Hot Pepper Relish

As summer heats up, you might be dreaming up ways to take that warmth with you into the colder seasons ahead. Making and preserving Hot Pepper Relish is certainly one way to achieve this goal. The jalapeño peppers contain enough hotness to make you feel sunny from the inside, while the sugar and vinegar round out the experience with sweetness and tang.

Please take the time to read Using Boiling Water Canners and Principles of Home Canning if you are new to canning or could use a refresher of the basics. Also, please wear plastic or rubber gloves while handling hot peppers, and be careful what else you touch. If you don’t wear gloves, then be sure to wash your hands well with soap and water before touching your face or eyes.

This is a fairly hot pepper relish that would pair nicely with cooked greens, beans, or cream cheese on crackers. If you want less intensity, leave out some or most of the jalapeño pepper seeds, or adjust the proportion of sweet to hot peppers according to your preferred taste. What’s important is that there are only 10 cups total of ground peppers.

Hot Pepper Relish

Makes about 6 pint jars or 12 half-pint jars

  • 5 cups ground green and red bell peppers (about 7 to 8 peppers, or 3 to 4 pounds before grinding)
  • 5 cups ground jalapeño peppers (about 3 to 4 pounds before grinding)
  • 1½ cups ground onion (about 3 medium yellow onions)
  • 2½ cups distilled white or cider vinegar (5%)
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 teaspoons pickling salt
  • 4 teaspoons mustard seed

Chopping OnionChop or Grind

  1. Wash and rinse canning jars; keep them hot until ready to fill. Prepare lids according to manufacturer’s directions.
  2. Slice stem end from jalapeño peppers, then grind (including seeds). Wash bell peppers; remove seeds and stems. Peel, core, and wash the onions. Cut peppers and onions into large pieces, then coarsely grind, separately (recipe developers used a stand mixer grinder attachment with course blade).
  3. Measure 5 cups of ground bell peppers, 5 cups of ground jalapeño peppers, and 1½ cups of onions, including their juices. Combine with the remaining ingredients in a large stockpot. Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat then reduce heat to cook at a low boil for 30 minutes, stirring often to prevent scorching.
  4. Fill hot relish into warm jars, leaving ½-inch headspace. If needed, remove air bubbles and re-adjust headspace to ½-inch. Wipe jar rims with a clean, damp paper towel then adjust lids and bands. Refrigerate and/or immediately enjoy any leftover relish freshly made!
  5. Process in boiling water canner according to the recommendations on the table below, then let cool, undisturbed, for 12 to 24 hours. Check for seals and store in a cool, dark, dry place.
Table 1. Recommended process time for Hot Pepper Relish in a boiling-water canner.

Process Time at Altitudes of

Style of Pack

Jar Size

0 – 1,000 ft

1,001 – 6,000 ft

Above 6,000 ft


Pints or Half-pints

10 min



This recipe was developed at the University of Georgia, Athens. Released by Elizabeth L. Andress, Ph.D., Department of Foods and Nutrition, College of Family and Consumer Sciences. June 2011. Equipment is pictured for informational purposes only, it does not imply approval of any product to the exclusion of others which may also be suitable.