Finally some Candied Jalapenos! I’ve been getting emails about these for years and over the past few weeks I’ve been fiddling with a recipe for them.
They are sweet, fiery delights that also happen to be highly addictive, so consider yourself warned!!
You’ll also sometimes see these referred to as Cowboy Candy, and that seems to be a perfect nickname for these sweet little fireballs.
How To Make Cowboy Candy
I don’t really do any long term canning, so please keep in mind that these instructions are designed for quick pickling. In other words, we’ll use some vinegar as the pickling agent and let them rest in the fridge to develop their flavor. They’ll keep for up to a month in the fridge.
And just to prove that there is loads of flexibility in this recipe, here are the versions I’ve made over the past couple weeks. All of them were acceptable but there was a clear winner for me:
Candied Jalapenos Version #1:
I wanted to taste the simplest version possible, so I made a batch using just vinegar, jalapenos, and sugar. Simply boil the sugar into the vinegar and let the sliced jalapenos go for an extended swim in this sugary mixture. Result: I was surprised how good these were with such a simple ingredient list. Sweet and fiery, but I wanted a bit more flava in them.
Candied Jalapenos Version #2:
Taking a cue from our traditional Pickled Jalapenos recipe, I made a batch with a full dose of Mexican flavors: onion, garlic, Mexican oregano, and cumin. And while this batch seemed to have serious potential, the dosage on the additional flavors was too high and it seemed to cover up the sweetness too much.
Candied Jalapenos Version #3:
For this batch I used similar flavors as Version #2, but I cut down the amounts so there was just a hint of the Mexican flava. Really liked this batch as they were super sweet, fiery, and had undertones of cumin and garlic — a really nice balance.
Candied Jalapenos Version #4:
And just to test out the sweetness, I made a final batch that had a similar flavor profile as Version #3 but with half of the sugar. I found this batch to be kind of disappointing as the sweetness got lost behind the big flavor of the jalapenos.
So Version #3 is the clear winner for me and that’s what I’ll be detailing in this post, but keep in mind that these Candied Jalapenos are quite flexible and they are more than willing to accommodate your palate.
You’ll need about 1.5 lbs. of jalapenos to fit a quart sized jar. That will be roughly 15-20 jalapenos, depending on their size. You could also cut this recipe in half and use a pint-sized jar.
Don’t forget to use caution when cutting up the jalapenos! I use my hands knowing that a thorough hand-washing is on the horizon, but if you have sensitive skin or any open wounds then consider using gloves. More tips on handling hot chiles.
For the additional flavor I used:
pinch of cumin seeds
pinch of Mexican oregano
a few black peppercorns
1/8 chopped onion (or 2-3 tablespoons worth)
a single, roughly chopped garlic clove
I usually give the spices a quick grind in a molcajete, but this is optional — you can use powdered spices instead of seeds and still get a good result.
And now for some sweetness…
You’ll need about 4 cups of sugar for a quart sized jar. Yes, 4 cups!
It takes loads of sugar to compete with the fiery jalapenos so don’t be shy with it!
So we’ll add 4 cups of sugar to 1 cup white vinegar and 1 cup water. Bring this to a boil, then reduce heat and let simmer for a few minutes.
As that comes to a boil you can saute the onion and garlic until softened, then adding the spices and 1/2 teaspoon salt. After cooking the spices for a moment we’ll add the sliced jalapenos and the vinegar mixture.
Bring this mixture to a boil.
Then turn down the heat and let the jalapenos simmer for a couple minutes.
I’m using one of these quart-sized Mason jars for the jalapenos:
But you could just as easily use 2 pint-sized jars for this recipe.
I find it easiest to use some type of slotted spoon or ladle to add the jalapenos to the jar, and then pouring the sugar brine over the top of them.
It’s worth taking a taste of them now but it’s just for reference. They’ll be much sweeter after resting in the fridge overnight. I usually take a taste of the brine as well as it’s a good snapshot of the flavor base.
Let this jar sit on the counter for a few minutes to cool down, then cap it and stick it in the fridge. And try to forget about them as they prefer to sweeten overnight!
Hello Candied Jalapenos!
If all went according to plan you should have some sweet, fiery delights that fully justify their nickname — Cowboy Candy. You may also notice them sweetening up further over the coming days as the jalapenos take on more of the brine.
You can use these as a final garnish on your favorite dishes, or you can simply munch on them all by their lonesome. Like a cowboy.
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- 1.5 lbs. jalapenos (approx. 15-20 jalapenos)
- 1/8 small onion (or 2-3 tablespoons worth)
- 1 garlic clove
- 1 cup white vinegar
- 1 cup water
- pinch of cumin
- pinch of Mexican oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 4-5 black peppercorns
- 4 cups sugar
- Give the jalapenos a good rinse and then cut them into 1/4 inch slices, discarding the stems.
- Roughly chop the peeled garlic clove and a few tablespoons worth of onion.
- Add 1 cup white vinegar, 1 cup water, and 4 cups white sugar to a saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and let simmer for a few minutes.
- Saute the onion and garlic in a glug of oil over medium heat using a skillet large enough to hold the jalapenos. Once the onion has softened, add the spices and salt: pinch of cumin, pinch of Mexican oregano, black peppers, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. If using seeds and peppercorns I usually give them a quick crush in the molcajete but this is optional.
- Cook the spices for a moment and then add the sliced jalapenos and the vinegar mixture. Bring to a boil, then turn down the heat and let the jalapenos simmer for a couple minutes.
- Add the mixture to a quart-sized Mason jar (or two pint-sized jars). I usually use a slotted spoon or ladle to add the jalapenos first, and then pour the brine on top of them. Partially cover and let sit on the counter for a few minutes to cool down.
- Once cooled you can cap the jar and store it in the fridge. They'll have most of their flavor the next day, but may continue to sweeten up over the coming days. They'll keep for up to a month in the fridge.
Our latest recipe is a batch of Enfrijoladas made with Peruano Beans: