possible. I know, I know… your thinking…
Why would I want short & fat peppers, – isn’t long & fat peppers better?!
If you are buying them by the pepper, yes. You will have more volume that way. However you have to trust me to buy short and fat peppers in this case. This will allow you to get the bacon around the pepper so much easier. When you are cranking out 30-50 of these peppers (depending on your group), you will thank me – and so will your guests. If you pick a smaller, chubbier… is that a word… it will cut your time in half and your entire batch will be more consistent overall.
As far as other characteristics with peppers, there is color. Make sure to get a nice firm, clean, shiny, vibrantly colorful pepper. The freshness will determine a lot after cooking. Firmness is HUGE to me… I want a pepper that has softened up a bit after the fire, but still crunches just enough to know it’s a pepper. Your flavor usually can be determined by the pepper’s look and texture – be sure to pay it a lot of attention.
Types of Peppers For Armadillo Eggs (in no particular order)
Jalapeno Pepper – My personal favorite and Texan favorite when it comes to armadillo eggs. In Texas we eat all kinds of peppers but migrate back to the Jalapeno pepper when it comes to “jalapeno poppers”. Try these if you like heat but a great pepper taste.
Poblano Pepper – I have used this type of pepper from time to time (since we had some growing in our garden last year) and I have to say I was surprised by it. I really liked it stuffed and wrapped the way I would normally do the jalapeno peppers when I made armadillo eggs. It isn’t hot at all if you ask me, the size can be an issue though. These peppers get bigger than jalapenos and so they are harder to wrap.
Habanero Pepper – I know, I know… your saying… ARE YOU FREAKIN’ KIDDING ME?!?!?! They are hot, don’t get me wrong. However, if you cook the shit out of it – you can get a lot of the heat out. The skin is so thin, that after you grill it for a while you will be surprised with the taste. Now it is a totally different taste than jalapenos or poblano peppers – but it is worth a try at least once. Have backups ready though!
Now that you know what kind of pepper to choose, you can pick them out. If you have some special way of picking hot peppers, then by all means pick them based on your heat scale and your guests’ heat scale. Heat will cook off some based on how long you cook it and how hot your fire is. Armadillo eggs should be grilled to leave some heat, but not have the unpleasant burn of really hot peppers. It takes a bit of practice to determine this, so get ready to eat some peppers!
What about bacon, what kind of bacon do I use for my armadillo eggs?
This is where my recipe for armadillo eggs will differ from the mass majority of folks out there telling you how to do it. I have tried it all and I can tell you that this is a tip that you will get no where else! Most people use raw bacon to wrap their armadillo eggs in, however I have a secret… and if you promise to be my friend and subscribe to our blog… I will tell you. See how that works… that’s marketing! Not really, that is blackmail… but shut up and sign up already.
The tip that I have for you when it comes to bacon is this…
>> Buy ready-made bacon instead of raw bacon. <<
It is all pretty simple and the reasoning boils down to this. Ready-made bacon is just that… alREADY MADE. So instead of spending 20-30 minutes sitting around waiting for your raw-ass bacon to cook… you can throw some armadillo eggs (wrapped with ready made bacon of course!) on the grill and be eating in 10-15 min. It is easier to work with and doesn’t get you all greasy & nasty like when you work with raw bacon. Also I have to add that 9 times out of 10 you get a perfect armadillo egg when you use ready made bacon. Have you ever eaten armadillo eggs that had some raw-ass patches of bacon here and there? Yeah, not fun. Also, have you ever eaten them when they were burnt to hell? Yeah, not fun either. I know this because I have done this exact thing. Don’t make the mistakes yourself… learn from mine!
Ok… so what cheese do you use?
Another one of those things that is up for discussion when it comes to armadillo eggs, is cheese. In the majority of instances you can pretty much guarantee you will find cream cheese inside armadillo eggs. This is traditional, and is tasty in it’s own right without a doubt. Now it is time for another one of those moments were you get to learn something really cool, and at the same time get a chance to subscribe to the Double Danger RSS Feed. Have we mentioned it? Oh… sorry. I will give you my tip on cheese to stuff your peppers with.
