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Pickled Jalapeños, a quick and easy kick

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These pickled jalapeños are the burst of acidity and heat that fans of heat love on just about anything.

The prefab kind that you find at the supermarket are fine and more or less get the job done, but they have a tendency to be a little mushy. Which is why it’s worth it to make your own.

At least if you have a few minutes to spare.

Jalapeño peppers on a counter

Like any refrigerator pickle, these pickled jalapeños involve making a simple brine of vinegar, water, and salt, and in this case, there’s a bit of sugar and garlic as well.

The sweetness here is gentle, and it complements and slightly tames the heat. These are spicy, but not burn-your-tongue-off spicy. (I find jalapeño peppers somewhat inconsistent in their heat levels, and if yours are hotter than you prefer you can add a little extra sugar to mellow them a bit more.)

For the heat averse there are always mild pickled banana peppers and medium pickled poblano peppers.

Sliced jalapeño peppers on a cutting board

This calls for plain white vinegar, the kind of thing that comes in huge plastic jugs and can be had for song. But you could absolutely use a champagne vinegar or an apple cider vinegar here if that’s what you have.

I wouldn’t use any fancy or heavily flavored vinegars here because you really want to let the flavor of the jalapeños come through.

These are simple and unfussy and work best when you don’t mess with them too much.

Sliced jalapeños in a bowl with a measuring cup with white vinegar alongside

As a contact wearer, I like to wear disposable gloves when slicing jalapeño peppers or any hotter peppers to avoid the stinging sensation when I take out my contacts. (I’ve learned my lesson the hard way on that one.)

But if that’s not a concern for you then gloves are totally optional here.

The peppers get sliced into rings, the stems get discarded, and the mix of vinegar, water, salt, sugar, and garlic get heated on the stove until the sugar dissolves.

Don’t be alarmed if the garlic turns blue. It’s a reaction with acid, and it’s totally harmless.

Sliced jalapeño peppers steeping in pickling brine

Then the hot brine mixture gets poured over the sliced jalapeño peppers and the mixture hangs out until it cools down.

At that point, they’re ready to eat.

Though I usually transfer them to a jar and keep them in the refrigerator where they retain their crunch beautifully for a couple of weeks. They keep pretty well for longer, but over time they slowly succumb to the textural ravages of time and get softer and lose their vibrant green color.

(Which is to say they become more like what you can buy at most grocery stores.)

Pickled sliced jalapeños in a mason jar

These pickled jalapeños are a classic topping on nachos, of course. But they are also welcome on pizza, in sandwiches, on tacos or burritos or quesadillas, and even on soup, like this corn, jalapeño, and sweet potato bisque.

They add a bit of crunch along with sharp acidity and kicky heat to so many things that need a bit of oomph.

The payoff here is totally worth the effort.

Pickled jalapeños in a jar, overhead view
Yield: 1 quart

Pickled Jalapeño Peppers

Pickled sliced jalapeños in a mason jar

These pickled jalapeños are great to have in your refrigerator for any dish that needs a little something extra.

They can brighten up nachos or tacos or quesadillas, and they are welcome on pizza and sandwiches as well. These are spicy and appropriate for fans of heat, but the sugar mellows the heat a little bit. You can add a bit more sugar if you want to tame the heat a bit more.

These are simply seasoned, with just a bit of sugar and salt and garlic. You could add other spices to the brine if you like, but I don't think it's necessary.

Don't be alarmed if the garlic cloves turn blue. It happens over time with their contact with vinegar.

If you wear contacts, you may want to wear disposable gloves when slicing the jalapeños to avoid stinging your eyes when you take your contacts out.

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes

Ingredients

  • 3 cups jalapeño peppers, sliced into 1/4-inch rings.
  • 1 1/2 cups white vinegar
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed

Instructions

  1. Add the sliced jalapeños to a heat safe mixing bowl.
  2. Add the vinegar, water, sugar, salt, and garlic cloves to a small saucepan. Heat over medium heat until the sugar and salt have dissolved.
  3. Pour the brine mixture over the jalapeños and let sit until cool.
  4. Transfer to a mason jar (or other airtight container) and refrigerate until ready to use.

Notes

These stay crisp in the refrigerator for about 2 weeks, and while they soften a bit and lose their vibrant green color they are still good for at least a month.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

32

Serving Size:

2 tablespoons

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 11Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 596mgCarbohydrates: 2gFiber: 0gSugar: 2gProtein: 0g
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Kathryn

Friday 26th of March 2021

I bet these jalapeños would be delicious on our burgers! I'm totally going to make these and I know they will be a hit!

Jacqueline Meldrum

Friday 26th of March 2021

I must try this. These would perk up so many dishes!

Biana

Friday 26th of March 2021

These jalapenos look delicious! Perfect for tacos and sandwiches.

Courtney | Love & Good Stuff

Friday 26th of March 2021

We love making our own pickled jalapenos. I agree, they are so much better than store bought!

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