Quick pickled jalapeños take only 10 minutes to make. They last for weeks in the refrigerator (if you can wait that long to eat them!)
I like to include thinly sliced garlic for extra flavor & another treat in the jar. Plus, this recipe includes no sugar. They make almost any meal better!
At my favorite Thai restaurant, I often decide my order based on what would go well with their pickled jalapeños, made fresh daily. The peppers still hold their crunch, and bright briny bite.
I almost look forward to those peppers more than whatever dish I order.
The last time I went, the server offered several containers to take home with my leftovers. (She had obviously noticed as I blazed through a couple of servings at dinner that I was a big fan.)
I realized that if the restaurant could make peppers on rotation, there was no reason I couldn’t do it at home. So I started working on my own quick pickled jalapeños recipe.
What are quick pickles?
Quick pickles are made by simply adding a water, vinegar, and salt brine to produce.
Quick pickled jalapeños aren’t suitable for canning or keeping in the cupboard. They need to go into the refrigerator for storing.
Still, with the vinegar and salt in them, they will last up to a couple of months in the fridge. Not too shabby!
(Of course, this is largely hypothetical. I’ve been finishing each jar I’ve made in about a week.)
There are a couple of things I really like about quick pickles (also known as refrigerator pickles).
One is that you don’t need hot vats of liquid or special equipment, like you do when canning. Canning is more labor intensive than I’m really interested in undertaking.
The other thing I like is that the jalapeños still keep their bright green color and fresh crunch. They have the wonderful bite of a raw pepper along with the brininess of a pickled one.
I like them a million times better than any jarred pepper on the market.
Remember to use gloves
When you cut hot peppers and remove the seeds, you run the risk of burning your hands with chili oils and capsaicin. The best method of prevention is wearing kitchen gloves.
I used to not worry about wearing gloves as protection… until I burned my hands while cutting jalapeños.
I was left with lingering pain for days. Now I always keep a box of latex gloves on hand (and on hands!)
What kind of salt should I use?
For this recipe, I use sea salt. If you look at the ingredient list on the back, it’s just that one ingredient.
For best results, don’t use salt that is iodized or includes any anti-caking agents.
You can replace sea salt with kosher salt or pickling salt.
A garlicky bonus
I like to add sliced garlic to peppers for added flavor. You can add 6 to 8 sliced cloves, or go all the way up to a full head.
Plus, those delicious garlic slivers taste amazing all on their own. They pick up some of the heat from the peppers. And the brine cuts some of the edge off of their garlicky flavor.
Use the garlic anywhere that you’d use the peppers! I even like snacking on it right out of the jar.
(Not a fan of garlic? Simply omit it.)
How to make them
Here’s what you’ll need for this recipe: jalapeños, garlic, water, white vinegar, and sea salt.
Bring a medium-sized pot of water to a medium heat with salt. Stir often until the salt completely dissolves. Then turn off the heat, and set it aside. Stir in vinegar.
Cut jalapeños into slices. If you want a lot of heat & crunch, cut them thickly. If you want crisp slices that absorb brine faster, cut them thinner.
I throw the jalapeño tops into the jars as well. Once they are ready, you can just bite around the stem. Or toss them if you’d rather.
Then thinly slice cloves of garlic.
Put the garlic and sliced peppers into a clean 32 ounce glass jar.
Carefully pour the cooled brine over the peppers.
Cover with a lid & refrigerate.
The peppers can be eaten in as little as 24 hours, but they start tasting their best after a few days. The heat lessens with time. And they pick up more of the salt & brine flavor.
How to make milder peppers
Jalapeños vary in terms of heat. Some aren’t much hotter than a bell pepper. Others can make your mouth sting with the smallest nibble.
So know that from batch to batch the heat of these peppers will vary a bit. But there are still some steps you can take to make them milder.
For milder peppers, remove the seeds & white parts from inside some or all the jalapeño slices.
You can easily remove them by pushing them out with a gloved thumb, and washing off the seeds under water.
However, the pressure of the water can push the pepper fumes into the air and cause coughing. If that happens, turn off the water and use your gloved fingers only or a paring knife.
(If the fumes are bothering you, you can also try wearing the mask you wear to the grocery store/public spaces. I find it helps!)
I prefer to make pickled peppers with no sugar. However, if you’re looking to cut the heat, another option is to add a couple Tablespoons of sugar to the brine at the same time as the salt.
Make them your own
Make these peppers your own by varying the ingredients and amounts.
- Use kosher or pickling salt instead of sea salt
- Replace a portion of the vinegar with apple cider vinegar for a sweeter flavor
- Add a couple Tablespoons of sugar to the brine to cut some of the heat
- Slice the peppers thickly for the most heat & crunch
- Slice the peppers thinner for crisp rings that absorb brine faster
- Replace some or all of the peppers with milder peppers like banana or sliced carrots
- Leave the seeds in for hotter peppers
- Remove some or all of the seeds for milder peppers
- Add more or less sliced garlic
- Add other seasonings like bay leaves, cumin seeds, peppercorns, mustard seeds, and/or fresh herbs
Ways to use pickled jalapeños
There are endless ways to use them. Here are just a few ideas:
- Serve them on top of a burrito bowl, noodle stir-fry, or ramen
- Add them to pickle salsa, pineapple salsa, cranberry salsa, peach salsa, or guacamole
- Finish vegan nachos with a smattering of them
- Use them as a topping on a vegan bánh mì, Rachel sandwich, or vegetable sandwich
- Put them on a refried bean quesadilla, walking tacos, breakfast tacos, or black bean tacos
- Use them as a garnish on 3 bean chili or tortilla soup
- Blend them into jalapeño cashew cheese
Quick pickled jalapenos
- 1 ¼ cups water
- 2 Tablespoons sea salt
- 1 cup white vinegar
- 8 ounces jalapeno peppers sliced (about 10 peppers)
- 6 to 8 garlic cloves sliced
- Bring a pot to a medium heat with water. Add salt and stir until it has dissolved. Take the pot off of the heat, and allow it to cool. Then add white vinegar & stir to combine.
- Put sliced garlic cloves in a clean 32 ounce glass canning jar (like a Mason or Ball jar). Then add sliced jalapenos. (Be sure to use kitchen-safe latex gloves when handling peppers. See notes below for making milder peppers.)
- Carefully pour the cooled water/vinegar/salt brine into the jar. Seal with a lid. Put the jarred peppers into the refrigerator.
- You can eat the peppers the next day, but they are at their best about three days later. That's when they've had a chance to soak up the flavors of the brine & get milder.The peppers will keep in a sealed jar in the refrigerator for up to two months.