Chicken Bacon Ranch Armadillo Eggs are a fun take on tradition. Cheese stuffed jalapenos are wrapped with ranch chicken & bacon, then smoked!
We will frequently start out with a simple idea, and it just snowballs from there.
If we’re going to _____.... then we should also ____.
Well if we’re _____, then we should also ____.
... and so on, and so forth. What was a simple/quick/inexpensive idea becomes a big production.
This bacon-wrapped armadillo eggs recipe is the result of one of those snowballs 🙂
PS: While you've got some bacon, and have the smoker going... be sure to try Smoked Bacon!
The Genesis of this Armadillo Eggs Recipe...
There’s a local butcher that I LOOOOVE - C.E. Elliott.
Every day, they post their offerings on Facebook. Fans message them their orders, pay online, and go pick up at the back door, where it’s brought out to your vehicle.
Great service, great product, great prices - what’s not to love?
They frequently play around with ingredients, and offer up specials like ... dill pickle sausage. Great stuff!
Anyway, last week they advertised “Armadillo eggs”, which looked fantastic: cheese-stuffed jalapeño poppers, wrapped in ground sausage meat, wrapped in bacon, and coated with a sweet rub.
Kind of like a Scotch egg, but ... better! I guess it’s a Texas thing?
They recommended smoking the delicious appetizers (and serving with your favorite bbq sauce!), but said that baking was fine as well
After verifying that there was no gluten and no carbby fillers, I placed a small order.
My husband can’t eat a bunch of pork sausage, so it was just me.
I figured 5 would be good for a week’s worth of low-carb snacks (or 2 for a main dish). I’d do them up in the oven, no big deal.
... but then I felt guilty. They looked so good, and my husband couldn’t have them.
... But then he suggested doing a batch of our original poppers at the same time, as an excuse to smoke all of it.
... So then it made more sense to bulk order ingredients, including the slices of bacon.
... Buying the bacon in bulk meant that we could get the really thin-cut bacon - restaurant-style stuff.
... Which meant that my husband could have some, no longer needing chicken bacon. (Just in small amounts, 1 a day or whatever).
... and here we are.
Keto Chicken Bacon Ranch Armadillo Eggs
In the end, what we came up with was this:
- Spicy jalapeños cut in half and stuffed with a mixture of cream cheese and cheddar cheese.
- A seasoned ground chicken mixture formed around each stuffed jalapeno half after letting the creamy cheese mixture chill for a bit.
- The meatified poppers were then wrapped with strips of bacon - very thin, restaurant style bacon.
- The resulting armadillo eggs were then hot smoked for smoke flavor AND to cook them through.
As for that chicken mixture, we were pretty wide open about how we could flavour it.
Because we would be smoking the C.E. Elliot armadillo eggs at the same time, we couldn’t really use them as a flavour template - I had no idea how their sausage was seasoned!
(They were FANTASTIC, btw. If you're anywhere near Hamilton, can eat sausage, and happen to catch them post another batch, GET ON IT!)
Another possibility was to just go “pepper inception” - I have some hatch chile powder that’s fantastic, after all.
In the end, we decided to go with something fairly basic, using some of the base flavours of ranch dressing.
Not only do we serve smoked poppers with ranch dressing, “chicken bacon ranch” felt like a fun direction to go with it.
The combination of the spicy crunch of the pepper, the creamy richness of the filling, the umami of the chicken, and the salty, smoky, crispy bacon?
Sure, it’s different from regular armadillo egg recipes, but whatever.
This armadillo eggs recipe is every bit as tasty as the classic Texas BBQ staple, just a little bit (LITTLE!) healthier.
Just as worthy of being served up as a great appetizer for game day, though!
Note: I chose not to salt the chicken, as there is salt from the cheese inside, and salt from the bacon outside it
Smoked Chicken Armadillo Eggs Tips
These take a little bit of prep work, but are SO worth it.
Brave the snow and put some of these on to bring to your holiday potlucks, or just keep them in your fridge for quick snacks.
