Hotter Than the Hinges of Hell Habanero Jelly


Ow.  Ouch.  Owwie.  Ooooooh.  Oooooch.  Oh it hurts!

I want you to be aware that this recipe is not for the faint of heart or wimpy of tongue.  It is a pure habanero relish.  As in lots and lots of chopped fresh habanero peppers.

Habaneros, for those who do not know, are one of the hottest fresh peppers that are widely available.  They usually range between 100,000 and 350,000 Scoville Units*.  And for comparison’s sake, a fresh jalapeno pepper runs between 2,000 and 10,000 Scoville Units.  Just so’s you know.

*Scoville Units are the standardized unit of measure for the ‘hotness’ of hot peppers.  According to Wikipedia, “Scoville scale measures the hotness or piquancy of a chili pepper, as defined by the amount of capsaicin it contains. Capsaicin is a chemical compound which stimulates chemoreceptor nerve endings in the skin, especially the mucous membranes. The number of Scoville heat units (SHU) indicates the amount of capsaicin present.” In other words, it gives you a pretty good idea how much it is going to hurt to eat a particular pepper.

Habaneros are beautiful. So pretty but so dangerous.  You’re looking at two pounds of fresh habanero peppers.  I used every last one of them in a fresh batch of Hotter Than the Hinges of Hell Habanero Jelly.* And I coughed and coughed and coughed and my eyes watered and my nose ran.  And I was prepared for it.  I’ve made this once a year for at least six years. I’m going to say this now: I will litter this post (straight up LITTER it) with warnings.  Because you have to be careful when making this.

*For the record, I know it’s not technically a jelly since it has abundant little bitty pieces of habanero laced through it.  A jelly is smooth.  This?  Is not.

Okay, so it’s a jelly that isn’t a jelly and it’s painfully hot.  Why in heck would you want to make this? Because the flavor is out of this world.  It’s hot, sweet, fruity, and tangy at the same time.  Chile heads: this is a slow-burn and it lasts.  If you like habaneros you will love this.  It’s a stunningly beautiful flame orange with flecks of habanero suspended throughout.  Serve over cream cheese on crackers or loosened up with a fork and brushed onto grilled meat.

Give the gift of painful taste to the chile heads in your life.  They’ll love you forever!

For a photo-free, printer friendly version of this recipe, click here!

Hotter Than the Hinges of Hell Habanero Jelly


  • 2 pounds fresh habanero peppers
  • 5 cups granulated sugar (measured into a separate bowl before starting)
  • 1 box powdered pectin
  • 1 cup cider vinegar

Wear gloves!  Wear gloves!


Trust me.  Even if you think you’re impervious to capsaicin you have no idea how painful it can be to deal with two pounds of habaneros without gloves. Before you start, it’s a good idea to line a bowl with a disposable plastic bag to hold all your stems and seeds.  Thusly:


Cut the stem off each pepper and cut in half. If you want face-meltingly hot pepper jelly you can leave the seeds and membranes intact in the peppers.  If you want a milder jelly (in which case you may want to consider jelly making with something other than habaneros?) you can use the tip of a spoon to dislodge the seeds and as much of the membrane as possible.


I normally seed about half of the peppers and leave seeds in the other half.  We like-a it hot!


Add half the peppers to the bowl of a food processor fitted with a stainless steel blade.  Pulse until the peppers are minced but not liquified. Now.  BE CAREFUL WHEN REMOVING THE LID!  When you pulse the peppers you are atomizing some of the oils they contain.  Stand with your face well away from the bowl when you remove the lid. This is a big old measuring cup full of pain.


Scrape the minced peppers into an 8 quart stainless steel pot. Repeat with the remaining peppers.  This is the remaining pepper detritus.  This should go straight into the compost.  Do not pass go!


Stir the cider vinegar and powdered pectin into the minced peppers and place over  ‘HIGH’ heat. Do NOT, I repeat, do not put your face over the pan while it is boiling.  It will hurt.  It will make you cough.  It will make your eyes water uncontrollably.  You don’t want to breathe the fumes in on this.  Bring the mixture to a full rolling boil (a boil that does not stop when stirred) stirring constantly.It will look much like this:


When the mixture reaches a full boil dump in all the sugar at once and stir quickly.  Bring the mixture again to a full rolling boil, stirring constantly. Again, be careful.  Don’t breathe in too deeply near the boiling pot.  It will look like this before it reaches a boil.


