Candied jalapeños are slices of jalapeño peppers infused in a flavorful sweet and sour pickle brine. Learn how to make and preserve candied jalapeños with this easy canning recipe.
If you are wondering what to do with an abundance of jalapeños, try making candied jalapeños! These sweet and spicy slices are addictively good!
Candied jalapeños, also called cowboy candy, have a savory, sweet, and hot flavor. Think bread and butter pickles and hot jalapeño chiles met and had a baby. They are a delicious condiment that adds a bit of heat and zing to any dish. The sugar tames the heat, but plenty of spice still tingles the taste buds.
This easy canning recipe will show you how to make cowboy candy from fresh jalapeño peppers and process them in a water bath canner for shelf-stable jars.
Tips for Making Candied Jalapeños
A jar of cowboy candy makes a great gift too! Use red and green jalapeños for a festive holiday look! Here are some tips for making candied jalapeños:
About the Ingredients
These sweet and spicy peppers are easy to make at home, and you can customize the flavor profile to your liking by adjusting the types of peppers and spices.
- Jalepeños: In this recipe, we use green jalapeno peppers for a fiery kick, but you can also use red jalapeños, other types of chiles, or even mild peppers. We have kept the seeds for full spiciness, but you can remove the seeds and membrane for a slightly milder flavor. Use fresh peppers with firm flesh and bruise-free skins. It’s ok to use chiles with white lines running the pepper’s length, but avoid peppers that have cracks, soft spots, or are shriveled. Trim and freeze these instead.
- Vinegar: While this recipe uses apple cider vinegar, you can swap the type of vinegar used to change the flavor. Feel free to substitute with another kind of vinegar with at least 5% acidity, including white vinegar, red wine vinegar, white wine vinegar, or a combination.
- Granular Sugar: The sugar balances the spicy hot and tart vinegar flavor. However, it is safe to reduce the amount of sugar in this recipe. Your jalapeños will have a more sour taste, but that may be just what you like. If sweet pickled vegetables are not your thing, try this plain pickled jalapeno recipe instead.
- Pickling Spices: While this recipe uses a mix of mustard seeds, coriander seeds, garlic powder, turmeric, and smoked paprika powder for flavor, this is where you can get creative. Feel free to use whatever dried spices you prefer. Check out this recipe for homemade pickling spice for more ideas.
Use rubber gloves when working with hot peppers, and ensure your kitchen is well ventilated. Hot pepper juices can burn your hands and anything you touch. Protect your hands with gloves and avoid touching your skin and eyes while working with chiles. Open the windows and use your stove’s vent to help dissipate the fumes when cooking the peppers.
Slicing the Jalapeños
You can use a knife and cutting board to slice jalapeños. But a food processor or mandolin will speed up the process. If you are canning a lot of chiles, a food processor with a 4 to 6 mm slicing blade will quickly cut the peppers into rounds. Just stand them upright in the chute, and push them through the slicing blade into the bowl.
No Water Bath Canner? No Problem!
This candied jalapeños recipe is safe for preserving shelf-stable jars using a water bath canner. However, since this is such a small batch, pulling out the big canner may be overkill.
You can use a large saucepan to process the jars. Your pot will need to be tall enough to cover the rims of the jars by a few inches of water, plus two inches of space to prevent hot water from splashing out of the pot.
Place a rack in the bottom to elevate the jars away from direct heat and allow the water to circulate as they are processed. I use an 8-quart tall pot with an 8-inch canning rack for small batch canning. It can fit 4-pint-sized canning jars. You can use a layer of canning rings as a rack too.
Candied jalapeños can also be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 months if you don’t want to can them. First, go through the steps of preparing the jalapeños, jars, and brine, and then skip the canning process. Instead, let the jars cool, and place them in the refrigerator. Since these are not heat processed, they will need to remain in the fridge for safety.
Allow Time to Develop Flavor
You may be tempted to open up a jar immediately, but if you let the pickles sit for several weeks, the flavor will have time to develop. Over time, the jalapeños and spices will infuse into the vinegar and then soak into the sliced peppers calming some of the heat.
Ways to Use Candied Jalapeños
Pickled chiles are a staple in most Tex-Mex cuisine, and you can layer these sweet and spicy jalapeño slices on tacos, enchiladas, fajitas, taco salad, nachos, refried beans, and even chili cheese fries!
