Candied jalapeños are a treat that expertly balances heat and sweetness. Crunchy and fiery jalapeños are boiled in sugar and water until they’re softened, then coated in a simple syrup made from the reduced liquid. Easy to make and easy to store, candied jalapeños are a crowd-pleasing shortcut to sweet-heat nirvana. We love ‘em on pizza, but they’re just as good with cheese and crackers or added to a sandwich.
Sometimes referred to as cowboy candy (at least in Texas), candied jalapeños have a long history punctuated by a surge in popularity. While Texans have been making them for upwards of a century (or some version of sweetened jalapeños, at least), they’ve started showing up more recently on pizza menus — and for good reason. A self-contained dose of sugar and spice, they make any topping combination more exciting and unexpected.
Our recipe is easy: peppers, vinegar, sugar, lime, and a little time.
Be sure to let the sugary cooking liquid reduce after you remove the jalapeños. This ensures you’ll get more of a syrup than a sweet water. While we’ll always pop a whole round on our own slice as a topping, we’d understand if you preferred to chop them up in smaller pieces for even distribution. And once you get a taste for it, you may just find yourself spooning the spicy-sweet syrup directly from the jar (or, better yet, applying it with a squirt bottle!).
However you use them — and we hope you’ll be inventive — you’ll be wishing you had made them sooner.
This recipe is part of our garnish of the month series. Find the rest of the series here.
1¾ pounds( 800 grams) jalapeños, sliced
5 ounces (140 grams) apple cider vinegar
1½ cups (300 grams) granulated sugar
fresh zest and juice of two limes
Slice the jalapeños into ¼-inch rounds.
Combine the vinegar, sugar, lime juice and zest in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat.
Once the sugar has dissolved, reduce until liquid becomes a syrup, about 5 minutes.
Add in the jalapeños. Cook until jalapeños are softened, about 6 minutes.
Remove jalapeños with a slotted spoon and set aside in a jar or serving vessel. Continue reducing the liquid to a thick syrup, about 5 more minutes, then pour it over the jalapeños. Let cool, then use as a pre- or post-bake pizza topping. Store excess in a jar in the refrigerator for up to a month.