How to Make Pickled Peppers at Home
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You can make tangy and delicious pickled peppers at home—our guide will walk you through the process.
Unless you’re Peter Piper, pickled peppers are more than a tongue twister. They’re a delicious way of preserving and fresh peppers from your garden or farmers market. We’ll share two ways to make pickled peppers: a refrigerator version to get your pickled peppers quickly and a canned method to preserve your peppers for months to come.
Psst: If you’re new to preserving food, start by reading our Canning 101 guide.
What Are Pickled Peppers?
To make pickled peppers, fresh peppers are sliced, then mixed with a salt and vinegar brine. The brine adds tang and flavor as it marinates and preserves the peppers. Beyond the basics, you can get creative with pickled peppers by using multiple colors and varieties of hot and sweet peppers, plus sugar, garlic, onion and spices. Learn more about making pickles with any vegetable.
What IS a Peck of Pickled Peppers?
How many peppers would Peter have to pick to get a peck? It depends! A peck is a measure of volume. Just one peck equals eight dry quarts. Fortunately, you won’t need that many.
What Can You Do with Pickled Peppers?
They’re great for plain snacking, especially when you’re craving something salty. Add a few pickled peppers to your green salad, or as toppings for burgers, hot dogs or sausages off the grill. You can also add them to antipasto platters or cheese boards, along with olives and other marinated vegetables.
Chop pickled peppers and add them to cream cheese or pimento cheese to make a savory spread. Dice them finely and stir them into cole slaw, potato salad or chicken salad. Spicy pickled peppers like jalapenos and pepperoncini are delicious on tacos and chili, over a mountain of cheesy nachos and folded into quesadillas.
How to Make Pickled Peppers (Refrigerator Method)
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If you’re newer to canning (or just don’t have a lot of time on your hands), opting for a refrigerator pickle is a good idea. You don’t need to fuss over temperatures or timing. Just make a brine and add your veggies!
- 3 large bell peppers, washed
- 1/2 large red onion, thinly sliced
- 2 teaspoons pickling spice (to learn more about pickling spice, see our FAQs below.)
- 1 teaspoon celery seed
- 1-1/2 cups apple cider vinegar
- 1-1/4 cups water
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon pickling salt
Yield: 3.5 cups
Step 1: Prepare the vegetables
Remove the stems and seeds from the peppers, then cut into one-inch pieces. Put them in a large, heatproof bowl. Separate the slices of red onion and add them to the bowl.
Then, add the pickling spice and celery seed. You can either mix them in directly with the peppers and onions, or tie them up in a piece of cheesecloth to remove them later.
Step 2: Make the brine
Pour the apple cider vinegar, water, sugar and pickling salt into a medium saucepan. Stir everything together and bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat. Let the mixture boil for one minute.
Step 3: Make the pickled peppers
Pour the hot brine over the peppers, onions and spices, and give everything a quick stir. Let the peppers sit until they cool to room temperature, then cover the bowl and refrigerate it for 24 hours. Remove the spice bag, if you used one, and enjoy the pickled peppers. Kept in the refrigerator, they will last about one month.
How to Make Pickled Peppers (Water Bath Canning Method)
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Experienced canner? Looking to dive deeper into preserving? Try this water bath method for pickling peppers. It takes a bit of time and precision, but these peppers have a longer shelf life.
- 5 large sweet bell peppers, seeds removed, sliced into strips
- 8 large banana peppers (about 1 pound), seeds removed, sliced into strips
- 1 medium red onion, thinly sliced
- 5 garlic cloves, peeled
- 5 teaspoons canola or vegetable oil
- 2-1/2 cups water
- 2-1/2 cups white vinegar
- 1-1/4 cups sugar
- 2 teaspoons pickling salt
Yield: 5 pint jars
Step 1: Prepare the jars and lids
Sterilize five, pint jars (plus the lids and bands) in hot water. Fill your canner pot with water, place a rack in the bottom and bring the water to a simmer while you do the next steps.
Step 2: Add ingredients to the jars
Pack the sliced bell peppers, banana peppers and onions into the hot jars. Add a clove of garlic and teaspoon of oil to each jar.
Step 3: Make and add the brine
Bring the water, vinegar, sugar and canning salt to a boil in a large saucepan. Carefully ladle the brine into each jar, leaving a half-inch of headspace. Run a knife along the inside of each jar to release air bubbles and wipe the rims with a clean cloth. Place the lids on each jar and screw bands on tight.
Step 3: Process the jars
Place the jars into simmering water inside the canner pot—the water should cover the jars. Bring the water to a boil, then boil the jars for 15 minutes. Use jar-lifting tongs to remove the jars to a towel-lined surface. Let the jars cool, check that they have properly sealed and tighten the bands. You can store the jars in a cool, dark place for up to a year.
Note: The processing time listed is for altitudes of 1,000 feet or less. For altitudes up to 3,000 feet, add five minutes; 6,000 feet, add 10 minutes; 8,000 feet, add 15 minutes; 10,000 feet, add 20 minutes.
FAQs About Making Pickled Peppers
What is pickling spice?
Pickling spice is a blend of several spices, including cinnamon, whole allspice, mustard seeds, coriander, bay leaf and pepper. Find it in your store’s spice section, or make pickling spice at home.
Is pickling salt the same as table salt?
Pickling or canning salt is a fine, pure salt that has no added iodine or anti-caking agents. It’s ideal for canning recipes because extra additives in salt can make pickling liquid turn cloudy—plus the fine texture means it dissolves quickly. Pickling salt is very affordable and most stores carry it all year long. If you can’t find it in the salt and seasonings aisle, check the aisle with pickles and preserves.
If you can’t find pickling salt, use pure kosher or sea salt with no additives.
Can I use less sugar in my pickled peppers?
Yes! The sugar and spices can be adjusted to your taste. The vinegar and salt are the ingredients that are crucial to properly preserving your peppers. Using white vinegar in place of apple cider vinegar will also cut back on the sweetness.
How can I keep my peppers crunchy?
Because they’re brined in acidic solutions, peppers are always going to lose some of their crunch. To help keep the crunch in water bath-canned pickled peppers, follow the recipe’s listed time for boiling the jars—over-processing will make them softer. The quick, refrigerator pickled peppers will be crunchier because they aren’t processed in a hot water bath.
What equipment do I need for water bath canning?
You will need a canner pot or large stockpot, a rack to fit inside the pot, glass mason jars plus lids and bands and jar-lifting tongs. If you are new to canning, be sure to check out our Test Kitchen’s favorite canning gear. You’ll use these tools throughout the preserving season.