Cowboy Candy Sweet Hot Pickled Peppers

Cowboy Candy Sweet Hot Pickled Peppers

I love summer when the living is easy…gardening, grilling, and maybe even a little light canning. I’m not about putting up quarts of tomatoes (although you should see how many plants we put in, lol!) but I do tinker with small batches of something special. Cowboy Candy Sweet Hot Pickled Peppers fit the bill & bonus…they go right in the fridge and don’t have to be “processed.”

Cowboy Candy Sweet Hot Pickled Peppers

Cowboy Candy Sweet & Hot Pickled Peppers

When I first made Cowboy Candy it was because I’d been to Aldi where you can’t just buy the one or two Jalapenos you need. Nope, nope, nope, ya gotta buy the whole package of a dozen or so. (Update: this may have changed since 2017 when this recipe was posted.) Since I hate waste I was going to roast, peel, deseed, and freeze them for future use when I had an “aha” moment. I decided I would pickle those jalapenos instead. Why not?

About Cowboy Candy Sweet Hot Pickled Peppers:

In my search for pickled jalapenos, I came across “Cowboy Candy” or Sweet Hot, sometimes called Candied, Jalapenos. And so yet again, my food ADD (make this, no make that, well, maybe I’ll pin it, and three hours later…I have no food for dinner but pinned like 7 gazillion recipes) came out and before you know it, I was venturing into uncharted territory with this “Cowboy Candy.”

Cowboy Candy – who knew, lol! These sweet, hot peppers are insanely good. They’re the perfect balance of sweet & heat. If you’re wondering if Cowboy Candy is worth making – take a gander at the prices on Amazon. A small batch (one jar) like this one of Cowboy Candy is so quick, so inexpensive and so good you’ll want to be making them all the time!

The Peppers:

Now, I use jalapenos because I love them in my Cowboy Candy, and I like to add red bell pepper or red jalapenos  just to make them “pretty.” Or about as pretty as army green can be!  You can use just about any pepper you want in your cowboy candy.

The sugary syrup helps tame the heat of the peppers a little. Still, a hot pepper is a hot pepper!  Mike over at Chili Pepper Madness has a Scoville Scale that ranks chile peppers from mildest to hottest.

Cowboy Candy Sweet & Hot Pickled Peppers

Making Cowboy Candy Sweet Hot Pickled Peppers:

You may want to wear gloves and a mask if you’re sensitive to the peppers, and you might just want to double up on the gloves. Me? I’m a little cray cray and I just go for it. If you do get an excess of the oils from the peppers on your hands, the only thing I’ve ever heard works to remove is to soak in milk. I’ve had some good luck with alcohol wipes.

The recipe is super easy. Even so, I like to give some deets so first-timers know what to expect. First of all, this is a refrigerator pickle and makes one jar (about 12 ounces.)  No need to can in a hot water bath but you may want to. And if you do, you might want to increase the recipe. I always advise to check a reliable canning site anytime you’re canning anything. I personally like like Ball Canning or the National Center for Home Food Preservation.

The most important part of the recipe is to reduce the liquid into a syrupy consistency after the jalapenos are cooked. Not as thick as say pancake syrup but there should be a definite shine to the liquid. If you go too far, you can always add a little water. Do this with the fan on high and wearing a mask if you lean that way! It takes a while for the fumes to dissipate.

Be aware when you’re making a small batch like this, you are very likely to have some leftover syrup. You might also have leftover syrup in the jar after the Cowboy Candy is gone (the latter will likely be super hot.) There are suggestions, below, on how to use that as well as some fun ideas on how to use your Cowboy Candy!

Peppers fpr Cowboy Candy Sweet Hot Pickled Peppers

Jalapenos & Red Peppers – I usually remove the centers if they are large and most of the seeds.

