Candied Jalapeno Relish with Tequila

Candied Jalapeno Relish is the condiment you didn’t know you needed!

When I stumbled across posts for Cowboy Candy I was intrigued with a name like that! This Candied Jalapeno Relish is a take on that.

Basically these are candied jalapenos that can hold in your refrigerator for a few months. You can also can them to make them shelf stable up to a year but they lose some of their bite during the water bath process.

If you want to gift some then canning is probably a good idea so you can be sure the recipient doesn’t mishandle them.

I made two batches – one with sliced jalapenos with the seeds intact. That makes them hotter. People think it is the seeds that determine the final amount of heat and they do have a lot of influence on it but the capsaicin, the chemical that makes peppers hot, is concentrated in the white membranes close to the seeds as well. So include or exclude according to you taste.

Another thing to look for is – the younger and smoother the jalapeno the milder it is. As the pepper matures, and especially if you see those white streaks or flecks on the flesh, the hotter it gets. So a red ie mature jalapeno is actually hotter (and sweeter) than the green ones.

The other batch I chopped the peppers up more finely, like the consistency of green relish. That makes them great to slather on hamburgers or dogs, or sandwiches -where ever you would like some spicy relish!

A little saucer of relish-consistency candied jalapenos.

There are lots of ways to use these up so don’t fear that you won’t be able to use the jar(s) in your fridge within a few months if you are fan of Mexican or Tex-Mex food. Think

  • Nachos
  • Tacos
  • Quesadillas
  • Mexican Street Corn
  • Enchiladas
  • Burritos
  • Hamburgers
  • Hotdogs/sausages
  • Mix with pepper jelly and drizzle over cream cheese
Jar of candied jalapenos with a little saucer of relish-consistency candied jalapenos.

Candied Jalapeno Relish

The condiment you didn't know you needed!
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Course: Condiments
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 20 mins
Cook Time: 20 mins
Resting Time: 1 d
Total Time: 1 d 40 mins
Servings: 4 cups


  • 16 oz fresh jalapeno peppers
  • 1/2 cup onion thinly sliced and quartered
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup tequila optional but recommended


  • Preheat your oven to 275° F. Set clean jars and lids enough to hold about 4 cups of finished jalapeno relish on a baking sheet. Bake for at least 20 minutes. See Note 1 below. If you plan to can the finished product start heating the water in a large pot at this point or according to your canner's manufacturer's instructions.
  • Wear protective gloves and remove stems from jalapeno peppers. See Note 3 below. Remove seeds and/or membrane if you want a milder sauce, otherwise leave the insides intact. Slice the jalapenos into thin rings or pulse in a food processor if you want a relish consistency.
  • Bring the sugar and vinegar to a rolling boil in a sauce pan. Stir to dissolve the sugar. Reduce the heat and simmer until reduced to half. This may take about 10 minutes. Alternatively test with a candy thermometer for 225 ° F or until the mixture is syrupy enough to coat the back of a spoon.
  • Remove the pan from the heat and add the tequila, jalapenos and onions. Return to heat and simmer another 5 minutes. Stir occasionally.
  • Remove baking sheet with the jars and set it on a heat proof surface. Remove any rubber lids from the boiling water at this point. Use a slotted spoon and/or wide mouth funnel to transfer peppers to the hot jars.
  • Carefully fill the jars with jalapeno mixture leaving about a 1/2" headspace between the liquid and the jar rim. If you are using slices put as many slices as your an in the jar and top the jars up with the liquid.
  • Carefully clean the rim top and outside of the jar with a clean cloth. Put the lid on the jar and turn just finger tight.
  • You may have liquid left over. If so you can refrigerate it and add to drinks or soups or chile- wherever you want a bit of jalapeno bite.
  • If you plan to store the Candied Jalapeno Relish in the fridge, allow jars to sit out for about 8 hours to cool. Make sure they are not in a draughty location. You should hear the jars pop as the lids seal. If you plan to keep refrigerated: if they don't seal it won't be an issue. Transfer to the fridge and don't use it for at least 24 hours from the time of closing the jars.
  • If you plan to water bath: Ensure the water in your canner or pot is hot by the time you fill the jars. The jars should not sit directly on the bottom of the pot. Use a rack or silicone mat to keep the jars off the bottom. Water should cover the top of the jars by at least 2". Simmer 10 minutes. Remove the hot jars with canning tongs and set out on the heatproof baking tray, away from any drafts. Allow jars to cool about 24 hours. Remove the bands and check that the lid has sealed. Carefully re-screw the bands on just finger tight. Store at room temperature out of the light up to one year.


Note 1:  Canning jars are good for long term storage and a necessity if you plan to process the Candied Jalapenos in a water bath.  If lids have rubber seals do not put them in the oven – add them to boiling water for 5 minutes just before filling the jars.  I re-use sturdy pickle or pasta jars if I don’t plan to water bath.  If the lids are all metal you can bake them with the jars to sterilize them. They will store the finished Candied Jalapeno Relish in the fridge air tight.
Note 2:  If you process the jalapenos finely to a relish consistency you will get less finished volume.
Note 3:  Please don’t skip the glove step.  Residual capsaicin on your fingers can be extremely painful if you touch your eyes or any delicate part of your body.  If you do get a burning sensation in your eyes- try putting a half tsp or so of sugar in your mouth.  I know it sounds odd but that is what they do in Mexico.  If your mouth is burning, take a piece of bread to absorb it. Don’t drink water- it will just wash the burning residual oil further down your throat.
Candied Jalapeno Relish with Tequila

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