This easy cowboy candy recipe is the perfect way to preserve a bunch of jalapenos in a sweet and spicy sauce.

I have been making these sweet and spicy jalapenos for years, our family can’t get enough. They are the perfect condiments year-round on burgers, diced into Mexican foods, added to dips, and mixed into my favorite bowl of home-canned chili.

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cowboy candy in a jar with fresh jalapenos around it

What is Cowboy Candy?

Cowboy candy is a popular term for candied jalapeno peppers. They are typically made by slicing jalapeno peppers and cooking them in a sweet syrup made from ingredients like sugar, vinegar, and various spices. This process results in a spicy and sweet flavor combination that many people enjoy.

The canned jalapeños recipe is often used as a condiment or topping for various dishes, such as burgers, hot dogs, and sandwiches, and even as an accompaniment to cheese and crackers.

They can add a delightful, sweet, and spicy kick to your meals. If you like a combination of sweet and heat, cowboy candy jalapenos can be a tasty addition to your canning season.

Why You Will Love Candied Jalapenos

  • Candied jalapenos are the perfect combination of sweet and spicy!
  • A simple and delicious way to preserve jalapenos!
  • An easy-to-follow cowboy candy recipe uses a water bath canner, which is ideal for beginners!
  • Once you make cowboy candy, I promise this recipe will be a favorite during canning season year after year.
  • Great topping on chili, tacos, hot dogs, and burgers.

Canning Basics 

  • The simplicity of canning candied jalapenos makes this cowboy candy recipe a great place to learn canning for beginners
  • If you are new to canning, a great way to get started is with a review of some of the simple canning terms used in the process and what canning supplies you will need. 
  • These posts are the perfect way to start learning how to economically can your own healthy vegetables, jams, soups, and meats.
  • Check out Water Bath Canning Instructions For Beginners post to easily learn the basics of home preserving and be ready to confidently can up a big batch of your own canned candied jalapenos.

If you are like me, during canning season I am always on the hunt for new canning recipes. Be sure to visit and print these simple canning recipes to add to your list. They are some of my family’s favorites.

What Ingredients You Will Need

All you need are a few simple ingredients to whip up a batch of spicy, sweet jalapeno peppers!

cowboy candy sugar, apple cider, turmeric, celery seeds, garlic powder sugar
  • Jalapeño peppers: Generally, smaller and brighter peppers are hotter, so choose accordingly. This candied jalapeno recipe is best with fresh jalapenos so be sure to choose peppers that are smooth. If it’s dimpled, then it is starting to lose moisture and is not very fresh.
  • Apple cider vinegar: A mild, slightly sweet vinegar that is perfect for canning.
  • White granulated sugar: Gives the sweetness to counteract the spiciness of the jalapenos.
  • Turmeric: This bright yellow herb adds a unique flavor to these sweet and spicy jalapenos.
  • Celery seed: A common ingredient used in pickling you can easily find at the grocery store with spices.
  • Granulated garlic powder: An easy pantry staple perfect for making sweet pickled jalapenos.
  • Cayenne pepper: Just a touch especially if you have slightly milder jalapenos.

How To Cut and Core Jalapenos

I always use disposable gloves when cutting jalapenos. Just be sure to not rub your face when you have the gloves on.

  1. Start by cutting the stem off your jalapeno.
  2. Cut the jalapeno pepper in half.
  3. Using a spoon, scoop the seeds out from the inside of the pepper, scraping as much of the white rib out with the seeds.
  4. Cut the two halves of the pepper into halves again.
  5. Cut the slices into diced pieces

Canned Cowboy Candy Recipe: Step-By-Step

Follow along with the step-by-step cowboy candy recipe for canning to ensure you have excellent results when making your own sweet pickled jalapenos.

  1. Before you start preparing your peppers, place a canner rack in the bottom of a boiling water canner. Fill the canner half full with clean, warm water for a canner load of pint jars. For other sizes and numbers of jars, you will need to adjust the amount of water so it will be 1 to 2 inches over the top of the filled jars.
water bath canner with rack in it
  1. Center the canner over the burner and preheat the water to 140 degrees F. for raw-packed foods and to 180 degrees F. for hot-packed foods. You can begin preparing food for your jars while this water is preheating.
water bath canner on stove

3. Remove the stems from all of the jalapeno peppers. The easiest way to do this is to slice a small disc off of the stem-end along with the stem. Discard the stems

Pro Tip: Use caution when handling jalapenos. Nothing hurts more than rubbing your eye with jalapeno juice on your fingers. Wear rubber gloves and avoid touching your face.

