Add some zip and zing to your next meal with these homemade Pickled Jalapeños! You’ll feel like Martha Stewart making your own batch of pickled peppers, but this recipe is actually a cinch because there’s no canning involved.
Why You’ll Love This Pickled Jalapeño Recipe
- Pickled Goodness Without the Hassle. Pickled jalapenos (along with my Refrigerator Pickles and Quick Pickled Red Onions) are quick pickling recipes, which means you don’t have to go through the very intense process of canning them. Just simmer the brine on the stove, them pop ‘em into the refrigerator where they pickle to perfection.
- The Little Somethin’-Somethin’ Your Favorite Foods Need. Avocado Burgers. Steak Tacos. Black Bean Corn Salad. So many of my go-to dinners are even better with some pickled jalapeños on top. They don’t just add heat, they also add tanginess and just a little bit of sweetness.
- Tamer Than Fresh. You know how as you age, you become a more chill version of your previous self? That’s true of jalapeños too. The fiery flavor mellows as the peppers sit in the fridge, making pickled jalapeños palatable to even those with an aversion to fresh jalapeños.
- The Perfect Way to Use a Peck of Peppers. Whether you’ve accumulated a hoard of jalapeños from your CSA box or the lone pepper plant in your garden has provided you with an unexpected bounty, jalapeños are a little trickier to use up than tomatoes or zucchini. (You can’t snack on fresh jalapeños from the garden, nor can you make them into bread—well, unless it’s Jalapeño Cornbread.) Easy homemade pickled jalapeños are clearly the solution here, and the quick pickle process makes it simple.
How to Make Pickled Jalapeños
- Jalapeno Peppers. The heat level of jalapeños depends on their growing conditions. After a drought, they’ll be spicier; when there’s plenty of rain, they’re milder. Although all jalapeños will mellow when pickled, it’s important to keep this in mind if you’re sensitive to heat. I also find that homegrown jalapenos (and thus ones at farmers markets) are spicier than those in the grocery store.
- Garlic. Not just for flavor and looks—you can eat these once pickled too!
- White Vinegar. Your everyday kind of vinegar. While white wine vinegar and apple cider vinegar work too, white vinegar is more cost-effective and gives you that classic pickle flavor.
- Rice Vinegar. Or use additional white vinegar.
- Water. I recommend using filtered water (like from your refrigerator) rather than tap water, as tap water can sometimes impart off-flavors when you cook with it.
- Granulated Sugar. To complete our sweet-tangy-spicy trifecta.
- Bay Leaves. Yes, bay leaves really do add flavor.
- Coriander Seeds. And so do coriander seeds! Mustard seeds, cumin seeds, or black peppercorns can be used instead of or in addition to coriander.
- Kosher Salt. I use kosher salt for this recipe because you’re more likely to have it on hand than pickling salt.
- Prepare. Add the jalapeño slices to a jar (or two jars) with the garlic.
- Make the Brine. Bring the brine ingredients to a boil over medium heat then simmer, stirring occasionally.
- Add the Liquid. Pour the brine into the jar; if needed, add water to submerge the jalapeños.
- Chill. Once the brine is room temperature, close the jar and refrigerate the pickled jalapeños for at least an hour, then ENJOY!
A pound of jalapeños is a lot! If you don’t have enough, you can round things out by adding another vegetable.
- Corn. Pickled corn and jalapeños are a delightful addition to tacos and burgers! Use a chef’s knife to remove the kernels from the cob.
- Onions. Add a diced or sliced sweet or red onion. You can also do a trio of onions, corn, and jalapeños with some sprigs of fresh cilantro or oregano—a summery condiment you’ll want to put on all the things.
- Green Beans. Pickled green beans are a treat, and when you pickle them with jalapeños, they take on some of the peppers’ heat, making them even more flavorful.
- Carrots. Zig-zag cut large carrots with a mandoline slicer and pickle them with your jalapeños for a crunchy, peppery snack.
- To Store. Store pickled jalapeños in the jar for up to 2 weeks; be sure to use a clean fork or other utensil to remove them from the jar.
- To Freeze. Pickled jalapeños should not be frozen.
What to Serve with Pickled Jalapeños
- Salads. You can add these to any salad, but I especially like using them for some unexpected (but welcome!) heat in a creamy salad like Healthy Potato Salad or a pasta salad like my Mexican Pasta Salad.
- Tex-Mex Faves. Any recipe that could be garnished with fresh jalapeños is excellent with pickled jalapeños. Try them with Chicken Quesadilla or Zucchini Enchiladas.
- Burgers. Air Fryer Hamburgers and Vegan Burgers get a pub-style upgrade with the addition of pickled peppers.
- Sandwiches. And don’t forget sandwiches! Try them on a Steak Sandwich or make your Spicy Chicken Sandwich even spicier.
- Pizza. Give your pizza (or English Muffin Pizza) some oomph by scattering pickled jalapeños over the top.
Recommended Tools to Make this Recipe
- Jars. I use these jars, but IKEA also has some fantastic (and inexpensive!) jar options. You can reuse jars from pickles and pasta sauce too; just be sure to clean the jars and lids well.
- Cutting Board. This one has a non-porous surface, which means the next food you cut on it won’t end up tasting like spicy jalapeños.
- Paring Knife. No need for a fancy jalapeño corer—my favorite tool for working with jalapeños is a simple pairing knife.
Recipe Tips and Tricks
- Don’t Use Table Salt. Because it’s iodized, it will give your pickled jalapeños a slightly metallic flavor. Use kosher or pickling salt, or if you only have table salt on hand, reduce the amount by half.
- Do Use Gloves. Eight times out of 10, you can get away with cutting jalapeños without using gloves. Because you can never predict when the other two times are going to be, you should always wear gloves when slicing jalapeños. Even though they’re pretty mild compared to Scotch bonnets and other chili peppers, they can really burn your skin—and your eyes if you make the mistake of touching them!
- Put a Date on It. Refrigerator pickles like these pickled jalapeños have a shorter storage life than canned pickles. To keep yourself from having to remember when you made them, put a date on the jar as a reminder.
- Stuff the jalapeños and garlic into 1 (1-liter) jar or divide between 2 (16-ounce) jars.
- To a small saucepan, add the white vinegar, rice vinegar, water, sugar, bay leaves, coriander seeds, and salt. Simmer over medium heat until the sugar and salt dissolve, stirring periodically (about 5 minutes). Pour into the jar(s) with the jalapenos (I like to place the jars in the sink to catch drips). If the jalapenos aren’t completely submerged in liquid, add water to cover.
- Let the liquid cool to room temperature. Seal the jars and place in the refrigerator to chill for at least 1 hour or up to 2 weeks. The longer they sit, the more mellow they will become. Use on everything!
- TO STORE: Store pickled jalapeños in the jar for up to 2 weeks; be sure to use a clean fork or other utensil to remove them from the jar.
- TO FREEZE: Pickled jalapeños should not be frozen.
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Frequently Asked Questions
No, pickled jalapeños are milder than fresh jalapeños. That doesn’t mean they don’t have a kick, though! They’re still spicy, especially if you start with spicier jalapeños.
Yes, jalapeños can be pickled without canning and using a canner. This pickled jalapeños recipe does away with the canning process and stores them in the refrigerator instead.
You can remove the seeds and ribs from the jalapeños before pickling them to make your pickled jalapeños less spicy.
The sniff test is your best bet! If you open the jar and the pickling liquid smells like it’s beginning to ferment, throw them out.