Candied Jalapenos

This post was originally published on May 23rd, 2010. It remains one of the most popular recipes from Foodie with Family. Try it out and find out why.

Candied Jalapeños. Ah. There’s a story here. Once upon a time, my friend Katie casually mentioned eating a sandwich made with Candied Jalapeños. She was singing the praises of what she described as an addictive jar of goodies. Then she said the magic words, “I wish I could figure out how to make these at home.” By this point, you know me enough to know what affect that statement has on me, right?  I quizzed her on the texture, flavor, and appearance of the jalapeno rings. I begged for photographs. I had her send me a picture of the ingredient list on the label. I asked her to describe the flavor to the very best of her food blogging abilities. She was game. She provided all the information.

Easy canning project Candied Jalapenos from

After carefully examining close to thirty recipes on Candied Jalapeños, also known as cowboy candy (who KNEW there were so many people candying jalapenos?) I called my local Cooperative Extension office to pick the brain of their home food preservation specialists. Since jalapeños are a low-acid food, some precautions need to be taken when canning them. You have two choices for safely canning peppers of any kind; you can pressure can them or you can acidify (i.e. add vinegar, lemon juice, etc…) the liquid in which you pack the peck of pickled peppers.

Candied Jalapenos on cream cheese and crackers from

I opted for acidifying the pepper liquid because I wanted to maintain some of the texture of the peppers through the process because pressure canning Candied Jalapeños would turn them to flavorful mush.  The result was gobsmackingly, head-spinningly, brain-addlingly delicious.  Sweet, spicy and savory, Candied Jalapeño rings are way too easy to eat on just about everything.  I’ve stashed them in sandwiches, chopped them up on baked beans, tucked them into tacos, used the syrup to brush meat on the grill, perched a couple rings on top of a cream cheese laden cracker and all sorts of other evil things.

Candied Jalapenos on cream cheese and crackers from

For such a simple thing to can, these pack tons of flavor.  You’re going to want to make as many of these as you possibly can simultaneously, because once that first jar is cracked open you’re not going to be able to stop eating them.  And I mean it. I am not kidding with you when I say that I barter with jars of these for valuable goods. Candied Jalapeños have fed my fine pottery addiction because my favourite local potter is as Candied Jalapeño fixated as I am with her pottery.

Like cowboy candy, Candied Jalapenos are sweet, spicy, and crunchy from

Cook’s Notes:

  • Hate canning? Afraid of canning? For those of you who may be freaking out slightly or massively over the idea of canning, rest easy. You can follow all of the instructions up to the actually canning portion, then stash the jars in the refrigerator for up to three months. You get a year out of canning, but if an alternative is all that stands between you and making them, use your chill chest!
  • Wear gloves when working with the peppers. Not a wimp? Neither am I… but jalapeños have a notoriously wide range of heat on the Scoville scale.
  • Let’s address slicing the peppers, because we’re going to be going through 3 pounds, folks. The quickest, easiest way to do so is with a slicing blade on a food processor, standing the peppers on their ends in the feed chute. No food processor? Use a mandolin! No mandolin? Just take your time and slice by hand with a very sharp knife and gloved hands.
  • I’ve been asked many times whether you should discard the seeds. I don’t because we like them. Contrary to the old wives’ tales, seeds do not contain the heat of a pepper. The membrane inside the pepper packs the most punch. Since you’re not removing that, don’t sweat the seeds. Heh. Pepper humour.
  • Quite a few folks have asked WHEN exactly to start timing the boiling of the peppers. You begin timing them once the liquid has returned to a full rolling boil. As soon as it reaches a full rolling boil, reduce the heat to a simmer and let it simmer gently (gentle bubbles that blub up) for 4 minutes. To clarify further, you will not be boiling them HARD for 4 minutes, you will bring them to a boil then drop the heat and simmer.
  • Many, many people have asked me whether they messed up the recipe because their peppers look all shriveled after simmering them in the syrup, packing them in jars, and canning them. The short answer is no. The long answer is that you’re fine and they WILL look shriveled when you jar them up if you’ve simmered them properly. They will re-plump as they spend those 4 weeks of rest time in the jar between processing and opening.
  • Yes, I said 4 weeks. My husband has been known to crack a jar at the two week mark out of desperation for candied jalapenos, but he will absolutely agree with me that they improve immensely in flavour and texture when left to mellow for at least 4 weeks after processing. Try to be patient. You’ll be rewarded.
  • How to serve them? On cream cheese and crackers, obviously… On sandwiches, on salads, chopped up in dips, on taco soup, on tortilla soup, on tacos, on pizza… The sky is the limit. I kind of suspect my husband would eat them on breakfast cereal if he didn’t know I’d wonder about his sanity.

