Hot Red Pepper Jelly


Hot red pepper jelly comes from a long line of Southern recipes. In fact, nearly every family has it’s own recipe, each one very closely guarded. What they do have in common, is using hot peppers picked either from their own gardens or those of friends and neighbors. If you’re anything like me, you LOVE hot food! Whether you prefer it on a hot summer day, or want to wake yourself up on a cool winters morning (like these last few mornings we’ve been having), red pepper jelly is the best.

Easy Spicy Red Pepper Jelly

  • Level: Easy
  • Total: 15 min
  • Active: 15 min
  • Yield: 1 cup


Deselect All

1 cup apricot preserves

1 red bell pepper, chopped 

2 teaspoons red pepper flakes

1/4 cup white vinegar 

Kosher salt 


  1. Combine the preserves, bell peppers, red pepper flakes, vinegar and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a blender; puree until smooth. Transfer to a small saucepan and bring to a brisk simmer over medium heat. Cook, stirring often, until thickened and syrupy, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a jar and cool completely. Refrigerate for up to 1 week.

Hot Pepper Jelly With Pectin

Pepper jelly in canning jars

Prep:45 mins

Cook:12 mins

Total:57 mins

Servings:32 servings

Yield:8 1/2-pint jars

Nutrition Facts (per serving)

(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

This easy hot pepper jelly is made with a combination of sweet bell peppers and hot red peppers. You may substitute crushed dried red pepper for the fresh hot peppers.

The liquid pectin makes this an easy preparation. If you are new to home canning, take a look at this article about jar preparation and boiling water processing.


  • 4 large sweet ​green or red bell peppers 
  • 1/2 cup ground fresh hot red peppers, about 8 to 12 small peppers
  • 7 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups white vinegar
  • 4 drops red or green food coloring, optional
  • 6 ounces liquid pectin

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.
  2. Wash the jars, lids, and bands and rinse well.
  3. Fill a canner with water; place the jars on the rack. Cover the canner and bring the water to a simmer over medium heat. Reduce the heat to low to keep the jars hot until you fill them.
  4. In a small saucepan, bring the lids just to a simmer, but do not boil. Keep them hot over very low heat until you are ready to seal the jars.
  5. Remove the stems from the peppers; remove seeds and chop.
  6. Grind all of the peppers finely with a food grinder, food processor, or stand mixer with grinder attachment.
  7. In a nonreactive pot — stainless steel or enamel-lined — combine the finely ground peppers and their juice and pulp with the sugar and vinegar.
  8. Bring to a full boil; reduce heat to low and simmer 10 minutes.
  9. Add green food coloring and pectin. Stir well. Bring mixture to a rolling boil over high heat; reduce heat and boil for 1 minute.
  10. Remove from heat and ladle the mixture into hot dry, sterilized half-pint jars, leaving a scant 1/4-inch headspace.
  11. Seal immediately with the lids. Screw on the bands; don’t overtighten.
  12. Process in a hot water bath for 15 minutes; remove jars and let the jars cool upright. 


  • Make sure the processing water is about 1 inch above the tops of the jars. The jars should not be touching.
  • If a jar does not seal for some reason, you can refrigerate it to be eaten first. Or remove the lid and check the jar rim for nicks or food pieces. Also, check the bands. Rusty or bent bands can cause a bad seal. Discard the original lid and seal with a new simmered lid. Process again as directed. Re-use of undamaged screw on bands is fine but never re-use jar lids.

Recipe Variation

  • Instead of fresh hot peppers, use 2 to 4 tablespoons crushed dried red peppers.


Yes, and I think that’s what makes it work so well with cream cheese and crackers. This is my favorite way to serve it!

The slight sweetness from the jelly is a perfect match with a salty cracker and smooth cream cheese.

Red Pepper Jelly | #IBCholiday

Trust me on this. You need to try it.

Even better, this makes the most perfect appetizer. Just place a block of cream cheese on a plate, spoon over your homemade jelly, add a spreader, and serve with crackers. Done.

If you have last minute visitors, this is a lifesaver.

With the jelly already made, it can be on the table in minutes. Plus the red and green colors of the bell peppers are so appropriate for the season. What do you think?


Now, before we get into the recipe, I want to point out one thing. As I mentioned above, you can add jalapeño pepper to this jelly. It gives it just a little kick that works nicely with the cream cheese.

For the recipe below, it’s a minimal amount of heat that most anyone can handle. Depending on your heat preference, feel free to decrease or increase the amount of jalapeños.

Red Pepper Jelly | #IBCholiday

Also, the recipe I’m giving you takes you through the steps for preserving and sealing your jars. You can skip this part if you plan on storing the jelly in your fridge and eating it pretty quickly (in about a week or two).

I do like to seal the jars because this jelly makes a great holiday gift, and any extra jars can be stored in the pantry for up to a year.


