Spicy jalapeño slices in a sugary glaze, these Candied Jalapeños (aka Cowboy Candy) are the perfect sweet-and-spicy condiment to liven up your favorite foods. Enjoy with cream cheese and crackers, as a topping on burgers, hot dogs, or even in your baked beans and salads!
Easy Cowboy Candy Recipe
Candied jalapeños have been a huge favorite here in our house. Every time I make a batch, I find myself fielding almost daily questions of “can we eat them yet?!” Once a jar is opened…well, let’s just say they disappear quickly!
I love the sweet and spicy flavor and tender texture of these jalapeños. The sugar balances out the heat nicely and one of the things that makes cowboy candy truly addictive.
What is Cowboy Candy?
Cowboy candied is simply another name for candied jalapeños – jalapeño slices cooked in a sugary syrup for a delightfully sweet and spicy treat. Cowboy candy is a condiment that can be added to so many dishes, from tacos and nachos to baked beans and salads. Or enjoy them straight from the jar with a fork or on a cracker with cream cheese.
There are just a few ingredients and a couple of spices needed to make this tasty condiment.
(Scroll below to the printable recipe card for details and measurements.)
- Jalapeños – This recipe calls for approximately 20 jalapeños.
- Apple cider vinegar – Adds a tart flavor and helps tenderize the peppers.
- Sugars – Equal parts granulated sugar and brown sugar balances out the vinegar and spiciness.
- Seasonings – Turmeric, garlic powder, celery seed, and cayenne pepper all complement the spicy jalapeño flavor.
How to Make Candied Jalapeños
Cowboy candy is made in a few easy steps – the hardest part is waiting to eat them!
(Scroll down to the printable recipe card for details and measurements and don’t miss the video tutorial below.)
- Prepare the jalapeños. Slice and discard the stems from the jalapeños, then slice them into 1/4-inch thick rounds. Be sure to wear gloves while doing this. Set aside.
- Simmer the ingredients. Bring all other ingredients to a boil in a large pot. Simmer for 5 minutes then add the jalapeños. Simmer for exactly 4 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the peppers to canning jars.
- Make the syrup. Turn the heat back to high and boil the remaining liquid for 6 to 7 minutes, to turn it into a syrup. Let cool for 3 minutes. Pour the syrup into the jars, completely submerging the jalapeños.
- Chill the jars. Seal the jars with two-piece lids and chill in the fridge for at least 2 weeks before enjoying, for optimal results.
Tips for Success
Here are a few tips for making these candied jalapeños.
- Tame the heat. These are sweet and spicy – if you want to tame the heat a bit, you can remove the seeds and membrane from the peppers. After cutting off the stems, stick a long peeler inside each jalapeño, twist, and pull out the seeds. Then slice into rounds.
- Don’t burn your eyes/nose. We highly recommend using gloves when cutting the jalapeños and also when transferring jalapeños from the liquid to the jars, be careful of the fumes going in your nose – they’re strong!
- Don’t worry if the peppers appear shriveled. The peppers will shrivel after simmering in the hot syrup but will plump back up after spending a few weeks chilling in the sealed jars.
- How to use leftover syrup. If you have leftover syrup, and it’s likely you will, you may can it in half-pint or pint jars, too. It’s wonderful used as a simple syrup in margaritas, as a glaze for grilled ribs, or added to potato salad, etc.
Wondering what exactly to do with cowboy candy? There are so many ways to use these candied jalapeños as they make a great topping for any dish that needs a burst of flavor. Here are a few of my favorite ways to use them:
- On a chili dog, shrimp po boy, and hawaiian grilled chicken sandwiches.
- As a topping for tacos, especially shrimp tacos or beef tacos.
- In taco soup.
- On BBQ chicken pizza.
- Chopped up and mixed into baked beans.
- On nachos and totchos!
- Added to macaroni salad or potato salad.
- On top of some cream cheese and crackers as a snack or appetizer. So good!
Video: How to Make Cowboy Candy
- Store in the fridge. Prepared as directed, cowboy candy will last for up to 2 months in the fridge.
- Canning. For longer shelf life, you can take the additional step of canning cowboy candy. To do this, place the filled sealed jars in a canner, covered with water by 2-inches. Bring the water to a full rolling boil. When it reaches a full rolling boil, set the timer for 10 minutes for half-pints or 15 minutes for pints. When timer goes off, use canning tongs to transfer the jars to a cooling rack. Leave them to cool, undisturbed, for 24 hours. When fully cooled, wipe them with a clean, damp washcloth then label. They’ll last in the pantry for up to a year.
More Condiment Recipes:
- Pickle de Gallo
- Restaurant Style Salsa
- Pickled Beets
- Pickled Red Onions
- Bread and Butter Pickles
- Homemade Giardiniera
I hope you love this delicious and easy recipe – be sure to give it a review below! Also don’t forget to follow Belly Full on TikTok, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and YouTube!