3 pounds of jalapenos sliced for Candied Jalapenos from

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4.9 from 40 reviews
Candied Jalapenos
Recipe type: Canning, Condiment, Ingredient
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 32
There aren't words that exist to describe how addictive these little savoury, sweet, spicy, crunchy, garlicky pickled jalapeno rounds are. Put them on sandwiches, tacos, rice or bake them into cornbread. You'll need more and more!
  • 3 pounds fresh, firm, jalapeno peppers, washed
  • 2 cups cider vinegar
  • 6 cups white granulated sugar
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric
  • ½ teaspoon celery seed
  • 3 teaspoons granulated garlic
  • 1 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
  1. Wearing gloves, remove the stems from all of the jalapeno peppers. The easiest way to do this is to slice a small disc off of the stem-end along with the stem. Discard the stems.
  2. Slice the peppers into uniform ⅛-1/4 inch rounds. Set aside.
  3. In a large pot, bring cider vinegar, white sugar, turmeric, celery seed, granulated garlic and cayenne pepper to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the pepper slices and simmer for exactly 4 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the peppers, loading into clean, sterile canning jars to within ¼ inch of the upper rim of the jar. Turn heat up under the pot with the syrup and bring to a full rolling boil. Boil hard for 6 minutes.
  4. Use a ladle to pour the boiling syrup into the jars over the jalapeno slices. Insert a cooking chopstick to the bottom of the jar two or three times to release any trapped pockets of air. Adjust the level of the syrup if necessary. Wipe the rims of the jars with a clean, damp paper towel and fix on new, two-piece lids to finger-tip tightness.
  5. *If you have leftover syrup, and it is likely that you will, you may can it in half-pint or pint jars, too. It’s wonderful brushed on meat on the grill or added to potato salad or, or, or… In short, don’t toss it out!
  6. Place jars in a canner, cover with water by 2-inches. Bring the water to a full rolling boil. When it reaches a full rolling boil, set the timer for 10 minutes for half-pints or 15 minutes for pints. When timer goes off, use canning tongs to transfer the jars to a cooling rack. Leave them to cool, undisturbed, for 24 hours. When fully cooled, wipe them with a clean, damp washcloth then label.
  7. Allow to mellow for at least two weeks, but preferably a month before eating. Or don’t. I won’t tell!
I know this sounds crazy, but double this recipe. People will beg you for jars of this and get surly if you say no. Just. Trust. Me.

 Originally posted May 23, 2010.


  1. says

    We could get great cowboy candy at a little farmer’s market outside Houston Texas. Now we have moved and I miss it!

    Thanks for this recipe. My Father in law always has an abundance of jalapenos in his garden and I can’t wait to snag some this summer for homemade Cowboy Candy.

    We usually eat them with just tortilla chips.

  2. Tony says

    I love these things. I have been addicted for a while. Thanks for sharing the recipe. I was wondering how to can them. I was wondering if the tumeric, granulated garlic, celery seed and cayenne are necessary? I am sure you have checked and this is the correct amount of vinegar to use? Also, where do I find the recipe for the rest of the sandwich?

    Thanks for your help.

  3. Debra Fordham says

    Hurry and post the rest of the recipes for this wonderful looking sandwich. Our mouths are watering!

  4. Debra says

    Made these a little over two weeks ago….couldn’t wait to try them. OMG! I could eat a whole jar with just a bite of cream cheese and wheat thin. Can’t wait to try them on a burger. Best find of the season! Thank you for sharing!

  5. Cinamongirl says

    Thanks for sharing! The jalapenos came out a bit tough. It took almost 10 minutes for the pot to start simmering again after I added the jalapenos I then let them simmer for the 4 minutes, am I doing this correctly? Incidentally the leftover syrup was fabulous on vanilla ice cream!

