Escabeche (Pickled Jalapeños)

These classic pickled jalapeños, or jalapeños escabeche, are made with fresh jalapeño chili peppers, white onions, garlic, carrots, cider vinegar and herbs. Serve them alongside Mexican dishes, or slice them up for burgers, tacos, or salsas.

Pickled jalapenos (escabeche) with carrots and cauliflower in a pint jar
Elise Bauer

This year I decided to grow jalapeño and serrano chiles—those wonderfully hot and flavorful Mexican chiles that are used to make 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!

What Is Escabeche?

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

Escabeche (Pickled Jalapenos) in pint jars, canned with carrots and cauliflower
Elise Bauer

How to Make Pickled Jalapeños

Unlike a lot of other pickle recipes, this one starts by frying the jalapeños and other vegetables in oil before pickling. This gives them a more complex, concentrated flavor.

After frying, simmer the vegetables in a simple pickling liquid of cider vinegar, salt, bay leaves, dried oregano, marjoram, thyme, and sugar until completely cooked. Pack the hot vegetables and pickling liquid into canning jars and seal.

Process the jars following the hot water bath canning method (Elise likes the method used here). If you prefer not to process your pickles, you can store them in the fridge and use within a month or so.

Ways to Use Escabeche

Crunchy pickled escabeche can be eaten as a snack or appetizer, or served on the plate alongside Mexican recipes. You can also slice or mince the pickled vegetables to make a quick relish for burgers, tacos, or burritos.

More Easy Pickle Recipes

From the Editors Of Simply Recipes

Escabeche (Pickled Jalapeños)

Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Total Time 50 mins
Yield 4 to 5 pint jars

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

Ingredients

  • 1 pound jalapeño (and/or serrano if you wish) chile peppers
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin 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 tablespoons Kosher salt or sea salt
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 4 sprigs fresh marjoram (can sub fresh oregano) or 1/4 teaspoon dried
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme or 1/4 teaspoon dried
  • 1 tablespoon sugar

Method

  1. Prep the chiles:

    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. Fry the vegetables in olive oil:

    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. Boil with vinegar and seasonings:

    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.

    escabeche or pickled jalepenos
    Elise Bauer
    canning jalapenos or escabeche
    Elise Bauer
  4. Pack the jars:

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

  5. Process in a hot water bath:

    for 10 minutes.

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