Sunday, March 25, 2012

Hot Pepper Jelly

I never heard of Hot Pepper Jelly until I moved to the south 20 years ago.  I remember attending a cocktail party and seeing a block of cream cheese with a red speckled sauce sitting alongside a bowl of crackers.  I had no idea what it was, but I am willing to try anything….especially when cream cheese is part of the dish. 

I fell in love at first bite with this delicious, sweet and spicy southern staple.  I tried to recreate that moment with purchased jars of jelly, but never did until I perfected this simple recipe. 

If you feel the need to make dozens of jars and store them in your pantry, you can boil the jars and begin the canning process, but this jelly is so quick and simple to make, unless I'm making a huge amount to distribute as gifts from my kitchen, I make it in small batches and keep it in the refrigerator.

I must admit, when I got into the kitchen today I had no idea what I was going to make.  Most people will choose a recipe and go to the market for ingredients.  I keep a pretty well stocked pantry, so when I feel like relaxing on a Saturday afternoon…which to me means puttering around in my kitchen….I inventory my pantry and refrigerator for inspiration.

Today I found my inspiration from a bag with just a small handful of mini red and yellow peppers that hadn’t made it into one of this week's salads.

·         ¾ cups chopped red (and/or yellow) bell peppers
·         ¼ cup chopped fresh hot jalapeno or red pepper
·         1 ½ cups apple cider vinegar
·         6 cups sugar
·         4 ounces pectin (Certo recommended)
·         4 drops of red food coloring (optional)

I've developed fairly good knife skills and like to see the tiny square pieces in my finished jelly, so I chop the peppers, but feel free to use a food processor. 

The last time I made this jelly, my friend Michael complained that it wasn't hot enough.  Since I'm taking one of these jars to Michael's house for our friendly, monthly poker game this week, I wanted to make sure I included each and every jalapeno pepper seed.  If you are not a fan of heat, leave out a few seeds.

In a saucepan, combine the pepper mixture, vinegar and sugar.

Bring to a rolling boil (a boil that doesn’t stop bubbling when stirred) on high heat, stirring constantly.  Remove from heat and add pectin. 

At this point, the pepper jelly is complete and delicious, but I like the vibrant color I get from adding just 4 drops of red food coloring (optional).

Although my favorite way to eat Hot Pepper Jelly is still with cream cheese on a cracker, you can find many recipes where it's included as an ingredient.  Today I'm using it as a dipping sauce for poppers.

For a printer friendly copy of this recipe, go to Hot Pepper Jelly.  Enjoy!


  1. ...Hot pepper jelly, also one of my favorites... great recipe.....

  2. Love with cracker and cream cheese and loved how you served them with Cheese Pepper Poppers.

  3. another use: it's great to use as a basting sauce when grilling pork chops and chicken as an alternative to bbq sauce. and you can spread it lightly on a meat meat sandwich for an extra layer of flavor..........

  4. what would the canning directions be for this recipe? thanks

  5. I boiled the pepper mixture for 10 minutes before adding certo, then one minute after adding. First batch came out great, just finished the second. No problem with not "jelling". Great basic recipe.

  6. I made this a couple of days ago and it turned out perfect! My granddaughter likes heat so I left about 1/3 of the seeds. Apparently I am now her official pepper jelly maker !! LOL. Thanks for sharing. It was easy, fast and fabulous!

  7. Can an alternative be used in place of sugar? Has anyone tried coconut sugar?

  8. Can an alternative be used in place of sugar? Has anyone tried coconut sugar?

    1. I have never tried to make jelly or preserves without sugar, but please let me know if it worked for you.

  9. Looks delicious and easy. I am making these as part of gift baskets. How many 4oz jars will i get out of 1 recipe??

  10. Replies
    1. This recipe was actually given to me by my next door neighbor when I moved to Tennessee. It was the recipe she contributed to her church cookbook. I cannot ask her where she got it, as she passed away about 10 years ago at the age of 90. Honestly, I wouldn't be surprised if she was the one who shared her recipe with Paula Deen. Hope you enjoyed making and eating it. It still is one of my favorites.

    2. What a gracious reply to such a remark!

  11. This jelly is also very good with (Conecuh) sausage and biscuits. (Conecuh sausauge comes from Conecuh County in Alabama. The south might be the only place one can get it.)

    My sister also likes it with pimento cheese.

  12. How long until it gets jelly like? Mine is still a little runny after about an hour.?..

  13. How long until it gets jelly like? Mine is still a little runny after about an hour.?..

  14. What is the yield of this recipe, please?

  15. great recipe , I added fresh cranberries and cooked until they burst, cranberries contain a natural pectin this will make your jelly a little stiffer. Dried crushed red pepper is something else I have used to make it hotter. I brush pepper jelly on many types of fish while grilling it, salmon is delightful cooked this way, but a good old hot dog slathered with pepper jelly is my all time favorite.

  16. I made this & used a cup of jalapeños, & one cup each of red & green bell peppers. My recipe called for only 1 cup of apple cider vinegar. It tasted hot, but not too hot, when we laddled into jars. After it cooled & I ate it with cream cheese & wheat thins it didn't have any heat. What could I do different to make it hotter? Some recipes call for 1 1/2 cups of apple cider vinegar. What would be the difference in the amount of vinegar? What can I do to make it taste a little hotter. I was disappointed that it wasn't hot. It had great flavor but no heat.

  17. I really appreciate your professional approach.These are pieces of very useful information that will be of great use for me in future.


  18. If I wanted to can it for shelf life how long would I do a water bath and what would the gap be between the jelly and cap of the lid.. 1/4"?

    Thx quiltingmama

  19. My daughter-in-law likes her pepper jelly REALLY hot, so I make it using only jalapenos. Yummy...also, smoke coming out of the ears and addictive!