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!
Hot Giardiniera (Chicago-Style)
Today we're bringing you a taste of Chicago, my spicy food loving friends, with a condiment that belongs in 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.
You can get mild giardiniera or hot giardiniera, and I always go for the "hot".
I personally love it piled onto a hot dog or over a crispy toasted sub sandwich, and enjoy it on my pizza. 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 giardiniera, Chicago style, shall we? Hot giardiniera for me!
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), all thinly sliced or chopped.
- Oil (and Vinegar, if desired). Use 1 cup of good quality olive oil and 1 cup of white wine 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 Giardiniera (Chicago-Style) - 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 Mason 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 with the pickled vegetables. 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. Home canning is not recommended for recipes with oil. However, you can skip the oil and use a brine of vinegar and water. Then you can process the jars in a hot water bath of boiling water for longer keeping as long as the acidity is high enough. Shoot for 3.5 or lower pH.
- Italian Vs. Chicago-Style Giardiniera. Chicago giardiniera or "hot 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 or antipasto.
Best Giardiniera Peppers
Sport peppers are the traditional chili pepper that make Chicago-style giardiniera "hot". Home cooks can skip the hot peppers and use only bell peppers for the popular "mild" version. 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.
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. I love hot giardiniera.
This is certainly Chicago 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 mild or hot 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. We love it on our pizza. It truly is a wonder condiment.
I also love it mixed in with lots of olives to make this amazing muffaletta sandwich. So good!
It is best served at room temperature, as the oils can congeal from refrigeration as you store it.
It is amazing how versatile this recipe 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!
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 (Hot Giardiniera)
- 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 9/5/22 to include new information, photos and video. It was originally published on 5/3/15.