Here are a few more hints:

  • For safety, don’t add the lid until the peppers are cool, and then lid and refrigerate.
  • If the peppers shrivel a bit, that’s to be expected. It’s just the sugar working on them. After a few weeks, they will plump up, but even though the directions say to let them sit for two weeks, I can never wait that long!
  • I usually remove the seeds as much as possible but that’s up to you. When slicing a lot will fall out and the larger slices have a hard center. I remove that, too, with the seeds. When the peppers are boiled, it’s likely that some of the seeds will fall to the bottom, and as for any floaters? When the peppers are scooped up with a slotted spoon, the seeds will likely fall out into the syrup. After the jalapenos are in a jar, then strain the syrup.

Varying the recipe:

Some people like to add a little garlic, turmeric, cayenne, and /or mustard seeds. Again, that’s up to you. It def gives the Cowboy Candy a more pickly taste. That’s my new word pickly. You heard it first, here, folks!

For one jar like this, about two cloves of garlic, 1/2 teaspoon of turmeric, 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne, and somewhere around 1/2 teaspoon of mustard seed will get you in the ballpark. Of course, add more or less according to your taste. And you might want to try other common pickle flavors, too.

Candied Jalapenos

Cowboy Candy on crackers with Cream Cream

How to Serve Cowboy Candy Sweet Hot Pickled Peppers:

I love my Cowboy Candy on crackers with a little cream cheese to tame the heat – or on bagels with cream cheese. I’m sure they’ll be just as good used any way you’d use plain old pickled jalapenos like my Refrigerator Pickled Jalapenos. I love using them in my Candied Pickled Jalapeno Chicken Salad, shown below, too!

I like to add them to items like my Macaroni Salad, and they’re fabulous to add a kick to your Tuna Salad or a plainer chicken salad recipe, like this Copycat Costco Chicken Salad. Or maybe add them to my Tuna Macaroni Salad! Now there’s a mix-up to be happy about! Try them in cornbread like my Jalapeno Cheddar! They’ll spice it up for sure!

You can serve these on top of burgers, hot dogs, or pizza and they are fabulous in a dip, maybe a jalapeno popper dip or guacamole. Another of my faves is to top an open-faced sandwich: Layer some cream cheese, avocado & chicken on Naan bread (or whatever bread you like) and top with a little of the liquid and a few of the jalapenos. Photo below.

Dice them up to top your deviled eggs – and maybe use a little of the leftover syrup in the deviled eggs. I glaze some of my cornbreads with a jalapeno glaze, like this Famous Dave’s Cornbread. Just use diced-up Cowboy Candy and glaze it with the syrup. Just be open to inspiration and you’ll find all kinds of ways to use your Cowboy Candy.

What to do with Leftover Liquid:

Toss the liquid in a bottle and use it like any other hot sauce. Try adding a little syrup to a cocktail. Just a hint or more if you want. Maybe a margarita, possibly a Bloody Mary.  Add some to adult popsicles – especially good with pineapple.

Add a splash to your barbecue sauce, or a splash to any Asian type of a dish that already relies on sweet/spicy. Sprinkle it on pizza.  Add to a ham glaze. Baste your chicken wings with it. Use it in your Candied Nuts for some heat.

Add pectic and can for a clear jalapeno jelly. Consult a reliable source like Ball Canning or the National Center for Home Food Preservation for canning instructions. If there is enough syrup, try pickling hard-boiled eggs.

Deviled Eggs

Deviled Eggs with Cowboy Candy

Saving Money Cowboy Candy Sweet Hot Pickled Peppers:

  • The best pricing for jalapenos I’ve ever found is at Aldi. Shop around if you wish, and buy when they are in season. That will be late summer to early fall. They’re cheaper then.
  • The best pricing for any kind of vinegar is around Easter. Vinegar for dying eggs is on sale and usually, you’ll find both apple cider and white vinegar at a low.

So how about you guys? Have you tried Cowboy Candy? And if so, what’s your fave way to use the peppers and any leftover syrup?


