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Red Pepper Jelly

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Red Pepper Jelly

When this whole canning bug hit, there was one thing on my mind. Pepper jelly. One of my favorite treats, and something I never even considered trying to make. Jelly just seemed so… complicated. In reality? It’s anything but.

I remember my aunt always showing up at family gatherings with a jar or two of her homemade pepper jelly. We would devour dozens of crackers and bits of bread smothered with cream cheese and the crystal clear jelly. It is one of those delicacies that even though you’ve really only eaten it a handful of times in your life, you always remember just how delicious it was.

Lucky for us she was more than willing to share her (not so secret) recipe.

This jelly is tart, very sweet (it’s practically dessert), with a hint of peppery kick. I’ve seen recipes for green variations, but never being a fan of green peppers, I didn’t even consider them.

Red Bell Peppers for Pepper Jelly

I’ve made two separate batches, the first with about 6 (fairly mild) red jalapenos. To call it mild is an understatement. Wanting a bit more kick, I did a second batch with two red pizza peppers, one very hot jalapeno, and a Thai chili. This one has a kick, but I still wouldn’t call it “hot”. Depending on your tolerance for spice, err on the side of too much heat, as you strain most of it out anyway. I’d be interested in trying a Habanero pepper version – that may be enough to give it some real heat.

Whatever you do, don’t forget to wear gloves when you chop the peppers. I learned the hard way that even mild bell peppers, if you chop enough of them, will burn your bare skin, not to mention more sensitive areas like eyes and lips. Not fun.

The recipe promised I’d get 5 jars. The first batch, I got 3 1/2. The second batch, I got 4 and a spoonful. I’m not sure where that extra jar’s worth of jelly is going (am I simmering it for too long, maybe?) but that’s the reality of canning, I guess. Additionally, the recipe originally called for the addition of food coloring. If you use all red peppers, your “red” pepper jelly is naturally going to be more of a pale orange. Don’t you dare add any green ones or your jelly will end up looking like muck. But if you must have a bright red jelly, by all means add some food coloring at the end.

Don’t forget! We’re giving away a super prize pack of nearly 15 dozen fresh California figs! Giveaway ends on Thursday, so enter now for your chance to win!

Red Pepper Jelly

Makes 4-5 half-pint jars. Adapted from Better than Store-Bought.

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3 medium sweet read peppers, seeded, deribbed, and chopped or ground (to make 1 2/3 cups, with juice)
Enough small, fresh red hot peppers (jalapeno, thai chilies, or pizza peppers work well), seeded, deribbed, and coarsely chopped (to make about 1/2 cup)
2 cups cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt
5 1/2 cups sugar
1 pouch Certa liquid pectin


Combine the peppers with the cider vinegar in a stainless-steel or enameled saucepan and simmer for 15 minutes. Strain the mixture through a jelly bag or a sieve lined with two layers of cheesecloth. Drain without squeezing. Discard the pulp. (Note: this infusion can be made ahead of time. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use).

Measure 1 1/2 cups of the infusion into a 4-quart stainless-steel or enameled saucepan. Add the salt and bring to a simmer. Add the sugar and stir over high head until the mixture comes to a full boil that can’t be stirred down. Add pectin. Return to a boil for 1 minute; remove from heat. Skim off the foam.

Divide the jelly into hot, sterilized, half-pint jars, leaving 1/4-inch headspace. Top with lids and rings. Process in a boiling-water bath for 10 minutes. Remove from water and let cool completely, 12-24 hours. Check seals. Any unsealed jars should be refrigerated and used within a week.

All images and text © Lindsay Landis /

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  1. This recipe is the best! Worked perfectly first time.  Thanks for posting.

  2. Just made this red pepper jelly and its fantastic.
    Next batch I’ll try a little hotter.

  3. Has anyone actually made this recipe and can you double it up

  4. I have had your jelly concoction in my fridge for 3 days and finally had time between tomato canning, shuttling my daughter to volleyball and general household crap to make the jelly. what a beautiful hue. It reminds me of a sunset. I got so ticked with the jalapenos that I had (no heat what so ever) that I stomped out to my garden and picked some hot thai peppers that were still green for some heat and just let them loose in the mix. Perfect! I wish I had written down what peppers I put in but in the end it all depends on the hotness of your peppers. Increasing, I am finding most of them too much like green peppers!! Yuck

  5. Do u happen to know how to make orange (or any fruit) pepper jelly?? Im hoping to make some for my fiance to glaze a ham with for Thanksgiving. Ive never made jelly at all, so pepper jelly is hopefully not a stretch.

  6. Red pepper jelly, cream cheese, and ritz crackers are a traditional wedding snack in the South- particularly for bridesmaid’s luncheons with some sweet tea. I would love to have some on hand, thanks for the recipe!

  7. Yummmm! I want some right now to spread in a oatcake!!!

  8. Love the spicy sweetness of pepper jelly!

  9. Nice! Someone else blogged about pepper jelly today (buying it; not making it) and it gave me major cravings. This just made it 10 times worse!

  10. Yum! At one of my good friend’s weddings not too long ago, she had a goat cheese cheesecake with red pepper jelly on top and I’ve been dreaming about it ever since! Thanks for sharing this!

  11. Love pepper jelly! Here’s another serving suggestion: Place phyllo cups into a muffin tin and add a sizable chunk of Brie cheese to each. Bake until phyllo browns and cheese melts. Then top with pepper jelly! I know you said you don’t care for green peppers, but a mix of green and red jelly spread onto these Brie bites makes a really great holiday appetizer!

  12. I have never tried red pepper jelly. I have seen it at Farmers’ markets and on several blogs lately. Your description has sold me. I will have to give it a try. Thanks.

  13. What an interesting recipe…I have never had red pepper jelly. It almost looks like honey in the photo.

  14. I am so inspired by your lovely recipes and photos! Must start canning something …

  15. yum! I’ve been craving pepper jelly. I never even thought it was possible to make it myself!

  16. Yum. I’m still obsessed with pepper jelly even though I haven’t had it for years. With crackers (Carr’s) & cream cheese is the only way worth eating it… I want some…

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