We grow a large variety of peppers here on our homestead and while we preserve many in lots of different forms, my favorite way has to be making pickled peppers.
While we often freeze peppers, or dry them, we love using pickled hot peppers for putting on top of venison tacos, turkey meat, and lots of other goodies, so I try to have quite a few jars put up for the winter. It’s really a great way to preserve the harvest so you can have some of that fresh spice in the winter months.
And these are so much better than the pickled peppers at the store. I don’t know if it’s just simply the satisfaction of knowing I grew this food from seed to harvest and then put it away for the winter, or the fact that they’re pickled fresh in batches straight from the garden. But, they’re absolutely delicious.
This is also a fantastic way to get your feet wet with canning. It only requires a water bath canner, some jars, and a handful of ingredients to make your own pickled peppers. No real mess, nothing too complicated, and not a ton of ingredients nor a ton of time required to get things pickled up.
Best peppers to use for pickling
Any pepper can be pickled and I recommend using a variety of peppers for your mix as you can pickle more than one variety together, the steps are exactly the same.
Pickling strips of sweet peppers or banana peppers with just a touch of hot pepper like jalapeno peppers, serrano, or even ghost peppers can be very tasty. Keep in mind that just a little hot pepper can go a very long way and will infuse the heat into the whole batch of pickles.
While we absolutely love pickled jalapenos, keep in mind that small peppers are going to pack on more heat and you’ll want to remove the seeds to reduce the heat. I recommend using large peppers so they aren’t quite as spicy.
If you go a little overboard on the heat, you can use the pickling juice to add a little spice to a dish or take just a small amount of the pickled peppers to add to your favorite chili or salsa instead of using fresh peppers.
How to Make Pickled Peppers
This is a really easy recipe and great for beginners. You really just need the peppers of your choice, some vinegar and canning salt to make them. You can customize your recipe further by mixing sweet and hot peppers together, adding in things like a clove of garlic or a bay leaf, or even adding dill or other traditional pickling spices to your pickling liquid.
You can choose to use whole peppers, halved peppers, sliced peppers, or even a mixture of each. If you leave the seeds in your hot peppers, the pickles will be hotter, remove them to reduce the heat a little.
Another option to really bring out the flavor of hot chili peppers is to roast your hot peppers in the oven at 400°F for about 15 minutes. The sky is the limit and the recipe is totally customizable. The process is the same.
- Sterilized half-pint, pint or quart Jars, lids & rings
- Boiling water canner (optional)
- Mixed sweet and hot peppers (or the same variety)
- White vinegar/apple cider vinegar
- Canning Salt
- Peeled cloves of garlic (optional)
Step 1: Prepare jars, peppers and canner (if using)
Sterilize jars and lids, regardless of pickling method.
Wash peppers very well and dry. Keep whole, halve, or slice peppers. When working with hot peppers it is best to wear gloves! Remove seeds if you’re wanting a more mild pickle.
Prepare water bath canner if using.
Step 2: Prepare brine
Mix vinegar, water, and canning salt together in a saucepan and bring pickling brine to boil over medium heat.
Step 3: Pack jars
Pack peppers tightly in jars, add a peeled garlic clove to each. Pour hot brine over peppers in the jars, leaving half-inch of headspace. Remove air bubbles, and adjust headspace if necessary. Wipe jar rim, center lid, tighten ring.
Canning pickled peppers
If you want pickles that can keep at room temperature until next year, you’ll want to can them. Once you have your jars packed, you’ll simply place the jars in your prepared boiling water bath canner making sure the jars are covered with water. Place the lid on the canner and bring the water to a boil. Once boiling process half-pint jars and pint jars for 10 minutes below 6,000 feet, 15 minutes above. Process quart jars for 15 minutes below 6,000 feet 20 minutes above.
Remove canner lid, wait 5 minutes before removing jars to a towel-lined counter. Allow jars to sit 12-24 hours before checking the seal and then place them in a cool place to store for up to 18 months.
How to make refrigerator pickles
If you don’t want to can pickles to keep them shelf stable at room temperature, you can make quick pickles and store them in the refrigerator. You’ll still need to sterilize your jar(s), leave the pickles sit for a bit before you eat them.
Refrigerator pickles will keep for about 6 months, unopened. Once opened, they’ll need consumed within a month.
This simple recipe for pickled peppers can be customized for heat level as well as canned for shelf stability or refrigerated to make easy pickled peppers.
- 10 Cups Mixed Sweet and Hot Peppers
- 6 Cups White Vinegar
- 2 Cups Water
- 2 teaspoons Canning Salt
- 5 Whole Cloves Garlic (peeled)
- 5 Bay Leaves
- Sterilize jars and lids. Prepare canner if using.
- Keep peppers whole, or using gloves, halve or slice. Remove seeds to reduce the heat of the pickles. You can roast hot peppers in an oven at 400°F for 15 minutes, if desired, to bring out more flavor.
- In a large saucepan, combine vinegar, water, and salt and bring to boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat and boil gently for 5 minutes.
- Meanwhile, pack peppers tightly into hot jars. Place garlic clove and/or bay leaf on top if desired. You can omit if you don't have them or don't want them.
- Pour hot brine over packed jars, leaving 1/2" of headspace, remove air bubbles and adjust headspace if necessary. Wipe rim, center lid, and finger-tighten ring. Allow to cool and refrigerate if making refrigerator pickles. Otherwise, place hot jars in prepared canner.
- Canning Instructions: Ensure jars are covered with water, place lid on canner and bring to a boil. Process half-pints and pints for 10 minutes, quarts for 15 minutes. Remove canner lid and allow to sit for 5 minutes. Remove jars to a towel-lined countertop and allow to sit for 12 to 24 hours before checking seals and storing in a cool dry place.
High-altitude (above 6,000 feet) process half-pints and pints for 15 minutes, quarts for 20 minutes.