  1. Slice the peppers into uniform 1/8-1/4 inch rounds. Set aside.
  2. In a large pot, bring cider vinegar, white sugar, turmeric, celery seed, granulated garlic, and cayenne pepper to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. 
cowboy candy juice.
  1. Raise the heat to boil again, add the pepper slices, return to a hard boil, then reduce the heat again and simmer for exactly 4 minutes.
cowboy candy in a pan cooking
  1. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the jalapenos, loading them into clean, sterile canning jars to within 1/4 inch of the upper rim of the jar.
filling jars with cowboy candy with funner.
  1. Ladle or pour the syrup into the jars over the candied jalapeno slices to 1/4 inch headspace, Insert a butter knife to the bottom of the jar two or three times to release any trapped pockets of air. Adjust the level of the syrup if necessary.
pickled jalapenos in canning jar with liquid going in
  1. Wipe the rims of the jars with a clean, damp paper towel and fix on new, two-piece lids to finger-tip tightness. Place jars in canner rack.
cowboy candy going in water bath canner rack
  1. Place rack in a canner, cover with water by 2-inches. Bring the water to a full rolling boil. When it reaches a full rolling boil, set the timer for 10 minutes for half-pints or 15 minutes for pints.
water bath canner with water and jars in it
  1. Using a jar lifter, remove the jars one at a time, being careful not to tilt the jars. Carefully place them directly onto a kitchen towel or cake cooling rack, leaving at least one inch of space between the jars during cooling. Avoid placing the jars on a cold surface or in a cold draft.
cowboy candy jalapenos in jars on a cooling towel

Cowboy Candy Variations Ideas

Want to change up the flavor of your canned jalapeños recipe? Here are some amazing variations you can try out!

  • Smokey Cowboy Candy: Add 1 tbsp smoked paprika and 1/2 teaspoon cumin to the basic recipe.
  • Brown Sugar Candied Jalapenos: Substitute the white sugar in the basic recipe for brown sugar.
  • Christmas Cowboy Candy: Use 1/2 very ripe red jalapenos and 1/2 green. Follow the basic recipe.
  • Tropical Cowboy Candy: Substitute 1/3 of the jalapenos for small fresh pineapple pieces.

How To Eat Cowboy Candy 🌶

Not sure how to use up all your jars! Here are just a few of my favorites!

  • Burgers: Top your favorite burger with a few slices of cowboy candy jalapenos to add a sweet and spicy kick.
  • Pimento Cheese: Add chopped candied jalapenos to the Masters Pimento Cheese Recipe, or try my Spicy Pimento Cheese Dip.
  • Tacos: Include candied jalapenos in your taco meat and fillings for an extra burst of flavor.
  • Pizza: Use them as a pizza topping for a sweet and spicy contrast with the savory flavors of the pizza.
  • Nacho Casserole: Sprinkle candied jalapenos over a plate of nachos for a spicy and sweet dimension.
  • Cheese and Charcuterie Boards: Serve cowboy candy alongside an assortment of cheeses and cured meats for a unique and tasty addition to your charcuterie bo
  • Cornbread: Chop and mix in when baking cornbread.
  • Easy Mexican Appetizers: To make candied jalapeno dip, mix a block of cream cheese with 1/4 cup of chopped candied peppers. Serve with corn chips.

Cowboy Candy Juice Is Amazing In Recipes

After all your pickled sliced jalapenos are gone, and the juice in the jar is left behind, don’t throw it away! You can actually use it!! Also, I always have leftover syrup when making candied jalapenos, so I water bath can the juice also.

Either one makes an outstanding marinade or seasoning sauce!

  • Add it to your favorite potato salad or macaroni for summer BBQs!
  • Make marinade and seasoning sauce with it!
  • Mix into bean dip for a sweet and spicy dip for nacho chips!
  • Add it to your favorite salsa for a sweet and spicy version that’s great with chicken and seafood!
  • Mix it into cream cheese and serve up with crackers and veggies as a dip!

