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3 July 2020

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 in a bowl

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.

Fresh chopped vegetables in a bowl for making Chicago Style Giardiniera

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.

Chicago Style Giardiniera in a jar

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.

A glistening bowl of Chicago Style Giardiniera

Giardiniera Peppers

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 peppersSport 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!

Chicago Style Giardiniera in a bowl, ready to serve

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.

Patty’s Perspective

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!

A big spoonful of Chicago Style Giardiniera

Check Out Some of My Other Popular Condiment Recipes

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.

Chicago Style Giardiniera Recipe
Print Recipe
5 from 12 votes

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!
Prep Time2 d 12 hrs
Total Time2 d 12 hrs
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American, Italian
Keyword: chili peppers, condiment, recipe, spicy
Servings: 24
Calories: 20kcal

Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

  • 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.

Video

Notes

Makes about 1.5 quarts.
Vinegar. Many Chicago-style giardiniera 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.

Nutrition

Calories: 20kcal | Carbohydrates: 1g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 2413mg | Potassium: 50mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 595IU | Vitamin C: 6mg | Calcium: 12mg | Iron: 1mg

NOTE: This recipe was updated on 7/3/20 to include new information, photos and video. It was originally published on 5/3/15.

 
Homemade Chicago-Style Giardiniera Recipe

30 comments

  1. 5 stars
    I love this stuff and can never have enough of it on hand. I grew up in Wrigleyville, literally right across the street from Wrigley Field, and have been eating giardinera since I was a sprout.

    Very hard to find it down here in Texas, where I now live, so making it is my only option really.

    I like it more oily, so I reduced the vinegar to 1/2 cup and increased the olive oil to 1 1/2 cups.

    And that, for me is heaven. And it keeps for several months in the fridge, without overwhelming me with vinegar.

    And it goes perfect with my homemade Italian Beef, along with roasted green peppers and provolone cheese on a hoagie roll, dipped of course.

    Thanks for another great recipe, Mike.

    Oh, and GO CUBS!

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Thanks so much, Larry! I know, now that we’ve moved away from Chicago, I need to make our own constantly! And homemade Italian beef! You just can’t get it around here. Thanks, man!

  2. 5 stars
    I love this recipe. Family also loves it, they have asked for the recipe. We were looking for something to make with all of our home grown peppers besides pico de gallo. We add some homegrown hot banana peppers as well. Have already made 2 batches.

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Janet, I don’t believe giardiniera freezes very well. I would just refrigerate or can it.

  3. People mention zucchini in the comments but I don’t see zucchini in the recipe itself.

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Nunu, you can sue zucchini in yours if you’d like to. I usually do not use it in my Chicago-Style Giardiniera. However, it’s great with Italian style.

  4. I made this recipe about a month ago. Had some family over for a cookout, and pulled out a jar. It was a huge hit, soooo good been asked when am i gonna make more.

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Thanks, Bill! Super happy everyone enjoyed it!

  5. I have mine brining right now, can’t wait to taste the final product! I appreciate your thorough video as well, thank you. I noticed in the recipe it says to rinse off the brine, but you don’t do this in your video. How come?

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Thanks, Melissa. I didn’t rinse the brine as I do like it a bit salty, but rinse if you are concerned with salt levels. Take care!

  6. 5 stars
    This recipe sounds absolutely amazing and I am excited to try it but can I can this recipe for later in the year? If so can you tell me how?

  7. This is the second year making your recipe. We love it but the same thing happened last year. I put the vegetables in pint size jars instead of quarts and I run out of the oil and vinegar mixture. I never have enough to cover the vegetables like the recipe calls for. I have to make another batch of oil mixture and top each jar. Also the olive oil solidifies after awhile. Too much oil or maybe cheap olive oil. Thank you we still like the giardiniera.

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Hi, Chris. I do mention in the recipe – “You an add extra olive oil if needed to cover the mixture.” All good. You’re doing the right thing. The oil does solidify in the fridge from the temperature. Glad you like the recipe, and thanks for commenting!

  8. 5 stars
    This is the second year I’m making this recipe. I made a big batch last year to use up peppers from my garden. I grew up in Chicago and relocated to Texas, and while they love their hot sauce down here, there’s nothing quite like Giardiniera! I made a quadruple recipe this year to give some away. I diverged from the recipe a little bit-After I packed in the veggies, I filled each jar half way with vinegar and topped off with olive oil, because I’ve always liked some more tangy flavor to giardiniera.

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Awesome, Katie! I like the vinegar with my giardiniera as well. Thanks!!! Nothing like a taste of home.

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

  12. 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: http://nchfp.uga.edu/

  13. 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.

  14. 5 stars
    This is delicious. I added a tiny bit of habanera and pepperoncini’s, and omitted the zucchini and onions. Is this safe to can?

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

  16. 5 stars
    Try it on scrambled eggs and to kick up any tomato based italian dish. The stuff is magic.

  17. 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!

  18. 5 stars
    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 too…it looks like it will be fabulous on sandwiches!

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