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Smoky Cowboy Candy (Candied Jalapeños)

What is Cowboy Candy?

Cowboy candy is candied jalapeños. Sweet, sour, spicy….and now smoky, too! It is more addicting than crack. For reals. Just ask anyone who has tried it.

It is a staple in the canning community and very popular as gifts during Christmas, due to the festive red and green peppers and delicious flavor.

Cowboy Candy is typically made with vinegar, sugar, and spices. Most recipes include turmeric, but this recipe has no turmeric. We didn’t have any on hand and we did not miss it one bit!

How Do I Eat Cowboy Candy?

Cowboy Candy is eaten straight out of the jar, on crackers or bagels with cream cheese, on salads, on meat dishes…basically, you find any excuse to eat these!

The syrup also makes a great marinade for meats and is EXCELLENT for Spicy Cowboy Candy Peanut Brittle and Spicy Cowboy BBQ Sauce.

Your family and friends are seriously going to love you for making this. But, be prepared for CONSTANT requests to make these!

How to Make Cowboy Candy

You’ll need red and green jalapeños. Now, the red and green aren’t necessary and you can do either/or, but the 2 colors really make it pretty, especially if these are being made for holiday gifts.

cowboy candy canning recipe
It can be Christmas year-round with these!

You’ll also need vinegar, sugar, and some spices: garlic powder, cumin, cayenne, celery seed, and smoked paprika.

First, you make the syrup. Add everything to a pot except the peppers and heat to a boil, then simmer.

Add the peppers then simmer.

Put peppers in hot jars, then top off with syrup. You WILL have leftover syrup. DO NOT WASTE IT! Pour the syrup in jars, too. It is liquid gold! Remember what I said above? There are lots of uses for the leftover syrup.

Now all that’s left is to water bath can your candied jalapeños. This is one of those foods that the longer they sit in the jar, the more the flavors develop. We try not to open them for a couple of weeks. ‘Try’ being the operative word.

candied jalapenos canning recipe
Welcome to your new addiction.

We highly recommend you double or even triple the recipe. You’ll find out why after you make these.

Tropical Cowboy Candy with Pineapple Variation

If you’re in the mood for a more tropical taste (or Cowgirl Candy) all you do is simply add some pineapple chunks (fresh or canned without the juice) to the bottom of the jar before filling them with your peppers and syrup! Add as many or little as you want. Processing time and headspace remains the same.

Cowboy Candy canning recipe

Smoky Cowboy Candy (Candied Jalapeños) Canning Recipe

Sweet, Sour, Spicy, Smoky. Prepare to be addicted.
4.82 from 16 votes
Print Pin Rate
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Servings: 6 half-pint jars


  • 3 lbs jalapeños sliced


  • 2 cups vinegar (can use apple cider or white)
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp cayenne
  • 1/2 tsp celery seed
  • 6 cups sugar
  • 1 tbsp smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp cumin


  • In a large pot, bring syrup ingredients to a boil. Simmer for 5 minutes, stirring frequently.
  • Add peppers to pot and simmer for 4 minutes.
  • Using a slotted spoon, scoop peppers into jars, leaving 1/4" headspace.
  • Pour syrup into jars, leaving 1/4" headspace. Fill empty jars with any leftover syrup you have, also leaving 1/4" headspace. Wipe rims of jars clean with a damp cloth and put on lids and bands (only finger tight - do not overtighten).
  • Place jars in prepared water bath canner filled with enough hot water to cover the jars by 2 inches. When the water reaches full rolling boil, start the timer. Water bath can half-pints for 10 minutes, or pint jars for 15 minutes.
  • Turn off heat and let sit for 5 minutes. Remove pot lid and carefully remove jars - set them on a towel on your kitchen counter. Let sit overnight or until completely cooled.


To make a tropical cowboy candy variation, add some pineapple chunks to the bottom of your jars before filling with cowboy candy and syrup!
Use the leftover syrup as a meat marinade or whip up some Cowboy Peanut Brittle.

Altitude (in feet)Increase Processing Time
1,001 - 3,0005 minutes
3,001 - 6,00010 minutes
6,001 - 8,00015 minutes
8,001 - 10,00020 minutes

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This Post Has 20 Comments
    1. Hi, Rebekah! If you are canning them, they are shelf stable. Once opened they should be refrigerated. If you aren’t canning them, they should be refrigerated.

  1. I m so excited to try this what a great idea! How long do you think they ll last in the fridge once opened? I m thinking I ll just make one big jar to eat right away instead of canning them.

    1. I’m honestly not sure how long they would last in the fridge since they go so quick in my house. I would say they should last awhile in the fridge though due to the vinegar content.

  2. What do you marinade with them.also I made them twice first batch was more sticky then second patch how to control that first patch better

    1. Hi Daniel! We love to marinade chicken or pork in the leftover syrup. Options are endless, though, and it’s fun to experiment with it 😉

  3. Haven’t made there yet but it’s on my son has had this before and he is addicted to it so I’m going to try and make some for him as a present for being there when I need him

  4. I canned 7 pints this morning and 3 pints of the brine for marinade, I cannot wait until they can be opened. I am testing these to see if my farmers market customers will love these as much as regular cowboy candy

    1. I hope they did well at the Farmer’s Market! Thanks for trying out one of my recipes 🙂

  5. 5 stars
    I have a quart of juice left over. Please tell me you have a jelly recipe. I’ve looked everywhere for help using just the juice as a starter and not making the jelly from scratch.

  6. I have made these before and my to do them in 4 oz jars for gifting at Christmas time. How long would you process the 4 oz jars? (I have “google” all over ms can’t seem to find this answer, lol

  7. 5 stars
    These are seriously like crack! We ate them so quick. Think we will need to quadruple next time haha Thanks so much for the recipe!

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