We’re huge fans of pickled jalapenos. We make them every year, and my husband puts them on just about everything. But for me? I like ’em sweet, and this candied jalapeno recipe is the one I reach for more often. It’s sweet, spicy, and delicious smeared over cream cheese.
This recipe is super easy, even for a beginner canner, and a great way to preserve and store an overstock of fresh ripe jalapenos!
How To Make The Best Cowboy Candy you Ever Ate!
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There are a few things to consider when you start this recipe.
The number one thing is you need to start with fresh jalapenos to ensure a perfect texture in your final canning product. If you begin with mushy, old, dried jalapenos, that texture will find its way into your cowboy candy.
I also find that if you start with old jalapenos or peppers that are just past their best, it will impart a not-so-great taste in your candied jalapenos as well.
If you can grow your own, I highly recommend it. I’ve grown hot peppers in the Canadian north for years, so If I can grow them outdoors in a short season, I feel like anyone can.
My favorite the last few years has been the Jalafuego Pepper. It is slightly spicier than your average jalapeno, but it grows up to 6 inches. These peppers have a great crisp, firm texture, which translates into candied jalapenos that hold their shape.
Canning peppers Safely
You must follow the candied jalapeno recipe as written. I’ve made a few adaptations for this recipe as far as taste goes, but the recipe ratios are safe for water bath canning. You do not want to skip the bath step. I’ve adapted my recipe from Ball’s Cowboy Candy recipe. Although I liked their texture, I felt the peppers needed a bit more flavor, so I upped the ante on add-ins, eventually landing on a spice blend that my husband and I both felt was the right balance.
- Turning the jars over to seal is not recommended and can result in poor seals, failed batches, and could make you or your loved ones sick, or worse.
- Don’t make your cowboy candy in any jar larger than a pint. Quarts are not recommended, and once opened, unless you’re eating it by the spoonful daily, will go bad before you can finish the jar.
- Definitely wear gloves while chopping your spicy peppers! Peppers can cause serious skin irritation.
- If you are concerned about the overall heat, you can remove the seeds of the jalapeno before slicing them. The majority of the heat is inside the seeds and innards.
- The easiest way to process lots of peppers at once is to use a mandolin or slicing attachment on a food processor, but a sharp knife and good cutting board work just as well.
- The brine for this recipe is potent! Don’t stand over the pan or inhale the vapor. It can be rough on your eyes too, so try to stand back a bit and not get your face directly over the pot.
- And it’s ok to make extra! I know so many people who absolutely love this stuff and they make a great gift during the holidays. You can double this recipe safely.
Ingredients required for Candied Jalapenos Peppers
- 1.5 cups vinegar (Apple cider or white)
- 1 tsp salt
- 3.5 cups white sugar
- 2 garlic cloves minced
- 1/2 tsp turmeric
- 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (optional see note below)
- 1/2 tsp mustard seed
- 1 tsp ginger
- 2 pounds jalapenos, sliced into ¼ inch rings (about 28 large size peppers)
The spices are optional. There are as many variations of “seasoning” for these candied jalapenos as there are jalapeno varieties. We made several batches over the years, but this is the recipe that we both agree is the best. It has a kick and a pleasant warm spicy taste that goes exceptionally well with soft cheese. I don’t recommend garlic powder. However, if you’re going to add garlic, use the fresh stuff; it does make a difference!
This recipe makes 5 – 1/2 pint (1 cup) jars. You can safely double the recipe if you have more Jalapenos.
Note: Jalapeno peppers can vary wildly in how spicy they are. If your peppers are mild, go ahead and add the cayenne. If your peppers are spicy (like ours were!), it’s OK to skip it.
You May Want to Read: What to Do With a Bumper Crop of Jalapenos!
How Many Jalapenos in a Pound
There are about 14 large jalapeno peppers in a pound. If you do not have a scale, this is a good guideline.
Prepping your Peppers
Be sure to wash your peppers in cold water. I like to drop all my peppers in the sink, fill it with cold water, add 1/4 cup of vinegar, and swish them around for a minute or two.
Rince the peppers and give them a quick dry with a clean tea towel.
Slice the peppers into 1/4 inch slices. Be sure to wear gloves to protect your hands.
You can remove the seeds before slicing if you want your candied jalapenos less spicy. You can take the top off the pepper and use a small knife to trim around the inside. The seeds and membrane should pop right out. Remember, you can adjust the spices in this recipe, but do not mess with the sugar and vinegar ratios! They are essential to making this candied jalapeno recipe safe and shelf stable.
Prep The Jars and Canner
Prepare boiling water in a large pot or water bath canner. Heat jars in simmering water until ready to use. Wash lids in warm soapy water and set aside with bands.
Making the Brine
Combine all ingredients except jalapenos in a large saucepan and bring to a full rolling boil over medium-high heat, stirring to dissolve sugar. Keep stirring, so the sugar does not burn. If the sugars burn, that flavor will ruin your batch of cowboy candy!
