Sweet Zucchini Relish Recipe photo by Julia Hartbeck for Taste of Home
Total Time
Prep: 1 hour + chilling Process: 15 min.
Zucchini relish is a fun twist on the usual cucumber-based version, and you may find you actually prefer it. This recipe can be taken in lots of directions, so be sure to check out our variations!

Updated: Jul. 01, 2024

Zucchini is a seriously versatile vegetable. You can bake it, saute it, stuff it, air-fry it—and you can even eat the blossoms. And that’s a good thing, because they’re famously productive plants. Productive almost to a fault, in fact, and so many gardeners are overwhelmed by their harvest of zukes that there’s even a National Sneak Some Zucchini Onto Your Neighbor’s Porch Day (it’s August 8, if you’re wondering).

One of the best ways to make a dent in your annual glut of zucchini (or to take advantage of their low price in peak season) is by cooking up a zucchini relish recipe. Cucumbers are the default choice in most relish recipes, but zucchini actually keep their texture better. It’s a tasty way to preserve some of mid-summer’s bounty for the cold months.

Zucchini Relish Ingredients

  • Zucchini: The main ingredient, zucchini gives the relish most of its body and texture. Its chameleon-like ability to take on the flavors of its surrounding ingredients is also important.
  • Onions: Onions provide sweet and savory notes, with just enough assertiveness to help round out the recipe’s other flavors.
  • Bell peppers: Green and red bell peppers add sweet and vegetal notes to the flavor and bring color to the finished relish.
  • Canning salt: Unlike table salt, canning salt (or kosher or pickling salt) has no added iodine or anti-caking agents, which often leave pickles or relishes discolored and unattractive. In this instance, the salt’s main purpose is to extract excess moisture from the vegetables, but it still acts as a flavoring and preservative as well.
  • Sugar: Like salt, sugar helps prevent microbial growth and acts as a preservative in canning. It also helps balance out the vinegar, contributing to the recipe’s sweet-and-tangy flavor.
  • Cider vinegar: Vinegar acidifies the relish, making it an inhospitable environment for yeasts and bacteria. It acts together with the sugar and salt to make it safe for canning, and cider vinegar specifically balances the sugar’s sweetness with its mild, pleasant tang.
  • Cornstarch: Cornstarch helps thicken the relish and bind up any excess moisture from the zucchini. Key detail: Cornstarch won’t make the finished relish look cloudy, as some other thickeners might.
  • Turmeric: This spice lends a distinctive flavor and may have some health benefits, but mostly it’s here because its golden-yellow color makes the relish look wonderful.
  • Curry powder: Curry adds a sharp flavor note that complements the sweetness and tang of the vegetable ingredients and flavorings, helping them all feel brighter and livelier.
  • Celery seed: Celery seed packs the flavor and flavor-enhancing ability of celery, but without the prep, stringy fibers and juiciness. It’s much more convenient than fresh celery for use in preserves and pickles and has the added advantage of keeping for months at room temperature.


Step 1: Drain excess moisture from vegetables

Zucchini relish ingredients draining in a colanderJulia Hartbeck for Taste of Home

Choose a container large enough to hold the prepared vegetables. Combine the zucchini, onions, peppers and salt in the container, then cover it tightly and refrigerate it overnight. Drain the vegetables, rinse them and drain again. Set them aside.

Step 2: Prepare the relish

Zucchini relish vegetables simmering in a large panJulia Hartbeck for Taste of Home

In a large stockpot, bring the sugar, vinegar, cornstarch and seasonings to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the drained zucchini mixture and bring the pot back to a boil. Once it boils, reduce the heat and maintain a steady simmer for 12 to 15 minutes, uncovered, until the mixture is slightly thickened. Remove the stockpot from the heat.

Step 3: Can the relish

Sweet zucchini relish being filled into canning jarsJulia Hartbeck for Taste of Home

Scoop the mixture into freshly sterilized pint Mason jars, leaving 1/2 inch of headspace. Remove any air bubbles by rapping the jars on your counter, running a sterile knife around the inside of the jar or using the air-removal tool that came with your canning set (if you have one). Wipe the rims clean, and adjust the lids until they’re finger-tight. Process for 15 minutes in a water bath canner, then remove the jars from the canner and allow them to cool in a draft-free spot until they reach room temperature.

Editor’s Tip: You’ll fill the jars more neatly if you use a canning funnel. Also note that canning time assumes you’re at sea level; if you live at a higher altitude, your local extension service or the National Center for Home Food Preservation can help you figure out how long to process your jars for food safety.

