This Jalapeño Popper Potato Salad recipe combines all the flavors of jalapeño poppers into one delicious potato salad! Potatoes, fresh jalapeño, green onions, and crumbled bacon are tossed in a dressing of cream cheese, mayo and ranch dressing!
Jalapeño poppers are one of my favorite appetizers. Perfectly creamy, crunchy, and spicy, all packed into one delicious morsel. And even better when dipped in ranch dressing of course!
While not deep fried (unfortunately!), this potato salad takes inspiration from this all-time favorite appetizer. Fresh diced jalapeños and crispy bacon provide a nice crunch factor, and the cream cheese, mayo and ranch dressing adds that perfect creamy, cheesy element. If you take this potato salad to a picnic, no one will be complaining I promise you that! (Well, at least no one who likes a little spice!)
Here's what you'll need to make Jalapeño Popper Potato Salad:
- Potatoes: I used Yukon Gold potatoes, which are sort of in-between a waxy and starchy potato. They still hold their shape well in the salad and are a pretty yellow hue. You can other types of thin-skinned, waxy potatoes instead, like red-skinned potatoes.
- Jalapeños: these are essential of course! But, you can add more or less than the recipe calls for to suit your own preference for spiciness. I talk more about tailoring the spice level in the FAQ section below.
- Green onions: you can substitute diced red onion if you don't have green onion
- Ranch dressing
- Cream cheese
- Kosher salt and black pepper
A lot of the heat in jalapeños comes from the seeds and white inner ribs. So, if you want to tone down the spice level, remove those parts of the jalapeños before adding them to the salad. You can also add in less jalapeños than what the recipe calls for. If you still want the crunch, swap in an equal amount of green bell pepper instead.
Conversely, if you want to kick up the heat, chop the jalapeños whole (minus the stem), making sure to add in the seeds and ribs. You can also throw in a few dashes of hot sauce! Or, for something in between, add in only some of the seeds. Full disclosure - I cut out the ribs and seeds when making mine, because I like a little spice but not too much. I found the salad to be mildly spiced this way, definitely not too much for my tastes.
All that being said, jalapeños can vary a great deal in their spice level, so take that into account when making your decisions about how to prepare the jalapeños. You can also taste a little bit of the pepper flesh to see how hot it is before chopping the rest! If you want to be cautious, cut out the seeds and stems and save them on your cutting board. You can always add a few seeds back in later after tasting the salad.
If you want to leave the ribs and seeds behind to tone down the spice, here is how I like to do it. First, cut down the side of the pepper lengthwise, on one side of the side of the pepper stem. Then, turn the pepper and cut again. Keep going until all the pepper flesh has been cut away, leaving the stem and most of the ribs behind! If you want to cut away even more of the rib section, just run the tip of your knife carefully across the inside of the pepper strip horizontally.
Nobody likes a bland potato salad! Even if you add a bunch of seasoning in at the end, if your potatoes are underseasoned, your potato salad will still lack pizzazz. The most important thing to do is make sure the water your potatoes cook in is very well salted!
Salting the cooking water is the only chance to get seasoning into the potatoes themselves, so don't skip this part! Throw in a few generous pinches of salt and it will make all the difference.
This potato salad tastes great the next day! Even better I might say. However, if you want the bacon to remain crispy, I would add it in right before serving. It would be nice to cut the jalapeño rings right before serving as well, to keep everything looking nice and fresh. I included these instructions on making the recipe ahead of time in the recipe card below.
You can store leftovers in the fridge, tightly covered, for 3 - 4 days.
How to make Jalapeño Popper Potato Salad step-by-step
Here is a quick rundown on how to make this recipe (for full ingredient amounts and instructions, please make sure to visit the recipe card down below!).
- Chop potatoes into 1 inch pieces, boil in salted water until fork tender. Drain and place in a large bowl.
- Meanwhile, chop jalapeños and green onion. Also a good time to start the bacon cooking!
- Mix up the dressing.
- Add the green onion, jalapeño, and bacon to the potatoes, along with the dressing.
- Mix everything up (gently, so potatoes don't break apart). Taste and add more salt and/or pepper if needed.
- All done, time to eat!
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Potato salad inspired by the beloved jalapeño popper! Potatoes, fresh jalapeños, bacon and green onion are tossed in a creamy dressing. The salad can be served right away or prepared 1 day in advance.
- 2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes (see note 1)
- 8 strips bacon
- 3 green onions
- 3 large (or 4 small) jalapeños (see note 2)
- 4 ounces cream cheese, softened
- ¼ cup ranch dressing
- ½ cup mayonnaise
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste (plus more for seasoning cooking water)
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper, or to taste
- Place a large pot of water on the stove to boil.
- While waiting for the water to boil, begin cooking the bacon. Place the bacon in a frying pan set over medium heat. Turn the bacon frequently until crispy. Drain cooked bacon on paper towels, set aside. (Alternatively, use your favorite method for cooking bacon.)
- Cut the potatoes into 1 inch pieces. This can be done while the bacon is cooking; just be sure to keep an eye on the bacon so it doesn't burn.
- Once the water is boiling, add a couple generous pinches of salt. Then carefully add in the cut potatoes. Bring the water back to a boil and cook until the potatoes are fork-tender, about 11 - 12 minutes.
- While the potatoes are cooking, slice the green onions thinly on an angle. Cut half of one jalapeño into thin rings to use as a garnish (if making the salad in advance, reserve the ½ jalapeño, uncut. See note 3). Dice the remaining jalapeños (either with or without the seeds and ribs, see note 2 below). Set aside.
- Next, make the dressing. Place the softened cream cheese into a medium bowl. With a hand mixer, beat the cream cheese on medium speed until smooth, about 1 minute, scraping down the bowl half-way through mixing. Add in the mayonnaise gradually, beating until smooth. Then add in the ranch dressing, ½ teaspoon kosher salt (or salt to taste) and black pepper, beat until just combined.
- Once the potatoes are fork-tender, drain them well and place them into a large bowl.
- Assemble the potato salad: Add the diced jalapeño and sliced green onion to the potatoes, reserving the sliced jalapeño rings for garnish. Crumble the bacon and add it to the bowl. Spoon the dressing into the bowl and stir gently with a large spoon to combine. (If you want to serve the salad the next day, see note 3 for instructions.)
- Taste the salad and add more salt and/or pepper if needed. Garnish with the jalapeño rings and serve.
Type of potato to use: You can substitute any other type of waxy, thin-skinned potato in place of the Yukon Gold, such as red-skinned or new potatoes.
Jalapeños and heat level in the salad: Feel free to adjust the amount of jalapeños to suit your own spice level preference. You may also choose to either add in the ribs and seeds (for more heat) or leave them out (for less heat). I left the seeds and ribs out, and my potato salad was relatively mild (to my tastes), even using the full amount of jalapeño called for in the recipe. But, jalapeños can vary widely in their heat level, so taste a small piece before adding them into the salad and use your best judgment!
Making the salad ahead of time: this salad can be made 1 day in advance. Follow all the instructions in step 8, except do not add the bacon. Place the potato salad into the fridge, tightly covered. Refrigerate the bacon and ½ reserved jalapeño (also covered). When ready to serve, slice the ½ jalapeño thinly. Crumble the bacon and add it to the potato salad, stirring gently to combine. Taste the potato salad and add more salt and/or pepper if needed. Add the jalapeño slices on top as garnish.
Keywords: potato salad, side dishes, easy side dish, jalapeno potato salad, jalapeno popper potato salad, jalapeño popper potato salad, jalapeño potato salad