As soon as it reaches a full boil, begin timing it and allow to boil hard for exactly one minute.  After the minute has passed, remove from heat and ladle quickly into clean, sterile jars (for instructions on how to do this, click here!) For the love of all that is holy, BE CAREFUL!  Now you’re not only dealing with hot pepper oils, you’re dealing with BOILING hot pepper oils and hot jelly.  It sticks on your skin and hurts like a son of a gun!

Wipe the rims, add clean lids and gently screw rings onto the jars.  Process for 10 minutes at a full rolling boil.  (For instructions on how to do THIS, click here!)

When the jars are done processing, carefully remove from the water bath and place on a cooling rack positioned over a tea towel.  If you pull the jars straight up and out jelly will not leak and endanger the seal.  Don’t worry about the water on top, it will seep out under the rings and onto the towel.

The jars look like they’re on fire.  Metaphorically speaking, they are!

hotterthanthehingesofhelljelly 11

Is it my imagination or is this jar a little misshapen?  Could it be the heat from the peppers?

hotterthanthehingesofhelljelly 12


  1. says

    OH YEAH!! I remember this wonderful jar of hotness!! Spread over a block of cream cheese sweet at first with a punch that stays with you for days…but OH its so good!! Thank you for the recipe.

  2. says

    Love. It. I was ever so grateful to be blessed with some of this. Interesting to see how it’s done. Now I know why you said you were hurting the other day.

  3. says

    I’m in the process of making this right now (except with more sugar+vinegar because I am weak). Thanks for giving me the motivation to tackle my first canning project! :)

    • Rebecca says

      JKRU- Your first canning project? That’s so fan-flippin’-tastic! I’m so happy to be part of it. Now, since you’re using more sugar and vinegar I’m going to warn you that the jelly may not set up quite as firmly. It will still be delicious, just possibly a little looser. And hot pepper jelly takes a little longer to gel up than other fruit jellies; up to two weeks to reach its full firmness. Please let me know how everything goes for you.

      Melissa- You wants another jar, perhaps?

  4. GChappell says

    It is hard to tell, but does this recipe make 1 quart (two pint jars) or more? I plan to use 1/2 pint jars and want to make sure I prepare enough. I have been looking for a recipe that is just Habanero, most include other peppers. I was about to use one of those and replace the orange pepper with an equal weight of Hab, then I found this. What I have now makes great PB&J with a kick.

  5. Dave says

    Wow, so happy to see that someone else does this with as much enthusiasm. Iv’e been making my “Holy sh#t Dave that is some hot f@$&ing jelly!!” for around 6 years as well. Trying my luck with a crop of backyard ghost chilis i grew this year. Its funny, I too give the jelly/jam disclaimer on the holidays, with a huge warning label for hottness. I will try the timing technique. I use white vinegar and liquid pectine so I’m curious and will give this recipe a go. Very informative for this amateur. Thanks a lot.

    • Chris says

      Safe – here’s a recipe I use with my ghost peppers – 3 to 3 1/2 lbs (about 6 large) of fresh peaches (before pitting), 3 peppers, 4 cups of sugar, 1/3 cup lemon juice, 2/3 cup white vinegar. 2 boxes pectin or 6 tbsp of the bulk stuff. All I do with the peaches is remove the pit and slice them, leaving skin on, and the peppers I just slice the stem off and process the rest whole. If you throw your peppers in the food processor along with some peach the fumes aren’t quite as toxic! The juicy fresh peach flavor followed by the slow burn of the ghost is exquisite! Makes 8 1/2 pint jars.

  6. Angie says

    I made this for my boyfriend and left all the seeds and membranes intact since he couldn’t find a jelly that had the level of heat he craved. The jelly is firey hot and impressed all heat lovers. If you are not a true heat lover, leave some or all of the seeds/membranes out, but don’t skip making this, the flavor is Fanstastic!

  7. Jaydn Gillis says

    Question. If I use the ball pectin which I have to measure out. How much would I use to meet the box of pectin your are using in your recipe?

    • Chris says

      I assume you’re talking about the Ball bulk bottles of pectin. 3 tbsp = one box of pectin. When making an 8 jar batch of hot pepper jelly, I use 6 tbsp. It might be more than I need, but that way it always comes out spreadable but not runny.

  8. katie says

    Similar question- pectin seems to come in all shapes and sizes- I tend to use six ounces of the liquid- how much of the powder does that compare to?