Cowboy Candy Sweet Hot Pickled Peppers

Cowboy Candy Sweet & Hot Pickled Peppers


cowboy candy sweet hot pickled peppers

  • Author: mollie kirby
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20
  • Total Time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: 1 12 ounce jar 1x
  • Category: condiments



Notes: This is a “refrigerator” not a “canned” Candied Jalapeno, and hasn’t been tested for canning. The longer these sit in the refrigerator (a week is good, longer is better) the better they get.

  • 2 cups white granulated sugar
  • 3 cups apple cider vinegar
  • 3/4 pounds fresh green jalapeños, washed and sliced into 1/4 to 3/8th inch rings
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, cut into a small dice


In a small, deep saucepan, add sugar and vinegar and bring to a boil over medium heat. Stir until sugar is dissolved.

Standing back (so as not to inhale the fumes) add the peppers and bring back to a boil. Turn down to a simmer and stir now and then, cooking for about 4 minutes, or until peppers have lost their bright green color.

Remove from heat and with a slotted spoon, place the peppers in a very clean 12 ounce jar.

If desired, strain the seeds from the syrup and discard the seeds. Return the syrup to the heat and bring back to a boil for about five minutes or so until the mixture is syrupy. Pour hot liquid over the jalapenos. The jalapenos will float at first, but after a few hours will distribute throughout the jar.

Let cool to room temperature, cover, and store in the refrigerator. Any leftover syrup (and there will be some) can be saved for another use.

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Cowboy Candy Sweet & Hot Pickled Peppers are like pickled jalapenos x infinity. Hot tempered by sweet, Use as an app, condiment or in a dish! They're a great backyard barbecue or gameday item, Try topping cream cheese spread crackers. These are Small Batch, refrigerator pickles. #CowboyCandy #GameDayAppetizer #PickledJalapenos #CandiedJalapenos #CandiedPeppers



I’ll be bringing this recipe to Fiesta Friday, hosted this week by Monika @ Everyday Healthy Recipes and Jhuls @ The Not So Creative Cook.

Cowboy Candy Sweet Hot Pickled Peppers

41 thoughts on “Cowboy Candy Sweet Hot Pickled Peppers

  1. Kim

    Loved this recipe, I have been wanting to try it for a long time. I had several red jalapenos and a few green & it looks so pretty! Going to try them on a grilled hamburger next time we grill them. Thanks for sharing!

    • FrugalHausfrau

      Hi Kim, I love them on burgers. Not too long ago, I added some to some pimento cheese which I then topped my burger with. I was inspired by the new Chick Fil A chicken sandwich with pimento cheese! I hope you enjoy them as much as we do! Thanks for stopping back and commenting!


  2. Desiree Lee Hertzog

    I made these using differnt types of ghost, habaneros and hungarian hot peppers , they came out beautiful very very hot but ghost carolina reapers and scorpian peppers are the hottest in the world still so delicious!!! I also canned them as I made A LOT of them and had no issue with canning them 3 months later and still good

    • Malia

      Made these last year and I have been looking everywhere for this recipe! My family absolutely loves this stuff!!! It’s amazing in tuna!

      • FrugalHausfrau

        Hi Malia, I’m glad you found it again! Do what I do and share it on FB or Pinterest and then you’ll have it always!

        I have been using it in chicken salad – I bet it would really help out tuna salad!


  3. Marguerite Nutter

    I mix cowboy candy into the filling for my deviled eggs and then top with bacon….. how can jalapenos and bacon ever go wrong?

    • FrugalHausfrau

      Lori I personally have not but other people have told me they have used a mix of different peppers. Just be aware of your heat level


  4. just Bob

    Suggestion: Add a piece of hot smoked salmon to that cracker with creamed cheese and cowboy candy . Just had some yesterday. Amazing!!

    • FrugalHausfrau

      Oh my goodness Bob that sounds like an amazing combo thanks for filling us in on this treat! Mollie

  5. Viola Mast

    I made these and gave some to a couple friends. Everyone loved them! One ate it alone – right out of the jar! I had some extra juice in one of my jars – it makes a great drink! Simply put a lot of ice, vodka or gin, & a splash of this juice, add your tonic water. Delishious!

