Sweet and Spicy Jalapeno Jelly

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For years, jalapeno jelly has been a holiday habit at our home.  At first, we were introduced to jars of jalapeno jelly while visiting Virginia City, Nevada.  Although we usually bought a jar or two for ourselves, we quickly found out that jalapeno jelly saved time.  When we didn’t have time to make a potluck dish or appetizer, we simply bought a brick of plain cream cheese and crackers.  Then we would pile a jar of jalapeno jelly over the cream cheese and surround it with crackers.  The unexpected sweetness of the jelly, paired with the cream cheese and salty crackers, made it a hit.  By the end of the party, don’t expect any leftovers.

That mom-and-pop store in Virginia City went out of business, so this year, I made my own jalapeno jelly.  My husband and I wanted a sweet and spicy version.  The jalapeno jelly that we purchased in the past was meant for the masses.  I admit they were bland, and they didn’t allow any heat.  By allowing myself to experiment, I came up with the perfect jalapeno jelly product for our household.  Since jalapeno jelly can be quite a treat, these jars may or may not make it to the holidays.

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Sweet and Spicy Jalapeno Jelly


32 jalapeno peppers

1 red bell pepper, chopped

2 cups cider vinegar, divided

6 cups sugar

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 tablespoon pepper flakes

2 (3-ounce) envelopes liquid pectin

3-4 drops green food coloring


  1. Wear gloves before handling the jalapenos, and skip the temptation to rub your eyes when you handle these peppers.  If you don’t want heat in this jalapeno jelly, make sure  to remove  all ribs and seeds.  Don’t forget to remove the stems.  For more heat, I picked jalapenos with wrinkled skins (a local produce guy affectionately calls these “stretch marks.”)  I experimented and removed the ribs and stems from 20 jalapenos.  I chose 12 more jalapenos, but left the ribs and seeds intact to change the taste of the jelly.  Remember that it is the ribs and seeds that bring heat to these peppers.
  2. In a food processor or blender, add one cup cider vinegar to the 32 jalapenos and puree.
  3. In a saucepan, combine puree, remaining vinegar, sugar and spices.  Bring to a boil, and boil for 10 minutes.  Stir constantly.
  4. Stir in liquid pectin.  Return to a rolling boil as you stir.  Boil hard for 1 minute before removing saucepan from heat.
  5. Skim foam.  If desired, stir in food coloring.
  6. Ladle hot jalapeno jelly into hot jars.  Leave 1/4-inch headspace.  Seal and process 10 minutes in a boiling water canner.
  7. I use different jar sizes.  With this recipe, I made 7 (4-ounce) jars and 3 (12-ounce) jars of jelly.
  8. Serve as an appetizer by pouring jalapeno jelly over a brick of cream cheese.  Serve with Wheat Thins or Triscuits.  I’ve also used jalapeno jelly as a glaze for ham and other meats.  Or added it to salad dressing for a different flavor.



  1. marlenebertrand · September 12, 2013

    I love your very important tip at the beginning. Yes, it is wise not to rub the eyes when working with jalapenos. LOL! Your recipe looks amazingly easy. I haven’t gotten into canning yet. But, I like jalapeno jelly a lot. This might drive me to canning. Nice photos! They entice me to want a bite right now.

    • Arlene Poma · September 13, 2013

      Marlene, since you and your husband are easily Farm-to-Fork folk, I encourage you to try canning! I have the attention span of a gnat, but I find myself enjoying the whole process. Next week, I hope to attend another canning class. This time, it’s about apples and preserving late summer fruit. My husband likes apples, so I’m dragging him with me.

      • marlenebertrand · September 13, 2013

        Canning classes! I didn’t even think about that. I remember my mom and grandmother canning stuff when I was little. But, I didn’t take notes. It seemed so involved that I never thought about attempting it. I’m going to look through our community catalog and see if there is a canning class. Right now, I’m drying or freezing everything – anything to avoid canning. Thanks for the tip!

      • Arlene Poma · September 13, 2013

        I found out about the UCD outreach classes about 5 years ago. I wasn’t sold on canning back then, so I never attended a class. Even back then, the classes cost only $3 to community members. I think those classes suit me because it would be so rude to leave if I got bored during the lecture. Plus, we do get to sample the canning samples during break. I spent years helping my mom and my mother-in-law (from my first marriage!) can fruit and vegetables. I never paid much attention because they were doing all the work. Now, I want to learn. And I find a lot of satisfaction–standing over my canner. I also like listening for the “ping” of the lids as the jars sit on my kitchen counter. With the holidays coming up, there is always a chance that I will need some homemade goodies to give away as gifts. That’s my goal.

  2. ChgoJohn · September 13, 2013

    Gosh, did you bring back the holiday memories with this post. There was always a brick of cream cheese smothered in jalapeño jelly on the table with the appetizers every holiday dinner. I bet it would be so much better with your homemade jelly. Thanks for sharing your recipe.

    • Arlene Poma · September 13, 2013

      John, after all those jars “pinged” and sat on my counter top for at least 12 hours, I opened one. It had more heat than planned, so I poured it over a brick of cream cheese. Then me and Mister Jack dipped the new Honey Mustard Wheat Thins into the jelly/cream cheese until everything was gone. Snort, snort. I don’t even remember what we were watching on TV!

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