Pickled Jalapenos (Escabeche)

Chiles Jalapenos y Serrano 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 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.

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Pickled Jalapenos (Escabeche) Recipe

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

Ingredients

  • 1 lb jalapeño (and 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 or 1/4 teaspoon dried
  • 4 sprigs of fresh thyme or 1/4 teaspoon dried
  • 1 Tbsp sugar

Method

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 chile.

2 Heat 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.

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3 Add the vinegar, salt, herbs, and sugar and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 5 minutes for serranos or 10 minutes for jalapeños. 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.

4 Pack 4 to 5 pint-sized sterilized jars with the chiles and vegetables. Top with the vinegar 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.

Links:

Jalapeño Bread and Butter Pickles here on Simply Recipes
Michael Simon's Pickled Chillis from Ruhlman's blog


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29 Comments

  1. 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.

  2. Charles

    Elise,

    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.

  3. Brendan

    Sandra,
    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?
    Thanks,
    Brendan.

    P.S.
    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. )

  4. 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.

  5. Scott P. Richert

    I’ve had escabeche in Mexican restaurants that included cauliflower in the mix. Any idea how to do that? Would you suggest cooking the cauliflower separately? Boiling, maybe? Or perhaps the cauliflower could simply be cut into pieces, scalded, and then packed with everything else, and the processing would cook it enough? I wouldn’t want it to get too soft.

    Thanks in advance for any suggestions.

    I would just put the cauliflower in with everything else. But try it and see! If I try it, I’ll report back. ~Elise

  6. Alex

    How long are we supposed to age Jalapenos for. I have tried several recipes, but try to eat them the same day. They tast too much like vinegar — does anyone know if the vinegar flavor goes away with aging?

    I think they do improve with age, though since they are basically packed in vinegar, I rather doubt you are going to lose that flavor if you use this method to pickle them. ~Elise

  7. Richard

    I must have over-cooked the jalapenos because they are a bit mushy. I could not wait and tried some after processing. Although I used jalapenos, I agree with Charles, the flavor is great. I will do this again just as soon as my peppers produce enough to do so.

  8. Susan

    About the Jalepenos tasting too much like vinegar, you might want to try adding 1/4 cup of water per 1 cup of vinegar to tone down the vinegar taste.

    If you are planning to can the jalapeno pickles, for unrefrigerated storage, I do not recommend diluting the vinegar at all. Canned vegetables need to have a certain level of acidity to keep dangerous bacteria from growing, unless you do low-acid canning in a pressure canner. Pickled jalapenos are pickled in vinegar. They are supposed to be be vinegary, though if the jalapenos have sufficient heat, the spiciness is what you taste the most.~Elise

  9. April

    You can also try different vinegers to change it up. In the Michoacan region, I have had escabeche made with pineapple vinegar and another with apricot. The vinegar is just home-made using a white vinegar plus the fruit of your choice and letting it ‘stew’ awhile. My preference is escabeche made with pineapple, it gives it a fruity undertone that livens up any dish!

  10. carol

    I just have to let you know that I made this a week ago. I didn’t have cauliflower so I used some fresh green beans. I gave a jar to my son and daughter-in-law. My son just loved it. I’m going to open a jar tonight. Now he wants me to show him how to make them, can’t wait to get started. It was so fast and easy! Thank you so much for the recipe.

    Green beans would work great in this, thanks for the suggestion. So glad it worked out well for you. ~Elise

  11. Anthea

    Thank you so much for this recipe. In the US, Jalapenos preserved this way are very cheap and available, but outside the US, they are mega-pricey. So now I can preserve my Jalapeno crop using this recipe, and it works amazingly well. Top recipe.

  12. Mike Bouchard

    I made these a couple of weeks ago after researching this classic jalapeno pickle. I found yours to be the most balanced looking recipe. They came out amazing!

    thanks.

  13. Colleen

    Thanks so much for your recipe. I am used to eating sliced pickled jalapenos, so I prefer to go ahead and pickle them as slices, if possible. How would you recommend modifying the recipe if I decided to slice them first (i.e. anything else to change besides cooking time)?
    Thanks!

    Just make sure that everything is cooked through before canning. The slices will cook faster, but the other ingredients will still take time, unless you slice the carrots ultra thin. ~Elise

  14. Jeff

    I never post replies on web pages but had to this time. This is an excellent recipe! I’ve tried others but couldn’t get the right flavor I was looking for. This is simple and tastes insane. I just took old jars, steralized them and used those. I didn’t do the hot bath method for long storage. I’ve already started to eat the escabeche the very next day.

  15. Alinna

    Can I make this only with peppers? the hubs isn’t too into the other stuff.

    Yes. ~Elise

  16. Angie

    Do I have to cook the veggies? I would like to leave them raw if possible but find any information on how necessary the cooking process is.

    Yes, if you want to preserve the peppers, they need to be cooked. If you just want to make a refrigerator pickle that you eat up within days, then no, they don’t need to be cooked. But they must be refrigerated and eaten quickly. ~Elise

  17. Kelly

    This is the best canning recipe I have. I get requests for this from everyone in my family and my Mexican brother-in-law will eat a can in one sitting. I add green cayanne and other peppers like banana and ancho. The vinegar flavor mellows quite a bit after a few weeks and it’s even better after a few months. We pop it out for Christmas. I peel the garlic, because I use fresh garlic and it’s easier to get the paper off if you just take it all off and it works fine.

