Jalapeños are one of the most common peppers to grow at home. The plants are easy to maintain, have a short growing period, and tend to produce lots of peppers. They are the ideal pepper to grow for a casual gardener who likes a little bit of spiciness in their food.
It’s also very common to end up with WAY TOO MANY peppers at the end of a growing season. There are only so many friends that will take all of your extra produce. That is where learning how to pickle jalapeño peppers comes into play.
Pickling, or canning, is a quick and easy way for you to turn your fresh peppers into crunchy, satisfying snacks that will last a long time in the refrigerator. There are other methods for preserving jalapeños, like freezing (read our guide to freezing jalapenos here), but pickling is our favorite.
First, let’s learn the basics of pickling. These three methods are the most widely used and are in order from least to most difficult. Pickling is our favorite method for quick, delicious snacks, but depending on what you want to preserve, you may need to can or pressure can your foods.
What are the pickling methods?
Depending on how long you need to keep your jalapeños, you have a few options for pickling. Quick pickling and waterbath canning are likely going to be your two options, as pressure canning can be costly to begin, and isn’t really required to produce long-lasting pickles.
- Quick pickling – Uses a hot vinegar brine to ferment fresh foods, producing lactic acid to preserve. Keeps for 2-4 weeks.
- Waterbath canning – Seals produce in air-tight jars by boiling them in a large pot of water for a certain amount of time. Keeps for 1+ years.
- Pressure canning – Seals produce or meat in air-tight jars by cooking in a pressure cooker to ensure all bacteria are killed. Keeps for 1+ years.
For jalapeño peppers, we prefer to use the quick pickling method. It provides a long enough refrigerator life to eat all of the peppers over the course of a few weeks. Then again, we are pretty serious pepper heads. If you want your peppers to last months or even a year or more, then waterbath canning is going to be your best bet.
Quick Pickling jalapeños
Difficulty: Easy | Cook Time: 20 minutes
When quick pickling, the benefit is maintaining crisp, fresh veggies by using a vinegar brine. Not great for fruits (conflicting flavors), but most vegetables are delicious when pickled this way. Jalapeños are absolutely scrumptious in a simple, slightly sweet brine made with common household ingredients. That is why we prefer this method to pickle our jalapeño peppers.
Materials & Ingredients
- Glass jars (We like these wide-mouth Ball jars on Amazon)
- Metal lids
- Water (1 part)
- White vinegar (1 part)
- Kosher salt (normal salt is fine, but Kosher salt has benefits)
These are the basic ingredients for creating a brine. You can then add more ingredients to your liking. Specific recipes for pickling jalapeños vary from simple to complex.
For example, see our spicy dill refrigerator pickles recipe. This recipe works great for jalapeños, too.
If you follow the basic proportions of the above brine, you can experiment with your favorite ingredients. Some of our favorite things to add to pickled jalapeños are fresh chopped garlic, whole black peppercorns, mustard seed, apple cider vinegar (instead of white vinegar), and oregano.
Important to know: quick pickling does not produce a reliable seal on your jars, and therefore pickled jalapeños must be stored in the refrigerator right away. This is a drawback of this method, and it can be a deal breaker if you want to preserve your jalapeños long-term.
How to Quick Pickle Jalapeños
- Wash and cut jalapeños. Wash all peppers with cold water. Using a sharp knife, cut peppers into 1/4 inch slices.
- Fill jars. Using gloves or tongs, place sliced peppers into glass jars (ball jars or similar), leaving 1/2 inch of space at the top of each jar. Ensure jars have been cleaned prior to pickling.
- Make brine. Combine 1 part vinegar with 1 part water in a large pot. Add salt, sugar and other desired spices and flavorings. Bring to a boil, then shut off the heat.
- Pour brine over peppers. Pour hot brine over pepper slices, ensuring peppers are fully submerged. Allow brine to sit for 5-10 minutes to allow any air bubbles to escape the jars.
- Cover and refrigerate. Seal all jars tightly and place in the refrigerator to cool. This cooling process will decrease the pressure in the jars, providing some protection from airborne bacteria.
- Enjoy. You can eat quick-pickled jalapeños 1-2 hours after first pouring the brine, and for up to 3-4 weeks thereafter. Always keep refrigerated.
The process of quick pickling is so easy that we always end up with several delicious varieties in the refrigerator. Since the process is so quick, it’s easy to try new things, even in the same cooking session. You can even combine jalapeño peppers with other types of vegetables, or other peppers!
Tip: For less crunchy peppers, or to create pickled jalapeños for a relish, boil your peppers with the brine for 6-8 minutes before adding to jars.
Pros of Quick Pickling
- Super quick & easy to make
- Keeps pickled jalapeños crisp and crunchy
- Versatile ingredients
- Can be enjoyed same-day
Cons of Quick Pickling
- Shorter shelf life compared to canning
- Must be refrigerated immediately
- Requires vinegar and salt to keep foods preserved longer
Quick pickling jalapeños is the best way to get started. You can buy your supplies from a local grocery store, and start preserving those fresh jalapeño peppers for weeks to come!
Waterbath Canning jalapeños
Difficulty: Moderate | Cook Time: ~1 hour
Waterbath canning is another method on how to pickle jalapeño peppers. This method involves a bit more work and supplies, but is still very simple. This method can also be used for a wider variety of fruits and vegetables, like fruit jams.
The main benefit of waterbath canning is that it produces a much longer shelf life. There are some drawbacks, but if you want to keep your jalapeños preserved for a year or more, canning is definitely for you.
Materials & Ingredients
- Glass jars with sealing metal lids (Get on Amazon)
- Large pot with bottom rack
- Jar lifter (this kit on Amazon has all necessary hardware to start canning)
- Water (1 part)
- White vinegar (2-3 parts)
- Pickling salt (normal salt is fine, but pickling salt has benefits)
- Pickling crisp for crunchy peppers (Get on Amazon)
The process for waterbath canning is similar to quick pickling, but instead of simply pouring the brine over your peppers, you will boil the filled jars in a large pot for about 10 minutes. This additional step kills bacteria and reduces the likelihood of spoiling.
How To Pickle Jalapeños (Canning method)
- Prepare your peppers. Wash your peppers and slice in the desired shape. We like 1/4 inch slices with the seeds left in. If you want a less spicy pickled pepper, remove the seeds with a spoon. Always wear gloves when handling hot peppers!
- Warm the empty jars. In a large pot, place a bottom rack to keep your jars from directly touching the bottom. This will reduce the chance of jars cracking. Fill the pot with 2-3 inches of water and add your jars. Add empty jars, and bring to a simmer (just under a boil) for about 5 minutes.
- Create your brine. Add vinegar, water and salt and other flavoring ingredients to a small pot. Bring to a boil.
- Add your peppers. After the jars have simmered, remove them with a jar lifter, or carefully use tongs or an oven mitt. Fill the jars with sliced peppers, leaving some room at the top for brine to cover them.
- Add the brine. Fill all jars so that your jalapeños are fully covered.
- Add lids to the jars. (Important!) Add the seal and lid to each jar, and close just until you start to feel resistance. Do not fully tighten the lids, as this can cause cracking during the next step. Always use brand new lids and seals to ensure your pickles are 100% sealed.
- Boil the jars. Add the prepared jars back to the pot and bring to a full, rolling boil. Boil for 10 minutes, then remove jars with jar lifter.
- Check for bad seals. After removing jars, allow to cool for 45 minutes at room temperature. The lid’s center should now be compressed, and should not move when pressed. If the jar did not seal, you can refrigerate and enjoy the pickled peppers within a week or two.
- Store in a cool place. Label all jars with the pickling date. Place jars in a cool, dark place out of sunlight (a pantry or cupboard is ideal). Most pickles will taste best if allowed to infuse for at least 1 month before consuming.
This method works well for all types of peppers, including sweet bell peppers, banana peppers, habanero peppers, and more.
Canned jalapeños should last upwards of 1 year before opened, but always be sure to check for signs of mold or spoiling. If you are ever unsure, just don’t eat it!
Pros of Canning
- More reliable preservation
- Much longer shelf life (1 year or more)
- Can be stored out of the refrigerator
Cons of Canning
- More supplies required
- Can cause limp vegetables without pickling crisp
- Must be allowed to sit for several weeks for best flavor
Pressure canning takes waterbath canning one step further, where instead of boiling, you are pressure boiling your cans. This allows for higher temperatures to kill off more potential bacteria.
For creating pickled foods, pressure canning is unnecessary. This is because the vinegary brine helps to create a suitable environment for preventing bacterial growth.
However, when pressure canning, vinegar is no longer necessary to preserve your food. Without a need for vinegar, the potential to preserve many more foods is opened. The process is more involved and can be dangerous if you are not familiar with the equipment. Read more about pressure canning methods and the necessary supplies here.
What are the benefits of pressure canning?
Pressure canning allows a much wider variety of foods to be preserved, beyond highly acidic fruits and vegetables or pickled items. You can preserve meats, and you can preserve alkaline veggies without adding vinegar.
Another benefit is that pressure canning preserves most of the original nutrients of the food being preserved. Many cooking methods destroy nutritional value, but pressure canning does not.
Can I use my Instant Pot for pressure canning?
To put it simply, no. It is not recommended by the manufacturer to use an Instant Pot for pressure canning. However, the Instant Pot Max has a home canning feature that allows you to waterbath can your foods at home. To pressure can your foods, you must use a proper canning pressure cooker (like this one).
How Long Do Pickled Peppers Last In The Fridge?
While unopened pickled peppers can last 1 or more years before being opened, after opening they will still last 1-2 months in the refrigerator. Be sure to visually inspect your peppers before consuming. If you are hesitant, it is best to not eat them.
Quick Pickling vs Canning
Both pickling methods have their benefits, but it can be tough to decide which method is right for you. If you’re still not sure, here is a simple comparison between quick pickling and canning to help you decide which preservation method to choose.
- Enjoy same day
- Maintains crispness of veggies
- Must be stored in the refrigerator
- Lasts 2-4 weeks in the fridge
- Go to instructions
- Must sit for weeks before eating
- Requires new lids and a large boiling pot
- Lasts for at least 1 year in the pantry
- Go to instructions
There are many other methods for preserving peppers. That’s why we compiled our top 5 favorite ways to preserve peppers here. From freezing to making hot sauce, there are some other great options for preserving your peppers.
For more of our recipes and ideas for how to use your jalapeño peppers, subscribe to our newsletter. We hope this article helped you learn how to pickle jalapeño peppers at home. Happy Jalapeno Pickling!