Candied Jalapeños (Cowboy Candy)
- 20 large jalapeños
- 2 cups apple cider vinegar
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 2 cups packed brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon celery seed
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- Wearing gloves, slice and discard stems from peppers, then slice into 1/4-inch thick rounds. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.
- In a large pot over high heat add all the other ingredients. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a gentle simmer for about 5 minutes.
- Add in the sliced jalapeños, bring the heat back up to high and simmer for exactly 4 minutes.
- With a slotted spoon, transfer the peppers to clean, sterile canning jars to within a 1/4-inch of the upper rim of the jar.
- Put the heat back on under the pot to high and boil the liquid for about 6-7 minutes. Then remove pot from the heat and let cool for about 3 minutes.
- Using a ladle (or pitcher with a spout), carefully pour the liquid syrup into the jars, making sure all the jalapeños are completely submerged. (Take a chopstick and poke it into the bottom of the jars a few times to release any pockets of air.)
- Wipe the rims of the jars with a clean, damp paper towel. Seal with two-piece lids. Place in the fridge.
- Let chill for at least 2 weeks (preferably a month.) The longer they sit, the better they will taste.
- Keep stored in the fridge and eat within 2 months. (For canning info, see notes below.)
Reader Questions and Reviews
My family is obsessed with this recipe!! Made it and couldn’t wait to taste…we ended up eating it all within a week. Put them on all of our BBQ and snacking with cream cheese/crackers as suggested. Also using the leftover syrup in marinades. This recipe is amazing..off to make another batch.
I used the leftover syrup for jalapeno candied bacon. Everyone loved it all!
I just made this for the 1st time. I don’t have canning jars so is it okay to just cover tightly & place in refrigerator? The juice tastes amazing!
Just made this today on a whim. I removed the core because I’m a wimp, and followed the directions and tasted that syrup before put them in the fridge and OMG that syrup was to.die.for. I felt it could use a dash of salt, so I added that but even though I haven’t tasted the actual jalapenos I’m giving it 5 stars based on that syrup. Bet it would taste delish on chicken & waffles! Thanks Amy!
Our family grows 40-45 pepper plants each season. Yellow wax to Reapers. Including jalapeños Your recipe sounds interesting. I’m going to check this out
Retired exec Chef
OMG loooooved this recipe so much!! Thank you for sharing!
I love this and I also like to add fresh pineapple to make it sweet and spicy.
I made several batches. Good stuff!
Outstanding recipe! I’ve made these a few times since you first shared and I can’t say enough good things – we all love them. Going to serve them for game day with crackers/cream cheese and chili. Thank you so much for this!
Can this recipe use fresh frozen jalapeños?
You need fresh jalapenos.
I have made these last week and have left over syrup from my last batch about a week ago. Can i add that syrup to my new batch?
Hi Ray. I *think* it would be ok. However, the quality of the next batch might not taste quite as good. If you do want to give it a try, I recommend bringing the syrup to a boil, and straining it through a cheese cloth so that it is just juice/syrup (no floating particles) prior to using it.
I love love love this! I received it from a neighbor and they suggested eating it mixed with cream cheese and its good but actually like its better plain with tortilla chips. I am definitely making this but cure how much does it make?
I love this recipe so much! But how do you cook this down the fumes always gets me and my family we have to open the doors.
Can you skip the celery seed? Or should I run to the store? It’s the only ingredient I do not have on hand.
Hi Jana! You can skip it but just keep in mind that each seasoning adds additional flavor, so it is recommended.
this was so good !
I’m about to make my 3rd batch, this is delicious! Given the fact that there’s quite a bit of syrup leftover from a single batch, how much do you think the syrup ingredients could be decreased for a double batch? Also, we want to add onion, do you think the process would stay the same?
Hi Gary! You really need all the liquid in order for the jalapenos to cook properly. The good news is there’s many things you can do with the leftover syrup (mentioned in the article.) And I think the addition of onions would be delish!
I have tripled this recipe several times and give as gifts. Everyone loves them
I have not made these yet, but a coworker challenged me to make some. I have made pepper jelly a few times and I had success using jarred pickled jalapenos. I think I could do the same thing with recipe. Drain the brine and use the amount the recipe calls for (minus maybe 2 Tbsps to account for the liquid trapped in the peppers). Any thoughts folks?
This recipe was amazing. I can’t wait to serve it to friends. Just a pro tip. I was uncertain what to do with the leftover brine. 2/3 cup brine, 1/4 cup ketchup, 2 tbl Siracha , 1tbl cornstarch, 1tbl soy sauce makes EXCELLENT sauces for sweet and sour pork or chicken
My husband puts these on everything. Watch out when boiling as this will boil over easily. Enjoy!
