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4 Creative Ways to Cook With Pepper Jelly

Kristie Leong M.D. is a family practitioner who believes in the power of nutrition and a healthy lifestyle to prevent and fight illness.

Are you looking for a way to add more "personality" to your foods? Pepper jelly is one of the most versatile condiments you can have in your kitchen. It is easy to make, or you can buy it ready-made from the store. This condiment is a simple and delicious way to add flavor to any meat, fish, or poultry dish.

Flavor Varies From Brand to Brand

Various types of peppers go into making hot pepper jelly, so the flavor may vary from brand to brand. Many brands use bell peppers as the base flavor, but hot pepper jelly uses at least one hot pepper too, such as habanero or serrano, as part of the base flavor palette.

If you make your own pepper jelly, you can even add tropical flavors of lime, ginger, cilantro, and mint to recipes. Peppers are the main ingredient, giving the jelly its signature hot, sweet taste. Other ingredients might include vinegar, cane sugar, garlic, salt, and spices.

Why will you fall in love with pepper jelly? It complements the flavor of food without overpowering it like other sauces. It offers a tantalizing blend of sweet and spicy. How can you use it in your dishes?

1. Use It in Meat Dishes

Adding pepper jelly to meat is a great way to add flavor and moisture. It will add a sweet and tangy flavor to meat that you won't get from other condiments. You can use it on almost any meat, but it works especially well with chicken and pork dishes.

Try using it as a glaze on lean cuts of meat like pork loin and tenderloin. Brush the meat with the jelly before cooking, and roast it in the oven according to standard cooking instructions. When you pull the meat out of the oven, brush it with more jelly to give it that extra zingy kick that everyone will rave about.

Would you like your next burger to have more flavor? Add a quarter cup of pepper jelly to one pound of ground beef or plant-based meat substitute. Shape the mixture into hamburger patties and grill them as you would normally. This makes a sweet and spicy burger that will please the guests at your next cookout.

Try using it to glaze a ham before you bake it, or as a dipping sauce for chicken wings. Just a spoonful will add a new dimension of flavor to your favorite recipes.

2. Add Zing to Sandwiches and Soups

Looking for a flavorful spread for sandwiches, bagels, or crackers? Pepper jelly is my answer.

It also adds sweet heat and deep smokiness to any soup, chili, or stew. Your guests won't know why what's in their bowl tastes so good, and you don't have to tell them.

3. Spice Up Your Vegetables

Pepper jelly adds a burst of flavor glazed on vegetables. If you're tired of plain butter and olive oil on your veggies, try something different. This condiment gives roasted, steamed, or sauteed vegetables a little sweetness and some spice. You can use any vegetable you want, but it tastes especially delicious with broccoli or cauliflower.

Here's another idea. Toss veggies in the pepper jelly and bake for about 10 minutes at 400 degrees F. Broccoli and cauliflower will take longer, so watch them closely. The jelly melts over the vegetables, adding a new dimension of flavor.

4. Jazz Up Your Salad Dressing

What makes a salad taste amazing? The salad dressing, of course! It's easy to make your own vinaigrette dressing at home with balsamic vinegar and olive oil but brighten up the flavor by adding a little red pepper jelly to your next batch of homemade salad dressing. You'll be surprised how much it will brighten the flavor.

Where to Find Pepper Jelly

You can purchase pepper jellies in specialty food stores or from local producers at farmers markets. But why not make your own? It's easy to make at home, using fresh ingredients from your garden or local produce stand.

It's Versatile

Pepper jelly is a flavorful, colorful, and delicious treat for any time of the year. Add it to your fridge, and you'll discover many ways to use it to add more flavor to foods. Enjoy!


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