The best part? This recipe can be tweaked to suit personal taste:
If you scrape out all of the seeds and ribs from the jalapeño peppers, they have flavour without heat.
If you leave some of the seeds/ribs in, you can get anywhere between a little heat, to scorching.
They can be served cold, room temp, or hot - we prefer them reheated.
- The amounts listed for cheeses are approximate: The amount of filling you need will depend on the size of your peppers, how full you pipe them, etc.
- You can use whatever special blend of cheeses you like - we keep it pretty basic.
- If you’re not into the ground chicken idea, you can use your choice of uncooked sausage - Breakfast sausage, Italian sausage... even lean ground beef, if you prefer!
- We recommend thin or regular cut bacon, as we didn't like the texture thick cut left after being smoked.
- I highly recommend using nitrile/ latex/whatever gloves for preparing the poppers. You will come in contact with an insane amount of capsaicin, and it can burn!
- We like to use the "Jack Daniels" wood chips for this, which we purchase on Amazon. Click here to view the listing we use. Cherry wood, maple wood, and hickory wood are other good options.
- Finally ... try to let them cool for at least a few minutes after they come out of the smoker for best results. They'll be molten inside and burn your mouth.
I have a hard time waiting, so I won't judge if you park yourself next to the newly-removed armadillo eggs like a wild eyed vulture 🙂
Grilled Armadillo Eggs
You can also cook these on a normal charcoal grill: we'll toss about 1 big handful of wood chips right on the coals, adding more about every 20 minutes.
You’ll want to cook them over indirect heat.
A Note on Batch Size
Like I mentioned earlier - and you may notice from the photos - I was preparing a LOT more jalapenos than are listed in the ingredients.
We tend to do huge batches whenever we use the smoker, so I actually started out with the ingredients in my original Smoked Bacon Wrapped Jalapeno Poppers recipe:
5 lbs Jalapeno Peppers
3.5 lbs Cream Cheese
½-1 lb Shredded Cheese of Choice We used a peppered blend
3.5 lbs Bacon Thin slices work best
From this, I took out the amounts to make a batch of these Chicken Bacon Ranch Armadillo eggs, and did the rest up as the original poppers.
When we were done, we ended up with 70 regular poppers and 20 armadillo eggs.
If you’d like to do a similarly big batch of just the armadillo eggs, keep the Jalapeno, Cream Cheese, Cheddar, and Bacon amounts listed above, and just 5x the recipe for the chicken and seasonings in the recipe card below.
How to Make Armadillo Eggs
The full recipe follows - in the recipe card at the end of the post - here's the pictorial overview:
Make The Stuffed Jalapenos
At least an hour before smoking – but ideally overnight – soak your wood chips in water.
Wearing gloves, cut the tops off the peppers, and cut each in half lengthwise.
Use a spoon to scrape out as much or as little of the seeds and ribs as you’d like from the center of the jalapeño , set aside.
Beat until creamy and with no lumps. Combine cream cheese and shredded cheese, stir until well distributed.
Spoon all of the cream cheese mixture into piping/frosting /pastry bags, trying to avoid creating air pockets as you go, and leaving enough room to twist the piping bag shut.
(You can spoon the cream cheese filling in to the peppers, if you like… but piping it in is so much quicker, easier, and cleaner!)
Place each filled pepper on a baking sheet.
Note: I usually line the baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil, for easier cleanup.
As you run out of filling, start using the next bag.
Make the Chicken Layer
Mix together the chicken, parsley, garlic powder, onion powder and pepper.
One at a time flatten a chicken meatball, stretching out to a large oval or triangle.
Place a stuffed jalapeno - cheese side down - on your chicken patty.
Wrap the chicken around the stuffed pepper, stretching and rolling to completely seal the pepper and form it into an egg shape.
Wrap with Bacon
Next, wrap each of the peppers in a piece of bacon (or two!)
As you wrap each in a strip of bacon, give it a little squeeze to seal the ends of the bacon to itself.
Cover with plastic wrap and chill until you’re ready to smoke them.
