Red Pepper Jelly


Learn how to make red pepper jelly. It’s delicious in a variety of ways including this easy this easy appetizer served over cream cheese with crackers. No matter how you serve it, this homemade red pepper jelly is a hit every single time.

red pepper jelly appetizer pinterest image

If you’re a long-time follower of Inspired by Charm, you may remember pre-Bayberry house when I was running my B&B and Gift Shop. I used to make jams and jellies (including this red pepper jelly) to sell in the shop and include in my gift baskets.

It’s been a while now, so I’ve forgotten the exact number, but I probably made a couple of thousand jars of jam and jelly during those years. It’s crazy to think about. I made everything from blackberry to strawberry and even unique concoctions like champagne and ginger peach.

But of all the jams, one of my favorites was red pepper jelly. I know it sounds different, but I love it.

ritz crackers on a plate with cream cheese and pepper jelly on top

Frequently Asked Questions about Red Pepper Jelly

Before we get to the red pepper jelly recipe, here are some questions people often ask about it. If you don’t see your question in this list, please leave it in the comments.

What is red pepper jelly used on?

There are so many ways to use red pepper jelly. My favorite way is to just spread it on top of a block of cream cheese and then add both to some crackers.

Other people like to use it as a side dipping sauce for things like jalapeno poppers or as a condiment on top of hamburgers.

block of cream cheese covered in pepper jelly

How do you make red pepper jelly spicy?

To make your red pepper jelly spicy, just add about 3 teaspoons of red pepper flakes to the mixture. You can even add a few drops of hot sauce too if you still want it to be spicier.

How do you make red pepper jelly without pectin?

You need the pectin to give it the jelly-like consistency. If you don’t use pectin, it will come out more like a jam. However, there is another hack you can do if you don’t have pectin (or really don’t like it).

  • Puree your red peppers in a food processor.
  • Then, add them to a pot of boiling water.
  • Remove it from the heat and let it set for about 15 minutes.
  • Drain the red pepper mixture – you should have a paste left.
  • Add this paste to a sauce pan and add the rest of the jelly ingredients.

This isn’t my favorite solution because it is difficult to get a perfect consistency this way. I highly recommend you follow my method down in the recipe card below.

holiday appetizer with cheese and crackers

What cheese goes with red pepper jelly?

I always use a block of Philidelphia cream cheese. Feel free to have fun using other types of cheese with your red pepper jelly. Try it with any of these ideas:

  • Brie
  • Mango Habanero
  • Gouda
  • Goat Cheese

Is red pepper jelly sweet?

Yes, and I think that’s what makes it work so well with cream cheese and crackers. The slight sweetness from the jelly is a perfect match with a salty cracker and smooth cream cheese.

Is red pepper jelly spicy?

Now, before we get into the recipe, I want to point out one thing. As I mentioned above, you can add jalapeño pepper to this jelly. It gives it just a little kick that works nicely with the cream cheese.

For the recipe below, it’s a minimal amount of heat that almost anyone can handle. Depending on your heat preference, feel free to decrease or increase the number of jalapeños.

knife slicing into cream cheese cracker appetizer

Trust me on this. You need to try it.

Even better, this makes the most perfect appetizer. Just place a block of cream cheese on a plate, spoon over your homemade jelly, add a spreader, and serve with crackers. Done.

If you have last-minute visitors, this is a lifesaver.

With the jelly already made, it can be on the table in minutes. Plus the red and green colors of the bell peppers are so appropriate for the season. What do you think?

spoonful of pepper jelly being added on top of a block of cream cheese

Let’s Make Red Pepper Jelly

While you can use this jelly in a variety of ways, the way I love it best is served on a cracker with cream cheese. Here’s some more information about how to make it.

Ingredients

There are only a handful of simple ingredients in this iconic red pepper jelly. Here’s what you need to have when you make it.

  • Bell Peppers – Use both red and green bell peppers. Remember to use red bell peppers if you want the jelly to have that classic red color.
  • Jalapeno Peppers – This is what gives the jelly some spice!
  • Apple Cider Vinegar – You’ll need the vinegar because it creates a chemical reaction with the pectin. Apple Cider Vinegar has the best flavor for the jelly, but you can also use white vinegar instead.
  • Powder Pectin – This gels everything together effortlessly.
  • Sugar – You’ll definitely want to use plenty of sugar to sweeten the jelly.
red and green bell peppers chopped finely

Also, the recipe I’m giving you takes you through the steps for preserving and sealing your jars. You can skip this part if you plan on storing the jelly in your fridge and eating it pretty quickly (in about a week or two).

I do like to seal the jars because this jelly makes a great holiday gift, and any extra jars can be stored in the pantry for up to a year.

How to Make Red Pepper Jelly:

Start by sterilizing six 8-ounce canning jars and lids according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Begin heating your water in a hot water canner for processing. I’ve included a printable recipe card below for a full rundown of the recipe ingredients and instructions.

Place the red bell peppers, green bell peppers, and jalapeño peppers into a large saucepan over high heat. Mix in the apple cider vinegar and Sure-Jell pectin.

Bring the mixture to a rolling boil while stirring constantly. Then, quickly stir in the sugar. Return to a rolling boil and boil for 2-3 minutes. Remove from the heat and skim off any foam.

Then, quickly ladle the jelly into your prepared jars, filling each 1/4 inch from the top. Cover with flat lids, then screw on the bands tightly.

Place the jars into the canning rack and slowly lower the jars into the canner. The water should cover the jars completely and should be hot but not boiling. Bring water to a boil and process for five minutes.

