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My Infamous Cowboy Candy Recipe

Sweet Pickled Jalapenos

I’ve talked to many people about my Cowboy Candy recipe on Twitter and I guess it’s about time that I posted it on my blog.

Up until last year I was not a big fan of jalapenos. It was the first time I planted jalapenos, mainly for salsa, but I saw this recipe on Pinterest for Cowboy Candy and was very intrigued. Now, I am addicted to the sweet and tangy taste of the sweet Mexican flavor. I am actually just slightly addicted to the Bacon Wrapped Jalapeno poppers I learned how to make last summer.

Cowboy Candy recipe

Cowboy Candy and Sweet Jalapeno Relish

I still don’t eat raw jalapenos, they are too hot and spicy for me, but when you add vinegar and sugar to the pickled jalapenos you are left with the flavor without the heat, that I can do! Last year I became quite obsessed and my four small pepper plants were NOT enough and I started begging jalapenos from friends and neighbors. This year I have eleven plants so let’s see if this keeps my in stock for the season.


The recipe for Cowboy Candy is very easy, but you will want to remember a few things.

    1. While slicing the jalapenos peppers, DON’T touch your eyes with your fingers, if your hair gets in your face, ask someone else to move it out. Better yet, wear a ponytail.


  • Better yet, wear rubber gloves when slicing as the juice will stay on your hands for hours (while you still avoid touching your face)



  • If you like a milder flavor fill your finished bowl with water and let the seeds float to the top, then pour off (my husband like it hot, so one batch I left the seeds)



  • Slicing takes a lot of time. If you want the same flavor in less the time make relish and use a food processor or salsa maker (got mine at the state fair)



  • You will have extra syrup left. Do NOT discard. Can it and use for marinade on chicken, pork chops, or ham.





Cowboy Candy Recipe


(small batch)


  • 1 lb fresh jalapenos
  • 2/3 cup cider vinegar
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 tablespoons mustard seed
  • 1/4 teaspoon tumeric
  • 1/4 teaspoon celery seed
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper



  1. Slice jalapenos (see above)
  2. ix cider vinegar, sugar, tumeric, celery and mustard seed, garlic, and cayenne to boil.
  3. Reduce the liquid for 5 minutes to a simmer.
  4. Add jalapenos to the syrup and simmer for 5 minutes
  5. Remove jalapenos from liquid with a slotted spoon into a bowl
  6. Pack into sterilized canning jars with jalapenos first using a spoon, or a small spatula to press into the jar.
  7. Add liquid filling the jars leaving a 1/4 headspace.
  8. Process in a water bath for 15 minutes.


 Makes 2 pints

Did you note this only makes 2 pints, that is TWO small jars. The first time I made this recipe I had a large bowl of sliced jalapenos and was so excited about all the jars they would fill. (I was anticipating Christmas gifts)  Jalapeno pepper rings are ridge when fresh and will fill the bowl, you will think you have plenty, NOT! When boiled in syrup they become soft and the volume is reduced. Packing them into the jars reduces the volume further. So make sure to have a bushel of peppers, trust me this will become your favorite and you might hoard the small shiny jars like treasure. I took to hiding them in the back of the cabinet.

There you go, Cowboy Candy, serve on crackers with cream cheese as an appetizer or snack. The sweet Jalapeno relish is excellent on hot dogs or brats, and my husband puts the sliced sweet jalapenos on hamburgers. However you serve them they are delicious.

Do you have a favorite Cowboy Candy recipe, or another jalapeno dish?

Texas Pepper Works Candy-Krisp JalapenosBread ‘N’ Butter Jalapeno RelishRagin Cajun, Jalapeno Relish, 12 OZ (Pack of 12)Carrie Anne’s Jalapeno Vidalia® Onion Relish

If you don’t want to go through the work of preparing the Jalapeno relish yourself you can buy it and say you did. No one will know will they, just pour it out onto a fancy plate with cream cheese.


27 Responses to My Infamous Cowboy Candy Recipe

  1. John Freeland says:

    My Mom, rest her soul used to make jalapeno jam which I think is very close to this. We had is on biscuits or corn bread Saturday mornings. Thanks for bringing back a great memory. I will mkae some for this Saturday!

