"Hellish" Hot Pepper Relish




About: I'm the father of 3 great girls, a drummer and a super proud Hufflepuff. I'm also a habitual crafter and tinkerer.

Like many folks, I like spicy food. In fact, for me, the hotter the better. I'm talking the kind of "hot" that makes you cry, sweat, and think twice about what you just did to yourself. Why, I don't know, but as a kid I remember drinking a bottle of Texas Pete and thinking it was one of the best things ever (I'm pretty sure it was a dare, but that has to be where it started).

So, about 10 years ago when I was introduced to pickled habanero relish, it was somewhat of a life changing experience. I fell in love with the stuff and honestly would eat it on anything and in everything.

I loved it so much, it made me want to attempt to make my own (this is actually the main reason I started gardening). So, the following spring I started from seed (under the tutelage of my mother-in-law), a mix of Jalapeno's, Serrano's, Biggie Chili's, Habanero's, Scotch Bonnet's, Tepin's, and Cayenne peppers.

For me, it was off to the races and after a few months of watching my little garden grow (25 plants), I made my first attempt at relish and it was a success!!! It was a painful mix of the hottest peppers I could get to grow and to me, not only was it "Hellish" (literally), it was fantastic.

Since then, I am never without a jar in the fridge and yes I still eat it on everything. So, when I was making my most recent batch, I thought why not share...(I generally love to share my relish and will give a jar to anyone who asks).

The recipe is fast, easy, and makes some seriously tasty hot pepper relish.

* You can also substitute all of the hot peppers for sweet peppers and make something the kids can enjoy.

Step 1: Tools (optional):

A Basic Set of Canning Tools with:

  • Wide-Mouth Canning Funnel
  • Jar Lifter
  • Magnetic Lid Lifter
  • Bubble Remover/Headspace Tool.

* I say this is optional, because I canned for years prior to buying a basic set of canning tools. They are helpful, but not 100% required.

Step 2: ​The Brine...

I have used the same brine pretty much since I started making relish. The base is very very versatile and can be flavored with a number of spices or herbs to your own personal taste. In fact, for several years, it was all I used for my pickles.

It's based on a 1 cup batch, so it's easy to adjust depending on how much you intend to make. For this, I made a 4 cup batch (which I split between relish and pickled tomatoes, 2 cups each).


1 Cup of White Vinegar

1/2 Tablespoon of Granulated Sugar

1/2 Tablespoon of Brown Sugar

1/2 Teaspoon of Pickling Salt

The last few years, I've also added the following Spices (based on a 1 cup batch):

1/8 Teaspoon Dill Seed

1/8 Teaspoon Mustard Seed

1/4 Teaspoon Black Pepper Corn

1/8 Teaspoon Celery Seed

1/4 Teaspoon Chopped Garlic

Once everything's measured out, combine all of the above ingredients in a medium sized pot. Bring to a rolling boil, and reduce the heat to medium. Strain the brine through a fine mesh strainer and return the liquid to heat. Now the brine is ready for pickling.

* You can wrap your spice mix in cheesecloth to avoid having to strain your brine or you can leave it loose. I do both, depending on the batch.

Step 3: Hot Peppers!!!!

My relish recipe is really very simple and consist of only hot peppers that I have on hand, nothing else. This years batch has Jalapeno's, Serrano's, Thai Chili's, Red Habanero's, and Cayenne (I'm still waiting to see if the jolokias are going to fruit).

Take approximately 2-3 cups of your favorite peppers (seeds and all) and in a food processor, pulse until you have a nice evenly chunky, peppery mix.

* You can also finely chop the peppers if you don't have a food processor handy.

Step 4: Preparing the Jars...Hot Water Bath Vs Refrigerator Pickling

Hot Water Bath Canning vs Refrigerator Pickling is a tough decisions and should be based on your goals. Either of these methods will render you with a fantastic batch of "Hellish" relish. The biggest difference comes down to how much you are making and storage.

If you are planning on long term storage, you can follow the directions here, "Hot Water Bath" Canning - The Basics. It's a very straight forward method of canning and allows you to store the relish for 1-2 years. It's is a bit more time consuming and does require a large canning pot, but I find it to be well worth it, especially for large batches.

If you are going with the Refrigerator Pickle method, simply wash the lids and jars thoroughly with hot soapy water, dry, and set them aside until needed.

Step 5: You're Almost Done...

Now that the peppers are processed (or chopped) and the jars/lids are prepped, it's time to fill them.

Using a Wide-Mouth Canning Funnel, spoon the hot pepper mixture into each of the jars, leaving at least a 1/2" of room at the top.

Ladle in the pickling brine, being sure to leave at least a 1/2" of headspace.

Insert the Bubble Remover/Headspace Tool and gently move it around the inside of the jar, to release any bubbles.

Finally, wipe the rim of each jar, to make sure they are clean prior to sealing the jars.

Step 6: You Have "Hellish" Relish!!!

Apply the top to the jar and lastly, apply the ring and tighten to seal.

If you are going to go with the Refrigerator Pickle Method, You're Done!!!!

Allow the jars to cool on the counter and then store in the refrigerator for 1-3 weeks.

Step 7: "Hot Water Bath" Canning Method

If you've decided to go with the "Hot Water Bath" method to seal your "Hellish" Relish, using the "Jar Lifters" place the jars back into in the hot water bath and put the lid back on the canning pot. Process for 15 minutes, then remove and allow to cool on the counter over night (12-24 hours).

When you hear the lids start to pop, you'll know you have a solid seal!

Store in a cool, dry place until you're ready to taste test and devour!

I hope you've enjoyed this Instructable, on how I make "Hellish" hot pepper relish!!! Happy Pickling!

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    11 Discussions


    Question 9 months ago on Introduction

    Does this work for all hot peppers like ghost peppers and others because my dad is gonna make some relish and he has a lot of heat I mean when you eat them you will be crying for ice cream and ice cubes


    2 years ago

    I made this tonight, except I used 5 different types of peppers (everything I had left from the season). I'll let you know how it turns out:)

    Recipe was easy to follow and easy to adjust. I really had no idea how many peppers I had, and so many recipes require you to know that. This one I could just pack the peppers, count the jars, then make enough brine to top them off.

    1 reply

    Reply 2 years ago

    Hi and thanks for the kind words! I'm glad you liked the recipe and hope you have great results. I've been using this basic brine for years on all types of peppers and can honestly say, I've always been happy with the end product (I've got 2 jars open in the fridge right now).

    Please let me know how it turns out!

    I love 'hot'! Great tutorial... totally spelled out step-by-step. Time to dig out the canner for the peppers/green tomato style. Thank you for sharing!

    1 reply

    3 years ago

    this looks like my kind of grub! and holy cow you didn't put cilantro in it!!! I hate that "dish liquid" flavored plant and it seems to be infecting all recipes at the moment. how long do you leave the cold brew in the fridge before the flavors really meld???

    1 reply

    Reply 3 years ago

    Thanks!! I agree with you 100% on cilantro. I normally sub it for fresh parsley if a recipe calls for it or I just leave it out if I don't have any on hand.

    As for melding time, normally 24-48 hours will work. However, the longer you can stand to wait, the better it gets.

    When I "can" it, I try to let it sit for 2 weeks...(but admittedly that doesn't always happen).

    Best of luck if you make a batch. I would love to know what you think!


    Reply 3 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks! I highly recommend making a batch. If you go for the refrigerator method, it'll only take you about 10 minutes and trust me, it's worth it.