Final Step: Smoke the Armadillo Eggs
Leaving a little room between each, transfer the prepared poppers to your smoker racks.
Smoke armadillo eggs for 1.5 - 2+ hours, checking on them right around the 1.5 hour mark.
For our smoker, we use 2 big handfuls of wood chips at a time, adding more chips after about 30-40 minutes.
The cooking time is going to vary based on how big you made your eggs, and on your smoker.
Aim for the internal temperature of the sausage to hit 165 F.
Personally, I like them cooked to around the 1.5 hour mark, nicely golden brown.
My husband prefers them around the 2.5 hour mark - much darker.
Whichever way you smoke them, keep an eye on them and remove them when you're happy with the degree of smoking.
Serve hot, with ranch dressing, barbecue sauce, and/or hot sauce.
Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.
I like to microwave them for 30-45 seconds or so, then toss them in the air fryer for 2-3 minutes .
(Some day I should try making air fryer armadillo eggs!)
More Keto Finger Foods
Looking for more low carb finger foods to serve at your next party, or bring to a potluck? Here are a few more ideas for you!
Bacon Wrapped Chicken Livers
Cucumber Shrimp Canapes
Mojito Fruit Dip with Berry Skewers
Greek Salad Skewers
Pumpkin Fat Bombs
Smoked Salmon Canapes
Stuffed Grape Leaves
Smoked Jalapeno Poppers
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Chicken Bacon Ranch Armadillo Eggs
- 10 large Jalapeno Peppers
- ¾ cup Cream Cheese
- 3 oz Shredded Cheese of Choice
- 2 lbs Ground chicken
- 2 tablespoons Dried Parsley
- 1 tablespoon Garlic Powder
- 1 tablespoon Onion Powder
- 2 teaspoons Ground Black Pepper
- 20 slices Bacon thin sliced works best
- At least an hour before smoking – but ideally overnight – soak your wood chips in water.
- Wearing gloves, cut the tops off the peppers, and cut each in half lengthwise.
- Use a spoon to scrape out as much or as little of the seeds and ribs as you’d like, set aside.
- In a large bowl, microwave the cream cheese for 30 seconds at a time until it’s soft enough to stir well.
- Beat until creamy and with no lumps. Add shredded cheese, stir until well distributed.
- Spoon all of the mixture into piping/frosting /pastry bags, trying to avoid creating air pockets as you go, and leaving enough room to twist the bag shut.
- (You can spoon the filling in to the peppers, if you like… but piping it in is so much quicker, easier, and cleaner!)
- Cut ¾-1″ off the pointed end of a filled pastry bag, carefully pipe filling into each of the pepper halves. As you run out of filling, start using the next bag.
- This is a good time to preheat your smoker (or charcoal grill) to about 200F
- Mix together the chicken, parsley, garlic powder, onion powder and pepper. Form mixture into 20 large meatballs.
- One at a time flatten a chicken meatball, stretching out to a large oval or triangle.
- Place a stuffed jalapeno - cheese side down - on your chicken patty. Wrap the chicken around it, stretching and rolling to completely seal the pepper.
- Repeat with all remaining peppers & meatballs.
- Next, wrap the peppers in bacon. As you wrap each, give it a little squeeze to seal the bacon to itself.
- Leaving a little room between each, transfer the prepared poppers to your smoker racks.
- Smoke for 1.5 - 2+ hours, checking on them right around the 1.5 hour mark. For our smoker, we use 2 big handfuls of wood chips at a time, adding more chips after about 30-40 minutes.
- You can also cook these on a normal charcoal grill: we’ll toss about 1 big handful of wood chips right on the coals, adding more about every 20 minutes.
- Personally, I like them cooked to around the 1.5 hour mark. My husband prefers them around the 2.5 hour mark.
- Whichever way you smoke them, keep an eye on them and remove them when you're happy with the degree of smoking.
- Try to let them cool for at least a few minutes after they come out of the smoker, as they’ll be molten inside and burn your mouth.