  9. Debbie says

    When I make jelly…I always count on making the same amount of jelly as I used sugar in the recipe. For example….7cups of sugar will make 7 cups of jelly. But I always wash one more jar than I think I’ll need….just to be sure. Also…when you make lots of little jars (4 or 6oz), you will need a couple of extra jars to come out right. If you make your jelly in 16 oz jars, it will definitely need at least two weeks to set up!

  10. laura dickson says

    Wow what a great jelly, I made it last week and after reading directions I used two painters masks while making it. I had no problem with fumes. This jelly rocks!! Thank you for the recipe!

  11. Elaine Johnson says

    Was looking for a habanero jelly recipe and found yours. Canned eight half-pints yesterday–am anxious to see how it taste. Will let it sit for two or three weeks. If I survive, will let you know how I liked it. Really enjoyed your prep instructions and warnings. Also, will be visiting your blog frequently. You have a great sense of humor–important!!

  12. D. Lynn says

    Hi Rebecca, Thanks so much for the recipe, I followed it exactly however I did pass go :) I used smaller jars 1/2 pint jars and filled 10 little fire bombs! They will be so pretty with a burgundy bow and warning label! I have only tasted what was left in the pot and on the ladle, (yum yum) I am waiting for it to set up now, I can hardly wait. Now as far as passing go I cut off the tops, and removed and discarded only the stems, the tops of the pepper and the 1/3 of the seeds that I removed were put into a cotton mesh sock (used for the hops in beer making) and placed it in my dehydrator for 36 hours after the seeds and pepper tops were dried completely I put them in a food chopper with the steal blade attached and pulsed for about a minute. (Don’t breath! then Funneled into a spice jar. If you like crushed red pepper but it is not quite hot enough you will love this.

  13. Nathan Durham says

    A fantastic recipe! I made it three times this summer with locally-grown habanero peppers. Also – I never bothered de-seeding, but I did use gloves, and would tell anyone to do the same. I just opened a jar that I canned 4 months ago, and I noticed that it is still hot but not quite as hot as it was right after making it! Friends have enjoyed cooking with it also – soups, chili, stews, etc. Thanks for an AMAZING recipe. I will make this again and again and again.

  14. Ulli says

    Just made a batch…..holy hell yummy hotness! This stuff is the bomb. I spread some over grilled salmon, that’s the business!

  15. Mike Bailey says

    It is hot…. I was asked if I was trying to kill somebody….lol I did add rattlesnake dust to it and that put it over the top…. I use it on the grill with chicken and pork. I will be growing scorpion peppers next year and will see about adding some of those.

  16. Yvonne says

    Going to try this over the weekend. Wondering, how many little jars does one batch make? My first canning adventure, and not sure why I never tried it. I remember growing up my mom was constantly making preserves, pickles, etc…..wish me luck! I am trying to make about 20 jars, and I think I read that this recipe makes about 10 right?

  17. Mike Bailey says

    I made it. Last year was ghost, habanero, jalapeno and sweet bells to curb the ghosts heat. I also took out most of the ghost seeds. This year with habanero, I left all seeds and membranes and it was all habanero. Jeez, I had the hiccups for almost 5 minutes and heat doesn’t bother me, usually. Great flavor but burnt the heck outta every one’s lips including mine. I have a friend who is married to a Mexican that she had not found anything he thought was hot until this jelly. He said it was hot, very hot, he loved the flavor but said hide it from grand kids. The jelly is adequately named… I have scorpion pepper seeds in my refrigerator waiting for late winter to start sprouting indoors…. :)

  18. Tim says

    So, I made some wicked hot habanero jelly. I mean WICKED hot! I am pretty comfortable with the heat, but….. I put a little bit on a cracker. I was drinking milk for 20 minutes.

    Any idea what I can do to tame the heat?

    • says

      Absolutely yes to the Pomona’s!!!! Follow the instructions for hot pepper jelly from the Pomona’s insert in the box, but instead of 1 cup sweet bell peppers 1/3 cup jalapenos, put in 1 1/3 cups finely chopped habaneros!

  19. CherGoes says

    Hi there!
    I’m about ready to try my hand at making some pepper jelly, for the first time, and this will be my very first time ever canning anything… Next step, if this turns out will be fermented pickles, lol.
    I do have a question though…
    I cannot seem to find a recipe that doesn’t go by weight! I also need a recipe that requires white vinegar, and powdered pectin. I am hoping to use my Bell Peppers, as well as my Pequin, Barro De Ribbiero, Ghost, Scorpion, Peter Red, and Aleppo peppers!
    Will it be possible to use all those?


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