Candied Jalapenos (Cowboy Candy)
I’ll admit it. Jalapeno peppers intimidate me. It’s not so much the heat of eating them, as the pain of working with them. Jalapenos make me wheeze and cough. My eyes water. My fingers burn. Whatever my fingers touch burns.
I had a huge bowl of jalapenos sit on my kitchen counter for four weeks because I was afraid of them. They just sat there taunting me. I can’t stay away; they are just so delicious. It’s like avoiding my workout DVD’s because I know they are going to hurt me, but I keep going back for more. No pain, no gain!
Jalapeno peppers can range from mild-hot and get their heat from something unique to peppers called “capsaicin.” It is concentrated in the membrane around the seeds. Scraping the seeds and membrane out of the peppers will give you a much more mild result.
Here are some tips for working with jalapeno (or any hot) peppers:
- Wear disposable (plastic, latex) gloves. I always used to feel really silly doing this. Now I just feel really smart.
- Use a food processor (Amazon) to slice or chop the peppers. Less contact is a good thing.
- Work outside. An outdoor grill works great for roasting peppers. Just cut the stems off (remove seeds, if desired) and pile them on a hot grill, turning as they blacken and blister. You can leave them whole or chop them up and store them in sandwich bags in the freezer. They are perfect to add to any Mexican dish, similar (but way better) to the cans of diced green chiles you can buy at the store. You can also take your food processor or cutting board outside, if you are working with large quantities of peppers. Fresh air helps!
- Use a Jalapeno Corer (Amazon) to remove seeds. This allows you to work faster and keep the peppers whole. Cutting them in half and scraping with a spoon also works.
- Drink milk. If you eat a hot pepper and your mouth is a raging inferno, drink milk not water to calm things down.
Add your tips in the comments section!
Back in May I planted four jalapeno plants, thinking they would give me enough to make salsa and a few random extras. I picked about six pounds every two weeks. It seemed like every time I turned around more were ripe and ready. I’d estimate they produced around 60 pounds total. I froze two gallon sized bags of whole jalapenos, canned homemade salsa, made a big batch of Jalapeno Poppers, and gave a bunch away. These plants just wouldn’t stop.
On Sunday, I picked another six pounds. Ack! I knew if I froze them, we wouldn’t use them so it was time for a new plan.
My sister & mom had made Cowboy Candy in the past and sent me the recipe. You slice the jalapenos, add a bunch of vinegar, sugar, and spices and let the magic happen. The jalapenos give the syrup a nice kick. The syrup gives the jalapenos a sweet, tangy flavor and chewy texture.
Serve it as an appetizer with cheese and crackers or with hamburgers or sandwiches. Sprinkle some on top of pasta or pizza or nachos. In other words, eat these on everything. This recipe will give you quite a bit of extra syrup. Don’t throw it out! I separated it into four storage bags and froze it to use as a meat marinade down the road.
And this was seriously the easiest and best way to work with jalapenos. The whole process took me about an hour. I worked through a lot of issues on this recipe. I used a knife to cut the stems off but let my food processor handle all the slicing. It was so fast and easy. (The Tasty Kitchen method of cutting the peppers by hand makes for a more uniform look, but I’m a big believer in avoiding pain whenever possible.) If you don’t want as much heat, feel free to remove the seeds from all or some of the peppers.
I doubled the original recipe to accommodate the number of half pint jars I could fit in my canner (total of eleven — I canned ten and kept one in the fridge.) These jars of peppers could also be kept in the refrigerator if you don’t want to can them.
Whether your pepper plants are still producing or you want to pick some up (Still in season! Check your local farmers market or produce section.), make some Cowboy Candy. This will be a delicious addition to your pantry through the winter or a great gift around the holidays.
Candied Jalapenos (Cowboy Candy)
doubled from a Tasty Kitchen recipe
Yield: 10-11 half pints
6 lbs. jalapeno peppers
4 c. apple cider vinegar
12 c. sugar
1 t. turmeric
1 t. celery seed
6 t. granulated garlic
2 t. ground cayenne pepper
- Wearing gloves, cut off the jalapeno stems from all of the jalapeno peppers. Discard the stems.
- Using a knife or food processor, slice the peppers into uniform 1/8-1/4″ rounds. Set aside.
- In a large pot, bring the apple cider vinegar, sugar, turmeric, celery seed, granulated garlic and cayenne pepper to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes.
- Add the pepper slices and simmer for 4 minutes.
- Using a slotted spoon, transfer the peppers into sterile canning jars, 1/4″ from the top. Turn heat up under the pot with the syrup and bring to a full rolling boil. Boil for 6 minutes.
- Using a ladle, carefully pour the hot syrup into the jars over the jalapeno slices. Push a chopstick or plastic utensil (Amazon) along the insides of the jar to release any trapped air bubbles. Adjust the level of the syrup/peppers, if necessary, leaving 1/4″ headspace.
- Wipe the rims of the jars with a clean, damp towel and screw on two-piece lids finger tight.
- To can, place the hot jars in a water bath canner and cover with water by 2″. Bring the water to a full rolling boil and process for 10 minutes for half-pints or 15 minutes for pints.
- Transfer the jars to a cooling rack. Let them cool & seal. Give the peppers 2 weeks-a month to mellow before opening.
If you are new to canning, start with our introduction posts:
Would Onion Goggles (Amazon) elevate me to a whole new level of crazy in the kitchen? I actually know people who use these and rave about them. The Amazon reviews are positive. People love Onion Goggles! Have you ever seen/used these?
