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21 December 2018

A very easy recipe for making candied jalapenos, or homemade cowboy candy, for desserts or snacking. They’re a great blend of sweet and heat. Basically sliced jalapenos preserved in a seasoned simple syrup, they’re perfect for garnishing cocktails, topping corn bread or cupcakes, or popping into your guacamole.

We’re making homemade cowboy candy today, my friends! It’s such a HAPPY DAY!

I love DIY cowboy candy, otherwise known as Candied Jalapenos. They’re sweet and spicy and I can just eat a whole jar’s worth in a sitting. Yes, I’m that bad.

It’s a classic recipe, really. It’s a great way to preserve your summer jalapeno harvest.

You can preserve them in a water bath and keep them in the pantry. Or just store them in the refrigerator for a few months easy.

Candied Jalapenos (Cowboy Candy) Recipe

What Is Cowboy Candy?

Cowboy candy is another name for candied jalapenos. They are essentially sliced jalapenos that are simmered and sweetened in a seasoned simple syrup.

They’re a perfect combination of sweet and spicy and they’re ideal for quick sweet snacks or garnishing. The candying process also helps to preserve them, too. 

The term has been around for ages, but the recipe is so popular, some small time company even trademarked the common name. That particular product isn’t much to speak of, but this homemade version is far superior. Everything is better homemade, isn’t it? And super easy! Why buy this stuff when you can SO EASILY make it at home?

Let’s get cooking!

Ingredients You’ll Need for Making Homemade Cowboy Candy

You will need the following ingredients to make homemade Cowboy Candy (Candied Jalapenos):

  • 1/2 pound Jalapeno peppers (about 10-12 average sized jalapenos)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ½ cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder (optional, for a bit of heat)
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric powder
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • Other seasonings, as desired. See the discussion below.

Once you’ve gathered up your ingredients, let’s talk about how we make them, shall we?

How to Make Homemade Cowboy Candy (Candied Jalapenos) – The Recipe Method

 

First, slice the jalapenos into ¼-inch round slices. You can remove the seeds if you’d like, but I make them without coring. You should wear gloves if handling hot peppers bothers your skin.

Chopping jalapeno peppers in a pan to make Candied Jalapenos (Cowboy Candy)

Stir together the sugar, vinegar and seasonings in a pan.

Bring to a quick boil, then reduce the heat to a low simmer until the sugar dissolves into a gooey syrup.

Stirring the seasoned simple sugar in a pan

Add the jalapeno pepper slices and mix to evenly coat them with the syrup.

Adding jalapeno peppers to the pan

Simmer them about 4 minutes. They will darken a bit as they slightly cook and absorb some of the sugars.

Simmering jalapeno peppers in a pan to make Candied Jalapenos (Cowboy Candy)

Transfer the candied jalapeno peppers to cleaned jars, then fill the jars with the remaining syrup. Just pour the boiling syrup right in. You can cool it slightly first if you’d like.

Pouring the simple sugar into the jarred Candied Jalapenos (Cowboy Candy)

Wipe the rim of the jar then cover and store in the refrigerator for up to 3 months.

Candied Jalapenos (Cowboy Candy) Recipe

Boom! That’s it! I love my homemade cowboy candy. Great stuff!

Leftover Syrup

If you have any leftover syrup, save it. Use it to make yourself a cocktail or a spicy mocktail. It’s quite delicious! Pour it over cupcakes. Get creative!

Nice and spicy and sweet.

For Preserving/Jarring

  1. First, clean your jars and lids using a steamer rack in a 16-quart pot. Place the jars on the rack and fill the pot with water, enough to cover the jars. Do not let the jars touch the bottom of the pot, as the heat can cause the glass to crack.
  2. Bring the water to a boil and boil the jars for 10 minutes. Remove the jars with tongs when you’re ready to use them.
  3. Prepare the candied jalapenos per the instructions above.
  4. When the candied jalapenos are ready, scoop them into the jars, leaving ¼ inch head space.
  5. Clean the lids with soap and hot water, then place them onto the jars. Secure them with cleaned canning rings. Wipe the rims clean.
  6. Place the filled jars back into the hot water bath, onto the steamer rack. Ensure the jars are covered with 3 inches of water.
  7. Return the water to a boil and process them for 10 minutes for half pints, or 15 minutes for pints. For higher altitudes, process them for additional time (at least an extra 10 minutes). Remove the jars with tongs and tighten the screw caps.
  8. The jar lids should make a popping sound as they seal. If a lid doesn’t seal for some reason, you can reprocess it, or store the jar in the refrigerator.
  9. Invert the jars to test for leaks. Flip them upright after 10 minutes and allow to cool.
  10. Store the jars in a cool, dry place. They will last a year or longer this way. Once you open them, however, keep the jars in the refrigerator.

Makes about 3.5 cups.

Packed into three ½ pint jars.

Serving Up Your Candied Jalapenos

I like to simply snack on my candied jalapenos straight out of the jar as a quick sweet snack. They are also ideal for garnishing. Pop them on top of your favorite Corn Bread Recipe, on top of a cupcake or a slice of pie.

It’s super awesome over cream cheese. Smear some cream cheese over crackers and top them with candied jalapenos. Amazingly delicious. You can even mix them into a serving bowl with cream cheese for a candied jalapeno cream cheese dip.

Garnish a cocktail with them. Margaritas, anyone? Chop and swirl some into your favorite guacamole recipe for a touch of sweetness.

So many ways to serve up your candied jalapeños!

Just quit stealing them off the plate, Mike!

