Easy Cowboy Candy

I’ve fallen hard for this easy cowboy candy recipe (aka candied jalapeños). With the perfect balance of sweet and spicy, this is the best thing we’ve made in our kitchen lately, and they go with almost anything!

Easy Cowboy Candy (candied jalapeños)

I seriously can’t stop sneaking these sweet and spicy peppers onto my plate. The jar has been out for every dinner lately. If you’ve never tried candied jalapeños, consider this my gentle nudge to try them.

You don’t need to be a master canner to make this cowboy candy. It’s super simple and keeps in the fridge for months!

Key Ingredients

  • Peppers: I use fresh jalapeño peppers, but you can experiment with other peppers in this recipe. I also leave my peppers whole and do not remove the seeds or membranes (the sugar syrup tones the heat of the peppers quite a bit). If you want a mild result, you can remove the seeds and membrane, where most of the heat lives. Mix hotter peppers with the jalapenos for spicier cowboy candy, or substitute them all together.
  • Garlic: Sliced raw garlic adds flavor and interest. I love the candied sliced garlic as much as the peppers.
  • Vinegar: For the best flavor, I use apple cider vinegar and distilled white vinegar. Cutting the apple cider vinegar with the white vinegar keeps the syrup from tasting too much like an apple.
  • Sugar: This is a candied jalapeños recipe, so you’ll see a good amount of sugar called for in our recipe below. Instead of a brine, the sliced peppers sit in a vinegar-sugar syrup.
  • Turmeric: Improves the color and flavor of the peppers as they sit in the jar. We also use turmeric in this recipe for bread and butter pickles.

How to Make Cowboy Candy

Okay, I know I keep saying it, but this recipe is the best! I’m obsessed with these candied jalapeños. They go on everything lately. And they’re easy to make, too.

You’ll start by preparing the peppers and garlic. I highly recommend wearing disposable food-safe gloves when slicing this many peppers (you’ll need to cut around 20). The gloves will protect your hands from the oils in the peppers, which can sting and burn if you’re working with a lot of them. Toss the sliced peppers and garlic in a big bowl and sprinkle with salt. Let them sit for about 20 minutes.

How to Make Cowboy Candy - sliced jalapeños and garlic sitting with salt

Then, it’s time for the sweet and tangy syrup. Grab a big saucepan (make sure it’s large enough for your peppers later) and mix in your apple cider vinegar, white vinegar, sugar, and a sprinkle of turmeric. Bring that to a boil, cook for a few minutes, and add your sliced pepper and garlic. Cook them for a few minutes, then transfer them to a jar using a slotted spoon. 

Making our cowboy candy recipe by cooking jalapeños and garlic in a vinegar sugar syrup

Leave the sugar syrup in the saucepan and cook it down even more before pouring it into the jar with the peppers. You might have a little extra, which is great because that stuff is liquid gold. Seriously, save it! It’s amazing in marinades, dressings, cocktails, or even tossed with fruit for a sweet and spicy kick.

Enjoy your homemade cowboy candy in a day or two. They improve as they sit, so waiting for the first 24 hours is worth it!

Making candied jalapeños - Pouring a sugar syrup into a jar with jalapeños and garlic.

Storing Cowboy Candy

Homemade cowboy candy lasts in an airtight jar in the fridge for 3 months, though my family finishes the jar well before that! For longer storage, you can preserve it using a traditional water bath (I recommend reviewing a canning resource for tips).

Homemade Cowboy Candy aka Candied Jalapeños

Ways to Enjoy Cowboy Candy

Cowboy candy goes with just about everything! I promise, once you try these candied jalapeños, you won’t be able to stop adding them to your plate. They are fantastic with sandwiches, hot dogs, and burgers.I also love them added to salads, tacos, nachos, and scrambled eggs. They even make homemade potato salad, egg salad, and creamy pasta salad taste better.

Candied jalapeños are perfect for a charcuterie platter with cheese and cured meats. I love them on bagels with smoked salmon and cream cheese. I bet they’d make macaroni and cheese better, and they are perfect with chili (see my favorite chili recipe or this Texas red chili)

You can even add them to margaritas, other cocktails, or mocktails. I’m sure there are more suggestions (really, these are amazing). I’m excited to try adding them to vanilla ice cream (I’ll keep you updated on that one). Let us know your favorite ways to enjoy them in the comments!

Easy Cowboy Candy

  • PREP
  • COOK

Here is how to make cowboy candy, aka candied jalapeños. You do not need to be a master canner for this recipe. It’s quick and easy, and the jar lasts in your fridge for months. You will likely have leftover syrup, which you can use in marinades, dressings, cocktails, or toss with fruit (it’s very good with cut melon).

You will need a 1 pint canning jar or a glass airtight container that holds at least 2 cups.

Makes 1 pint jar

You Will Need

1 ½ pounds (680g) jalapeño peppers, about 20 jalapeños

5 garlic cloves, sliced

1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt

1 cup (236ml) apple cider vinegar

1 cup (236ml) distilled white vinegar

3 cups (600g) sugar

1/8 teaspoon ground turmeric


    1Slice the peppers between 1/8″ and 1/4″ thick. Then, place them into a mixing bowl and add the sliced garlic.

    2Sprinkle the salt over the peppers, toss well, and set aside on the counter for 20 minutes.

    3Add apple cider vinegar, white vinegar, sugar, and turmeric to a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Boil the mixture for 3 minutes.

    4Add the peppers and garlic, and boil for another 3 minutes.

    5With a slotted spoon, scoop out the peppers and garlic and put them into a 1-quart jar.

    6Simmer the vinegar mixture until it reduces to about 1 pint of liquid (2 cups), 5 to 8 minutes.

    7Pour the reduced vinegar mixture over the peppers and garlic, then add a lid to the jar.

    8Refrigerate for a day or two (if you can wait) and enjoy. They get even better after a week.

Adam and Joanne's Tips

  • The nutrition facts provided below are estimates.
Nutrition Per Serving Serving Size 1 tablespoon (includes syrup) / Calories 82 / Total Fat 0.1g / Saturated Fat 0g / Cholesterol 0mg / Sodium 37.8mg / Carbohydrate 20.4g / Dietary Fiber 0.6g / Total Sugars 19.6g / Protein 0.2g
AUTHOR:  Adam and Joanne Gallagher
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