Candied Jalapeños (a.k.a Cowboy Candy)
Yield: 4 half pints
Spicy-sweet pickled jalapeños add flavor to sandwiches, tacos, rice and more. Bake them into cornbread or use whenever you don't have fresh jalapeños on hand. Over time you'll find more and more ways to enjoy them!


  • 1½ to 1¾ pounds fresh firm, jalapeño peppers, washed (about 3 pint boxes)
  • 1 cup (227ml) apple cider vinegar
  • 3 cups (576g) granulated sugar
  • 1½ teaspoons garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon turmeric
  • ¼ teaspoon celery seed


  1. Wearing gloves, slice the stems from the jalapeños and discard.
  2. Slice the peppers into uniform ⅛-¼ inch rounds. Set aside. (I include the seeds. If you’re concerned about the level of spiciness, you could omit some of them.)
  3. In a large pot, bring the cider vinegar, white sugar, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, turmeric, and celery seed to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the pepper slices, return to a simmer, and simmer for 4 minutes but no longer.
  4. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the peppers into clean, sterile canning jars to within a ¼-inch of the upper rim of the jar. Turn up the heat under the pot with the syrup, and bring to a full rolling boil. Boil hard for 6 minutes.
  5. Use a ladle or small measuring cup with a spout to pour the hot syrup into the jars over the jalapeño slices, distributing it evenly between all the jars and leaving a ¼-inch headspace. Use a knife, a chopstick, or a plastic canning tool designed to remove air bubbles, and run it around the insides of the jars, moving it up and down to remove any air bubbles. Adjust the level of the syrup if necessary.
  6. Wipe the rims of the jars with a clean, damp paper towel or cloth and top jars with lids and bands.
  7. Tip: If you have leftover syrup, you may refrigerate it for several weeks or can it along with the jalapeño slices. You may enjoy it brushed on meat on the grill, added to potato or macaroni salad, etc.
  8. Place jars in a hot water bath using a canner or a large pot with a rack, making sure the lids are covered by about 2 inches of water. Bring the water to a full rolling boil. When it reaches a full rolling boil, cover the pot, and set a timer for 10 minutes for half-pints or 15 minutes for pints. When timer goes off, use tongs to transfer the jars to a cooling rack. Let them to cool, undisturbed, for 24 hours. When fully cooled, wipe them with a clean, damp washcloth then label.
  9. Allow to mellow for at least 2 weeks, but preferably a month before eating. Store in pantry up to 1 year. Refrigerate any opened jars.

A few extra tips

Pickled jalapeños will float at first but should settle as they cool. After simmering the pepper slices, they will likely appear shriveled. This is fine. They will plump back up as they rest during the waiting period. You will also likely notice that some of the spices settle to the bottom of the jars. I occasionally turn the jars upside-down and give them a (gentle) shake to redistribute what has settled.

I get my big pot of water heated while the peppers are simmering so that I can quickly proceed with the processing (hot water bath) stage. When I place the jars into the hot water (tongs are quite helpful here), I pour in additional water to cover if I didn’t start with quite enough water in the pot. This is far quicker than filling the pot and starting to heat the water AFTER the peppers slices and syrup have been transferred to the jars.

If you’d like to read more about the basics of canning, you may wish to read my posts on Small Batch Canned Peaches and Dilly Beans.



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