No Fail Red Pepper Jelly Recipe

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!

Red Pepper Jelly
Red Pepper Jelly should be a staple in everyone’s pantry. Its uses are almost endless!

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.

red pepper jelly cookies
I’ve been making thumbprint cookies today. This red pepper jelly adds just the right amount of kick to balance the sweetness of the cookies!

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.

Growing the peppers at home is pretty easy, too! Follow this link for tips and tricks for growing your own peppers (hot or otherwise) from seed.

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.

growing peppers
Peppers are easy to grow and are crazy versatile! This combination of sweet and spicy creates the perfect marriage of ingredients for glazes on everything from fowl to fish.

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.

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.

  1. Wear gloves when deseeding and and chopping the peppers.
  2. Control the heat by controlling the amount of seeds that go into the jelly.
  3. Plant extra peppers to make extra jelly for unexpected guests!

No Fail Red Pepper Jelly Recipe

This no-fail red pepper jelly is super easy and has the perfect consistency for glazes, sauces, and yes…thumbprint cookies (my favorite).
5 from 4 votes
Course Condiment, Sauce, Side Dish
Cuisine American


  • 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.
If you like this recipe, please give it a star rating to help other cooks find it!
Follow me on Instagram and tag #stacylynharris so I can see all the SLH recipes you make. ♥
Tried this recipe?Let me know how it was!

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  1. 5 stars
    red pepper jelly is delish on top of a cracker with havarti cheese.

    1. It really is! One of my favorite ways to eat it.

  2. Having a hard time finding red jalapeños. Could this be made with red fresno peppers for the color and a couple of green jalapeños with seeds for the heat?

    1. Yes! Just so long as you keep the ingredients in the same amounts, you can certainly use different peppers. Let me know how it turns out!

  3. Sandra Ashburn says:

    Can I use green jalapeno peppers instead of red ones?

  4. Sandra Ashburn says:

    Hi again!
    I am using green Jalapeno peppers because I could not find red ones. Just wondering if I could add some green coloring to maybe make it a little brighter

    1. yes you can use green peppers and add any coloring you want to

  5. Sandra Ashburn says:

    It’s me again…
    Wanted to ask about how many jars this recipe will make. Sorry for all my questions.

    1. Absolutely you can use green food coloring and the green jalapeño peppers. It’s going to be beautiful and delicious.

  6. 5 stars
    I’ve had 2 failed attempts making pepper jelly. This recipe worked for me!

    1. I am so glad to hear that!!! Hurray!! Thanks for letting me know.

    2. 5 stars
      Just a heads up for people who use recipes as guide lines.
      I have made this recipe with jalapenos and it was fine.
      This time I grew Thai peppers so I used them.
      Not a whole pound just 4 ounces. Then I seeded half of them.
      Then I made a double batch so effectively 2 ounces of peppers.
      The recipe jelled fine and is pretty, but it is a good thing I like hot peppers.
      This jelly will singe your taste buds. Thai chilis are about 75,000 on the scoville chart and supposed to be less than habaneros. I have used habaneros before in jelly and they were not this hot. So be very careful if substituting pepper types.

      1. This sounds great! I use varying peppers too. Since we have a garden, different peppers are ready to be harvested at the same time, so I just use what I have. Glad you wrote this!

  7. Dorothy Walker says:

    Can I use a sugar substitute like swerve?

    1. I don’t think that would work for preservation or consistency in this recipe. I would normally say yes, but in canning the sugar and acid are pretty vital.

      1. John McCormick says:

        My wife and I when we made jelly we would use half and half regular sugar and Splenda because of my being a diabetic and it still came out good.

        1. That sounds perfect! I’m so glad to hear this!

  8. darlene perry says:

    never heard of red jalepeno peppers?

    1. Darlene, the become red as they stay on the vine. I love them!

  9. Charlotte Hall says:

    How much jelly does this make?

    1. It makes about 4 to 5 pints depending on the size of your peppers. Hope you love the recipe!

      1. I want to make hot red bell pepper jelly. I want some heat to it. I dont know if I want to use al hot peppers. I want some heat but too much. I guess what I’m asking is, can I use some red bell pepper along with some hot peppers and keep the rest ingredients the same?

        1. You can as long as you keep the amount of peppers the same. It’s not too hot though even with just using the hot peppers, but sure you can use bell peppers. Let me know how it turns out!

  10. can you use powered pectin?

    1. You can. Just follow the instructions on the package. I think it will turn out nicely.

  11. I haven’t made this pepper jelly yet but I am going too but I have a question : can you make like raspberry pepper jelly ?

    1. You absolutely can!! Make the jelly as a traditional jelly or jam recipe and add a few seeded chopped peppers to it. Here’s a good jam recipe to use. Replace the plums with raspberries.

      Add equal parts sugar and fruit per pound and add 3 jalapeños per pound (seeded) and allow to simmer until it reaches 220. If you are making jelly, you’ll have to boil the fruit first, then put it through a cheesecloth to strain. After it has strained, you’ll equal parts by volume of sugar and boil, then proceed as you would any other jelly.

  12. Tena Loiseau says:

    I saw this recipe while my peppers were still on the vine so I left them until they turned red. I froze them as they ripened and just today got them out of the freezer and made a double batch and OH MY…. It is absolutely perfect and deliciously spicy!! I will be leaving my jalapeños on the vine every year!!
    I also want to try it on the thumb print cookies, do a have a recipe for them?

    1. I am writing a recipe for the cookies as we speak! I’ve wanted to get one up for the past few years. I am so glad the jelly turned out great. I’m so excited!!

  13. How many red jalapeños is in a pound about do not have a scale

  14. 5 stars
    Easy Peasy! Great recipe will certainly use it again. Thanks a ton!

  15. Is 1 pound of peppers with stems and seeds or after de-stemming and de-seeding?

    1. Joanne, it’s with the stems and seeds. Great question!

  16. Can I use red cayenne peppers instead? I have loads but I’m worried it will be off-the-charts hot. Should I reduce the amount of cayennes I use?

    1. Rena, I really think you will be fine using what the recipe calls for. It seems really hot I know, but the sugar adds enough sweetness so it won’t be too hot I don’t think. If this ver h turns out super hot, change it on the next one and give these to friends who love it hot! Let me know how it turns out.

  17. this is the best recipe and very easy to do Love it 🙂

    1. I’m so very glad!! Makes my day. Thanks so much for commenting!

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