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Hot Green Pepper Jelly: Old-Fashioned Recipe From the Virginia Hills

Don and his wife love to cook. They enjoy new and different recipes and experimenting with interesting combinations of ingredients.

Hot pepper jelly in jars

Hot pepper jelly in jars

Old-Fashioned Hot Pepper Jelly Recipe

Hot pepper jelly, also known as green pepper jelly, is a popular seasonal dip or spread that is commonly served during the holiday season. Of course, you can purchase it in the supermarket or online, but I have found that this old-fashioned recipe is easy enough that almost anyone can make it at home. You can easily give it your own personal touch to make the flavors uniquely yours.

This recipe calls for a combination of jalapeño peppers as well as green bell peppers.

I originally pulled this recipe from an old church recipe book that we have used for decades. The recipe book was printed and sold by an old rural church in the area of Clifford, Virginia, back in the early 1970s, when we lived there.

According to one of the women at our church back then, this recipe is a simple one that has been around from before the Depression era. It was passed around from one home cook to another in that section of the country.

My wife and I have used this recipe, as well as several similar ones, over the years—and the end product we make today is a great, colorful seasonal treat. We have made this jelly to consume and give as gifts over the Christmas holidays.

So, if your garden is putting out an abundance of those great fresh green bell peppers and jalapeño peppers and you can’t eat them as fast as they are ripening, or if they are just on sale at your supermarket at a great price, try this recipe to salvage them before they go bad.

Note: For this recipe, you will need 12 (1/2-pint) canning jars with lids and seals.

Cook Time

Prep timeCook timeReady inYields

10 min

30 min

40 min

12 (1/2-pint) jars


  • 3 cups green peppers, finely chopped
  • 1 cup jalapeño peppers, seeds removed and finely chopped
  • 3 cups vinegar
  • 5 pounds sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • Food coloring, green or red, as desired
  • 1 bottle Certo Gelatin, about 2 packets


  1. Place the jalapeño peppers and vinegar into a blender and LIQUIFY for 3 minutes.
  2. Place the chopped green peppers into the blender and liquify for 3 more minutes.
  3. Place the liquified mixture into a large pot and add the sugar and salt.
  4. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring constantly.
  5. Once boiling add the Certo.
  6. Lower the heat, and cook for 1-2-minutes, stirring constantly.
  7. Remove from the heat and allow to sit for about 5 minutes.
  8. Remove the foam from the top of the mixture.
  9. Pour the mixture into the sterilized jars.
  10. Then stir in whatever food coloring you want into each jar. Seal the jars, and allow to cool. As the mixture cools, it will shrink and if your seal is good, the top will audibly "pop."
  11. You can add paraffin wax on the top of the mixture, before sealing, as with other jelly recipes.

Notes for the Chef

  • This recipe, using only 1-cup of jalapeño peppers, with the seeds and ribs removed, is relatively mild. The spicy flavor can be kicked up, a bit, by adding several more chopped hot peppers when preparing the jelly, or just leave a few of the seeds and ribs in as little flavor surprises.
  • The mixture is naturally a light greenish-yellow color, which is perfectly fine if you do not wish to use food colorings. We added red and green food coloring to ours because we are giving them as gifts for the holidays.
  • I even use the foam. When I scoop it off of the mixture, I put it into a large water glass, and place it into the fridge. Then for the next week or so, I have a nice treat eating it and a little cream cheese on crackers, or for a snack occasionally. Why waste it?
  • And, at times, we have made this spicy jelly and canned it in small decorative jars and given them to friends as part of a seasonal gift basket. A basket of small prepared food treats like this is an especially great gift for friends who do not enjoy cooking like we do.
Hot pepper jelly in jars

Hot pepper jelly in jars

Hot pepper jelly mixture after coming to a boil

Hot pepper jelly mixture after coming to a boil

Questions & Answers

Question: You didn't put the filled jars into a canning bath and then boiled them, did you? Some recipes call for this extra step.

Answer: No, the heated mixture in the jars should be adequate for the cap sealing process.

Question: What type of green peppers should I use to make hot jelly? Can it be bell pepper or cayenne peppers?

Answer: I use bell peppers and kick it up with some jalapenos.