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3 July 2020

This Italian giardiniera recipe is the perfect appetizer for your antipasto platter, with loads of garden fresh vegetables tossed in a seasoned vinaigrette. Lots of peppers!

It’s time for something seriously awesome in the Chili Pepper Madness kitchen, my friends. It’s an appetizer with loads of fresh vegetables, including lots of chili peppers. Our favorite thing! We’re talking Homemade Italian Giardiniera, and I think you’re going to love it.

If your garden is exploding with peppers and vegetables, this is the perfect recipe for you.

Italian Giardiniera in a bowl, ready to eat

What is Giardiniera?

Giardiniera is an Italian recipe of garden fresh vegetables tossed with a seasoned vinaigrette (vinegar and oil). The name means “gardener” or “from the garden”. It is commonly served as an appetizer, though it can also be served as a condiment. It is also referred to as sottaceti, which means “under vinegar”, common for pickled vegetables.

It’s huge on flavor, perfect for parties and gatherings.

It will be the star of your antipasto platter with its vibrant colors and big flavor. Skip the pasta salad this year and bring giardiniera! Your friends will love you.

Let’s talk about how we make Italian giardiniera, shall we?

Italian Giardiniera in a bowl, ready to serve

Italian Giardiniera Ingredients

  • Giardiniera Peppers. I used several colorful sweet peppers (the equivalent of 2 bell peppers) along with 2 jalapeno peppers and 2 serrano peppers for a hot version. You can use milder peppers, like red bell peppers, to your preference. This recipe works with any peppers, either mild and sweet or hot peppers.
  • Fresh Produce. Use 1/2 a head of cauliflower (about 2 cups), 2 medium sized carrots and 2 celery stalks. You can use other fresh produce from your garden or grocer.
  • Oil and Vinegar. Use 1 cup white vinegar (half apple cider vinegar is a nice touch) and 1 cup olive oil.
  • Seasonings. I use 3 cloves garlic, minced, along with 2 teaspoons dried basil, 1/2 teaspoon celery seed, and fresh ground black pepper. I also like to use red pepper flakes. You don’t need to add extra salt, as you’ll get plenty from the initial brine, though you can add more to your taste.

How to Make Italian Giardiniera – the Recipe Method

Brine the Vegetables. To a large bowl, add all of the peppers, carrot, celery and cauliflower. Sprinkle with salt. Cover with cold water and refrigerate for at least 12 hours, covered. I like to brine mine for 24 hours or longer for maximum flavor.

Drain and rinse away the brine. Set aside.

Italian Giardiniera Ingredients in a bowl

Make the Vinaigrette. In a separate bowl, add garlic, basil, celery seed and ground pepper to taste. Add vinegar and oil and whisk to combine.

Italian Giardiniera Seasonings

Add to your vegetable mixture.

Store in Jars. Pack the vegetables into jars, ensuring the vegetables are covered with your vinegar/oil mixture. I like to use smaller jars.

Refrigerate. Cover and refrigerate at least 2 days before using, to allow flavors to mingle. A week is better! This will last for several weeks or longer.

Chunks of Italian Giardiniera on a fork

Boom! Done! Italian style giardiniera in the house! Ready to serve! I love this stuff. Pretty easy to make, isn’t it?

Recipe Tips & Notes

  • The Peppers. You can realistically use any chili peppers for this recipe. I like to use a mix of mostly sweet and some hot peppers when serving it as an appetizer. You can, of course, make this with all hot peppers, which will really bring the heat!
  • 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.
  • Preserving. You can process your giardiniera in a hot water bath of boiling water for longer keeping. 

Italian Giardiniera in a bowl

Chicago Style Giardiniera Vs. Italian Giardiniera

Chicago style giardiniera is a variation of Italian giardiniera, with more of a focus on the peppers. Also, the vegetables are much more finely chopped and usually served as a condiment for beef sandwiches, hot dogs and more. There are hot and mild versions. It’s usually made with sport peppers or serrano peppers. Check out my Homemade Chicago-Style Giardiniera Recipe to learn more. I was born and raised in the Chicago. I love this stuff!

Chicago Style Giardiniera in a bowl, ready to serve

What Do You Use Giardiniera For?

Italian Giardiniera is outstanding as an appetizer, party food or as a snack. More finely chopped, use it as a condiment to serve on sandwiches, hot dogs, burgers and even pizza. It’s particularly good on Italian beef sandwiches.

That’s it, my friends! I hope you enjoy your homemade giardiniera! Let me know how you serve it up. Delicious!

Check Out Some of My Other Popular Recipes

Mike holding 2 jars of Italian Giardiniera

If you try this recipe, please let us know! Leave a comment, rate it and tag a photo #ChiliPepperMadness on Instagram so we can take a look. I always love to see all of your spicy inspirations. Thanks! — Mike H.

