Best Cowboy Candy Recipe, Ingredients, Directions and FAQ
7 mins read

Best Cowboy Candy Recipe, Ingredients, Directions and FAQ

Cowboy Candy Recipe

Cowboy Candy Recipe – I can’t quit slyly adding these fiery and sweet peppers to my dish. These days, the jar is present at every dinner. I’m gently pushing you to try candied jalapeños if you haven’t before.

You don’t have to be an expert canner to make this cowboy candy. It’s quite easy and can be kept in the refrigerator for months!

What is cowboy candy?

Candied jalapeños, sometimes known as sweet pickled jalapeños, can also be dubbed cowboy candy, which is an amusing moniker. Sliced fresh jalapeños are pickled in a vinegar-based, sugar-and spice-infused tart syrup. Compared to using just white vinegar and white sugar, our recipe for cowboy candy has amazing depth and more nuanced flavors thanks to the addition of apple cider vinegar and brown sugar. In addition, we always enjoy a dish that allows us to use our own garlic and turmeric powder! The end product is a sweet pepper creation that is somewhat hot, tasting something like pepper jelly.

Key Ingredients

  • Peppers: You can experiment with different peppers in this recipe, but I use fresh jalapeño peppers. Additionally, I leave my peppers whole and don’t cut off the seeds or membranes because the sugar syrup greatly reduces the heat from the peppers. The majority of the heat is found in the seeds and membrane, thus removing them will have a moderate effect. For spicier cowboy candy, mix hotter peppers with the jalapenos or use them in place of all of them.
  • Garlic: Crusted raw garlic adds visual appeal and taste. Just like the peppers, my favorite part is the candied sliced garlic.

  • Vinegar: I use distilled white vinegar and apple cider vinegar for the greatest flavor. Cutting the apple cider vinegar with the white vinegar keeps the syrup from tasting too much like an apple.
  • Sugar: Since this is a recipe for candied jalapeños, you’ll notice that our recipe below calls for a fair amount of sugar. The sliced peppers are kept in a vinegar-sugar syrup as opposed to a brine.
  • Turmeric: As the peppers rest in the jar, it enhances their color and flavor. This recipe for bread and butter pickles also calls for turmeric.


  • 3lbs jalapenos, fresh and firm
  • 2cups cider vinegar
  • 6 cups granulated sugar
  • 12teaspoon turmeric
  • 12teaspoon celery seed
  • 3teaspoons granulated garlic
  • 1teaspoon ground cayenne pepper


  • Wearing gloves, remove the stems from all of the jalapeno peppers. The easiest way to do this is to slice a small disc off of the stem end along with the stem. Discard the stems.

Cowboy Candy Ingredients

  • Slice the peppers into uniform 1/8-1/4 inch rounds. Set aside.
  • In a large pot, bring cider vinegar, white sugar, turmeric, celery seed, granulated garlic, and cayenne pepper to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes.

  • Add the pepper slices and simmer for exactly 4 minutes.
  • Use a slotted spoon to transfer the peppers, loading them into clean, sterile canning jars to within 1/4 inch of the upper rim of the jar.
  • Turn the heat up under the pot with the syrup and bring to a full rolling boil. Boil hard for 6 minutes.
  • Use a ladle to pour the boiling syrup into the jars over the jalapeno slices. Insert a cooking chopstick to the bottom of the jar two or three times to release any trapped pockets of air. Adjust the level of the syrup if necessary. Wipe the rims of the jars with a clean, damp paper towel and fix on new, two-piece lids to finger-tip tightness.
  • *If you have leftover syrup, and it is likely that you will, you can put it in half-pint or pint jars, too. It’s wonderful brushed on meat on the grill or added to potato salad or, or, or… In short, don’t toss it out!
  • Place jars in a canner, and cover with water by 2 inches. Bring the water to a full rolling boil. When it reaches a full rolling boil, set the timer for 10 minutes for half-pints or 15 minutes for pints.
  • When the timer goes off, use canning tongs to transfer the jars to a cooling rack. Leave them to cool, undisturbed, for 24 hours. When fully cooled, wipe them with a clean, damp washcloth then label.

  • Allow to mellow for at least two weeks, but preferably a month before eating. Or don’t.

Cowboy Candy Recipe

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does cowboy candy last?

Cowboy candy can be sealed and kept at room temperature for up to a year if it is bottled and stored correctly (in a cool, dark place). In theory, it should last for a few years, but over time, the quality will deteriorate. For optimal results, consume within a year of purchase. Once the jar is unsealed, use the canned cowboy candy within two to three months by storing it in the refrigerator.

Store untreated jars of candied jalapeños in the refrigerator at all times if you decide not to can your cowboy candy. Cowboy candy should keep well in the refrigerator for two to three months (or more) without needing to be canned, due to the acidic properties of the vinegar and sugar. Additionally, candied jalapeños can be frozen for up to 6 months as long as you store them in freezer-safe containers!

Why is it called cowboy candy?

These hot-and-sweet peppers are surprisingly old—more than a century! They are supposed to have started in 1922 on a ranch in St. Augustine, Texas. The creator? A seven-year-old girl named Mindie Heironimus. No one is quite sure how the catchy moniker came to be, but it’s kept around, much like everyone’s fondness of ’em.

Can I use frozen jalapeños for cowboy candy?

Save your frozen jalapeños for another recipe—fresh is great here! If you use frozen peppers, they’ll turn out far too mushy. Canned jalapeños won’t work well either.

Can I use other types of chili peppers?

Yes, you can use other types of chili peppers, such as serrano peppers or habaneros, for a different level of heat and flavor.

How spicy is cowboy candy?

The spiciness of cowboy candy depends on the type of jalapenos used and how many seeds and membranes are left intact. If you want a milder version, you can remove the seeds and membranes before slicing the jalapenos.

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