  18. Diana

    Do you have to fry the vegetables? I want peppers to stay a bit firm. I don’t mind cooking in water bath for 10 min. but can I skip frying and still be able to have 1-2 month shelf life. If I add 1/2 cup of water do you know if that also decrease shelf-life?
    Thanks for the recipe.

    The important things are to 1) not change the ratio of vinegar to any other liquid (so do not add water), and 2) to make sure the peppers are completely cooked through before you can them. These are safety precautions as peppers are low acid foods (do a Google search for canning low acid foods and you’ll see why you have to take precautions). ~Elise

    • KimH

      An fyi… In the South, raw peppers are often put in vinegar and left on the table to shake on your food.. I’ve got a bottle in my cabinet that has been there for 2 years.. Its nothing more than peppers & vinegar.. I didnt cook them.. just popped raw peppers in the jar of vinegar. With that much vinegar.. nothing is going to grow in it, no matter if its raw or cooked veggies.

  19. Sheila Patterson

    This was absolutely the best recipe ever! I just had some on chicken…Yum! I was skeptical about not pealing the garlic but, I refrained from peeling them. After the pickling process I pealed one and the texture was like butter. I guess the skin holds it together and keeps it from crumbling at the bottom of the jar. Great recipe! I am out to pick more jalapenos.

  20. Diane Soto

    Last September I found your recipe for Jalapenos and stored them over the winter. I opened a jar around March and boy were they good and hot. Nothing was wasted. Well I am ready to can another batch and I am using my favorite recipe. It is easy and stored very well. Thanks again

  21. Curtis Reykdal

    His is a great recipe. The only thing I would do different next time I make them is use half apple cider vinegar and half water. Using all vinegar is a bit too intense.

  22. Katy Carter

    This is the best recipe for pickled jalapenos in the world!!!… I have made it many times and my family and friends just love it… I use the brine to put on my green salads instead of oil and vinegar… Thank you for sharing…

  23. Jai

    I followed your recipe this morning and I think that things went well. I put the chiles and vegetables into a clean spaghetti sauce jar since I don’t have mason jars. If I place this jar in the fridge, how long can I expect the Escabeche to be good since it is not in an airtight container?

    So the jar doesn’t have a lid? You might put some plastic wrap over it and secure it with a rubber band. It should last for several weeks, if not months, in the refrigerator, even after opening. The only thing that might foul it is mold. Just treat it like a refrigerator pickle. ~Elise

  24. Autumn

    I love your recipe! I made 4 jars last night and one of them didn’t seal, so I just opened it up, and Yum! My mom’s family is from Mexico, and she always had a jar of this in the fridge. She would just put the veggies in a homemade tortilla, or eat them straight out of the jar. I never knew it actually had a name until I started searching for a recipe. I was wondering if I could do half white vinegar and half apple cider vinegar. I can find white vinegar at much cheaper prices.

  25. Lon Truelove

    Coming from a Mexican family, I have always enjoyed Marinated Jalapenos. Of course no one except my Great-Grandmother had a recipe for this and through the years this recipe was lost. Ugh! I have tried many recipes found online and have had mixed reviews with most of them. However, after trying this recipe at Simple Recipes website. I have found it to be my favorite. I make at least two batches of this per year and friends and and family keep coming back for more. :) Thank you Simple Recipes!

  26. Anne

    I first made this recipe about 5 years ago and have never tried another after finding this one. By far, the best jalapeno escabeche this side of Mexico. Someone ahead of me commented that they let them sit until at least Christmas. I find this to be the best thing too. The longer they sit, the more mellow the vinegar becomes and the hotter the peppers become. Since I’m not a chemist, I have no reasonable explanation for this, but since I love HOT, I couldn’t be more thrilled. I’m getting ready to pickle another batch and this time I’m using a combo of serranos and green and red jalapenos. I have no doubt, they will be wonderful.

    For everyone just wondering if its worth the trouble, let me assure you that, following these simple instructions to the T, and having the patience to wait for a great pepper, and you won’t be sorry with this recipe.

  27. KimH

    I cant wait to give this a go tomorrow.. I knew I wanted a marinated jalapeno recipe with onions & carrots like we used to eat when we were kids in deep South Texas.. This sounds & looks just like what I was looking for!
    Thanks for sharing all the great recipes that you do! ♥

  28. KimH

    Wow!! You’ve made my day Elise!! :) I made this today with a few changes.. I didnt use the cauliflower and I used all of the ingredients & your ratios with the exception of the marjoram. I was fresh out. I also put a little bit of cumin in mine and I also put a piece of bay & garlic in each jar instead of in the simmering pot. I had some leftover syrup from making pickled jalapenos last night (vinegar, water, sugar, tumeric mainly) so I added that to the pot too.. I wound up with 35 half pints of pickled peppers.. I water bath canned them for 10 minutes to make them shelf stable.
    I added 2 cups of water too, to tone down the vinegar a little bit.. I tested the liquid before I canned them & they were still very acidic at 2-2.5ph..

    They taste amazing.. thanks so much for sharing this fantastic recipe!
    Blessings!!

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