Candied jalapeños are the perfect addition to anything you may want to garnish with some sweet heat, including corn salsa, slow cooker chili, and white bean chicken chili. Here are other ways to use them:
- Sandwich Topping: Try them layered in sandwiches, wraps, pulled pork sandwiches, hot dogs, and burgers for some added zing.
- Charcuterie Boards: Candied jalapeños are a perfect addition to a meat, cheese, and pickle spread. Be sure to label them HOT so you won’t surprise your guests.
- Candied Jalapeño Dip: Drain a jar and reserve the liquid. Chop the jalapeños into smaller pieces, and then mix them with two blocks of cream cheese. Add enough of the reserved liquid to thin to your desired consistency for dipping or spreading on crackers.
- Use the Leftover Syrup Too! Save the sweet syrupy spicy brine to combine with your favorite barbecue sauce for added punch, toss with roasted vegetables, drizzle over a leafy green salad, add to drinks, and use in potato salad, macaroni salads, or even deviled eggs!
Steps for Making Candied Jalapeños
You can make candied jalapeños with green or red jalapeño peppers, and the recipe is pretty easy to follow. All you need is some jalapeños, vinegar, sugar, and pickling spices, and you’re ready to go!
When canning, it is essential to use a scientifically tested recipe and follow the proper canning procedures for safety. This recipe for candied jalapeños is from the Ball Mason Jars website. We have adjusted the seasoning, but the proportions of ingredients remain the same for safe canning.
Before you begin, reviewing this article on water bath canning at the National Center for Home Food Preservation website may be helpful.
You can find a more detailed and printable recipe at the bottom of this article. Here are the illustrated steps to making candied jalapeños and how to preserve them using a water bath canner for shelf-stable jars.
Step 1: Gather Your Kitchen and Canning Equipment
You will need:
- Water bath canner with a canning rack
- 8 half-pint sized canning jars, or 4 pint sized jars
- Canning lids and bands (new lids for each jar, bands can be reused)
- Canning tools: jar lifter, canning ladle, funnel, and bubble popper
- Kitchen scale
- Rubber gloves
- Basic kitchen supplies: large sauce pot, large prep bowl, kitchen towels, sharp knife, cutting board, and large slotted spoon
Step 2: Prepare the Jalapeños
Weigh the peppers, and wash them well under clean running water to remove any residue and soil. Then, while wearing gloves, trim and discard the stem end, cut into uniform 1/4-inch rounds, and place in a large bowl.
Step 3: Prepare Your Canning Equipment
Wash the canning jars, lids, and canning tools in warm, soapy water and rinse well. Inspect the jars carefully, and don’t use any that have cracks or chips, as these may break when heated.
Heat the jars before filling to prevent breakage due to thermal shock. Set your water bath canner on a large burner of your stove. Insert the canning rack into the bottom, and place the jars upright on the rack. Add water to fill the pot and cover the jars. Bring the canner to a simmer (180˚F) for 10 minutes, and keep hot until you are ready to fill them.
Follow the manufacturer’s directions for preparing the canning lids. Pre-heating is no longer necessary before using, but it is still ok to warm them if you want to. Just add them to the canner while you heat your jars.
Step 4: Make the Pickling Brine
In a large pot, combine the vinegar, sugar, mustard seeds, coriander seeds, garlic powder, turmeric, celery seeds, and smoked paprika powder. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat while stirring to dissolve the sugar.
Add the sliced jalapeños to the boiling syrup, and reduce the heat to a simmer (180˚F). Cook until the chiles soften and darken as they absorb the brine, about 10 minutes. Keep hot as you fill your jars.
Step 5: Fill the Jars and Process in a Water Bath Canner
Lay a kitchen towel on the counter. Use the jar lifter to remove a hot jar from the canner, drain it, and place it on the towel. Keep the remaining jars in the canner, so they stay warm.
Place the canning funnel on the jar. Use a slotted spoon or tongs to remove the peppers from the brine and fill the jar. Leave 1/2-inch headspace at the top of the jar.
Use the canning ladle to fill the jar, covering the jalapeños with hot pickling brine mixture while maintaining a 1/2-inch headspace.
Run the bubble popper through to the bottom of the jar to release any trapped pockets of air. Make sure all the peppers are submerged in the liquid. Remove any that stick out, and adjust the headspace again if needed.
Wipe the rim with a clean damp paper towel or towel soaked in straight vinegar to remove any sticky residue. Center a lid on the jar, place the band over the cover, and screw it on until fingertip tight. Place the jar back into the canner, and repeat with the rest of the jars. Refrigerate any leftovers and use them within several days.