  6. Linda Moore

    Hi, Cowboy candy sounds delicious!!!! My daughter makes a sauce with pineapple, Jalapenos, and sugar. It is to die for!!!!! So, I’m betting this is just as good. I do have a question though. Have you ever made the recipe cut in half? I am single. So. I really would like to make less.

    • FrugalHausfrau

      Highlander you can definitely cut it back you just have to make sure you have enough syrup to cover the jalapenos.. Your daughter saw songs absolutely amazing!! Mollie

    • FrugalHausfrau

      Hi Cindy, thanks!! My son in law just bought some, and they were a pale comparison to these!! I’m glad you guys are enjoying them and thanks for taking the time to comment!


  7. Pingback: Cowboy Candy (Sweet & Hot) Pickled Peppers | My Meals are on Wheels

      • Mallory

        Just tried this!!! Our jalapeno plant hasn’t been as insane ad out Serrano and cayenne this year so I’m trying a mix of green and red Serrano, a few jalapeno, a good few red cayenne, and some tiny lunchbox. We have too many peppers and this smells HOT so I’m sure it will last us a good long while. Thank you!!!

        • FrugalHausfrau

          My jalapenos just did not produce well this year either, and I just had to leave my garden (I moved from MN to GA) so I wonder how everything else is doing! I gave my neighbors free reign to help themselves. The habaneros were looking good, so I was very sad to leave them!

          I love your idea of mixing/matching multiple peppers and I bet it IS hot with that variety!

          • Mallory

            It was definitely quite hot and my fiance is now referring to the mix as Russian Roulette Cowboy Candy haha we still have about 4 dozen serrano and cayenne so I’ll be making more this weekend, they go great on tacos and everything you can imagine! Sorry to hear about you having to leave your garden behind, I’ve always been lucky to move later in the year after the harvests are over. Hope your new home allows for excellent garden space!

            • FrugalHausfrau

              That is SO funny! I suppose with the mix of peppers it’s a crapshoot, lol! I’m betting the longer they sit the more they will absorb each others flavors (and heat!). You’ve inspired me to try a fun mix next time I make these!!

              I’m moving to be near my daughter. She says she’s already found and talked to some members of a garden club for me and found several community gardens. I had to laugh…I feel she’s “signing” me up for activities like she signs up the kids for after school functions, lol! Georgia will be a much longer growing season and I pulled a bunch of herbs to bring along with me and plant here…I just can’t live w/o my herbs!

              Take care, hon!!


  8. I’m still thinking about jalapeno popsicles!! You are so inventive Mollie!! But these do look great with most any bar-b-que meat. And– I heard they are building an Aldi about a mile from our house!! So excited had Aldi when we lived in Spain, but I’ve only heard other people refer to them here. What do you buy there?? OK, that’s all. Hugs from here Mollie!

    • Hi Rhonda – I was only going to put a teensy bit in the ones I was making! 🙂 They just put an Aldi in near my folk’s house last year and it was strange because it was the saddest little thing – I don’t know if there was a distribution problem or what – but now they’re up and running full speed. I buy a LOT of vegetables, some of the basics like flour, etc. and they always seem to have fun little cheeses but you never know what they’ll have. Eggs, milk and cream and bread are always cheap. I really love that they’re so small you can just cruise around and be in and out, but there are some things I end up picking up at the regular grocery store. Hugs back to you!

      • Hey Mollie– well, I can’t wait til they put in our Aldi (under construction now!). I’m hoping they have most of what we need–I don’t like funning around to multiple stores for groceries– I already make side trips to our Trader Joe’s for the unique things they have. Glad to have your valued evaluation! Are you still at your folks?? hugs from here!

    • Sunday

      I bought my jalapeños there yesterday. Meat, fresh vegetables and fruits bread, candy, pop, wine, beer. I love Aldi.

      • FrugalHausfrau

        Hi, and sorry to reply late…I’m in GA and there are two aldi that are both about 5 miles away! I just don’t shop there as often…I am really missing them though! Are you on the Aldi FB page? I love it!

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