Begin by sterilizing six 8-ounce canning jars and lids according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Begin heating your water in a hot water canner for processing. I’ve included a printable recipe card below for a full rundown of the recipe ingredients and instructions.

Place the red bell peppers, green bell peppers, and jalapeño peppers into a large saucepan over high heat. Mix in the apple cider vinegar and Sure-Jell pectin. Bring the mixture to a rolling boil while stirring constantly. Then, quickly stir in the sugar. Return to a rolling boil and boil for 2-3 minutes. Remove from the heat and skim off any foam.

Then, quickly ladle the jelly into your prepared jars, filling each to 1/4 inch from the top. Cover with flat lids; then screw on the bands tightly.

Place the jars into the canning rack, and slowly lower the jars into the canner. The water should cover the jars completely, and should be hot but not boiling. Bring water to a boil and process for five minutes.

Remove the jars and allow them to cool completely.

Red Pepper Jelly

Bell peppers blended in a food processor.
Pepper jelly cooking in a saucepan.
Skimming the foam off a pan of pepper jelly.

Sweet and spicy, Red Pepper Jelly is one seriously delicious multitasker. It’s fantastic with any type of creamy cheese, works wonders as a glaze on salmon or pork, and adds a zesty kick to a sandwich or pizza.

Need a fabulous party snack with your cocktail? Unwrap a block of plain cream cheese and put it on a nice plate. Then take a jar of this hot pepper jelly and pour it over the cream cheese. Serve it with crackers and a spreader and you’re good to go.

But that’s not all. Spoon it over a pork tenderloin, brush it over salmon, or give a basic grilled cheese a sweet little heat. Or, stash a few jars in your refrigerator just in case you need a quick appetizer or housewarming gift. It’ll disappear fast.Table of Contents

Recipe ingredients

Pepper jelly ingredient shot.

Ingredient notes

  • Bell peppers: Red bell peppers make red pepper jelly, but you can substitute any color bell pepper. 
  • Habañero chilies: These fiery peppers bring the heat. If you’re a chile novice, use rubber gloves while cutting and seeding them, and don’t touch your eyes or face. Or, for a milder jelly, substitute 2 jalapeño peppers.
  • Pectin: Liquid pectin is sold in boxes with 3-ounce pouches; Ball and Certo are good brands. Don’t rush the boiling step: liquid pectin needs to boil and reach a certain temperature before it does its work. Usually pectin is stocked in the baking aisle of the grocery store, but sometimes you can find it in hardware stores and online

Step-by-step instructions

  1. Cut off the stems of the peppers, and remove their seeds, but hold on to the habañero seeds in case you like a spicier jelly. Chop the peppers into rough pieces, then add them to the bowl of a food processor. Quickly pulse the peppers (and habañero seeds, if desired) in the food processor, about 12 to 15 times, until finely minced.
  2. Then pour out the mixture into a piece of cheesecloth set over a bowl and squeeze out any extra moisture in the peppers. A clean kitchen towel works for this, too. Transfer the peppers to a Dutch oven or (non-reactive) stainless steel pot, then add the vinegar and sugar. Cook over medium heat until fully boiling. Add the pectin, then bring the peppers back to a full boil, stirring frequently.
  3. Keep boiling and stirring until the temperature reaches 221 degrees, which could take 10 to 15 minutes. Skim off any foam on the surface with a wide spoon.
  4. Once the pepper jelly reaches 221 degrees, spoon the jelly into clean jars with screw-on lids. Allow to cool at room temperature before refrigerating, then let the jelly set up in the fridge for another 12 to 24 hours before using.

Recipe tips and variations

  • Yield: Depending on the size of the peppers, the recipe makes about 5 cups, enough for five 8-ounce jars.
  • Skimming the foam: If you don’t skim off the foam in Step 3, your pepper jelly will migrate to the top of your jar and you’ll have an inch or more of clear, unflavored gelatin at the bottom of the jar.
  • Storage: Store in the refrigerator for up to 2 months. To can, quickly pour hot jelly into hot, sanitized jars, leaving 1/4-inch headspace. Wipe rim and center lid on jar. Screw band down until resistance is met, then increase to fingertip-tight. Place jars in canner, ensuring they are completely covered with water. Bring to a boil and process for 10 minutes. Remove canner lid. Wait 5 minutes, then remove jars, cool, and store.
  • Make ahead: Plan on making the jelly at least a day or two before you need it so the pectin has time to thicken.
  • Fun ways to use: Stir a spoonful into mayo for a sandwich. Add a dollop to a cheeseboard. Most importantly, spoon it over a block of cream cheese and eat it with crackers (like on my Midwest charcuterie board).


An easy homemade hot pepper jelly recipe that can be as spicy or as sweet as you like. Serve pepper jelly on vegetables, sandwiches, meats or with crackers and cream cheese for an easy appetizer! This is an easy canning recipe — ideal for beginners. It also makes a great food gift.