  2. Chad says:

    In the process of making these right now. I multiplied your recipe x 6. So…

    6 pounds fresh jalapenos
    4 cups cider vinegar
    3 quarts sugar= 12 cups
    3/4 cup mustard seed
    1 1/2 tsp tumeric
    1 1/2 tsp celery seed
    3/8 cup garlic powder
    1 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

    I only got 4 pints of peppers/juice and 6 1/4 of just juice. So what did I do wrong. Did you use half pints? Or how did you get 1 lb to fill 2 pints. Thnx in advance. Chad-

    • Wow, those were the directions I followed. Maybe I didn’t pack them as tight as you did, I did slice mine and I used pint jars, I had about 2-3 pints of juice left over, which was fine because we used it as marinade. 6 lbs of peppers should of definitely made more than 4 pints. It is time consuming, but the results are amazing, I made three batches of jelly, relish, and sauce this year so far, have a couple more to make since it’s so popular. I made the mistake of not rinsing out the seeds on one batch and it was too hot for me.

  3. I skip the cayenne most of the time because I don’t have it, I like the tumeric for the color. What determines the heat is if you leave the seeds in the jalapeños. Last batch I made I removed all the seeds and it was nice and mild. Good luck with it, and don’t throw away the liquid it’s great sauce for marinating!

  4. christine says:

    This looks good. My friend was just telling me about this sort of a recipe because I was pickling jalapenos. Just as an fyi, “infamous” isn’t really what you mean. You might mean famous. Infamous means to be known for a bad quality or deed. For example, you could say Charles Mason is an infamous murderer, but you would say that Peggy Sue is famous for her devil’s food cake.

    • Very true, I probably should change the title, I’m getting loads of hits to this recipe, Google likes it. Thanks for the grammar lesson, I am good at cooking, but not so much in the rules of writing sometimes. Good thing people are nice about it.

  5. I like adding the turmeric, for color, and it doesn’t add any heat. The cayenne I’ve left out occasionally because I haven’t had it. All recipes have optional ingredients and the cayenne would fall into this category.

  6. Sandi says:

    This taste like my zucchini relish recipe. You could chop up some zucchini and put it in your extra sauce. Great on pink eye peas. Love my Vidalia onion chopper so everything is nice and uniform size. Thanks for the recipe. Took me hours to do the peppers. Read some where to relish size them in food processor and then add water and the seeds would float and you could dip them off. Has anyone tried that? Don’t want it to turn out like washing the Kale in the washing machine tip.

  7. FRANCIS says:

    Seeds do not make the peppers hot. The ribs ( white part inside ) are the culprits!

  8. Kelly Fogarty says:

    What does it mean to ‘process in a water bath’. I would like to make this without officially ‘canning’ the jars and this seems like it might be the alternative? Thank you!

    • A “water bath” is submerging the jars in boiling water to further heat the contents and cause the jars to seal. It kills any harmful bacteria and prevents oxygen from getting into the jars. I’m not a canning expert but I don’t use a pressure cooker either. Any food with a high acidic or sugar content is fine to process in a hot water bath.

  9. The picture looks like it might be 1/2 pints, or jelly jars. I know I’ve made this before to sell and felt I needed to get $8 a jelly jar to make it worth my while and cost of materials. Do you think that’s too much?

    • I’ve seen Jalapeno jelly sold at markets for $6.99/jar, it probably depends on how efficient you are a processing them. I do it the long way, I’m sure there are faster methods. I give mine as gifts so the cost isn’t a factor for me.

  10. Marisa says:

    That Sweet Jalapeno Relish looks pretty good to – didn’t find a recipe on your blog, though.

  11. michelle says:

    I made these last summer HUGE HIT!!! This year I followed the same receipe with a different result…..juice was not very “syrup-ee” very thin. Any suggestions on what the problem could be or how to make the juice thicker on my next batch? Thank you

    • Glad you liked the recipe, sorry it took me so long to reply, just saw your comment.
      The syrup has more to do with how much sugar you use and how long you boil it down. I can the extra syrup and use it for marinating pork chops and chicken, it’s AMAZING!!

  12. brooke siemers says:

    Can I use Honey instead of sugar?

    • I really don’t know, haven’t tried it, I do know that Certo is very specific in stating use the exact amount of sugar or your jelly won’t set. But if you are making just refrigerator relish you could try. Let me know how it works for you.

  13. Susan says:

    I made a small batch of these early in the summer. Just tried them on a cracker with cream cheese. They are wonderful! So glad I’ve got an end of summer crop of jalapenos to make more. :-)

    • I am sooo addicted to this, experiment with different seasonings too. I made some jalapeno relish last night and substituted a cup of peppers with a cup of chopped onion. I picked 10 lbs of jalapenos from the garden last weekend. Enjoy!

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