Sweet and Spicy, it’s Pepper Jelly

Sweet and spicy are two flavors that go hand-in-hand. And way before Sriracha, which lists sugar as it’s second ingredient, took over as the condiment du jour, there was another sugary, hot contender for a place on the southern table: pepper jelly. That’s right. Pepper jelly.

Hot peppers cooked with vinegar in sugar syrup. It sounds terrible, but the result is a powerful jelly that’s a distinctive compliment to all sorts of roasted meats, especially the swine flesh, and sinfully good mixed with cream cheese and served on a cracker. It’s a combination that’s so good the Rural Heritage Center in Thomaston, Ala. has a Pepper Jelly Festival on the last Saturday of April every year.

It’s one of those foods that festival good, y’all.

My Daddy makes the best pepper jelly you’ll ever put in your mouth. It tickles your taste buds with just the right amount of heat, a little vinegar tang, and a touch of sweet. Not cloying; just enough. It’s easy to make and pretty in the jar. Definitely festival-worthy.

Confetti Pepper Jelly


  • ¾ to 1 cup red and green hot peppers
  • 6½ cups sugar
  • 1½ cups vinegar
  • 1 packet Certo liquid pectin


  1. Wearing gloves, remove the stems, seeds, and pulp from the peppers.
  2. Place ½ cup of the vinegar in the blender with the peppers and process until finely chopped.
  3. In a large, heavy saucepan bring remaining vinegar, sugar, and peppers to a boil.
  4. Boil for three minutes.
  5. Add pectin and boil for 1 minute more being careful not to let it boil over.
  6. Remove from heat and let set for 5 minutes.
  7. Pour into sterilized glass jars filling almost to the rim.
  8. Cap with seals and rings.
  9. Turn all the jars upside down which helps them seal and keeps all the pretty confetti from floating to the top.

As I mentioned above, you can serve your pepper jelly alongside roasted meats. Another great combo is pepper jelly and cream cheese. You can top a block of cream cheese with your pepper jelly and serve it with fancy crackers, which makes a pretty hors d’oeuvre. You can also mix the pepper jelly directly into softened cream cheese. Again, serve with fancy crackers. You can also spread a little pepper jelly on a piece of bread, add some nice cheese like provolone or muenster, a few slices of tart apple like a Honey Crisp, and grill that sucker up! If you have a panini press, it makes it a lot easier to get it heated through. Then yum yum!

2 thoughts on “Sweet and Spicy, it’s Pepper Jelly

  1. I made some of the jelly a last year, but have not really figured out how to eat it. I love your suggestions. I think these might be dishes I put out for Christmas appetizers this year.

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