This hot pepper jelly recipe is one of my favorite things to make in the summer with peppers from our garden. It’s so delicious and also quick and simple to make — even if you don’t have any canning experience.

spoon in a jar of homemade hot pepper jelly

I use this jalapeño pepper jelly all the time as a condiment on cooked vegatables, such as green beans, corn and lima beans. It’s also delicious on grilled sandwiches, or as a glaze on grilled meat.

❤️ Why You’ll Love This Recipe

If you’re looking for a beginner canning recipe, pepper jelly is a great one to start with. (I also recommend this strawberry jam and these crispy freezer pickles to beginners.)

The prep and cooking time is minimal. A batch of pepper jelly should be ready in about 30 minutes. This easy recipe makes six half-pint jars that can be stored in the pantry up to two years.

spoon in a jar of hot pepper jelly with fresh peppers

That makes it a wonderful homemade food gift for the holidays, or any time of the year. (I’ve even made some printable jar lid labels for you to use.)

How to Serve Hot Pepper Jelly

Pepper jelly is a versatile condiment to keep in the pantry or fridge after you’ve opened a jar. I always include pepper jelly as part of a charcuterie board because it pairs so well with meats and cheeses.

If you need a super quick and easy appetizer, spoon some homemade pepper jelly over a block of cream cheese and serve with crackers.

Best Peppers to Use in Pepper Jelly

This recipe uses a mix of fresh sweet (or mild) peppers and hot peppers.

I like to different colored peppers for a pretty presentation — some red, some green, some yellow and occasionally even a purple pepper.

Options include:

  • bell peppers
  • jalapeño peppers
  • habanero peppers
  • banana peppers
  • cayenne peppers
  • poblano peppers
  • hungarian wax pepper
  • ghost peppers
  • Scotch bonnet peppers

Just make sure you are using fresh peppers, not ones that have already been pickled or brined.

How to Make Pepper Jelly Spicier (Or Milder)

The types of peppers you use and the ratio of hot peppers to mild peppers will determine how spicy the pepper jelly turns out.

You can also control the spiciness by removing the inner pith from pepper.

Contrary to common wisdom, the seeds aren’t what make a pepper spicy. Capsaicin is actually concentrated in the ribs or white pith inside a pepper.

Don’t forget to take proper safety precautions when dealing with hot peppers. Gloves and masks are your friend. You may even choose to grind the peppers outdoors if you’re sensitive or someone in your house is. Better safe than sorry.

You may want to leave your windows or door open when making the pepper jelly, especially if you’re using hotter varities.

Ingredients for Hot Pepper Jelly

  • hot peppers
  • sweet peppers
  • white granulated sugar
  • white vinegar (at least 5 percent acidity)
  • liquid pectin

See recipe card for quantities.


Here’s the equipment you’ll need to make a batch of hot pepper jelly.

  • 6 half-pint jars with rings and NEW lids
  • water bath canner with rack
  • jar lifter – I recommend this canning essentials kit
  • funnel
  • ladle
  • large measuring cup
  • food processor
  • large stock pot
  • gloves & mask (optional, but recommended)

How to Make Hot Pepper Jelly

Continue reading for step-by-step instructions on how to make and can hot pepper jelly. The recipe card also includes a short how-to video.

Prepare the canning jars

First, you need to prepare prepare your jars. You’ll need six ½-pint jars, but I always have a few extra jars just in case the recipe makes more.

You can sterilize the jars in your canner. But I find it easiest to run them through the dishwasher on the hottest setting.

You’ll need to sterilize your jar lids and rings, too. I do this by boiling them in a pan of water.

Prepare the peppers

Chopping Peppers for Homemade Pepper Jelly
  • Wash peppers and coarsely chop them.
  • Grind the peppers in a food processor.

When handling hot peppers I recommend wearing gloves to protect your hands and eyes. You may also want to wear a mask when grinding and cooking the peppers.

Atta Girl Says: Pureeing Peppers for Homemade Pepper Jelly Recipe

Making and canning homemade pepper jelly

  1. Combine the peppers, vinegar and sugar in large nonreactive pan and boil for 3 minutes.
  2. Add the liquid pectin to the pain and boil for 1 minute, stirring so it doesn’t boil over.
  3. Remove the jelly mixture from the heat, skim off foam and let set for 5 minutes.
  4. Ladle into hot jars, leaving a half inch of headspace in each jar.
  5. Run a chopstick, small spatula or debubbling tool around the inside of each jar to remove any air bubbles from the pepper jelly.
  6. Wipe down jar lids with a clean wet cloth before applying lids and rings, tightening to fingertip tight.
  7. Place jars on a rack in a water bath canner and process (covered) for 10 minutes.
  8. Turn off the canner, uncover and let jars sit for 5 minutes.
  9. Use a jar lifter to transfer jars to a cooling rack or a baking sheet lined with towels.
  10. Allow jars to sit for 24 hours before moving them. Check that lids are properly sealed before storing.

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