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Sweet & Spicy Cowboy Candy

Cowboy Candy

I’m sure you’re thinking – “What in the world is Cowboy Candy? Has she lost her mind?”

Seriously – this stuff is delicious! It is essentially a candied jalapeño  – a little sweet and as spicy as you’d like. You can use it any way you want – on pizza, on crackers, however your heart desires. Additionally, you will have left over syrup – process as you would jars with jalapeños inside (below) and use as a sauce or glaze! We like to mix it with BBQ sauce when grilling for a little extra heat.

Cowboy Candy

[Yield: (3) Pints]

Materials: (all materials can be found on The Necessities for reference)

  • 3 pint jars (plus flat lids and bands/rings) [Hint: I usually add an additional jar or 2 just in case. Also, as mentioned in Jar Sizes, you can always can in smaller sizes just not larger – meaning, you can use 8 half-pints.]
  • 1 water bath
  • 1 funnel
  • 1 jar lifter
  • 1 stainless steel ladle
  • 1 large stainless steel pot (or dutch oven)
  • 1 dish towel (large enough for the jelly jars to cool on)
  • 1 slotted spoon
  • 1 debubbler
  • Gloves (optional but I can’t touch jalapeños without them!)
  • Gas mask okay – working with the windows open and fans on work to create enough of a breeze


  • 3 pounds fresh firm, jalapeno peppers, washed
  • 2 cups apple cider vinegar
  • 6 cups white granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon celery seed
  • 3 teaspoons granulated garlic
  • 1 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper


  1. Inspect each of your jars for cracks, chips, and/or any other questionable markings before use.
  2. Place wire rack into bottom of water bath with ‘arms’ up to allow jars to be placed.
  3. Fill your water bath with enough water to cover each of the jars with 2-3″ of liquid and place on burner to warm jars (simmer but do not boil).
  4. Starting with the washed jalapeños, first deseed [Hint: chop off stem and scoop out the seeds and set aside], and then slice into uniform 1/4″ coins.
  5. In a large stainless steel pot, bring apple cider vinegar, granulated sugar, turmeric, celery seed, granulated garlic, and ground cayenne pepper to a boil.
  6. Once boiling, reduce heat and summer for 5 minutes.
  7. Add sliced jalapeño pepper coins (if you want a little extra heat – add as much or as little of the seeds in at this time. My dad and boyfriend LOVE the heat so I add it all back in) to simmering mixture. Simmer for an additional 5 minutes.
  8. Remove empty jelly jars from water bath by lifting the wire rack and setting the arms on the rim of the water bath. Then, using jar lifter empty and remove the jar from the water.
  9. Using a slotted spoon, carefully skim out all jalapeños and transfer to empty jars using the funnel ensuring 1/4in head space. [Head space is the distance from the top of the jar to the food filling the jar.]
  10. Once again, turn up the heat on the pot with the remaining syrup and bring to a full boil. Boil hard for 6 minutes.
  11. Using a ladle, pour the boiling syrup over the jalapeño coins in the jars.
  12. Use debubbler to release any remaining bubbles. Add additional syrup if needed to maintain 1/4″ headspace.
  13. Wipe the rim of each jar with a damp cloth ensuring that the rims are clean.
  14. Place flat lid and screw band on jar and finger tighten. [Hint: Place the jar on a towel and using only your fingers, tighten the band until your jar spins on the towel.]
  15. Once finger tightened, return to warm water bath to avoid thermal shock. [Thermal shock is the cracking of jars from an extreme temperature swing such as putting hot food into a cold jar.] Lower wire rack once full.
  16. Place lid on canner, return to high heat and bring water to a full rolling boil.
  17. Once boiling, set timer for 15 minutes for pints or 10 minutes for half-pints [refer to your elevations processing time for correct info].
  18. After 15 minutes, turn off heat and remove the lid. Wait an additional 5 minutes.
  19. Once again, lifting wire rack and placing arms on canner rim, use the jar lifter to remove your filled jars and place on a towel in a cool & draft-free location.
  20. Wait 24 hours before touching the jars. After 24 hours, remove the bands and pick up each jar from the flat lid (this will help ensure that each jar is truly sealed). Once the seal is verified, you may wash the exterior of the jars, dry, label, and store for future use.

    Please note: that this item is best used when stored for at least 4 weeks before opening!

Unfortunately I have yet to make some more this year (I made 4 batches last year) so I am lacking photos. When I get around to making more – I WILL add photos. Until then, these will have to entice you enough to give it a go 😉

This Post Has 22 Comments

  1. Jeanette

    I grew my own Jalapeños, want to give the recipe a try, …6 cups of sugar seems a lot, can I use less sugar??

    1. Yes! Decrease as you see fit. Just be aware that you may produce less syrup than needed however, I usually end up with extra that I can to use when marinading meat. Would love to know how it turns out 🙂

  2. Deb

    Can you double this recipe

    1. Yes! Double, triple, quadruple if you like 😉 It does not use pectin so there is no issue of it setting or otherwise

  3. Joanne

    Omg our favorit along with 20 other friends. I made 6 batches last year !! And gave several away as gifts. Have a request for more this year lols made jelly and these this year for my family and gifts for friends!!! Everyone wants the recipe … have just shared your site with them. Thank you for sharing your recipe it’s the best !!!

  4. Fannie

    I made this recipe and it’s so tasty. I didn’t leave many seeds in it but it was still spicy.

  5. Sharon

    I used the left over juice to make pickles . We shall se how they turn out….

  6. Lou

    I am going to can this recipe now will let you know in about 5 weeks how they are

  7. Joan Strunk

    Thanks for the recipe! I’m making this tomorrow! Very concise perfect instructions!

  8. Amy

    I live in norther Canada so growing jalapeños isn’t an easy feat, I harvested this morning and just pulled these out of the canner. The syrup left over in the pot is delicious. I can’t wait to have some with the family.

  9. Dylan

    Could you dice the peppers instead of slice?

    1. Anne

      Yes. That’s how I make mine.

  10. Norm

    I wish you had a “print” option. Trying to copy this to Word and then adjust pictures, and cut ads and…..well, beyond frustrating! Maybe you can add a “print recipe” option to you posts?

    1. Joan Strunk

      Hi Norm. Here’s a solution for your comment. Do a “screen saver” shot. If you’re on a smart phone or a tablet, put one finger on your photo button at the bottom and another on your “on/off” button on the side. Press both at the same time. This takes a picture of your screen and saves it in your pictures. Do each section of the recipe, scrolling down to where you left off. Then go to your pictures, select those shots and send to your printer. I’m 75 and if I can do it, so can you! I use this method for anything I need a hard copy of. Good luck!

      1. polly

        That is an awfully cumbersome method! Why not just provide a print option?

  11. Dina Hardy

    raining today soo I’m picking my peppers and trying my hand at this recipe. Rare rain for Arizona

  12. Rhonda

    How do I get red jalapeños? Mine are only growing green.

    1. If you leave your jalapeños on the plant, they will eventually turn red (assuming that they are not a chocolate, or other variety)

  13. Beth

    How long does it last in the fridge after you open it?

    1. Typically we eat it very quickly but I would assume a month or so. Since it would be opened you’d have your typical signs of food going bad – smelling off or visible molding.
      If you’re worried about not using a jar in time you can always process in a smaller sized jar.

  14. Bobbie

    Would like to know if you could use other hot peppers with this recipe? Or maybe mix the hot peppers?

    1. When canning, peppers can always be safely swapped out as long as you maintain the same quantity. Happy Canning!

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