How To Store Canned Pickled Jalapenos

  • Home-canned pickled sliced jalapenos should be stored in a cool, dark place, like a pantry or cellar, to maintain their quality. They can typically be safely stored for up to a year for the best taste and texture.
  • Once you open canned cowboy candy, store any left overs in the refrigerator.

Can I make refrigerator cowboy candy?

Yes, follow the recipe through the cooking process, and then place candied jalapenos in jars or an airtight container. Keep them in the refrigerator for up to three months.

Gift Idea – Spicy Dip and Crackers

Giving a jar of pickled sliced jalapenos in a gift basket would be a hit with the receiver. Grab a small basket, put a jar of pickled jalapenos, a variety of crackers, a block of cream cheese, and a cute plate and serving knife. Give them instructions to unwrap the cream cheese and place it on the plate. Spoon over the pickled jalapenos and serve with crackers.

Need more Jalapeno recipes? Do you have a lot of jalapenos and are not sure what to do with all of them? It’s quick and easy to make oven-roasted jalapeños peppers at home. Putting oven-roasted jalapeños in your recipes is a great way to add a new depth of flavor. 

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cowboy candy pickled jalapenos in a canning jar
5 from 4 ratings

Spicy Cowboy Candy Canning Recipe (Step-By-Step)

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Servings: 6 1/2 pints
Making Canned Cowboy Candy, is the perfect way to pickle jalapenos in an addictive sweet and spicy sauce. Get step-by-step canning instructions and learn how to safely use a water bath canner to safely preserve these irresistible sweet and spicy jalapenos.

Note: Be sure to read through the recipe’s post for tips and details about this recipe.

Ingredients
 

  • 3 pounds jalapeno peppers, washed, fresh and firm
  • 2 cups cider vinegar
  • 6 cups white granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon celery seed
  • 3 teaspoons granulated garlic
  • 1 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper

Instructions
 

  • Wearing gloves, remove the stems from all of the jalapeno peppers. The easiest way to do this is to slice a small disc off of the stem-end along with the stem. Discard the stems.
  • Slice the peppers into uniform 1/8-1/4 inch rounds. Set aside.
  • In a large pot, bring cider vinegar, white sugar, turmeric, celery seed, granulated garlic and cayenne pepper to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes.
  • Raise the heat to boiling again, add the pepper slices, return to a hard boil, then reduce the heat again and simmer for exactly 4 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the peppers, loading into clean, sterile canning jars to within 1/4 inch of the upper rim of the jar.
  • Use a ladle to pour the boiling syrup into the jars over the jalapeno slices to 1/4 inch headspace, Insert a butter knife to the bottom of the jar two or three times to release any trapped pockets of air. Adjust the level of the syrup if necessary. Wipe the rims of the jars with a clean, damp paper towel and fix on new, two-piece lids to finger-tip tightness.
  • NOTE: Be sure and can your leftover syrup too. It makes a great addition to marinads on meat or a seasoning sauce to anything you want to add a little sweet heat to.
  • Place jars in a canner, cover with water by 2-inches. Bring the water to a full rolling boil. When it reaches a full rolling boil, set the timer for 10 minutes for half-pints or 15 minutes for pints. When the timer goes off, using a jar lifter, remove the jars one at a time, being careful not to tilt the jars. Carefully place them directly onto a kitchen towel or cake cooling rack, leaving at least one inch of space between the jars during cooling. Avoid placing the jars on a cold surface or in a cold draft.

Notes

Recipe variation ideas:
  • Smokey Cowboy Candy: Add 1 tbsp smoked paprika and 1/2 teaspoon cumin to the basic recipe.
  • Brown Sugar Candied Jalapenos: Substitute the white sugar in the basic recipe for brown sugar.
  • Christmas Cowboy Candy: Use 1/2 very ripe red jalapenos and 1/2 green. Follow the basic recipe.
  • Tropical Cowboy Candy: Substitute 1/3 of the jalapenos for small fresh pineapple pieces.
Serving: 1tablespoon, Calories: 54kcal, Carbohydrates: 14g, Protein: 1g, Fat: 1g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Sodium: 1mg, Potassium: 40mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 13g, Vitamin A: 161IU, Vitamin C: 17mg, Calcium: 2mg, Iron: 1mg
Cuisine: American
Course: Canning
Author: Gina Dickson

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