Candied Jalapeños, colloquially known as Cowboy Candy, is the ultimate jalapeno relish during the holiday season. Thinly sliced jalapeño rings are marinated in simple syrup and spices to create spicy and sweet pickled jalapenos.
This jalapeno recipe takes only 6 basic ingredients, including a ton of spicy peppers, and 15 minutes to prep.
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What is Cowboy Candy?
Cowboy Candy started in 1922 at WHH Ranch. Yep – over 100 years! Classic and icon are two words that come to mind. While their cowboy candy recipe is unparalleled, we’ve created our own version of homemade candied jalapenos.
Making candied jalapenos involves marinating fresh jalapeno slices in a sweet glaze, resulting in a powerhouse condiment. The jalapeños soften but maintain their heat, which is harmoniously countered by the sugary glaze.
Here are the ingredients required to make Candied Jalapeños. Please see the recipe card below for the full details.
- Jalapeño Peppers (Fresh Jalapenos or other Fresh Peppers)
- White Sugar
- Apple Cider Vinegar (or White vinegar)
- Seasonings – granulated garlic, celery seed, ground turmeric powder and chili powder (optional).
How To Make Cowboy Candied Jalapenos
Here’s a general overview detailing how to make candied jalapeños. For the full details, see the recipe card below.
Slice The Jalapeños – Throw on a pair of gloves and use a pairing knife to slice the pepper into 1/4-inch rounds.
Make The Syrup – Boil the syrup ingredients in a large saucepan. Add the jalapeños and simmer. Transfer peppers to sterile canning jars using a slotted spoon.
Boiling Syrup – Boil the remaining liquid until it turns syrupy. Pour the hot syrup over the pepper slices in the mason jars.
Marinate – Let the jars come to room temperature. Refrigerate for a minimum of 2 weeks for the best flavor and texture.
A versatile spicy condiment, candied jalapenos will add a spicy kick to many of your favorite dishes:
- Candied Jalapeno Dip – Layer over smoked cream cheese; pair with crackers, and bread.
- Smoked Queso – Throw in this popular cheese dip!
- Charcuterie Boards – Adds a spicy-sweet kick to cheese boards. Serve with Pickled Peaches.
- Bean Recipes – Add them to beans, like Smoked Baked Beans or even Smoked Chili.
- Grilled Meat – Use as a marinade or sauce for beef, pork, or even chicken wings.
- Cocktail Garnish – Perfect atop a Michelada, Bloody Caesar or Bloody Maria.
- Salads – Mix into macaroni salads or potato salad.
- Nachos and Quesadillas – Carne Asada Nachos, Carne Asada Quesadilla, Quesadilla With Steak.
- Pizzas, Burgers, Hot Dogs and Sandwiches
- Lil Smokies or Meatballs – Sauce up for an easy holiday appetizer.
How To Slice The Peppers
There are three options for slicing up the jalapeños. All options to create sliced jalapenos are great – it really comes down to how you like to work in the kitchen. I pick “easy to clean” over “quick” any day of the week, but you may be the opposite.
If you’re a long time reader you know I detest whipping out my Mandoline slicer. Using it is great, but cleaning it in a safe way is a a hassle. But it works really well here.
Add the peppers, one at a time, through the feed chute of your food processor.
Whip out some gloves and cut them by hand with a sharp knife. I actually prefer this method. Sure it’s tedious but there’s less “stuff” to clean.
A few tips to note before making this sliced jalapeños recipe:
- Always wear gloves when handling spicy jalapeño slices.
- Seeds in or seeds out? As with many spicy jalapenos recipes, it’s up to you. It won’t affect the recipe other than the texture of the seeds.
- Don’t start the timer until the syrup comes to a full rolling boil. Don’t shortchange the cook time.
- Try and let your jars of cowboy candy develop for 3-4 weeks in the refrigerator before enjoying, if possible. You can absolutely wait just a week, but a good month really brings out the texture and flavor.
- Don’t throw away the leftover syrup. You can use it for another batch or add it to chili, cocktails, etc.
Pepper Options – While fresh jalapeños are traditional, you can use any other hot peppers: red jalapeno, serrano peppers, banana peppers, fresno chilis, and bell peppers are good options. Check the Scoville scale for heat levels before making.
Smoked Jalapeños – Smoke the jalapeños before slicing for even more flavor! Go easy on the level of smoke.
Spices – Other popular spices to consider adding: mustard seeds, cayenne pepper, garlic powder, or black pepper.
Chopped Peppers – Chop the peppers vs. slicing for more of a relish texture.
Here’s how to can this candied jalapenos recipe for maximum longevity:
1. Ensure the lids on the mason jars are securely fastened.
2. Place the filled jars in a water bath canner fitted with a canning rack.
3. Pour in water until the jars are submerged by 2″.
4. Heat the water until it begins to boil. Once boiling, set the timer for 10 minutes (you may have to adjust the duration for altitude).
5. Carefully remove the jars using canning tongs and set on a cooling rack.
6. Allow the jars to sit undisturbed for 24 hours. The jars should seal themselves as they cool.
7. Wipe the jars with a damp paper towel and store up to a year.
Always check the NCHFP for safety tips if your’e unfamiliar with the canning process.
- A jar of cowboy candy lasts up to 3 months when properly refrigerated
- Canned candied jalapeños can keep for up to a year when stored in a cool, dry place.
I’d love to hear how you’re planning on using Candied Jalapeños! Share your ideas and recommendations below. Remember, when you have an abundance of jalapenos, think Cowboy Candy!
This recipe was originally posted in December 2020, but has been updated with new photos and additional text.
- 1 Lb Jalapeño Peppers
- 3 Cups White Sugar
- 1 Cup Apple Cider Vinegar
- 1 tsp Granulated Garlic
- 1 tsp Chili Powder (*Note 1)
- ⅛ tsp Ground Turmeric Powder
- ⅛ tsp Celery Seeds
- Cut the jalapeño peppers into 1/8" round slices.
- In a large sauce pan, add the sugar, vinegar, garlic, chili powder, turmeric and celery seeds and bring to a rolling boil over high heat. Once boiling, reduce the heat to a gentle simmer until the sugar mixture has a thick syrup consistency, approx. 5 minutes.
- Add the pepper slices to the sauce pan and toss to coat. Raise the heat to return to a hard boil. Once a rolling boil is achieved, immediately reduce the heat again and simmer for 4 minutes.
- Using a slotted spoon, transfer the jalapeños to clean canning jars. Leave about 1/4" of space at the top.
- Reduce the syrup, one last time, by bring it to a full rolling boil for 5 minutes.
- Ladle the syrup over the jalapeños until the syrup reaches about 1/4" from the top.
- Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 months. Let the jalapeños marinate for a minimum of one week, before enjoying. (*Note 2)