Cooking and canning the peppers
Add jalapeno pepper slices, lower heat to medium and cook for 15-20 minutes or until jalapenos are dark glossy green and have absorbed some brine. In the two images below, you can see the difference between half-cooked in the first image and fully cooked in the second.
Ladle hot jalapenos with a slotted spoon into hot sterile canning jars, leaving 1 inch of the upper rim of the jar clear. Pour hot brine over jalapenos, maintaining a 1-inch headspace. Be sure the syrup level does not go past that 1-inch headspace.
Remove air bubbles with a butter knife running it around the rims of the jars all the way to the bottom of the jar to remove trapped pockets of air. Wipe the jar rim clean with a damp paper towel or damp washcloth. Add lid and band and twist just until the band is finger tight.
Processing the Jars of Cowboy Candy
Use a lifter to place the jars in a covered pot of boiling water or canner, with the water level one inch over the lids at all times. Process jars 15 minutes, adjusting for altitude. Turn off heat, remove the lid, let jars stand 5 minutes. Remove jars, place on a cooling rack, and cool 12-24 hours. Check tops for seals; they should not flex when the center is pressed—place jars in a cool dark place for storage.
How long Do candied jalapeño peppers last?
Processed and stored in a cool dark place, your candied jalapenos will last for up to a year. Once opened, keep refrigerated for up to a month.
What to do with that leftover sweet syrup?
Whatever you do, don’t throw your extra syrup away! It’s liquid gold. You should have anywhere from 1/2 cup to a cup of syrup leftover.
Bonus Recipe: If you want a spectacular treat, mix the leftover jalapeno syrup with prepared yellow mustard at a 1:1 ratio and boil it down until thick and glossy. This sauce makes an excellent BBQ sauce for chicken or a glaze for ham. I look forward to making this every year when we make our cowboy candy. It keeps in the fridge for up to 3 weeks, but you can also freeze it. I’m telling you, it’s worth the effort, and it might be my favorite part of this candied jalapeno recipe!
You can also freeze the leftover syrup to use when you need it. For example, I like to add it into soups like pumpkin or butternut for a sweet-spicy punch.
These candied peppers are also an excellent addition if you are into spicy, savory cocktails.
Cowboy Candy – All the uses!
All the things? If you’re thinking you’d like to try this candied jalapeno recipe, but can’t think of what to put them on, I recommend everything! Like we have mentioned, we love these candied jalapenos with soft cheeses like cream cheese or brie. They also go great on hot dogs, potato salad, macaroni salads, anywhere you want a punch of spice and sweet. Candied jalapenos also make a trendy charcuterie board addition.
Looking for More Ways to Preserve the Harvest?
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- Easy Peach Preserves Recipe for Canning – No Pectin Required
- 1.5 cups Apple Cider Vineger (or white vinegar)
- 3.5 cups white granulated sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 garlic cloves minced
- 1/4 tsp tumeric
- 1/2 tsp mustard seed
- 1/2 tsp ground ginger
- 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
- 2 pounds jalapeno peppers (about 28 large size peppers)
- Wash, rinse, and dry peppers. Slice peppers into 1/4 inch slices; be sure to wear gloves to protect your hands.
- Prep The Jars and Canner Prepare boiling water in a large pot or water bath canner. Heat jars in simmering water until ready to use. Wash lids in warm soapy water and set aside with bands.
- Combine all ingredients except jalapenos in a large saucepan and bring to a full rolling boil over medium-high heat, stirring to dissolve sugar. Keep stirring so the sugar does not burn.
- Add jalapeno pepper slices, lower heat to medium and cook for 15-20 minutes or until jalapenos are dark glossy green and have absorbed some brine.
- Ladle hot jalapenos with a slotted spoon into hot sterile canning jars, leaving 1 inch of the upper rim of the jar clear. Pour hot brine over jalapenos, maintaining a 1-inch headspace.
- Remove air bubbles with a butter knife running it around the rims of the jars to the bottom of the jar to remove trapped pockets of air. Wipe the jar rim clean with a damp paper towel or damp washcloth. Add lid and band and twist just until the band is finger tight.
- Use a lifter to place the jars in a covered pot of boiling water or canner, with the water level one inch over the lids at all times. Process jars in boiling canner for 15 minutes, adjusting for altitude. Turn off heat let jars stand 5 minutes. Remove jars, place on a cooling rack, and cool undisturbed for 24 hours. Check tops for seals; they should not flex when the center is pressed—place jars in a cool dark place for storage for up to a year.
Save the leftover brine to make a quick mustard sauce for chicken or ham. See notes above in the post.
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 80 Serving Size: 1 tablespoon
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 40Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 30mgCarbohydrates: 6gFiber: 0gSugar: 10gProtein: 0g