Sweet with spice, and everything nice. This condiment has it all. It is one of the most high-in-demand canned goods that I make (the other being pickled jalapeno slices). You can pop the candied jalapenos right into the refrigerator if you intend to gobble them up quickly, or water bath can them for shelf stability – I provide directions for both options below. I do not include this recipe in either of my cookbooks (Can It & Ferment It or WECK Small-Batch Preserving), so I’m sharing my version here.
I first made this recipe about 6 years ago and of course I cannot find the recipe I used anywhere. I have scanned all my preserving cookbooks and looked all over the internet, and the closest recipe I found to the original I made is written by Rebecca Lindamood. I tweaked her recipe quite a bit, so I am sharing the recipe with my adjustments incorporated. Enjoy!
Candied Jalapenos AKA Cowboy Candy
Yield: about 6-7 jelly jars (8 oz jars)
16 cups sliced jalapenos (about 3 pounds whole jalapenos)
1.5 cups apple cider vinegar (organic)
4 cups organic or non-GMO sugar
1/2 tsp. ground turmeric powder
1/2 tsp. celery seed
1 tbsp. granulated garlic powder
Wash jalapenos, remove stems (discard). Slice jalapeno peppers 1/4-1/8″ thick, and collect them in a large bowl. In a nonreactive pot, bring the syrup ingredients together and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer and stir until all of the sugar has dissolved. Carefully add all jalapeno slices to the syrup, stir together, and turn heat back up to a boil. Boil for a minimum of 5 minutes. I prefer to “over-cook” my jalapenos until they begin to shrivel (this can take 15+ minutes). Determine length of cook time based upon your personal preference. I like the jalapenos shriveled a bit because I prefer the texture that way.
IF YOU HAVE EXPERIENCE WITH WATER BATH CANNING, FOLLOW THESE DIRECTIONS: Ladle the hot syrup and pepper slices into warm, prepared canning jars, leaving 1/4″ head space. I find it easiest to attempt to scoop mostly jalapeno slices into the jars (a slotted spoon can be useful here), and then go back and top off syrup where needed (that way you avoid a jar of syrup with few slices). Use a stainless steel butter knife or other clean tool to remove any air bubbles trapped within the peppers and the side of the jar. As the syrup settles, you may need to add in more syrup.
Wipe the rims of the jars with a dampened, clean, lint-free cloth or paper towel and again with a dry towel. Place the lid with sealing compound side down, in place over the rim of each jar and carefully twist the canning ring on the jar until it’s just-snug on the jar. Process in the boiling water bath for 10 minutes (15 minutes if using pint jars instead). Carefully remove the jars from the water bath with the canning tongs and place jars on a towel-lined surface for 12 hours without touching.
Store in the refrigerator after breaking the seal.
**If you do not have experience with canning, I fully explain the method in Can It & Ferment It. Or, you can skip the hot water bath canning step and fill jars with the jalapenos and syrup, cover with lid and ring and allow the jars to cool on a towel-lined surface. Once cooled, store in the refrigerator and eat within 2 months.
I serve this condiment with crackers and goat cheese. Though, these jalapenos are a good addition to just about anything you can dream up. 🙂
Feel free to message me with any questions.
How many minutes should I water bath1/2 pint jars of the Cowboy Candy?
The recipe is written for 8 ounce jars which are half pints, so 10 minutes.
I made these and put them in ball jars but didn’t then put them in a water bath to seal them. Because the syrup was hot they sealed themselves!
My question is should I still refrigerate or are they shelf stable?
Hi Paul – great question! The heat will cause them to seal themselves sometimes, without the water bath. But, the water bath portion of the process isn’t only about sealing the jars, it’s about heating the food inside up hot enough that it kills off any potentially bad bacteria that could cause spoilage. Even though it would all probably be just fine if you left them on the shelf, in this case, it’s best to be safe and just store them in the fridge. I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I do!
Can I substitute granulated monk fruit sweetener for regular sugar?
Hi there, could you clarify for me that when you put the candied jars of jalapeños in the water bath, should the water level cover the jars? Thank you so much!
Yes, when you water bath can, he water should be over the jars by at least 1″.
Lisa Colin says
I am curious as to how long these stay good if I just do the refrigerator method? I know it probably depends on how fast they get eaten, but can you tell me about how long they ultimately stay good? Thank you!! I’m excited to make them😍
Hi Lisa – If you are not processing in the hot water bath, then you can safely keep this in the fridge for a couple of months. Thanks!
Denise P. says
Let me tell you what, I’ve sold over 120 jars in the last few months. People love these. The only thing I do differently is add a little mustard seed. I can’t keep up with the orders.
Canning Fool says
Why hasn’t USDA approved this for water bath canning, yet? I see them at the farmers market, so am wondering if vendors are having lab tested for acidity or what? Just want to make sure I follow rules. Thanks.
I meant more that a cowboy candy recipe hasn’t been specifically tested and approved but as long as canners are following the methods for safe home water bath canning and acidifying the jalapenos (which they are with apple cider vinegar), then it is safe to water bath can.
I didn’t think there was going to be enough syrup so I doubled it… extra syrup is bottled for marinades and salad dressing. Yummy
How thick is the syrup. I’m looking to have a thickish syrup. Will it thicken in the water bath?
It will thicken slightly when it’s chilled in the fridge, but it’s by no means a thick syrup. You’d have to add more sugar to make it thicker.