Red Pepper Jelly

6 1/2 pint jar
55 min

This Red Pepper Jelly recipe makes a delicious and versatile condiment that combines the sweetness of fruit jelly with the spicy heat of hot peppers. This condiment is commonly made with fresh red bell peppers, red jalapeno or other hot chili peppers, cider vinegar, sugar, and pectin.

It can be used in a variety of ways, including as a spread, a glaze, a dip, or a dressing. Red pepper jelly pairs particularly well with cheese, crackers, meats, and vegetables, and it adds a unique and flavorful twist to any dish. With its sweet and spicy flavor, red pepper jelly is a must-try condiment that can be enjoyed all year round.

jars of red pepper jelly and red pepper jelly over cream cheese.

The red pepper jelly recipe includes instructions for both water bath canning and freezing the jelly.

ingredients in red pepper jelly

Red Pepper Jelly ingredients.

Fresh red bell peppers: These peppers are rich in vitamin C, vitamin A, and dietary fiber. They add a sweet and slightly tangy flavor to the jelly.

Fresh red jalapeno, Anaheim, or Sonoran chile peppers: These spicy red peppers add heat and a kick to the jelly. Red jalapeno peppers are spicier than green ones, while Anaheim and Sonoran chile peppers are milder. The choice of pepper depends on the desired level of heat.

Both bell peppers and hot chile peppers are considered on the dirty dozen list, meaning that they typically have a high amount of pesticide residue. These are vegetables I try to buy organic. But if I can’t, I make sure to wash them well in vinegar water.

Apple cider vinegar: This type of vinegar adds acidity and tanginess to the jelly. It also helps to preserve the jelly by creating a favorable acidic environment.

White, granulated sugar: This is the main sweetener in the jelly. It helps to balance the heat from the peppers and enhances the flavor of the peppers.

No or low-sugar needed pectin: This type of pectin allows the jelly to thicken without the need for additional sugar. It is important to use this specific type of pectin in this recipe, as regular pectin requires a significant amount of sugar to set properly. I am not aware of a liquid pectin option of low-sugar needed pectin.

Cut bell pepper and red chiles.

how to use your red pepper jelly

Red pepper jelly is a versatile condiment that can be used in a variety of ways. Here are some common uses for red pepper jelly:

  • As a spread: Spread red pepper jelly on crackers, bread, or toast for a sweet and spicy snack.
  • With cheese: Serve red pepper jelly with cheese and crackers for a simple yet elegant appetizer. It pairs particularly well with soft cheeses like brie or goat cheese. We love it over cream cheese!
  • As a glaze: Use red pepper jelly as a glaze for chicken, pork, or tofu. Brush it on during the last few minutes of cooking for a sweet and spicy finish. And when smeared over bacon, this jelly makes bacon simply magnificent.
  • With sandwiches: Spread red pepper jelly on sandwiches for a tangy and flavorful twist. It goes particularly well with turkey, ham, or grilled cheese.
  • With vegetables: Serve red pepper jelly as a dip for fresh vegetables like carrots, celery, and bell peppers. It also makes a great topping for roasted vegetables like Brussels sprouts or sweet potatoes.
  • In salad dressings: Use red pepper jelly as a base for homemade salad dressings. Combine it with olive oil, vinegar, and your favorite herbs and spices for a unique and flavorful dressing.
  • With seafood: Use red pepper jelly as a glaze for grilled or broiled seafood, such as shrimp or scallops. It adds a sweet and spicy flavor that pairs well with the delicate flavors of seafood.
Red pepper jelly over cream cheese.

how long does red pepper jelly last?

Properly water bath canned red pepper jelly should last two years when stored in a cool, dry place. For what it’s worth, the USDA says one year, but I’ve never had a problem after one year. Once opened, keep your homemade jam in the refrigerator for up to three months.

If you don’t water bath can your red pepper jelly, you can freeze it for up to one year or keep it in your refrigerator for up to one month.

can I use green bell peppers instead of red bell peppers?

Heck yes! You can use green bell peppers instead of red bell peppers. However, keep in mind that green bell peppers are less sweet than red bell peppers, and the resulting jelly may have a slightly different taste.

In fact, you could go all green by using green bell peppers and green jalapeño peppers. You would make the recipe the same as the red pepper jelly; just swap out the peppers.

can I use honey instead of sugar in red pepper jelly?

Yes, you can use honey instead of sugar in this red pepper jelly recipe. Keep in mind that honey has a distinct flavor and may change the taste of the jelly. Substitute three cups of honey for the three cups of sugar.

jars of red pepper jelly and red pepper jelly over cream cheese.

can I double or halve this recipe?

Technically yes, but make sure you measure out the pectin correctly.

can I add other ingredients to this recipe?

It depends! If you are freezing it, you could more easily experiment. However, if you plan to water bath can the jelly to make it shelf stable, you need to be mindful of changing the pH. That being said, you could add 3-4 cloves of garlic to this red pepper jelly and still safely water bath can it.