Italian Giardiniera Recipe
Print Recipe
4.8 from 5 votes

Homemade Italian Giardiniera Recipe

This Italian giardiniera recipe is the perfect appetizer for your antipasto platter, with loads of garden fresh vegetables tossed in a seasoned vinaigrette. Lots of peppers!
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time5 mins
Brining12 hrs
Total Time12 hrs 20 mins
Course: Appetizer, Main Course
Cuisine: American, Italian
Keyword: carrots, cauliflower, chili peppers
Servings: 12
Calories: 38kcal

Ingredients

Ingredients

  • 2 bell peppers sliced. Use colorful peppers - you can also use sweet peppers
  • 2 jalapeno peppers sliced
  • 2 serrano peppers (Optional, for a hotter version)
  • 2 medium carrots chopped
  • 2 celery stalks chopped
  • 2 cups cauliflower florets (about 1/2 head of cauliflower)
  • 1/2 cup salt
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 teaspoons dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon celery seed
  • Ground pepper
  • 1 cup of white vinegar or half white and half apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup olive oil + more as needed

Instructions

  • To a large bowl, add all of the peppers with radishes, carrot, celery and cauliflower. Sprinkle with salt. Cover with water and refrigerate for 12 hours, covered.
  • Drain and rinse away the brine. Set aside.
  • In a separate bowl, add garlic, basil, celery seed and ground pepper to taste. Add vinegar and oil and whisk to combine.
  • Add to your vegetable mixture.
  • Place it all into jars, ensuring the vegetables are covered with your vinegar/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 2 quarts.

Nutrition

Calories: 38kcal | Carbohydrates: 4g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 2g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 4735mg | Potassium: 158mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 2384IU | Vitamin C: 38mg | Calcium: 22mg | Iron: 1mg

NOTE: This recipe was updated on 7/3/20 to include new information, photos and video. It was originally published on 11/4/16.

 
Italian Giardiniera

24 comments

  1. 4 stars
    Sicilians who emigrated to Chicago and Milwaukee brought this delightful condiment /salad with them. It is uniquely popular in this region, more so than any other Sicilian populated large American city.

  2. Mike, I’m thinking of trying this today. I have mostly red and green jalapeños, a few habeneros. Should I go get some other peppers to add to it or do you think this work? Any advice will be helpful.

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Tracey, you don’t have to buy any other peppers. You can make this recipe with your red and green jalapenos if you’d like. Let me know how it turns out for you. Enjoy!

  3. 5 stars
    Three weeks ago, I used this year last chili peppers harvest for this giardiera: jalapeño, serrano, pequin, Bishop’s crown, Habanero, rocoto etc.
    And I’m enjoying now it in a very simple sandwich (pita, bacon, cheddar, mayo).
    Thanks Mike!

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Thanks, Jeremie. I do love my giardiniera! Spicy and crunchy, perfect for a sandwich.

      1. 5 stars
        Great video, Mike, very interesting in that it explains the differences between the Italian version and the Chicago one. My favorite is Chicago Giardiniera… with olives and extra spicy!! That’s really something to have permanently in your fridge!

        1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

          Thanks, Jeremie. I always appreciate your comments and support. And spicy food love!

  4. Mike,

    This looks awesome! I’m definitely making something similar. I plan on fermenting it.

    What is your reason for recommending against fresh basil? Would you apply that to other fresh leafy ingredients for seasoning?

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Jason, you can use fresh, and the flavor will be there, but I fee fresh herbs get soft in the oils if you don’t chop it enough and battles the texture of the other elements. Give it a try and let me know how it turns out for you.

      1. Thanks Mike. Sorry for the double posts. When I refreshed the page to see if you or anyone else had replied I didn’t see my comment and thought there was a problem with my browser or it got omitted as spam.

        1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

          All good, Jason! I hope it turns out how you like it!

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      You can use fresh herbs, Jason, though fresh herbs in oil tend to get a soggy texture and discolor sometimes. The dried herbs will still hold the flavor you’re looking for.

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Sandy, yes, you can. Absolutely. However, check the acidity. If is higher than 4.0, you’d want to use a pressure canner.

  5. So I am a old male that doesn’t cook, but can follow simple directions? sometimes!
    How many jars, of what size, does this make? Doesn’t the olive oil harden in the fridge? 1/2 cup salt, table salt or coarse sea salt? EVOO ? Can I use fresh Basil?

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Hibbie, this should make you a couple large quart sized jars. I would use dried basil here, not fresh. I use coarse sea salt, though table salt is fine. The mixture does thicken up a little in the fridge. I hope this helps.

  6. Do you know if you could leave out the olive oil or maybe put one forth cup in the giardiniera?

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Sandy, yes, you can reduce the oil if it is not to your tastes. Focus on the vinegar. It won’t taste quite the same, but should be some nice lightly pickled veggies. Let me know how it turns out for you.

  7. Hi Mike,

    Can I use frozen chili peppers for this giardiniera recipe or might they be too soft after they’re defrosted?

    Many thanks,
    Andrea

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Andrea, I’ve never made this with frozen peppers. I’m pretty sure you’d be able to do it, though. The peppers might be a bit softer than you’d get with fresh pods, but I think you’ll still get the proper flavors. Let me know how it turns out for you.

        1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

          That’s GREAT, Andrea! Thanks for letting me know! I LOVE my giardiniera.






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