Chili Pepper Madness

May 03, 2015

Homemade Chicago-Style Giardiniera

Homemade Chicago-Style Giardiniera - Recipe Homemade Chicago-Style Giardiniera - Recipe

Giardiniera is a wonder condiment, turning any sandwich into a burst of flavor. Here is our Chicago-style recipe with plenty of chili peppers, vegetables and seasonings.

Giardiniera is something we encounter on a regular basis. Patty and I are from the Chicago area, and Chicago is well-known for its selection of beef sandwiches. If you're from Chicago or anywhere near there, you can't order a beef sandwich without giardiniera. It's a travesty. If you want funny looks shot your way, go ahead and order one and tell them to hold the giardiniera.

Okay, I'm half-joking, but only half. Seriously, giardiniera is a tasty condiment you can enjoy on any number of sandwiches, and not only at the ubiquitous beef joints. I personally love it piled onto a hot dog over over a crispy toasted sub sandwich. We have a chain sandwich shop nearby and we enjoy their flatbread sandwiches. They have a good giardiniera that I almost always order. Another small place nearby, though, makes their own homemade version that is outstanding. There is something about fresh homemade giardiniera that gets the tastebuds jumping.

This is my particular version. I make it at home frequently, though you typically need to make a larger batch, so plan accordingly. I call for jalapeno peppers in this recipe, as well as bell peppers, though serrano chili peppers are a very welcomed addition if you're looking for a bit more heat and bite. And if you REALLY want to kick this up a notch, go for the habanero pepper, or be like Mike and add in some superhots. I am still working on my Superhot Chili Pepper cookbook and have a superhot version of this recipe included. Yeah, baby. Bring on the heat!

This is certainly Chicago style, though, and won't blow your tastebuds with heat. You'll get a nice kick and plenty of flavor. Enjoy!

Patty's Perspective: It is amazing how versatile giardiniera can be. You don't only have to use it for sandwiches. We made some flatbread pizzas with it, and even tossed it over grilled salmon. Think of it as a vegetable sauce. Think outside the box!

Homemade Chicago-Style Giardiniera

Homemade Chicago-Style Giardiniera

Homemade Chicago-Style Giardiniera


  • 6-8 jalapeno peppers, sliced
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 2 sweet banana peppers
  • 1 small zucchini, diced
  • 1 medium carrot, diced
  • 2 celery stalks, diced
  • 1 medium sweet onion, diced
  • 1 cup cauliflower florets
  • 1/2 cup salt
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon celery seed
  • Ground pepper
  • 1 cup of white vinegar (or half white and half apple cider vinegar)
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup green olives, chopped

Cooking Directions

  1. To a large bowl, add all of the peppers with zucchini, carrot, celery, onion and cauliflower. Sprinkle with salt. Cover with water and refrigerate for 12 hours, covered.
  2. Drain and rinse away the brine. Set aside.
  3.  In a separate bowl, add garlic, oregano, celery seed and ground pepper to taste. Add vinegar and oil and whisk to combine.
  4. Add to your vegetable mixture.
  5. Add chopped olives and mix well.
  6. Place it all into jars, ensuring the vegetables are covered with your vinegar/oil mixture.
  7. Refrigerate at least 2 days before using, to allow flavors to mingle. A week is better! Should last you 2-3 weeks.

Makes about 3 quarts.

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  • Comment Link Rich October 17, 2017 posted by Rich

    Accidentally left the brine for a day and a half. Big batch too... problem? Will it just be too salty (maybe) or not safe?

    REPLY: Rich, I'm sure it's fine. -- Mike from Chili Pepper Madness.

  • Comment Link Colleen October 06, 2017 posted by Colleen

    Can I add fresh mushrooms to this in place of zucchini?

    REPLY: Colleen, you can use mushrooms, though the consistency will change. Mushrooms get a bit mushy. I would cut them small. -- Mike from Chili Pepper Madness.

  • Comment Link Kim November 21, 2016 posted by Kim

    I'm going to make this tomorrow. Prepping everything now. Do you de-seed the jalapeno?

    REPLY: Kim, you don't need to de-seed them, but you can if you'd like. -- Mike from Chili Pepper Madness.

  • Comment Link Dawn September 01, 2016 posted by Dawn

    Do I hot bath this and for how long and how hot?

    REPLY: Dawn, 10 minutes should be enough for canning. Here is a great resource for further canning information and best safety practices:

  • Comment Link Tina August 31, 2016 posted by Tina

    Thinking about doing pints or half pints for gifts! What would the proper times be for water baths?

    REPLY: You should process them for 10 minutes with proper water bath techniques. -- Mike from Chili Pepper Madness.

  • Comment Link Mike from Chili Pepper Madness September 09, 2015 posted by Mike from Chili Pepper Madness

    Rachelle, yes, you can can giardiniera. Just be sure to follow proper canning procedures and ratios.

  • Comment Link Rachelle September 08, 2015 posted by Rachelle

    This is delicious. I added a tiny bit of habanera and pepperoncini's, and omitted the zucchini and onions. Is this safe to can?

  • Comment Link Brian Jones June 08, 2015 posted by Brian Jones

    This sounds wonderful and we have pretty much most of the ingredients growing in our garden, will book mark this for later!

  • Comment Link Lorelai @ Life With Lorelai June 08, 2015 posted by Lorelai @ Life With Lorelai

    YUM’d! This looks delicious. A definite must try! Please come share your blog posts over at the Home Matters Linky Party! We’d love to have you for a visit. The Door is OPEN. :)

    Life With Lorelai

  • Comment Link eileen May 23, 2015 posted by eileen

    Try it on scrambled eggs and to kick up any tomato based italian dish. The stuff is magic.

  • Comment Link Christine May 14, 2015 posted by Christine

    Why would you ask them to hold giardiniera? I love pickled vegetables...we live in China and pickles are a staple around here. Of course, they make them differently, but I always have pickled something in the fridge;) I'd love to try these!

  • Comment Link Michelle @ A Dish of Daily Life May 11, 2015 posted by Michelle @ A Dish of Daily Life

    This is totally up my alley!! I'I think I have had something similar with big chunks of veggies as an appetizer at a local restaurant and was planning to try to make my own this summer. I'll try yours looks like it will be fabulous on sandwiches!

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Mike Hultquist of Chili Pepper Madness

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Hi, Everyone! It is nice to meet you. Welcome to Chili Pepper Madness, the food blog run by Mike and Patty Hultquist, a couple of spicy food lovers. Chili Pepper Madness is a special tribute to all things chili peppers, including chili pepper recipes... LEARN MORE ABOUT US


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