>> Buy kid snack pack cheese sticks. <<
You know the ones… not the string cheese ones, but the normal cheddar or Colby cheese sticks? Yeah you know. Whichever type of cheese you can get. Of course you can buy regular block cheese and cut it up, but remember you are going to have to crank out 30 or so of those little guys and you might be a little drunk from the booze in your cup. If you are drinking more – the less you have to use a knife the better. When you try it with stick cheese, you will leave that messy cream cheese for the bagels.
Don’t forget the toothpicks! The last of the supplies you will need to grab – then we are ready to get started. So let’s just recap and add a few more things before we get on our way.
— Ready Made Bacon (Fully Cooked – whatever you want to call it.)
— Snack Size Cheese Sticks
— Your Favorite Type of Peppers
— Bowl of Cold Water
— Sharp Knife (remember dull ones are not cool this year)
— Some sort of plate to cut on and sort.
— Some tasty adult beverage if you are over 21 and feeling a little crazy?!?
First thing first you need to get everything out and start readying your peppers for their eventual stuffing & wrapping. This is another one of those things that you can learn from my mistakes. So you could just dive right in and start cutting the jalapenos (or pepper of your choice) up. Totally your choice. However I suggest instead of doing it bare-handed that you should wear rubber gloves so the jalapeno juice and whatnot doesn’t end up in your eyes later. Or any other part of your body… you know what I’m saying. You don’t think that after drinking all that beer you won’t need to hit the bathroom up in a while? Use your imagination.
Or just grab a pair of rubber gloves. I know it seems a bit like your doing something dirty or about to – but your not. I hope. This will keep the juice off your hands and keep you from hurting yourself later down the road. Another one of those tips that other people will tend to overlook. That overlook tends to burn them in the end… did you get that? A pun. The oldest form of humor.
Now as long as no one walks in while your cutting peppers you will be in good shape… otherwise you will have to explain the rubber gloves and that will not be pretty. Trust me.
After you are “suited up”, it is time to cut those peppers. You will see that I went with jalapenos – which are something I tend to do 99% of the time. The first steps are cutting the stems off. I like to do all the peppers at once and then go back and make my next cut. It keeps me in a routine, that helps when you are a little tipsy. 😉 I like to cut as close to the stems as possible, so you want to do the same. Because I’m the BOSS.
Once you have all of the peppers de-stemmed, then the next step is to cut them in halves. You want to do this long ways so that you have two long halves to stuff and wrap later. Again, I like to do this to all the peppers before moving on. See below for an example of how to cut the pepper in half, of course use caution when using a knife… especially if you’ve been drinking… like you have.
Once you cut the peppers in half you will notice something… your workload just doubled. Yup your pepper count is now twice as when you started. So this needs to be factored in when you are purchasing peppers. 15 peppers = 30 armadillo eggs. Pretty simple right? Let’s proceed. The next part is the part that is most important as far as cutting the peppers go.
You will notice when you cut the peppers in half that there is some white “meat” on the inside. No it isn’t pork… it is the other… other… other white meat. These ribs hold the heat and also most to all of the seeds (depending on how fresh and the care the pepper has had since harvested). The ribs are what you want to remove, along with the seeds to ensure your barbeque guests are not running around looking for something cold to drink… wait, this isn’t working out. Of course they are going to be looking for something cold to put in their mouths. Something to stop the burn.
In other words, just get rid of the mass majority of the white ribs & seeds inside the jalapenos and you and your guests should be fine as far as spicy goes. You can do so by placing the blade of your knife inside the pepper – like in the image below.
Ok – now slide the knife towards you (I know… your Daddy taught you to never do that) while spinning the pepper around cutting out the middle of the pepper.
After you have done that – chunk that bad boy into that bowl of cold water you have waiting so it can stay fresh and do a bit of cleaning while it is in there. Clean enough right? Don’t worry you will give it on more shower before we move on.
So once you have done this a half-million times, you will have a bowl full of peppers and you will notice seeds floating around in your bowl of peppers. This is good and normal. Take the entire bowl (if you are finished) and run it under cold water to get everything seed-free, and nice and clean for the stuffing & wrapping processes. After you are done, pour the peppers out on a towel and pat dry. You don’t have to get every drop of water off these guys; just don’t leave them dripping wet. Pour them onto the plate and we are ready to do some stuffing & wrapping.