  6. says

    Couple of questions: #1 should these be stirred continually? #2 does allowing them to sit for a couple of weeks allow the heat to subside? #3 approximately how many jalapenos are in three pounds?


    • Rebecca says

      Hi Marlene- Constant stirring is unnecessary. I would say stirring frequently would do the job for you. Allowing them to sit for a couple of weeks does three things; first it allows the heat to subside just a wee bit, second it lets the flavors meld and round out and third, it lets the peppers plump back up a bit if they’ve gotten tough during the cooking process. And as for how many are in a pound? Usually about 20, but that depends on the size and age of the peppers. Happy candying!

      Cinnamongirl- They can get a little tough during the cooking process, but should plump back up while aging in the jars.

  7. says

    I tried these a couple of days ago and my syrup was really thick, and after processing I had about 1″ laying in the bottom of the jars. Is that normal?

  8. says

    Made these today – they’re setting up as we speak – I have a large “jelly” to pepper ratio, but they’ve already sealed and smell WONDERFUL!

    The pepper I bought were an array of colors – red, yellow, green and purple so they are BEAUTIFUL! Can’t wait to taste them :)

  9. Roland says

    I don’t want to seem overly paranoid, but are you absolutely sure that your recipe is sufficiently acidified to eliminate all botulism dangers? Also, do you think I could safely add a little dill to this delicious sounding concoction?

    • Rebecca says

      Roland- I am comfortable serving these jalapenos to my family including some who have compromised immunities. As far as absolutely certain? I used pure vinegar and sugar in the same amounts as the liquids called for in a Ball created recipe for hot pepper jelly. As there is no added water, there is no dilution to the vinegar, maintaining around 4-5% acidity in the syrup. I’d say it’s safe, but as with most things, exercise care. Store your jars with the rings off so that if there is spoilage in the jar, resulting gasses will pop the seal on the lid. If it smells funny, toss it. If it looks odd, discolored or hairy, pitch it. And I do think you could add dill. It would be an entirely different pickle! :-)

  10. Susan says

    Absolutely wonderful! With my bumper crop of jalapenos, this is a big hit. I can’t imagine how good they would be if I was able to wait the two weeks.

  11. Amy says

    Thanks so much for the recipe and the enticing photos. I just made 4 half pints… tick tock… is it 2 weeks yet? Can’t wait to try it!

  12. getra says

    This is unbelievably delicious! Rebecca, thanks so very much for the recipe!
    I live in Russia, and finding candied jalapenos here is pretty challenging, you know :) But for some reason the moment I saw your recipe, I knew we’d love it. And so we did :)
    This sweet and spicy miracle of a homemade cowboy candy is just fabulous, while the process is soooo simple. I’m definitely doing more of it next year :)

    PS: I added some cloves to the second batch and it worked wonderful too :)

  13. Cindy Hill says

    I made these today – the only comment I have is that my syrup was very thin. I did the simmer for 5 minutes prior to putting the peppers in and after the peppers were removed, I did a hard boil for the full 6 minutes. Does it thicken up after waiting the 2 weeks? BTW, I used 3.5 pounds jalapenos and made 3 pints with a half pint extra. I just poured sypup over these and put in the refrigerator. I also have about a half pint of syrup left. (Didn’t have any 1/2 pint jars. Thanks so much for the recipe. I hate paying $8.00 bucks a jar for this when peppers are 69 cents lb. Hopefully we can wait the full two weeks.

  14. sherry says

    I tried making these tonight and am not sure I understand what needs to be done after the peppers are added to the syrup. I started the clock as soon as I added, but alot of the peppers still looked raw. So, I just left on until they all lost the bright green, raw look. Should the timer start once they peppers are added or after they start to simmer? If it is the latter, what is a simmer?

  15. Lindsy says

    I have a different recipe for this too!
    1 lg. jar jalapenos
    1. 4lb bag of sugar

    In a large bowl, layer the sugar and jalapenos(sugar, jalapenos, sugar..etc) and let sit for 24 hours. For the next 10 days, stir once a day.

    Can and refrigerate!! will make about 10 1/2 pint cans!