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Yum yummy and more yum! What a delicious way to use up the over abundance of jalapeños and make something most everyone will love and want more. On my second batch of these. I’m using my leftover sauce for the next batch. Putting some in pints as well for gifts. Recently had some on a fresh tomato sandwich was to die for! Thank you:)
Michelle Bohn says
I’m a little confused. Are those measurements tsp.? Or Tbsp? For the spices?
Could we use fresh garlic instead of powdered?
Nancy Hessler says
What are the ‘yellow bits’ in your cowboy candy photos? I don’t see any ingredients that they’d be. Also… heads up… depending upon your jalapeno’s, this can turn out HOT as Hell! Mine did.
Roughly how many cups of sliced jalapeños is 6 pounds?
I do have some liquid leftover tat I will save for a meat marinade! Question what kind of meat works best? How do you prepare it…Grill, Slow Cooker?
Can you use the leftover syrup for the next batch?
Made these about a month and a half ago. Opened the first jar and they were gone in no time. Perfect for us in the South with the heat level and crisp as well. My husband absolutely loves them. I have habanero’s as well from the garden and I think I am going to try this receipt with candying some of them. I have so many Jalapeno’s and habanero’s from the garden have to get creative with them. Thanks for the recipe. It was amazing!
didn’t see the post on left over syrup. Glad I read down further this time.
It must be me are we putting teaspoon or Tablespoon
Bettyann Bonin says
I’m confused as to wether it’s 12 cups of sugar or if it’s 1/2 cup.
It is actually 12 cups! You can also half the recipe if you’d like. The link we gave for the Tasty Kitchen is halved, with only 6 cups of sugar and 3 pounds of peppers.
can I use a sugar substitute? Like stevia or monk fruit granules?
Can you use other hot peppers like the cowhorn peppers
We haven’t tried it with other peppers, but I don’t see why not! Would just change the flavor a bit and the heat level.
I make pimento cheese with 1/2 sharp American, 1/2 pepper jack, roasted red peppers from a jar, mayo, and chopped cowboy candy. It is delicious
Brianna Woods says
Hey!! I just made some of these!! What can I do with the leftover syrup I have?
Another commenter mentioned using the syrup to make a jelly. Also would be great as a marinade for meat! Maybe throw a bit in the crockpot when making a roast?
Can you use frozen ones? I have a big ziplock bag of them frozen?
I made jalapeño infused jelly with leftover syrup, just added two pouches of liquid pectin. Just something else to do with the leftover syrup.
Jan Smith says
I’m a little late to your pepper party, but we make these all the time. Can’t keep ‘em in the house. As a matter of fact, I am ordering two cases (about 20 pounds) of jalapeños next week to make a couple big batches.
In order to make more batches and for a little variety, we chop our jalapeños and add some chopped red, yellow, orange mini sweet peppers and Vidalia onions to the mix. It makes it colorful.
We use Cowboy Candy with cream cheese on crackers, added to all Mexican meals like quesadillas, nachos, etc. I have a recipe for Mexican shredded beef that I like to add this too. We also add them to scrambled eggs and omelettes.
Hi, I made this recipe this weekend. Can’t wait til they are ready to eat. I have one question… when you add the peppers to the syrup do you bring it back to a boil and then simmer for 4 minutes? I was unsure what to do.
I love this recipe! Its the perfect combo of sweet and spicy!
I have fallen in love with pouring a little of the syrup from the Jars over a scoop of vanilla ice cream!! Seriously yummy!!
Thanks for Sharing this recipe. It’s a keeper.
I don’t have canner. How long are they good for if I just keep them in mason jars? Any insights?
How do u use this? I need ideas!
Mike K. says
Eat them on Ritz Crackers!!!
Aprile Sandefur says
We put it on Ritz crackers with a spread of cream cheese. Also great on grilled Brat sandwiches with grilled peppers and onions.
Would it be as good and OK to leave out cayenne pepper? Also, for 1/2 batch just divide EVERYTHING in half?
Your first instruction was to “wear disposable gloves”. I hear ya, loud and clear!!! We found candied jalapeno peppers at a local Amish store and went nuts over them. Pricey, to say the least. Hubby, who thinks I make kitchen magic, asked if I’d try to make some. I found your recipe and girrrrllll, you are exhalted to the nth degree!!! This is some kind of awesomeness in a jar. Plan to make more and share with our grown kids. Many thanks for the commonsense approach to a really good recipe!!!
Not Fit Mom says
Thanks for sharing this recipe. This was my first canning project for the summer. 6 lbs made 10 half pint jars and it is really tasty on soft goat cheese.
A trick that works well for me is to light a match. Works for one or two onions… Maybe not be the best idea for large batches.
Sounds good 🙂 but is it really 12 cups of sugar?
Jennifer Green says
Yes Lauren I found another recipe for them and it called for half the amount of peppers and half the amount of sugar.
Emily from Frugal Living NW says
Yep, that’s the original recipe. I doubled the amounts to fill my canner with as many half-pint jars as possible (10).
Emily from Frugal Living NW says
It is. However, unlike jam where the sugar gets mixed in, this syrup kind of coats/soaks into the peppers. The actual amount of syrup that gets poured in the jars with the peppers is less than a cup. So that’s some consolation…
I’ve never seen onion goggles before, but when I used to wear contact lenses I had a much easier time of chopping onions – no pain, no crying! So maybe any kind of goggles that cover your eyes completely would work? (Not just regular glasses – they let in the oils/ air around the frames and lenses.)
Emily from Frugal Living NW says
I’ve considered wearing my kids’ swim goggles… 🙂
I’ve used regular swim goggles before. They work great! And if you already have some, cheaper than goggles from Amazon 🙂
Can you freeze these in the jars instead of canning them? I freeze my homemade salsa in jars and it’s very good when unthawed.