Cowboy Candy

I was recently reading a cookbook in which the author was discussing pickled vegetables and fruits. She indicated that it was a good thing to keep pickled produce on hand in order to spice up any of the ‘more bland’ recipes included in the book.


What an interesting marketing tactic:  acknowledging straight out of the gate that some of the recipes in your cookbook are not very tasty.

I thought about it. Then I thought about it some more.

And I realized that this was actually a pretty refreshing approach.

Just imagine:  you walk into your favorite retail establishment, on the hunt for that specific such-and-such. While you really enjoy the style of this particular shop, you aren’t especially in love with their ‘I will get in your face so much that you will either relinquish your wallet or begin to cry’ approach to sales.

This time, upon entering said establishment, you are greeted by the following:  ‘Hello! I recognize that 93.8% of the items in this store are not of any interest to you right now, and some of the items that we offer aren’t really even that fantastic to begin with. So how about if I just help you narrow down your choices until we find exactly what you came in here to buy.’

Talk about a game changer.

Think about the sanity that this approach would save you.
Think about the money that this approach would save you.
Think about the time that this approach would save you.

Just enough time, in fact, that you can come home and make up a couple of jars of Cowboy Candy. You know, for spicing up all of those bland cookbook dishes you may end up preparing. Honestly, 93.8% of people enjoy this candy. And for that elusive 6.2% of you out there who just aren’t feeling the Cowboy Candy vibe, I’ll be back tomorrow with a such-and-such that I’m sure will tickle your fancy. Promise.

Cowboy Candy

Chef’s Note:  While most jalapeños offer a milder degree of heat, this can actually vary significantly from chile to chile. I strongly recommend taking proper precautions when handling your jalapeños, including wearing plastic gloves and ventilating your work space while they cook. The end result is worth taking the extra time, and your skin and sinuses will thank you. Additionally, please note that this is a quick pickling recipe and these are not technical canning instructions, which means that your best bet is to store the finished product in the refrigerator. For more detailed information on proper home canning techniques, please visit this website.

25 large, ripe jalapeños (approximately 6 cups of stemmed, sliced jalapeños)
2 c. cider vinegar
2 c. water
1 c. white sugar, granulated
2 tbsp. coriander seeds
2 tbsp. fennel seeds
1 tbsp. black peppercorns

Prepare the jalapeños by removing the ends and slicing each chile horizontally into pieces approximately 1/2″ thick. Place the jalapeño slices along with the remaining ingredients into a large, heavy-bottomed pot and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, stirring frequently, and cook for 25-30 minutes. Finished ‘candy’ will be extremely fragrant, with the pickling liquid just starting to thicken and the chile slices beginning to shrivel slightly. Remove pickled chiles to clean glass jars, distributing the pickling liquid as evenly as possible. Seal and store covered in the refrigerator for up to a month. Note that the flavor of this ‘candy’ deepens the longer it is allowed to sit.

YIELD:  approximately 2 1/2 pints


    • Meagan says

      You know, I think Splenda actually would work here. I have never boiled Splenda, though, and without knowing that it would work, I might simply follow the instructions as is, omitting the sugar, and then stir the Splenda in at the end, once the jalapenos have cooked and cooled. Let me know how it turns out, Carolyn!

  1. 10


    I am of the 93.8% adoring these unique little jalapenos! Meagan, I look SO silly when I am chopping jalapenos to make my favorite homemade guacamole. My boyfriend always thinks I’m silly but seriously…. one time I scratched my eye around the same time I was handling a jalapeno pepper. OMG OMG talk about annoying PAIN.

  2. 9


    These look awesome! I wish I found this recipe during the summer! I had WAY too many jalepenos from my garden and didn’t know what to do with them. Anyways- I got your cookies today from the FB Cookie Swap. They are SOOO tasty! Thank you. Glad to find your blog & follow along.

  3. 8


    I love your blog, Meagan. You are a standout cook/chef/baker from all the others that I read. You make things uniquely your own. This recipe looks great and if I ever get over my traumatic canning incident from last summer, I will try this! Canning can be intense for a girl like me.

  4. 4


    Yes, NACHOS. These look so good! You know, the acknowledgement of blandness reads to me a bit more like the ability to customize your cooking for everyone. Make your recipe mild, for the tender palates, and then supplement as needed. And then those of us who love the spice can have it all! :)

    • Meagan says

      Good point, Eileen. And nachos are just like shoes – they work best when everyone has the chance to find their own best fit…

    • Meagan says

      Thanks, A.! And I totally agree: I am literally DROWNING in cookies and chocolate-type candy all up in here so I needed a change of pace. I’m gifting pickled chiles galore this year!

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