    We serve them on wheat thins w/ cream cheese. (They are pretty spicy)

  16. Cheryl says

    I just found this recipe in mid-January and made them. We started eating the jalapenos after about 3 weeks. These are so delicious that I am making my second batch right now!I’m so glad that I found your recipe, thanks for sharing it!

  17. Melonie says

    I made these as Christmas Gifts this year. My family LOVED them! They were such a hit, I’ve been requested to make more for all our family gatherings! you can count on me making this recipe several times a year now as they are a hit with everyone!

  18. says

    Hi, Rebecca – I have been wanting to make these forever, because our family eats these things in EVERYTHING and they are not cheap. However, I have a glass-top stove and can’t use a canner on it. (Canners are too heavy and not safe on glass-top ranges.) Do you have any tips on how I could make this recipe and preserve it without needing to use a canner? (I’m completely inexperienced to canning, and wanted to start until I found out I’d have to have a new stove to do it. haha) Thanks in advance!

  19. Tuggy says

    This recipe is OK, but if you have ever eaten the real thing(Cowboy Candy)from Shepherd, TX, you know what’s good. Buy them they are worth the money.

  20. says

    Hi Tuggy- I’ve never tried your product (I understand you’re a Senior Partner at the aforementioned company.) I’m sure it’s delicious, but I’m pretty fond of my candied jalapenos. I think they’re just about the best thing ever. :-)

  21. says

    I’m down to the last inch or so at the bottom of the very last jar and it’s only mid-May!!! It will be quite awhile before Jalapenos will be ready around here, but I know what is at the top of my canning list for this season!

  22. Luci says

    A friend let me try candied jalapenos from Bucees in Texas and I decided I had to try my hand at them. There are not words to describe how wonderful these are !! I took to a family/neighbor outing and was not allowed by family to add to the community table..they wanted it all to themselves.
    Only thing I found was I only got 5 half pints out of 3 lbs peppers. I have made it twice with same results???? Had LOTS of juice left over, though, so canned it also. I think next time I will use 5 pounds peppers and see what happens. I forsee Christmas presents here. Thanks for the recipe.

  23. Beverly says

    I’ve made this twice. The first time the syrup didn’t thicken. But i realized i didn’t cook it long enough. The second time i thought i cooked it long enough. Brought it to a hard rolling boil and then timed it. But it still isn’t thick. How thick is the syrup suppose to be? The jalapenos taste great! But, i want it to be “right”. Is there a certain look of the syrup i should be watching for during the boiling? Thanks for the help!

  24. GlennGirl says

    At our local Christmas show, this is called Cajun Crack. We love it and buy several jars each year and dole it out slowly until the next Christmas. This recipe is just as awesome as what we buy. I made some with hot banana peppers (that’s what our garden grows)and it is full of awesomeness as well! Thanks for the great recipe!

  25. Julie says

    A classmate gave me this receipe last year. We LOVE LOVE this recipe. As other have stated all of your friends will want jars. We even received a request to serve at our daughter’s wedding.

  26. says

    I just heard of candied jalapeno’s and immediately went on a search, and discovered your blog. First, I am absolutely in love with this sandwich and second, I can’t wait to make these jalapenos!!

  27. Benjamin says

    When referring to granulated garlic, is that garlic powder or garlic salt? Is there one form of garlic that is better to use than another? Thanks!

    • says

      Hi Benjamin! When I say granulated garlic, I mean a dried garlic that is a coarser grind than garlic powder. It is definitely not a salt and if you can’t get granulated garlic (Frontier Herbs sells a great version) I would replace with fresh garlic. 1/4 of a teaspoon of granulated garlic is roughly equal to one clove of fresh garlic.

  28. Ginger says

    My family absolutly LOVES these!! Purchased the jalapenos at the local farmers market, it made 6 jars, turns out that is not nearly enough because they are so good on EVERYTHING! I ended up buying all of the peppers they had, made 38 pint jars…maybe that will last till next Summer??