For added heat, you can also add 1 tablespoon of red pepper flakes.

how to make red pepper jelly

Chop bell and hot peppers
Puree bell peppers and vinegar.
Add pureed peppers and chopped hot peppers to pan.
Combine 1/4 cup sugar with pectin.
Add sugar/pectin mix to pan and boil. Then add remaining sugar and boil hard for one full minute.
Spoon jam into sterilized jars.
Ensure 1/4″ headspace.
Wipe jar rims.
Place lids on jar and process for ten minutes.

supplies I use for canning

While boiling water canning isn’t hard, it does require a few pieces of equipment to make the task much easier:

  • A Jam Pan or Maslin Pan
  • Weck Can Lifter or Ball Can Lifter
  • Magnetic Lid Lifter
  • Headspace Gauge
  • I use both Weck Jars and Ball Jars.
  • Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving
  • A clean surface
  • Clean Towels
  • A bowl of white vinegar

The Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving is my bible. Even if I think I could make the recipe in my sleep, I double-check myself against the Ball Book…that whole botulism thing. It should be your first purchase if you are new to canning. My cookbook library inventory recently expanded with the addition of The All New Ball Book Of Canning And Preserving: Over 350 of the Best Canned, Jammed, Pickled, and Preserved Recipes! Another great canning and preserving resource is the National Center for Home Food Preservation at the University of Georgia website.

looking for more savory jam and jelly recipes?

You’ve come to the right place!

Along the same lines, but lighter in taste and texture, is this Jalapeño Wine Jelly.

We absolutely love this Smoky, Spicy Tomato Jam. It has a depth to it from melting the tomatoes slowly in dark brown sugar, a little tinge of smoke from the paprika, and a little earthy bite from the bits of toasted cumin.

This Balsamic Onion Jam features red wine and subtle, earthy thyme, along with a variety of onions.

Recipe details
  • 6  1/2 pint jar
  • Prep time: 10 Minutes Cook time: 45 Minutes Total time: 55 min
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  • 10 ounces fresh red bell peppers (2 large)
  • 10 ounces fresh red jalapeno, Anaheim or Sonoran chile peppers
  • 2 cups of apple cider vinegar
  • 3 cups of white, granulated sugar (separated into 2 3/4 cups and 1/4 cup)
  • 1.75 ounces no sugar needed pectin (1 box)
  • 1/2 teaspoon butter

If you will be canning the jam, Prepare a canner, jars, and lids. Wash your jars and lids. Sterilize your jars in a large pot filled with water. Bring the water to almost a simmer over medium heat. Keep the jars in the simmering water over low heat until you are ready to fill them. Use a jar lifter to remove them from the water when you are ready to fill them, dumping the hot water back into the pot when you remove each jar from the water. Right before you are ready to can, put your lids in a small pot or bowl with hot, but not boiling, water. Put some additional white vinegar in a small bowl alongside a clean washcloth or paper towel. Keep the water in your canning pot at a simmer while you fill your jars. See The All New Ball Book of Canning and Preserving for additional guidance.
Thoroughly clean peppers; swish them in a sink with water and white vinegar.
Remove seeds, membrane, and stem from all pepper. For a spicier jelly, reserve the seeds from the hot chiles and add them when you add the chiles to the pot.
Quarter the peppers.
Add just the bell peppers to the bowl of a food processor with the vinegar. Process for 30 seconds until the peppers are pureed with the vinegar.
Pour the pureed pepper/vinegar mixture into a large (6-8 quart), wide pan or jam pan, preserving, or maslin pan.
Add the chile to the food processor and process for about 10 seconds, until finely chopped. You want them to be chopped into pieces that are no bigger than 1/3 inch.
Add chopped chiles (and reserved seeds) to the pan already containing the pureed bell peppers.
Combine 1/4 cup of sugar with the pectin powder in a small bowl. Add to jam pan with the peppers.
Add butter to reduce foaming.
Turn heat to high and bring mixture to a full rolling boil that doesn't stop bubbling when stirred. Stir constantly.
Stir in the remaining 2 3/4 cups of sugar and return to a full rolling boil and boil for exactly 1 minute.
Remove from heat and skim off any foam.
To Water Bath Process
Spoon your jam into hot sterilized jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace.
Remove air bubbles and wipe the rim.
Center lid on the jar
Screw band down until resistance is met, then increase to fingertip tight.
Place jars in a canner, making sure there is at least 1" of water over the cans.
Cover the pot and bring to a boil
Boil for 10 minutes
Turn the heat off, remove the lid, and let sit for 5 minutes
Carefully remove jars with a jar lifter and place them on a rack where they can be undisturbed for 24 hours.
Refrigerate any jars whose lids don't pop down.
To Freeze Jam
Spoon jam into hot sterilized jars, leaving 1 inch headspace.
Remove air bubbles and wipe the rim.
Let cool completely.
Center lid on the jar.
Freeze jars.
Lynn @ Nourish and Nestle
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