Cowboy Candy


AKA “candied Jalapenos”.

AKA “the only way I like Jalapenos”.

I will admit, I’m not the biggest fan of these little green guys.  I don’t mind a little heat, but I’ve always preferred the warm-toned varieties – reds, oranges, and yellows – over any of the green kinds of peppers.

This philosophy changed when I was introduced to jalapeno jelly.  Mixing the heat with a boat load of sugar transformed these peppers into something I could definitely enjoy.  I was given a jar of that green deliciousness last Christmas and finished it before the New Year.  My body did not appreciate the sudden intrusion of such high amounts of capsaicin and sugar, but I didn’t care.  I shoveled it in until my stomach hurt.

I looked into making my own, but as I searched the internet for recipes, I became more intrigued by the posts for candied jalapenos, also known as ‘Cowboy Candy’.  Supposedly, it was just as delicious as the jelly, but looked way better as a garnish.

I wanted to wait and make these in the summer.  I like to plant jalapenos plants in my garden, and despite what you may expect in a northeastern US climate, they actually do very well.  My husband is a freak over jalapeños  and puts them on everything, so I tend to plant a lot.

However, he has been fiddling with a new appetizer lately that combines venison, bacon, cream cheese and jalapeños, and asked me to make these so he could experiment with his recipe.  Therefore, what you see is the result of using storebought peppers as we are in the middle of winter here.

Three helpful reminders to consider when attempting this recipe: 1) Ventilation is required.  Not because I think the fumes are necessarily dangerous (honestly, I don’t know), but anyone who has ever cooked vinegar on the stove top knows that the smell can be overpowering.  I’d recommend doing this on a day when a window can be cracked.  2) I am not a canning pro.  I used the technique passed down to me from the women in my family.  The more research I did into the canning process, the more I learned about how altitude affects processing time.  The size of the jar plays a role as well.  I would suggest researching the canning time needed at your particular elevation prior to starting this.  And 3) Don’t let the term “candy” fool you.  These peppers will still be hot.  Unless you remove the seeds and ribs from the peppers, there is still a bite to these bad boys.

For me, I used these slices on cream cheese with crackers just like I would with the pepper jelly.  They were also a welcome addition as a hamburger topping recently.  My husband is planning to use these with his venison appetizer when we host our annual Super Bowl party next month.  I have to admit, I’m very interested to see what else I could put these little emerald beauties on next!


Cowboy Candy

2 lb. jalapenos, sliced and seeded
3 cups white sugar
2 1/2 cups apple cider vinegar
1 cup water
1 tbsp pickling spice


In a large pot, combine all of the ingredients except the jalapenos.

Bring the pot to a boil.  Reduce to a simmer and cook for 5-10 minutes.  Add the jalapenos and simmer uncovered for an additional 5-10 minutes.

Use a slotted spoon to remove the jalapenos and transfer them to sterile canning jars.  Pack them in tight and close to the top of the jar.  Fill the jars with the syrup,  leaving about 1/4” of space from the top.  Place lids on the jars and apply the bands, tightening them lightly with fingers.  Do not overtighten.

Process the jars in a boiling water bath.  The time will depend on your altitude and size of jars.  For me, this ended up being 15 minutes for my pint-sized jars, but you’ll want to research this for yourself.

Allow the jalapenos to develop for at least one month.  Keep refrigerated after opening.



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