Homemade Chicago-Style Giardiniera Recipe
This Chicago-style giardiniera recipe is the ultimate condiment with fresh peppers and veggies in oil and seasonings, an absolute must for Italian beef sandwiches!
Today we’re bringing you a taste of Chicago, my spicy food loving friends, with a condiment that needs to go into your recipe box favorites. It’s called Chicago-Style Giardiniera, and I think you’re going to love it.
Patty and I were both born and raised in 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 a “must try”, the perfect condiment for roast beef or any type of sandwich.
I personally love it piled onto a hot dog over over a crispy toasted sub sandwich. We had several beef joints to choose from, and giardiniera was always on the menu. It’s a must have for me, so I make homemade giardiniera all the time.
Let’s talk about how to make Chicago giardiniera, shall we?
Chicago-Style Giardiniera Ingredients
- Peppers. My recipe calls for 5 jalapeno peppers and 5 sport peppers or serrano peppers for more of a “hot giardiniera”. If you’d prefer a “mild giardiniera”, use 2-3 large green and/or red bell peppers instead.
- Vegetables. Use 1 cup chopped cauliflower, 2 carrots, 2 celery ribs and 1/2 to 1 cup of olives (from the jar).
- Oil (and Vinegar, if desired). Use 1 cup of good quality olive oil and 1 cup of white vinegar. Some Chicago style giardiniera brands use only oil. If you prefer no vinegar, replace it with water or more oil.
- Seasonings. I use lots of minced fresh garlic, dried oregano, celery seeds, crushed red pepper flakes and a touch of freshly ground black pepper.
How to Make Your Own Chicago-Style Giardiniera – The Recipe Method
Brine the Vegetables. To a large bowl, add peppers with cauliflower, peppers, carrots and celery. Sprinkle with salt. Cover with cold water and refrigerate for 12 hours, covered. I often brine for 24 hours.
Drain and rinse away the brine. Set aside.
Make the Giardiniera. In a separate bowl, add garlic, oregano, celery seed and ground pepper to taste. Add oil and vinegar (or water, if using) and whisk to combine.
Add to your vegetable mixture.
Add in the chopped olives and mix well.
Jar and Refrigerate. Pack the vegetables into jars, ensuring the vegetables are covered with your oil mixture. You can add extra olive oil if needed to cover the mixture. Cover and refrigerate at least 2 days before using, to allow flavors to mingle. A week is better! Should last you several weeks in the refrigerator.
Recipe Tips & Notes
- Vinegar. Many Chicago-style brands do not include vinegar in their recipes, and instead use only oil or oil with some water. Feel free to use either. Your giardiniera will last longer in the refrigerator with vinegar, however, as vinegar is a preservative. The choice is yours.
- Other Ingredients. As the name indicates, you can use any garden fresh vegetables for this recipe. Others you might include are rashes, gherkins, olives and more.
- How Long Does Giardiniera Last? Giardiniera will keep several weeks in the refrigerator, covered, due to the acidity of the vinegar. If you use only oil, use it within 2 weeks.
- Preserving. You can process your giardiniera in a hot water bath of boiling water for longer keeping.
- Italian Giardiniera Vs. Chicago-Style Giardiniera. Chicago giardiniera is meant to be a condiment, with more of a focus on the peppers, where Italian Giardiniera serves larger cut vegetables and is meant to be an appetizer.
I make homemade giardiniera frequently, though you typically need to make a larger batch, so plan accordingly. I call for jalapeno peppers in this recipe, as well as serrano peppers. Sport peppers are the traditional chili pepper that make Chicago-style giardiniera “hot”. You can skip the hot peppers and use only bell peppers for the popular “mild” version.
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.
Yeah, baby. Bring on the heat! I know you want to, you crazy chilihead, you.
This is certainly Chicago giardiniera at its finest, though, and won’t blow your taste buds with heat. You’ll get a nice kick and plenty of flavor. Enjoy!
Serving Chicago-Style Giardiniera
Chicago hot or mild giardiniera is a must for Italian beef sandwiches or roast beef, though you can serve it over any type of sandwich, hot dogs, sausages or brats, pretty much any type of sandwich or on anything off of the grill. It truly is a wonder condiment.
It is amazing how versatile giardiniera can be. You don’t only have to use it for sandwiches, especially a good beef sandwich. 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!
Check Out Some of My Other Popular Condiment Recipes
- Italian Giardiniera
- Pickled Red Onions
- Pickled Banana Peppers
- Refrigerator Pickles
- How to Make Homemade Mustard – the Basics
- Homemade Garlic-Chili Sauce
- Creamy Jalapeno Sauce
- Homemade Buffalo Sauce
Try it On Some of These Popular Recipes
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.
Homemade Chicago-Style Giardiniera Recipe
- 1 cup cauliflower florets chopped (about 1/4 head of cauliflower)
- 5 jalapeno peppers diced (use bell peppers for mild giardiniera
- 5 serrano peppers diced (or use sport peppers - optional, for hot giardiniera)
- 1 medium carrot diced
- 2 celery stalks diced
- 1/2 cup salt
- 1 cup olive oil (extra virgin is best, though you can use vegetable oil)
- 1 cup vinegar (or use water, like many Chicago giardiniera brands - see the Recipe Notes)
- 4 cloves of garlic minced
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon celery seeds
- 1 tablespoon crushed red pepper (or to taste)
- Ground black pepper (to taste)
- 1/2 cup green olives chopped
- To a large bowl, add peppers with cauliflower, peppers, carrots and celery. Sprinkle with salt. Cover with cold water and refrigerate at least 12 hours, covered. I often brine for 24 hours.
- Drain and rinse away the brine. Set aside.
- In a separate bowl, add garlic, oregano, celery seed, crushed red pepper flakes and ground pepper to taste. Add oil and vinegar (or water) and whisk to combine.
- Add to your vegetable mixture.
- Add chopped olives and mix well.
- Place it all into jars, ensuring the vegetables are covered with your oil mixture.
- Refrigerate at least 2 days before using, to allow flavors to mingle. A week is better! Should last you 2-3 weeks.
NOTE: This recipe was updated on 7/3/20 to include new information, photos and video. It was originally published on 5/3/15.