Pickled Bell Peppers Recipe photo by Taste of Home

Pickled Sweet Peppers

Total Time
Prep: 20 min. + chilling
You can make tangy and delicious pickled peppers at home—our guide will walk you through the process.

Updated: Feb. 05, 2024

Unless you’re Peter Piper, pickled peppers are more than a tongue twister. They’re a delicious way of preserving fresh peppers from the garden or farmers market. We’ll share two ways to make pickled sweet peppers: a refrigerator version to get pickled sweet peppers quickly and a canned method to preserve peppers for months to come.

What are pickled sweet peppers?

To make pickled sweet 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.

Pickled Sweet Peppers Ingredients (Refrigerator Method)

Taste of Home

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!

  • Bell peppers
  • Red onion
  • Pickling spice
  • Celery seed
  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Water
  • Granulated sugar
  • Pickling salt

Directions

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 sweet peppers. Kept in the refrigerator, they’ll last about one month.

Pickled Sweet Peppers Ingredients (Water Bath Canning Method)

Taste of Home

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.

  • Bell peppers
  • Banana peppers
  • Red onion
  • Garlic cloves
  • Canola or vegetable oil
  • Water
  • White vinegar
  • Sugar
  • Pickling salt

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.

Editor’s Tip: 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.

Pickled Sweet Peppers Tips

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 without 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 without additives.

Can I use less sugar in my pickled sweet 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 cuts back on the sweetness.

How can I keep my pickled sweet 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’ll 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’re new to canning, be sure to check out our Test Kitchen’s favorite canning gear. You’ll use these tools throughout the preserving season.

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 sweet peppers?

They’re perfect 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 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 coleslaw, 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.

Watch how to Make Pickled Bell Peppers

Pickled Bell Peppers

Prep Time 20 min
Yield 16 servings (4 cups)

Ingredients

  • 2 each medium sweet red, yellow and green peppers, julienned
  • 1 large red onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • 2 teaspoons mixed pickling spices
  • 1/2 teaspoon celery seed
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup cider vinegar
  • 1/3 cup water

Directions

  1. In a large glass bowl, combine peppers and onion. Place pickling spices and celery seed on a double thickness of cheesecloth. Gather corners of cloth to enclose seasonings; tie securely with string.
  2. In a small saucepan, combine sugar, vinegar, water and spice bag. Bring to a boil; boil 1 minute. Transfer spice bag to pepper mixture. Pour vinegar mixture over top; cool. Refrigerate, covered, 24 hours, stirring occasionally.
  3. Discard spice bag. Transfer mixture to jars, if desired; cover tightly. Refrigerate pickled peppers for up to 1 month.

Nutrition Facts

1/4 cup: 67 calories, 0 fat (0 saturated fat), 0 cholesterol, 2mg sodium, 17g carbohydrate (15g sugars, 1g fiber), 1g protein.

Well received at potlucks, these colorful sliced peppers add zest to the menu—and they're a smart way to use peppers from the garden. I also like to make them as a zippy side for lunch or dinner at home. —Heather Prendergast, Sundre, Alberta
Recipe Creator