I bet when you first searched for armadillo eggs that you had no clue it would be this complicated? Well not complicated but involved. There are lots of steps, however after a few times it will be simple and monotonous as hell. So hang in there, this next part is the fun & easy part. I guess… **shrugs shoulders**
So now with the peppers cut, you got to get your cheese into manageable sizes to ensure efficiency (that sounded way nerdy… sorry). These particular cheese sticks I bought were wider than normal – but if you can find the ones that are half this size wide (you know which ones I am talking about) – then do that. They are much easier to use and the peppers will practically stuff themselves. I couldn’t find them at our store this particular day, so deal with it. Just cut them in half and deal with it. Sometimes you just have to cut the cheese. Sorry – that was too easy. You had to see it coming.
See, simple-simple-simple. Now you have manageable pieces and we can start stuffing our peppers with cheese. If you have any common sense you will see how to do this next part – but regardless… I have to show it or there will be people out there wrapping the pepper with cheese and stuffing it with bacon. Not pretty. I’m not clowning you… its that other dude… that couldn’t make these armadillo eggs on his own. Definitely not you. 😉
Let’s get these peppers stuffed already. Take the cheese and lay it inside the pepper, cutting it off at the end. This leaves you with a pepper half filled with cheese. You just need to trim off the top to make it flush with the top of the pepper so that you don’t end up with cheese running everywhere while cooking.
Done deal, you just stuffed your first pepper. Take a minute and enjoy that beer. Tastes good doesn’t it. Enjoy.
Ok – enough, let’s get back to work.
Now it is time to wrap your armadillo eggs with bacon and clog that one last artery you have functioning. The pepper is ready, so grab 1 strip of ready made bacon and we will start with that. You need to lay the bacon in your hand and you are going to wrap these things long ways (like how you cut them in half) – from end to end. Cover the cheese and extend the extra off the end and wrap it around to the backside of the pepper. Continue to wrap it around to the other end and it should come back around and reach the cheese again. If you bought short, fat peppers then you should get the entire pepper covered with one piece. See picture below for example of finished armadillo egg.
Once you have it wrapped – take 1 toothpick and make sure to puncture the armadillo egg diagonally. Make sure when doing so you get both ends of the bacon stabbed with the toothpick so it does not come unwrapped. If you have a pepper causing you problem due to size or if the bacon is actin’ funky – just double wrap it.
You can double wrap the armadillo egg by of course starting off like I described above and taking a second piece and wrapping around the pepper to cover the sides as well. Be sure if you double wrap to get as many layers of the bacon punctured with the toothpick. This will keep your ‘poppers’ from falling apart. Here is an example of a double wrap…
You can see in the background of that last picture there is a single wrapped armadillo egg and of course in plain sight is a double wrapped one. Easy as pie. If you can’t do this – you’re crazy. Plumb crazy.
Now repeat this process for as many armadillo eggs you have prepared for. Make sure to stay consistent, you will make a few mistakes – but hey… if you are the cook, more for you right? Right.
Once you have finished all that is left is throwing these guys on the grill and telling your friends how you “came up with this yourself” and “no, I have never heard of Double Danger – what is that?” Don’t think I don’t know you will. You will be the new definition of cool and be writing for tens of people on the internet. One can hope.
The actually cooking process is simple. Depending on your fire you will position these guys accordingly. For instance if you are grilling, then your fire will be hot and the armadillo eggs need to be away from the flames and hot spots. If you are smoking or have a low heat fire – you will probably want the armadillo eggs over the warmer spots of your fire. Wait… you don’t know how to start a “Perfect” BBQ Fire? You should, we have been over this.
The bottom-line is that you want to keep them at a constant medium heat (definitely not flaming) the entire time. They should be good enough to eat in 15 minutes, but if you want to leave them on the grill move them to a cooler spot and let them sit for 30 or so. The longer you cook them the softer the pepper gets an of course the cheese melts more. If you see cheese coming out the sides of your armadillo eggs – they are done. Also keep in mind the longer you cook them the less heat they will have since it cooks out. If you like hot peppers, pull them early – if you like tasty non-spicy peppers… let them sit a while.
So that is about it. You now can grill armadillo eggs next time you have a BBQ and be the talk of the town. Thanks to me. Next time you want to have the “perfect” armadillo eggs… you know where to come. Tell your friends.
I will part with a shot of some armadillo eggs on the grill ready to pull. With tons of other barbeque goodies in the shot also… wouldn’t have it any other way.
Make sure to check out our other “Perfect” Barbeque (BBQ) Recipes, Tips & Techniques: