11 Things To Do With Jalapeño Peppers

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Every time a jalapeño goes to waste, a Pepper Geek cries. No, not really, but you don’t have to waste your extra jalapeño peppers!

Today, I’ll share 11 easy ways to use up a big harvest of jalapeños. From simple recipes to storage techniques, you’ll find the right option for you. Let’s get into it.

Huge pile of jalapenos
Our fall harvest of jalapeños.

1. Make pickled jalapeños

Jalapeño peppers are the perfect candidate for pickles. With their thick, crunchy walls, medium heat level, and slightly smoky flavor, the result is addictive.

pickled jalapeno peppers

Better yet, they are super easy to make in big batches! So, not only are you making a tasty snack, but it will last for months in the fridge when properly sealed.

Homemade pickled jalapeños can be as simple as combining water, vinegar, salt, and a few herbs and spices. This brine is boiled and poured over the sliced jalapeños, and voila: A crisp, crunchy, tangy, and gift-able treat.

Tip: Use green jalapeños for making pickles – red jalapeños will turn soft much quicker.

2. Make spicy homemade salsa

Salsa is one of those summer snacks that we can’t get enough of. It is amazing to put together a few simple, homegrown ingredients to create a mouthwatering appetizer.

Red jalapeno salsa
Traditional jalapeño salsa

Our favorite jalapeño salsas:

  • Classic Mexican-style salsa. Tomatoes, jalapeños, garlic, and cilantro combine to make a super fresh salsa, perfect for chip dippin’.
  • Spicy pineapple salsa. For something more sweet and exotic, try our tangy pineapple-jalapeño salsa. With sweet onion and a touch of our secret ingredient, this salsa is a winner.
  • Salsa verde – Using tomatillos and fresh peppers, this salsa verde is incredibly easy and fast to whip up.

While salsa doesn’t use up as many jalapeños as other methods, you can make larger batches and can them for long-term storage. Just make sure the acidity is high enough for safe storage.

3. Make jalapeño poppers

Whether it is game day, or you want to be the all-star guest at the next party, jalapeño poppers are a great option. They may seem daunting to make, but they are actually quite simple. (Plus, you can easily make them in the air-fryer or oven).

Jalapeno popper recipe
Fried jalapeño popper.

It’s not hard to understand why they are so delicious: Fresh jalapeños, cream cheese, bacon, and cheddar… what’s not to like?

If you want a fun variation of these, try our smoked jalapeño popper dip or jalapeño popper mac and cheese.

4. Dehydrate them and make powder

Homemade pepper powder has so many uses in the kitchen, and even in the garden. Jalapeños make a tasty spice, and the powder can be used in any dish to add flavor and heat.

Dehydrating is another great preservation method, easily lasting a year or longer when stored in an airtight container. You can use a dehydrator (ideally), but you can also use your oven, toaster oven, or even air dry the peppers.

Mixed pepper powders in a ball jar
Various pepper powders (jalapeños are in the middle).

If you’re feeling adventurous, try making smoked jalapeño powder (chipotle powder). This smoky, earthy, robust flavored spice goes a long way. We use ours to flavor chili, taco seasoning, soup, aioli spreads, and even on eggs.

5. Add them to pasta dishes

Homemade pasta sauce should be a staple in everyone’s house in late summer/early fall. We love adding classic Italian ingredients such as basil and thyme, but jalapeños will really level things up.

jalapeno popper mac and cheese

Even if you aren’t making tomato sauce, jalapeño peppers can be added sliced fresh into any pasta dish. From rigatoni to spaghetti with meatballs, jalapeños will kick up the flavor (assuming you like it spicy!).

6. Save the seeds to grow later

Many jalapeño dishes require you to remove the seeds and placenta before cooking. Why let those perfectly viable seeds go to waste?

pepper seeds on cutting board

If you are a gardener, saving pepper seeds can be a fun way to save money and even share with other gardening friends. However, I only recommend saving home-grown pepper seeds from heirloom varieties, not hybrids or store bought jalapeños.

Keep in mind, home grown peppers may have cross pollinated with other nearby pepper varieties. In this case, the seeds from a crossed pepper will produce unreliable fruit shape, size, and heat level. We don’t mind it, but it is good to know!

7. Make candied jalapeños

Candied jalapeños, also known as cowboy candy, are a delicious, sweet snack for spicy food lovers. The process is similar to making pickles, only with a different flavor and sweetness profile.

Cowboy Candy Recipe
Candied jalapeños.

These make a wonderful gift for that one uncle or co-worker who is always talking about spicy food. We usually just eat them straight, but they can also be added to foods for crunch and flavor (they would be delicious on a sausage & peppers sub).

8. Freeze them for later

If you just can’t choose how to use your jalapeños at the moment, then freezing is one of the quickest storage methods. Jalapeños can be frozen whole, sliced, or even diced for later.

Note: Frozen peppers will lose their crunch factor after thawing. We recommend cooking them right from frozen. The jalapeños will maintain their heat and flavor for months when frozen properly!

How To Freeze Jalapenos, fresh and frozen jalapenos side-by-side

9. Try making hot sauce

In our experience, jalapeños can be tricky to use as a base for hot sauce. However, there are definitely some delicious jalepeño hot sauce recipes out there. Experimenting with homemade hot sauces is a fun way to use your hot peppers and perhaps create a tasty sauce to be proud of.

jalapeño hot sauce
Our green jalapeño hot sauce recipe.

Try experimenting with red vs green jalapeños. Red ripe jalapeños have a deeper, sweeter flavor, while green ones make a fresh and crisp hot sauce.

10. Ferment them

Fermentation is one of nature’s magical gifts to gardeners and foodies alike. Fresh jalapeños are a great fermentation candidate for their large size and natural sugar content.

Better yet, combine your jalapeños with other fresh produce to make a fermented hot sauce! Simply ferment the ingredients for the desired time, blend them together, add vinegar if desired, and enjoy.

Fermented pepper mash
Fermented pepper mashes in jars.

Fermentation also preserves your peppers by creating lactic acid. This is responsible for the tangy, acidic flavor in most fermented foods.

Watch our video on fermenting peppers here.

11. Make jalapeño pepper jam

jalapeno jelly

If you like it sweet, then you can use your jalapeños to make a delicious pepper jam or jelly. This can be as pepper-focused as you’d like. Some jam recipes call for mostly fruits (such as strawberries), while others are mainly peppers.

Either way, we love the combination of spicy and sweet, so jalapeño jam is a treat. It makes for a great gift, and can be used on cheese and crackers, toast, or even added to the pan after cooking meat to make a sweet pan sauce.

Check out our recipe for strawberry jalapeño jam (video) here.

How long do fresh jalapeños last?

Fresh jalapeños are best stored in the refrigerator. There, they can last between 1-2 weeks before beginning to soften and potentially develop mold or rot.

If you need longer-term storage, try freezing, pickling, fermenting, or dehydrating your peppers. This extends the shelf life closer to a year or longer (depending on the exact method used)!

I hope this article helps you find one or two ideas for what to do with jalapeños. We have tried everything on this list, and continue to experiment with these amazing peppers. Let us know in the comments your favorite way of using jalapeños!

Calvin Thumbnail


One of the original Pepper Geeks! When Calvin isn’t gardening or learning more about peppers and botany, he might be traveling new places or playing some music.

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  1. Our jalapenos vary enormously in heat level. Is there a way to measure the heat level of peppers that is doable in our kitchen, not a science lab? Where can I get the measuring tool?

  2. You mentioned #7 candied jalapeños, (cowboy candy) but i didn’t see a link for directions. If you have a recipe for this could you please forward it to me.

  3. Great tips, thanks for sharing! We’ve found that making up poppers and freezing them is a great way to use excess jalapenos and have delicious, hassle-free appetizers on hand all winter long. Just make them your favorite way, freeze them on a cookie sheet, then package them a dozen or so at a time with a Foodsaver (vacuum sealer). To serve, just unbag, put them on a cookie sheet and into a 400 degree oven (still frozen) for 20-25 minutes, and viola! Because baking the jalapenos softens them anyway they’re indistinguishable from fresh made poppers, and so easy! (And if you haven’t given a cream cheese/grated cotija blend in your poppers a try, we highly recommend it).

  4. Great ideas have picked, fermented and dehydrated peppers before. This years jalapenos do not have any heat, they are plentiful and large some have a black discoloration on their skins but otherwise appear healthy. Any suggestions ? Is something missing in their development?

    1. Basically every growing condition can impact capsaicin production. Water amount, sunlight, soil fertility, and of course variety. Can’t be sure what’s causing it, but I’d just be sure to grow the varieties you have enjoyed in the past and make sure they’re getting adequate sun

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