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
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.)