Jalapeno Pepper Jelly

Make homemade jalapeño pepper jelly with no added pectin. Tart Granny Smith apples supply all the pectin you need, and a few cranberries gives it a vibrant red color.

Jalapeno Pepper Jelly
Elise Bauer

We love jalapeño peppers!

We use them in so much of our cooking that I've taken to even pickling my own.

For the last year I've been searching for a recipe for jalapeño jelly that didn't rely on food dye or commercial pectin, but to no avail.

So, with some experimentation, I've come up with the following recipe which uses apple jelly made from Granny Smith apples (the tart, green apples) as a base, and cranberries for color.

Granny Smith apples (and cranberries too) have plenty of natural pectin, so no additional pectin is needed to make the jelly gel.

Jalapeno Pepper Jelly
Elise Bauer

Why Cream Cheese and Jalapeño Jelly Are Made for Each Other

The jelly is great served on crackers with cream cheese because the fat molecules in the cream cheese absorb the hot capsaicin of the jalapeños, reducing the heat, but leaving the flavor of the chiles. This is also why sour cream tastes so good with spicy Mexican food.

homemade Jalapeno Pepper Jelly on crackers with cream cheese
Elise Bauer

Simple Tip!

Sometimes I've had it happen that the jelly does pass the wrinkle test on the plate but doesn't set right away in the jars. If that happens to you, I suggest letting the jars sit. My experience is that they tend to firm up over time. It might take a few days or several weeks.

Jalapeno Pepper Jelly

Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 80 mins
Total Time 95 mins
Servings 40
Yield 4 to 5 half-pint jars

Tart green apples have more pectin in them than sweet apples, so use tart green apples for this recipe, earlier in the season the better. This is especially true if you are not also using cranberries, as cranberries have their own natural pectin as well.

Jalapeño jelly can be pretty "hot" if you have included a lot of the seeds in your cooking.


  • 4 pounds tart apples (e.g. Granny Smith), unpeeled and uncored, chopped into big pieces

  • 6 jalapeño peppers, halved lengthwise

  • 1 green or red bell pepper, seeds and ribs removed, chopped

  • 1 cup cranberries  (optional but recommended to help with color and with setting)

  • 3 cups water

  • 3 cups white vinegar

  • 3 1/2 cups sugar (7/8 cup for each cup of juice)

Special Equipment

  • 4 to 5 half-pint canning jars


  1. Remove the seeds and ribs from 3 of the peppers for mildly hot jelly. If you want a hotter jelly, leave the seeds and ribs in all of them.

    Simple Tip!

    Wear gloves, or plastic baggies, when scraping the seeds out of the peppers. If you absolutely must use your bare hands, rub your hands with a little vegetable oil to protect your pores while working with the peppers. Then when you're done, wash thoroughly in hot soapy water.

  2. Boil and mash the apples, jalapeños, bell pepper, and cranberries:

    Combine the apple pieces, apple cores (needed for their pectin content), jalapeños, bell pepper, cranberries (if using), water, and vinegar in a large non-reactive pot.

    Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to medium-low, simmering for about 20 minutes, or until the apples, cranberries, and peppers are soft. Stir occasionally to make sure nothing is sticking to the bottom of the pan where it might burn.

    Use a potato masher to mash up the apple pieces to the consistency of slightly runny applesauce. If the mash is too thick, add more water.

  3. Strain:

    Spoon the mash into a fine mesh sieve, muslin cloth, or a couple layers of cheesecloth, suspended over a large bowl. Leave to strain for several hours (even overnight).

    If you want a clear jelly, do not squeeze or force through the mesh. Just let it drip. If you want a fuller flavor jelly and don't mind that the result won't be clear, you can force some of the pulp through the mesh.

    If your pulp is too thick, and nothing is coming out, you can add an extra 1/2 to 1 cup of water to it. You want to end up with about 4 cups of juice.

  4. Add the sugar to juice, heat to dissolve:

    Measure the juice, then pour into a large, wide, thick-bottomed pot. Add the sugar (7/8 cup for each 1 cup of juice). Heat gently, stirring to make sure the sugar gets dissolved and doesn't stick to the bottom of the pan and burn.

  5. Boil until the setting point:

    Bring to a boil. Cook for 10-15 minutes, using a metal spoon to skim off the surface scum.

    Continue to boil until a thermometer shows that the temperature has reached 220-222°F (8-10°F above the boiling point at your altitude).

    Simple Tip!

    A thermometer reading isn't always the most reliable indicator of whether or not a jelly is done. Another way to test is put 1/2 teaspoonful of the jelly on a plate that's been chilled in the freezer. Allow the jelly to cool a few seconds, then push it with your fingertip. If it wrinkles up, it's ready.

    Additional time needed for cooking can be anywhere from 10 minutes to 1 hour or longer, depending on the amount of water, sugar, and apple pectin in the mix.

  6. Divide between jars:

    Pour jelly into hot sterilized jars to within 1/4 inch from the top. Put clean lids on the jars and screw on the bands.

    Let cool, then store in the refrigerator for up to 6 months.

    Simple Tip!

    For longer storage, this recipe may be water bath canned. Follow our procedures for water bath canning and process for 5 minutes. For the best flavor, consume the jars within 1 year.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)
100 Calories
0g Fat
24g Carbs
0g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 40
Amount per serving
Calories 100
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 0g 0%
Saturated Fat 0g 0%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 2mg 0%
Total Carbohydrate 24g 9%
Dietary Fiber 2g 5%
Total Sugars 22g
Protein 0g
Vitamin C 6mg 28%
Calcium 6mg 0%
Iron 0mg 1%
Potassium 68mg 1%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate. In cases where multiple ingredient alternatives are given, the first listed is calculated for nutrition. Garnishes and optional ingredients are not included.