  29. Joe says

    OK, have you ever found something you were looking for on the first try and soon discovered that not only was it what you were looking for but was “perfectly” what you were looking for. That has been happening to me with amazing regularity lately and this is one more example. I went searching for a dehydrated tomato, basil and garlic recipe and found exactly that here complete with directions to eat them directly from the jar which is what I had in mind from the beginning. At the bottom of that page I saw that “You (I) Might Also Like” Candied Jalapenos. Well as it happens I don’t just like jalapenos, I love them and I cant wait to make these and the perfect sandwich. (I will be adding bacon. Not gonna’ lie.) I will be spending a great deal of time looking this site over. Can’t wait to see what culinary treasures it holds. I will post a rating after I actually eat them but I’m betting it will be a 5 star.

  30. Sherry says

    I made these last year and passed them out in my Christmas baskets and everyone is asking if they can have these again. They are not only cowboy candy they are gold! I have made many jalapeno recipes and by far these are the best! Thank you for posting the recipe. I Love this recipe and only doubling in not even enough! This has become one of my favorite recipes to can.

  31. says

    Oh my goodness, I’m so glad to have found this recipe here! A couple of years ago we were fortunate to try something like these that someone else had made – pure deliciousness!!!! Thanks for the recipe, I’m so excited to make some and share with friends and family!

  32. Janet Brown says

    I was looking for a recipe that equalled the candied jalapeno that Applebees serves on it’s Southwestern Burger. My husband and daughter are head over heals for them. This one is an absolute success for both of them as well as my son, stepson, our friend Tom and anybody else who has tried them. Great recipe. Thank you.

  33. Mike Thompson says

    I have made these several times now and people are begging for the recipe. I love them and put them on everything. I almost cannot live without them.

  34. Shelley says

    I just finished making these for the first time…. and you mentioned that I would probably have juice left over…. but I actually ran out! I had to try and fit my last half-pint into the other jars. Did I do something wrong?

  35. Shelly B says

    So I have just recently fallen in love with your blog. I stumbled across it while scouring the internet for Claussen Kosher Dill taste-a-likes, and found way too many sublime things to not come back to it constantly.. . my printer is working harder than it has in quite some time! :-) Thanks for all the amazing stuff you share with us, and thanks for making me laugh out loud while I read your posts. . . this mommy is loving the comic relief! :-)

  36. Ginger says

    I made these and they are wonderful! I diced them and mixed them in cream cheese with a little of the syrup. A co-worker asked for the recipe and said she was going to use the syrup in martinis.

  37. Corinne says

    I have the same questions that a couple others do but I wasn’t able to find the answers.

    1. When I put the jalapeño slices into the syrup, it takes awhile for the syrup to start simmering again. Is that when I start timing for the 4 minutes?

    2. Is the syrup supposed to be thick?

    Thank you!

  38. says

    Made these tonight. Let my food processor do the chopping work, and those were a little thinner, so I only got 2 pints instead of 9 half-pints, but I had the exact right amount of syrup for the 9 half-pints which I promptly jarred and they’re canning right now.

    Thanks so much for such a wonderfully creative recipe and one that’s super easy for us not-so-homey peeps. ;o)

  39. Judy says

    Would it be suicidal to substitute habaneros for the jalapenos? I got the wrong kind at the farmer’s market yesterday, but the habaneros look gorgeous!

    • says

      If you like habaneros go for it! My husband would probably go nuts for it. I admit it’d be a bit too much heat-wise for me, but I’ll be interested to hear what you think if you try it.

      • Judy says

        It’s pretty hot, as you can imagine. But not inedible, as long as you go carefully with it! Wish I had thought to leave out the seeds, but my husband is enjoying it and it will last a long time. =) Long enough to try it on my father-in-law at Christmas, and his motto is “the spicier the better”. Thanks for this recipe!


  1. […] CANDIED JALAPENOS – Holy moly, these little thinks are unbelievable.  I rad across the recipe on Pinterest several weeks ago and have had them in the back of my mind ever since.  Why?  For the past two holiday seasons Jeff’s Aunt Robbin, who always prepares the most amazing meals, has made this unforgettable appetizer using these three items: corn chips, cream cheese, and candied jalapenos.  So simple – so addictive!  I know that every Fall she makes a special trip to attend a festival just outside of the city she lives in so that she can buy a jar of these things.  This year I thought it might be fun to surprise her with a jar made by us.  Now, if only we can resist eating them all by the time Thanksgiving rolls around… – Recipe comes from one of my favorite food bloggers, Rebecca at Foodie with Family. ( […]

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