I LOVED these! Definitely planting more jalapenos in the spring to make more. Thanks for sharing this recipe!
Thought this looked really good. So at the season end I decided to try it. We love it. I had given three half pints to friends before the two week open date. After we opened one for us my husband said not to give anymore away. So today I made a batch with my final peppers so we are set for this year
This recipe exceeded all my expectations. My pantry will never be without these now.
I made these and they are my Favorite Recipe ever
I love that! We’re pretty obsessed with them.
This has been the most popular recipe I’ve ever made; everybody that tries the treat on cream cheese raves about it. Ty!
I really enjoyed this simple recipe. I mixed up the peppers and did jalapeño, red pepper chili, and habanero. My wife likes to put this on top of her pizza when it is baking and it’s super good. I’ve made this for a ton of co workers and passed on the recipe to them. Thanks for the recipe!
A FANTASTIC Mocktail is as follows: Add ~2 tsp of the syrup, with a few candied jalapeno slices, ~2 tsp of lime juice, and a small can (~5-7.5 oz) of light tonic. The burn of the jalapenos is reminiscent of the burn of alcohol; I’ve been alcohol free for nearly a month and hardly miss it with this yummy mocktail to drink when friends are over having drinks!
Second time making the candied jalapeños we love them! My son suggested I make it into a relish and it turned out amazing.
Turned out amazing! Love this recipe
Made two years in a row now. Really the best way to can all my peppers. Gifts personal holiday. They are perfect. Save the extra syrup for margaritas or add to hard apple cider- amazing flavor.
Hello, this year I made it the first time and me and my family fell in love to this recipe.
Thanks a lot for sharing!!!
Greez from Bavaria!
Wow. This is my new favorite way to use jalapenos. Possibly my new favorite recipe. We enjoyed it with cream cheese and crackers but I am totally going down the listed suggestions. SO GOOD.
This recipe was excellent. Easily our new favorite.
Just made these tonight & canned them. They look delicious. I do hope that after sitting for a few weeks the heat lessens! I tasted a little of the syrup & wowza! It was good, but definitely HOT!
Whole crowd Loved it on block of cream cheese and burgers and hot dogs!
Excellent recipe, I am hooked!! Thank you!
I pickle my boiled eggs after the peppers are gone, leave them in there for about two weeks or more, they are delicious
Do you think you could eat them earlier than the two weeks
I made these a few weeks ago yeee hawww but because I’m an outlaw cowboy I am making some outlaw candied banaro’s
Love love love this recipe! We enjoyed some with cream cheese and crackers and chopped a bunch up to mix into egg salad. OMG.
This recipe did not disappoint!! LOVED IT. I set a couple jars in the fridge and canned the rest so we can enjoy them through the winter.
This recipe is excellent. Thanks for sharing.
GREAT recipe!! Had to test a couple right away and so good! Can’t wait until they chill for a while, will be even better. We ate them with cream cheese and crackers as suggested, but definitely going to enjoy them in all the other ways listed! THANK YOU!
It’s a huge success! Will be made every jalapeño season!
A great jalapeño treat! A big hit!
Thank you for the amazing recipe! Just completed a batch. Success!
This an AWESOME recipe, thanks for sharing!
Omg, so good!! We can’t stop eating them. Thank you for sharing this recipe!
I have 10 jalapeno plants so I made a double batch. Love these!
I know they’re supposed to chill for a couple weeks, but we couldn’t wait. LOL. So so so good.
These were EXCELLENT!
Can jalapenos that have turned red be used?
Yes you can, the red ones are hotter than the green ones, though.
Can I use jalapeno peppers in the jar purchased at the store?
Hi Von! We’ve never tested this so I can’t say for sure, but I guess if the canned peppers aren’t pickled and don’t have any added seasonings, it would be fine. Try it!
This recipe is AWESOME. Just made a double batch…tested a couple and delish!! Can’t wait for a couple weeks after chilling when they’re even more amazing. Thank you for sharing!
I use Splenda brown sugar all the time and was wondering if granulated Splenda would substitute in this recipe?
I just made these and I had to try them immediately. So delicious! Can’t wait to try them again after they rest for a couple of weeks.
This is a GREAT recipe!! We have fresh jalapenos from our garden and I make 2 batches every year. So good!
What process did you use? Do.you refrigerate or can? If canning, can you share the process you used and how long you let them sit before opening?
This is a fantastic recipe!! I canned mine so we can enjoy them for months to come. Thanks for sharing!
OH! I’ve always wondered how to make these!! Thank you so much for sharing!
My family loves this recipe so much. Really good in quesadillas and of course with cream cheese and crackers. Can’t get enough of them!