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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
- Mango Habanero
- 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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
And, as I mentioned above, they make great 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:
- Bacon-Wrapped Jalapeños
- Really Good Jalapeño Dip
- Christmas Tree Cheeseball
- Fried Ravioli
- Buffalo and Blue Cheese Stuffed Meatballs
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Red Pepper Jelly
- 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
- 8 ounces cream cheese
- 1 box crackers
- 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.