Grabbing some Candied Jalapenos (Cowboy Candy)

Mike’s Recipe Notes

This has turned out to be an amazingly popular recipe. They’re really THAT good. I’ll post here as questions pop up. Here is some additional information to help you along.

  • Jarring or Canning: If you’re uncomfortable with canning or jarring the peppers, you don’t have to process them. Some people like to use a pressure canner to preserve their homemade cowboy candy, or they like to use the water bath method as outlined in the recipe. You can skip those steps and just keep the candied jalapenos in a jar in the refrigerator. They will still last a good 3 months this way.
  • Wear Gloves: Peppers can cause skin irritation and burning. Some people are more sensitive than others. The oils from the peppers can get onto your skin when handling them, and especially cutting them. It is best to wear gloves when handling hot peppers. If you notice any skin burn, go to this page – How to Stop the Chili Pepper Burn.
  • Slicing the Jalapenos: You’ll be chopping a LOT of jalapeno peppers for this recipe. Use a mandolin or food processor with a slicing accessory to save some chopping time.
  • Removing the Seeds and Innards: If your concerned about the overall heat, you can core out the jalapenos before slicing them. Most of the heat resides in the pepper innards.

How Long Does Homemade Cowboy Candy Last?

Candied jalapenos will last about 3 months in the fridge. If you process them in a water bath, they can last easily a year in the pantry until you are ready to open them.

I’ve included how to process them with a water bath below and in the recipe card.

Can I Make This Recipe with Other Peppers?

Absolutely. You can “candy” any type of chili pepper. Just slice them into rings and proceed with the recipe.

Some peppers are obviously larger than others, though. Chop those up into smaller pieces.

The process is great with spicier peppers. I personally love candied habaneros. Crazy delicious.

The candying process tamps the heat quite a bit with candied jalapenos or any pepper, so they won’t be as spicy as you might expect.

Try making these with superhot chili peppers as well, like scorpions or Reapers. Oh baby!

Try Some of My Other Spicy Dessert Recipes

People also asked about these similar topics: Pickled Jalapenos.

Candied Jalapenos (Cowboy Candy) Recipe

Got any questions? Ask away! I’m happy to help. If you enjoy this recipe, I hope you’ll leave a comment with some STARS.Also, please share it on social media.

Don’t forget to tag us at #ChiliPepperMadness. I’ll be sure to share! Thanks! — Mike H.

Candied Jalapenos (Cowboy Candy) Recipe
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4.97 from 32 votes

Candied Jalapenos Recipe (Homemade Cowboy Candy)

A very easy recipe for making candied jalapenos, or homemade cowboy candy, for desserts or snacking. They're a great blend of sweet and heat. Basically sliced jalapenos preserved in a seasoned simple syrup, they're perfect for garnishing cocktails, topping corn bread or cupcakes, or popping into your guacamole.
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time5 mins
Total Time15 mins
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: dessert, jalapeno, spicy
Servings: 12
Calories: 80kcal

Ingredients

  • 1/2 pound jalapeno peppers about 10-12 average sized jalapenos
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder (optional)
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric powder
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger

Instructions

  • First, slice the jalapeno peppers into ¼-inch round slices.
  • Stir together the sugar, vinegar and seasonings in a pan. Bring to a quick boil, then reduce the heat to a low simmer until the sugar dissolves into a gooey syrup.
  • Add the jalapeno pepper slices and mix to evenly coat them with the syrup.
  • Simmer them about 4 minutes. They will darken a bit as they slightly cook and absorb some of the sugars.
  • Transfer the candied jalapeno peppers to cleaned jars, then fill the jars with the remaining syrup.
  • Cover and store in the refrigerator for up to 3 months. You can eat them right away, but it is best to let the flavors develop at least 1 week in the refrigerator before eating.

FOR PRESERVING/JARRING

  • First, clean your jars and lids using a steamer rack in a 16-quart pot. Place the jars on the rack and fill the pot with water, enough to cover the jars. Do not let the jars touch the bottom of the pot, as the heat can cause the glass to crack.
  • Bring the water to a boil and boil the jars for 10 minutes. Remove the jars with tongs when you’re ready to use them.
  • Prepare the candied jalapenos per the instructions above.
  • When the candied jalapenos are ready, scoop them into the jars, leaving ¼ inch head space.
  • Clean the lids with soap and hot water, then place them onto the jars. Secure them with cleaned canning rings. Wipe the rims clean.
  • Place the filled jars back into the hot water bath, onto the steamer rack, ensuring the jars are covered with 3 inches of water.
  • Return the water to a boil and process them for 10 minutes. For higher altitudes, process them for additional time (at least an extra 10 minutes). Remove the jars with tongs and tighten the screw caps.
  • The jar lids should make a popping sound as they seal. If a lid doesn’t seal for some reason, you can reprocess it, or store the jar in the refrigerator.
  • Invert the jars to test for leaks. Flip them upright after 10 minutes and allow to cool.
  • Store the jars in a cool, dry place. They will last a year or longer this way. Once you open them, however, keep the jars in the refrigerator.

Video

Notes

Makes about 3.5 cups.
Packed into three ½ pint jars.

Nutrition

Calories: 80kcal | Carbohydrates: 19g | Sodium: 5mg | Potassium: 111mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 18g | Vitamin A: 455IU | Vitamin C: 44.8mg | Calcium: 6mg | Iron: 0.2mg

This recipe was updated on 12/21/2018 to include new photos and a video. It was previously published on 5/19/2014.

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