Adjust the water level in the canner so it is 2-inches over the tops of the jars. Bring the pot to a boil and process for the times indicated in the recipe below.
Let the canner settle for 5 minutes, remove the jars, and let them cool completely. Test the seals, remove the rings, and wash the jars. Date, label, and store the candied jalapeños in a cool location. Wait about 4 weeks before opening to allow the flavor to develop.
Candied Jalapeños Canning Recipe
Prepare the jalapeños:
- Rinse the peppers well under clean running water to remove any residue and soil.
- Put on a pair of rubber gloves to prevent burns, trim and discard the stem end, cut into 1/4-inch slices, and place in a large bowl. Set aside.
Prepare the canning equipment:
- Wash your jars, lids, screw bands, and canning tools in hot soapy water. Rinse well to remove all suds. Set the lids and bands aside to air dry on a clean kitchen towel.
- Place the jar rack into the water bath canner, place jars in the canner, and add water to cover. Bring the canner to a simmer (180˚F) for 10 minutes, and keep the jars hot until you are ready to fill them.
Make the pickling brine:
- Combine the vinegar, sugar, mustard seeds, coriander seeds, garlic powder, turmeric, celery seeds, and smoked paprika powder in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat while stirring to dissolve the sugar.
- Add the sliced jalapeños, and reduce the heat to a simmer (180˚F). Cook until the chiles soften and darken as they absorb the brine, about 10 minutes. Keep hot as you fill your jars.
Can the candied jalapeños:
- Lay a kitchen towel on the counter. Use the jar lifter to remove a jar from the canner, drain it, and place it on the towel. Keep the remaining jars in the canner, so they stay warm.
- Place the canning funnel on the jar. Use a slotted spoon to remove the peppers from the brine and fill the jar. Leave 1/2-inch headspace at the top of the jar.
- Ladle the hot brine over the jalapeños and fill the jar while maintaining a 1/2-inch headspace.
- Run the bubble popper through the jar to release any trapped air bubbles. Make sure all the peppers are submerged in the liquid. Remove any that stick out, and adjust the headspace again if needed.
- Wipe the rim with a clean towel soaked in straight vinegar to remove any sticky residue.
- Center a lid on the jar, apply the band over it, and screw it on until fingertip tight. Place the jar back into your canner, and repeat with the rest of the jars.
- Once the filled jars are in the canner, adjust the water level to be 2-inches above the tops of the jars.
- Place the cover on the canner, and bring it to a boil over high heat. Once the water boils vigorously, set a timer, and continue boiling for 15 minutes for half-pints and pints at altitudes of less than 6,000 feet. Adjust processing time for your altitude if necessary (See Notes).
- When the processing time is complete, turn off the heat, remove the cover, and let the canner cool down and settle for about 5 minutes.
- Spread a dry kitchen towel on the counter, and use the jar lifter to remove the jars from the canner and place them on the towel. Keep the jars upright, and don't tighten bands or check the seals yet. Let the jars sit undisturbed for 12 to 24 hours to cool.
- After 12 to 24 hours, check that the lids have sealed by pushing on the center. The cover should not pop up. If the top flexes up and down, the lid failed to seal. Refrigerate and use up within 3 months.
- Remove the screw-on bands and wash the jars. Label, date, and store your jars in a cool, dark place for 12 to 18 months. Allow 4 weeks for the candied jalapeños to develop flavor. Once the jar is open, store it in the refrigerator for up to 3 months. The recipe makes about 8 half-pints or 4 pint jars.
- This recipe is from the Ball Mason Jars website. You can safely adjust the amount of sugar, seasoning, and exchange the type of peppers and vinegar (5% actic acid) used, but the proportions of ingredients must remain the same for safe canning. Other alterations may make it unsafe for canning.
- All times are at altitudes of less than 1,000 ft. Adjustments for altitudes of 1,001 - 6,000 ft. is 15 minutes, and above 6,001 feet is 20 minutes.
- I am happy to answer any questions, but if you need immediate canning help or answers, please get in touch with your local extension office.
Candied jalapenos are a delicious and easy way to preserve jalapeño peppers. They are perfect for adding a kick of flavor to your favorite recipes. So give this recipe a try and enjoy the sweet and spicy taste of candied jalapeños!
You May Also Like:
- Plain Pickled Jalapeños Canning Recipe
- Pickled Garlic Canning Recipe
- Dilly Beans Canning Recipe
- Additional Ways to Preserve Peppers
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