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8 Budget-Friendly Recipes With Jalapeños

Jalapeños are an ingredient that many people avoid because of the heat. But they’re delicious and can be used in a variety of recipes. Get inspired by this list of Budget-Friendly Recipes With Jalapeños.

For more ideas, check out all of our recipes.

Jalapenos in a bin with the words "Budget-Friendly Recipes With Jalapenos" digitally written on top.

I’ve always really liked spicy food. Not spicy where you’re crying and sweating, but food with a bit of kick. And I’ve always really like recipes using jalapeños. Like, “Yes, sandwich shop. Throw those jalapeños on there, please and thank you.”

I know jalapeños aren’t for everyone. And that’s fine. We can still be friends.

But, friend, you might want to stop reading this post right now. Because this is a list of jalapeño recipes.

This list has recipes with fresh jalapeños and ones with canned jalapeños, and then one where jalapeño is already in one of the ingredients. As long as there’s a jalapeño somewhere, it could make the list.

Man and a child in a kitchen with the ingredients to make homemade pizza. The words "The Ultimate Guide To Saving Money By Cooking At Home" are digitally written above them.

If you’re on a budget, cooking at home is a great way to stretch your budget. These jalapeño recipes are all very frugal and ones you can make by adding cheap ingredients.

For more ideas on things to cook, check out The Ultimate Guide To Saving Money By Cooking At Home. There are recipes grouped by ingredients, kitchen tools to buy, and more.

Budget-Friendly Recipes With Jalapeños

After all the recipes using jalapeños, there’s a bit of information about jalapeño peppers, in case you’re curious about this pepper.

Salsa in a bowl, surrounded by tortilla chips.

Super Spicy Salsa

Two full jalapeño peppers go into this Super Spicy Salsa recipe to give it that kick. If you would prefer to have a less spicy salsa, you could use less jalapeño peppers.

This salsa will get spicier overnight, so definitely keep that in mind when you’re making it.

Jalapeño Jelly Meatballs on top of rice in a bowl.

Jalapeño Jelly Meatballs

Jalapeño Jelly Meatballs are a really interesting recipe that you can eat as an appetizer or as a dinner.

You start by turning a pound of fresh jalapeños into candied jalapeños. You strain them and cook the meatballs in what’s left behind. It makes for a tasty sweet and spicy meatball that’s good on its own or served over rice.

Jalapeno Popper Wonton Cups on a tray.

Jalapeño Popper Wonton Cups

If you want all the taste of jalapeño poppers, but none of the work, these Jalapeño Popper Wonton Cups are for you.

They use canned jalapeños, just to make life easier, but you can definitely use fresh jalapeño peppers instead, if that’s what you have on hand.

Jalapeño Cheddar Sliders on a plate.

Jalapeño Cheddar Sliders

Two finely diced fresh jalapeño peppers are added to ground chicken (and a few other ingredients) to make these delicious Jalapeño Cheddar Sliders.

They’re fun to eat as sliders, but you could make them into full sized burgers as well.

Four pieces of a Bacon & Jalapeño Pimento Grilled Cheese Sandwich on a plate.

Bacon & Jalapeño Pimento Grilled Cheese Sandwich

This Bacon & Jalapeño Pimento Grilled Cheese Sandwich is one of our favorite grilled cheese sandwiches. You don’t add the jalapeño to it yourself. Rather, you purchase a pimento cheese with it already added.

If you can’t find that, though, you can add fresh jalapeño peppers to pimento cheese to make this sandwich. That would work too.

A Jalapeño Jack Guacamole Burgers on a white plate.

Jalapeño Jack Guacamole Burgers

These Jalapeño Jack Guacamole Burgers use a pre-made jalapeño jack turkey burger. It’s an old recipe, so that specific frozen burger isn’t available any more. But, you can find a similar one or you can just add fresh jalapeños to ground turkey to make your own burgers.

Street corn in a bowl with the words "Grilled Mexican Street Corn Salad (Grilled Esquites)" digitally written above it.

Grilled Mexican Street Corn Salad (Grilled Esquites)

A whole jalapeño pepper is grilled along with the corn for this Grilled Mexican Street Corn Salad. Grilled jalapeño peppers can get really hot, so you might not end up adding the full pepper to this recipe, but you do have to grill it whole.

Pieces of cornbread on a plate with the words "Grilled Jalapeno Cheddar Cornbread" digitally written on top.

Grilled Jalapeño Cheddar Cornbread

One jalapeño pepper is grilled, then added to the rest of the batter to give this Grilled Jalapeño Cheddar Cornbread a spicy kick. But, if that’s not enough, it’s also drizzled with a hot honey to give it a little extra flavor.

Sliced jalapeno pieces.

Jalapeños: Frequently Asked Questions

What makes jalapeños hot: the ribs or the seeds?

Let’s settle this debate once and for all. What makes jalapeños hot?

That’s like the age old question, right? It’s as old as the chicken and the egg. That question has no answer, but this one does.

Sort of.

Technically, it’s not the ribs or the seeds that give the jalapeño its heat. It’s actually capsaicin, a chemical compound found in peppers.

Peppers produce capsaicin when they’re stressed. And they can get stressed from lack of water (not, you know, from a 40-hour workweek). Humans (some of them) get gray hairs from stress. Jalapeños get white lines on them when they get stressed. If you’re looking for hotter peppers, look for more white lines. If you’re looking for cooler ones, look for less white lines.

Capsaicin is concentrated in the ribs, the white membrane in the jalapeño, and that gives the jalapeño heat. So that’s why the conclusion is that it’s the ribs, not the seeds, that give the jalapeño heat. Some of the seeds are close to the ribs, and therefore the capsaicin, and can hold a little heat. But not really enough to worry about.

So if you’re making a recipe and you want to limit the heat, remove the ribs. But don’t worry about the seeds.

Although honestly, if you remove all the ribs, you’ll basically end up with a green bell pepper.

Are red or green jalapeños hotter?

Just like bell peppers, jalapeños will go from green to red as they ripen. So you might be thinking that the heat will increase as the jalapeño ripens.

That’s not the case.

Bell peppers get sweeter when they go from green to red, and jalapeño peppers follow that as well. So the heat will be the same regardless of if the jalapeño was picked when it was green or if it ripened until it was red. But, if you do get a red jalapeño, it will be sweeter than a green jalapeño. So you’ll have the same amount of heat, but you’ll have an extra bit of sweetness. And you might be looking for that in some recipes.

Are jalapeños the hottest pepper?

Jalapeños are not the hottest pepper. That’s a misconception. There are actually a lot of peppers that are hotter than a jalapeño. A serrano, cayenne (which we used to grow in our backyard garden), tabasco, Thai chili, habanero (which Pete uses in his fra diavolo sauce), scotch bonnet, ghost pepper, and Carolina reaper, in that order.

The Carolina reaper is the hottest pepper, according to the Guinness Book of World Records. So if you don’t want heat, stay away from those.

The Carolina reaper, while we’re talking about it, is the pepper used in every level of heat at Dave’s Hot Chicken.

Which of these budget-friendly recipes with jalapeños are you going to try first? Let us know in the comments.