Pickled Jalapenos (Escabeche)

This year I decided to grow jalapeño and serrano chiles—those wonderfully hot and flavorful Mexican chiles that are used salsa, guacamole, and so many Mexican dishes. But I certainly wasn’t expecting each plant to yield over a pound of chiles. What to do with so many?

Make jalapeños escabeche, or pickled jalapeños!

Pickled Jalapenos

Pickled jalapeños are served as a condiment with many meals in Mexico. My mother used to buy jars of escabeche when I was a child. The chiles can be cut up and used for many dishes.

Pickled Jalapenos (Escabeche) Recipe

  • Prep time: 20 minutes
  • Cook time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: Makes about 4 to 5 pint jars


  • 1 lb jalapeño (and/or serrano if you wish) chile peppers
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 2-3 medium white or yellow onions, thickly sliced
  • 2-3 medium carrots, peeled and thickly sliced
  • Florets from half a small cauliflower (optional)
  • 1 head garlic, cloves separated but not peeled
  • 4 cups apple cider vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp Kosher salt or sea salt
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 4 sprigs of fresh marjoram (can sub fresh oregano) or 1/4 teaspoon dried
  • 4 sprigs of fresh thyme or 1/4 teaspoon dried
  • 1 Tbsp sugar


1 Wash the chiles, leaving the stems intact. Cut a cross in the tip end of each chile so that the vinegar will be able to penetrate the chiles.

2 Heat olive oil in a large, deep skillet. Add the chiles, onions, carrots, cauliflower if using, and garlic. Fry over medium heat for about 10 minutes, turning them over occasionally.

3 Add the vinegar, salt, bay leaves, dried oregano, marjoram, thyme, and sugar and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Make sure the chiles are entirely cooked through before canning. You will know they are cooked when they are no longer vibrant green, but a dull, olive green.

pickled-jalapenos-method-1 pickled-jalapenos-method-2

4 Pack 4 to 5 pint-sized sterilized jars with the chiles and vegetables. Top with the vinegar cooking liquid and seal. Process in a hot water bath for 10 minutes.

Once opened, can keep for one to two months in the refrigerator.

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Recipe adapted from Diana Kennedy's The Essential Cuisines of Mexico.


Jalapeño Bread and Butter Pickles here on Simply Recipes

Michael Simon's Pickled Chillis from Ruhlman's blog

Water bath canning instructions from Food in Jars

Pickled Jalapenos

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Showing 4 of 41 Comments

  • FoodFreak

    These look a lot like the pickled jalapenos I sort of winged based on a recipe in Jim Fobel’s Big Flavors. He adds more spices like peppercorns, cumin, cloves, bay leaves, though. Fobel recommends chilling the jalapenos, too. I tweaked, hot-packing them in jam jars, and they kept fabulously on my shelves for three years, through two hot summers and a move. I’ll have to try this one… very decorative with the carrot slices.

  • Charles


    This is fantastic! Like you, I planted serranos this year, but never expected them to be so prolific! I’ve given away several bags of them to family and neighbors, and still am over-run with serranos.

    I made this over the holiday weekend, and it’s absolutely delicious. I haven’t had it since we left San Diego. In addition to the wonderful flavor, the aroma was delightful. (Well, to me it was, my wife asked me what was smelling up the house) I dunno, I thought it was good.

    Anyways, I love it, and will make it again before the season’s out, I’m sure. One of the workers at my wife’s school is from El Salvador, — he’s going to love this.

    Thanks again.

  • Brendan

    After surfing the net for a few hours I finally came across your recipe. THANKS! Exactly what I was looking for but have one question:

    You say not to peel the cloves of garlic so do you fry them in their skin? And do you can them with their skin on?
    Or does the skin just fall off after frying?

    If you all want some good straight up beef tacos use the pickled jalapeños as a marinade and marinade over night then grill to perfection next day with salt. I used cheap chuck steak (1/4 cut. )

  • Elise

    Hi Brendon,

    I love the pickled jalapeno marinade idea, thanks!

    To your question about the garlic. My Mexican friends cook often with garlic that has not been peeled. Apparently there is a lot of flavor in the peel. In this recipe, cook with the peel on. When you pull the garlic out of the jar to eat, it will just slip out of its peel. But the peel is providing flavor to the mix.

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