Sweet zucchini relish in a sealed glass jarJulia Hartbeck for Taste of Home

Zucchini Relish Variations

  • Try a little spice: Add a few of your favorite chili peppers to the vegetable mixture, with their seeds and membranes removed. Jalapeños are relatively mild, so you may need 6 to 12 in a batch this size, depending on your heat tolerance; with higher-impact peppers (habaneros, Thai chiles or 7-pot peppers, for example) you’ll probably use fewer. Just wear disposable gloves when you’re working with hot peppers, or wash your hands immediately and thoroughly afterward (you don’t want to get that stuff in your eyes!). Washing your knife and cutting board immediately will also reduce the risk of accidental contact.
  • Make it fruity: Replace up to 1/3 of the zucchini with finely diced apples or pears, adding these to the pot along with the drained vegetables. Choose firm “baking” apples or “cooking” pears that will hold their shape through the canning process. The fruity version of this relish is slightly sweeter than the regular version, so you may want to add an extra 1/4 cup of vinegar to make it tangy (don’t reduce the sugar, it’s needed for food safety).
  • Get colorful: The standard version of this recipe is rather pretty, with the red and green peppers providing nice contrast with the turmeric-yellow relish, but extra color adds even more visual interest. Using yellow squash for part of the zucchini, or incorporating an orange bell pepper, can give the mixture something extra. Alternatively, to take the color in a completely different direction, incorporate a small shredded beet into the vegetable mixture for a brilliantly pink hue.

How long will my zucchini relish last?

The USDA recommends using home-canned foods within 12 months. That’s based on the assumption that your relish will be stored out of the sun in a place with a stable temperature, where it won’t freeze or get unusually hot. Once opened, a jar should last 3 to 4 weeks in the fridge.

Do I have to can my zucchini relish?

Well, that depends on how quickly you intend to eat it. If you refrigerate it immediately after filling the jars, they should last 3 to 4 weeks in the fridge; otherwise, you’ll need to can it for longer storage. Canning is your best bet unless you’re making a scaled-down batch or preparing it for use at a large gathering where it will be used up quickly.

Can I freeze zucchini relish?

There’s a joke in the home canning community that says “everything can be frozen, but not everything can be thawed.” That’s the case with this relish. Freezing degrades the texture of the vegetables, and then when you thaw the relish it will become watery. Canning is definitely the better option.

Zucchini Relish Tips

Closeup of sweet zucchini relish in an open jar with a spoonJulia Hartbeck for Taste of Home

Can I make the relish with big zucchini?

Yes, this zucchini relish recipe is a great way to use up those oversized zucchini that somehow seem to go from finger-sized to bludgeon-sized overnight. With oversized zucchini, you should scoop out the seeds and pith from the middle, and if the skin has become hard, you should peel that as well.

What’s the easiest way to prep the zucchini for my relish?

It depends on what tools you have available in your kitchen. A food processor makes quick work of shredding 10 cups of zucchini if you have a shredding disc. If not, you can chop the squash coarsely and then let the regular blade chop the chunks into small pieces. If you have a mandoline slicer, that’s also a quick way to turn a mound of zucchini into nice shreds. A plain old box grater will do in a pinch.

What’s good with this relish?

It’ll often come down to personal preference, but zucchini relish works well with cured meats like ham, or on sausages, or with leftover turkey or chicken. It’s excellent on sandwiches, or as an accompaniment to your favorite pasta salad or potato salad recipe (or you can even stir some into the salad directly). As a broad rule, you can use it anywhere you’d use pickles or another relish.

Sweet Zucchini Relish

Prep Time 60 min
Cook Time 15 min
Yield 5 pints


  • 10 cups shredded zucchini (about 3-1/2 pounds)
  • 4 large onions, chopped
  • 2 medium green peppers, chopped
  • 2 medium sweet red peppers, chopped
  • 1/3 cup canning salt
  • 2-1/2 cups sugar
  • 2-1/2 cups cider vinegar
  • 4 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon celery seed
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper


  1. In a large container, combine the zucchini, onions, peppers and salt. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Drain; rinse and drain again.
  2. In a stockpot, combine the sugar, vinegar, cornstarch and seasonings; bring to a boil. Add zucchini mixture; return to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, until slightly thickened, 12-15 minutes. Remove from the heat.
  3. Carefully ladle hot mixture into hot 1-pint jars, leaving 1/2-in. headspace. Remove air bubbles; wipe rims and adjust lids. Process for 15 minutes in a boiling-water canner. Relish may be kept in refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Nutrition Facts

1/4 cup: 68 calories, 0 fat (0 saturated fat), 0 cholesterol, 288mg sodium, 16g carbohydrate (14g sugars, 1g fiber), 1g protein.

Classic relish is made with cucumbers, but this tangy and sweet zucchini relish is packed with zucchini, peppers and onions. I use it on burgers, on sandwiches and in any recipes that normally call for pickle relish. —Jyl Basinger, Cave City, Arkansas
Recipe Creator