Red pepper jelly! It’s sweet, spicy, and as hot as you want it to be. When you make it yourself, you get to decide how much of a kick to give it. It’s easier than you may think!
Where did the idea for this spicy-sweet treat come from? Not surprisingly, pepper jelly started in Texas–Lake Jackson, specifically–where jalapeños are bountiful. Texans love a little or a lot of heat in just about everything they eat.
What is Pepper Jelly Made Of?
Pepper jelly first hit the stores in Texas in 1978 and became quite popular in the 1980s. The ingredients were simple: vinegar, pectin, sugar, and of course, the peppers for flavoring. Although the original recipes started with jalapeño, a variety of versions with different types of peppers followed.
If you’ve never tried hot pepper jelly, you might think it’s super spicy. The great thing about making your own pepper jelly is that you control the outcome. It doesn’t have to be spicy-hot at all.
Because its flavor can be intense, this red pepper jelly isn’t meant to be slathered on things in the same way as other fruit jellies.
It’s fantastic dabbed onto Brie and other soft cheeses and served on crackers. It also has the perfect consistency for glazes, sauces–and yes, the center of thumbprint cookies, my favorite use of this recipe.
Why Make Your Own Red Pepper Jelly?
Pepper jelly enjoys popularity not only in Texas but in most parts of the United States. Most likely you can buy a red pepper jelly similar to this one in your local grocery store.
However, I highly recommend making your own. It’s really not as hard as you might think! And by making it at home, you get to adjust the heat exactly to your taste.
I have been making this red pepper jelly for years and have never had this recipe fail. Watch me make it for the Outdoor Channel here, or watch my video on this page.
How Do You Adjust the Pepper Heat and Flavor?
Remove all the seeds from the peppers to get great flavor without the heat. Leave half the seeds and get 3 out of 5 star heat. Leave them all in – like my husband likes it – and get a 5 star heat!
You can use green jalapeños or red for the jelly. I like the flavor and color of the red peppers just a hair more than the green, but both are amazing.
How Do You Make the Jelly Set?
As far as red pepper jelly setting, just add the pectin packet and it should be good to go. If it doesn’t set the first time, don’t worry! You have room for a do-over. It is fine to pour the mixture back into the dutch oven or stock pot, bring it to a boil, and add more pectin. Then follow the canning instructions as you would normally.
Get the cookbook with this recipe here: Stacy Lyn’s Harvest Cookbook
What Do You Do with Red Pepper Jelly?
Here are a few ways to enjoy a batch of sweet red pepper jelly. Really, the possibilities are endless.
Glazing for Meats and Seafood
Red pepper jelly’s natural sweetness and subtle spiciness make it a fantastic glaze for various meats and seafood. Brush it over grilled chicken, pork chops, or salmon to add tantalizing flavor. The jelly’s glazing properties infuse meat with a burst of flavors, making it a perfect condiment to offer at any cookout or dinner party.
Red Pepper Jelly as a Sandwich Enhancer
Revamp your ordinary sandwiches by incorporating red pepper jelly. Use it as a condiment for turkey, ham, or roast beef sandwiches to add a sweet and spicy kick. Pair it with cream cheese and spread it over bread or crackers for an elevated afternoon snack.
Accompaniment to Appetizer Platters
A cheese platter or antipasto board is an easy, beautiful way to entertain guests. Red pepper jelly is a fantastic addition. The sweetness of the jelly complements the richness of various cheeses, including brie, camembert, or goat cheese, and goes great with antipasto meats and crackers. Spread a dollop of the jelly on cheese or serve it on the side to tantalize taste buds and create a visually stunning spread.
Red Pepper Jelly as a Dip and Sauce Base
Move over, ketchup and mayonnaise – red pepper jelly can be transformed into a delicious dip or sauce. Mix it with cream cheese or Greek yogurt to create a creamy dip for vegetables or chips. Blend it with vinegar, soy sauce, and garlic to whip up a tangy and unique glaze for stir-fries or noodle dishes or chicken wings.
Pastry or Cookie Filling
Infuse your baked goods with a burst of flavor by using red pepper jelly as a filling. It complements pastries like puff pastry or turnovers wonderfully. My favorite sweet-treat use is as the center for thumprint cookies.
Marinades and Dressings
Expand your culinary horizons by incorporating red pepper jelly into marinades and dressings. Use it as a base for salad dressings or mix it with olive oil, vinegar, and herbs for a tantalizing marinade for grilled vegetables or meats.
Red Pepper Breakfast Delight
Start your day with a burst of flavor by incorporating red pepper jelly into your breakfast routine. Use it as a spread for toast or bagels, or dollop it over pancakes or waffles. The sweet and spicy notes will awaken your taste buds and leave you energized for the day ahead.
As a Holiday Gift
Can red pepper jelly in small jars, tie a ribbon around the jar, and you have a lovely and useful Christmas gift. Click here for everything you need to know about canning.
Stacy Lyn’s Tips for Preparing Red Pepper Jelly
Here are some tips that I’ve learned from experience.
- Wear gloves when deseeding and and chopping the peppers.
- Control the heat by controlling the amount of seeds that go into the jelly.
- Plant extra peppers to make extra jelly for unexpected guests!
No Fail Red Pepper Jelly Recipe
- 1 pound red jalapeño peppers
- 1 1/2 cups cider vinegar
- 6 cups sugar
- 1 Tablespoon butter
- 3 ounces liquid pectin one packet
- pinch of Kosher salt
- Remove stems from all the peppers. Cut half of the peppers in half and remove the seeds by scraping them out with a small spoon. Place the peppers into a food processor and pulse 7 to 8 times to roughly chop peppers.
- Transfer jalapenos to a large pot and add the vinegar. Bring mixture to a boil then lower to a simmer for about 20 minutes.
- Add sugar to the pepper mixture and bring to a boil. When it reaches a rolling boil, allow to continue boiling for 1 minute. Add butter to keep the mixture from foaming. Add liquid pectin and stir to mix. Allow mixture to boil for 3 minutes and remove from heat.
- Ladle mixture into sterile jars leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Place hot lids on the jars and screw rims firmly. Proceed canning in a hot water bath for 10 minutes. Refrigerate after opening.