Remove the jars and allow them to cool completely.

red pepper jelly pouring off of a spoon into a small jar

Kitchen Tools I Recommend for this Recipe:

Whether you’re wondering what equipment you’ll need for this recipe, curious about my favorite utensils, or if you’re just looking to stock your kitchen, these are the kitchen tools I recommend for this recipe:

Want more? You can find the list of My Ultimate Kitchen Essentials HERE.

open jars of pepper jelly for canning

Not too bad, right? Jelly making and canning are a bit of a process, but I think it’s a really fun pastime. Plus, having homemade treats on your shelf is the best.

Storing Red Pepper Jelly

If you can the jelly with a canner, then it will last between 18 months to 2 years on your shelf. If you make it fresh and don’t seal it with a canner, I suggest storing it in your refrigerator for no more than six months.

crackers and cream cheese behind an open jar of red pepper jelly

And, as I mentioned above, they make great gifts.

mini jars of red pepper jelly as gifts

That’s a wrap on red pepper jelly!

Definitely give this red pepper jelly recipe a try and let me know what you think! Or, if you’ve had and love red pepper jelly as much as I do, let me know in the comments below. I’m curious.

Did you like this recipe? Here are a few more favorite holiday appetizers:

red pepper jelly pinterest image

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Red Pepper Jelly

Did you make this recipe? Leave a review!

Course: Appetizer, Snack
Cuisine: American
Keyword: red pepper jelly, jelly, red pepper, appetizer
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Total Time 50 mins
This Red Pepper Jelly makes a delicious holiday appetizer served over cream cheese with crackers. It also makes a gift idea. Learn how to make it with this simple recipe.

Ingredients

  • 3 cups finely chopped red bell pepper
  • 1 cup finely chopped green bell pepper
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped jalapeño pepper
  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 1/2 (1.75 ounce each) packages SURE-JELL powder pectin* - (This means one full package plus one half pacakge of pectin.)
  • 5 cups white sugar
Red Pepper Jelly Appetizer:

Instructions

  • Begin by sterilizing six 8-ounce canning jars and lids according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Begin heating your water in a hot water canner for processing.
  • Place the red bell peppers, green bell peppers, and jalapeño peppers into a large saucepan over high heat. Mix in the apple cider vinegar and Sure-Jell pectin. Bring the mixture to a rolling boil while stirring constantly. Then, quickly stir in the sugar. Return to a rolling boil and boil for 2-3 minutes. Remove from the heat and skim off any foam.
  • Then, quickly ladle the jelly into your prepared jars, filling each to 1/4 inch from the top. Cover with flat lids; then screw on the bands tightly.
  • Place the jars into the canning rack, and slowly lower the jars into the canner. The water should cover the jars completely, and should be hot but not boiling. Bring water to a boil and process for five minutes.
  • Remove the jars and allow them to cool completely.
  • To serve the Red Pepper Jelly Appetizer Simply, place the block of Cream Cheese on a plate. Then, spoon the red pepper jelly on top of the cream cheese. Serve with crackers.

Notes

*Often times I will add the extra 1/2 pack of  pectin to ensure my jelly gets firm.
Traditionally, this recipe only requires one package. I’ve updated the recipe to include 1 1/2 packs for more foolproof results. 

Made it? Share it!Tag @inspiredbycharm on Instagram and use the tag #myIBC so we can see what you’re cooking in the kitchen!
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Comments

  • Rachelle at

    Red Pepper Jelly is the most delicious, also Habanero Gold Jelly. Have been making these since 2008. Fell in love with Pepper Jelly, cannot get enough of it. I gave some to my sister, she loved it.

  • Mo at

    Halved the recipe. Taste is great but is really more solid then it should be
    Used gelatin instead of pectin. Is this the problem??

    • Michael Wurm Jr. at

      Yes. They are very different. Gelatin and pectin require different cooking methods, measurements, etc.

      xo Michael

  • Alyssa at

    Made with 5 red peppers, 2 green pepper and 2 jalapeños. This made the exact amount for the recipe. Did the apple cider vinegar (can you explain the chemical reaction?) Added 1.5 packets of pectin as recommended. Did the water bath for 5 minutes on the first batch and realized I’m at 5800ft and needed to cook for longer. Some cans properly sealed, some did not based on my bounce in the top. I’m not 100% how long it will take for it to set. Can you add the expected time frame for setting?

    Overall the flavor is good! I think the vinegar flavor is bold, so I might move over to white vinegar or none if possible. I minced the peppers much more than the pictures illustrated.

    Thanks for sharing!

  • Mary at

    Thank you for this recipe. Easy to follow and make. I made a double batch for Christmas gifts but had to sample a jar myself. I have to say, it was so good I had to stop myself from eating the whole jar. I’m starting my next double batch because you know you can never have too much. Thank you!!

  • Geni at

    Usually I have trouble with that type of pectin. So…I switched to Pomona Pectin and have found that I rarely have jellies or jams that don’t set properly. You can be a lot more creative with this product and each box makes 5-6 batches so it is less expensive too. If you’re interest take a look!

  • Debbie at

    I made 2 batches of this. My boyfriend is diabetic so I used Monk fruit instead of regular sugar in the first batch. It set up great, no problems. We tried it and it is delicious and low carb. Made the second batch with it too.

    • Linda Witte at

      Did you use the same amount of Monk Fruit sweetener? Thank you.

  • Sharon Breeding at

    I’m looking for a recipe for strawberry jalapeno that uses less than 7 cups of sugar. Anyone out there have one. Thanks in advance. Also, I’m gonna try your red pepper jelly. Was trying to figure out if I could substitute nthe berries for something in the recipe.

    • Rachelle at

      I have a recipe for Strawberry Habanero Pepper Jelly. Only 3 1/2 cups of sugar. Made it in 2021, Delicious. Yummy

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