Anne Byrn’s Hot Pepper Jelly Recipe

Southern Kitchen

Serves: Makes about 1 1/2 pints

Hands On Time: 1 hour and 0 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour and 0 minutes


5 cups sugar

1 1/2 cups white vinegar

2 cups minced green or orange bell peppers, seeds and veins removed

1/2 cup minced serrano or jalapeño peppers, seeds and veins removed

1 (3-ounce) pouch liquid pectin


Sterilize five half-pint canning jars, lids, and rings by running them through the dishwasher or simmering in boiling water for 10 minutes. Let air dry.

In a large pot, combine the sugar and vinegar. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Continue to boil vigorously for 5 minutes. Add the sweet and hot peppers and continue to boil, stirring constantly, for 1 minute. Stir in the pectin and boil for 1 minute more.

Pour the hot jelly into the jars, leaving about 1/4-inch headspace. Clean the jar rims with a clean, wet dish towel. Place the lids on the jar. Press down on the lid while you place the ring on the jar and twist until nearly tight. You should hear the jars “ping,” which means they have sealed. Twist the rings until they are tight. Turn the jars upside down to seal for 20 seconds. Then, turn upright to cool at room temperature. Use at once, or store in the refrigerator until ready to use or give to friends.

About the recipe

The late great North Carolina food writer Bill Neal observed that Southerners can make jelly out of anything. So true. Preserving was and still is an important way of extending the season in the South, and it’s a way to savor the bounty of the harvest months later. A dab of pepper jelly might remind us of spring and summer, and also might add color and flavor to field peas and cornbread, a grilled cheese sandwich, burgers, fried chicken, and even scrambled eggs.

A dab of pepper jelly adds excitement, too. It’s made with a mix of sweet bell peppers and hot peppers, but because no two peppers are created equally on the heat index, pepper jelly can vary in sweetness and heat. It’s up to the jelly-maker to create a condiment that is smoking-hot, nearly hot, sort-of-hot, or not-so-hot, depending on how many hot peppers are added to the pot. Thankfully the sugar tames the heat, and in the end you have the Southern equivalent of Asian sweet-hot sauces or Mexican pineapple salsas.