Stovetop Hot Pepper Jelly

After I posted my Hot Pepper Jelly and adventures-in-canning post a couple weeks ago, I made and canned another batch of hot pepper jelly. I love the stuff but canning isn’t one of those spur-of-the-moment little events. It does take some planning and there’s lots of boiling liquid.

When longtime reader and blogger, J of SemplicementeJ, wrote to tell me she makes Venezuelan Red Pepper Jelly but doesn’t bother with canning, I got very excited.

I asked her permission to share her recipe because it’s not on her site. She combines 1 red pepper, 1/2 cup of vinegar, and 1 cup of sugar on the stovetop and lets it simmer until it’s reduced by half.

Jelly, without canning? I was sold and tried the stovetop method and I’m so glad I did.

The resulting jelly was delicious. Sweet with some heat, and very thick. I was initially worried it wouldn’t get thick enough without using pectin or by processing it and actually canning it. However, I underestimated the power of simmering and time. The reduction in overall liquid volume thickened the jelly tremendously. It got almost too thick and next time I will not boil it quite as long, which is simply a fabulous excuse to try my hand at making more.



Stovetop Hot Pepper Jelly (Vegan, Gluten-Free, Soy-Free, Nut-Free)

Makes about 1 1/2 cups jelly, depending on cooking time and how much volume you choose to reduce

1 red pepper, diced

1 green pepper, diced

2 small jalepeno peppers, diced

1 cup apple cider vinegar

2 cups sugar

Combine all ingredients in a large saucepan and cook mixture over medium-low heat until the mixture has reduced by half. (This took about 25 minutes for me, but in the future, I will stop cooking after about 20 minutes, since the jelly is quite thick. It’s hard to tell when it’s boiling and bubbling how thick it will be after it has been jarred and has cooled). Carefully pour the mixture into a glass jar or suitable container with a lid. I store my jelly in the refrigerator and surmise it will last for many weeks; use common sense.

Notes: J’s recipe Venezuelan Red Pepper Jelly calls for 1 red pepper, 1/2 cup vinegar, 1 cup sugar. Cut peppers as desired (julienne, small cubes, diced). Cook until reduced by half. Since I doubled the quantity of peppers, I doubled the vinegar and sugar amounts. I also used red, green, and jalepeno and her recipe calls just for red peppers.


 This is a fast recipe that came together in under a half hour and it’s also small batch recipe, and made just this one jar of jelly, which I’ve been savoring. The peppers are really chewy, the sugar-vinegar mixture reduced and became an almost honey-like substance, complete with a tartness from the vinegar and a kick from the peppers.

In many ways, the principle at play with this jelly is similar to the Cranberry & Orange Ginger Mango Chutney. If you boil fruit and sugar long enough on the stovetop, and it will reduce and you’ll make jelly or chutney.

I’m excited to play around with the pepper jelly recipe and test out different varieties of peppers and maybe include some fruit like mango, pineapple, or oranges. There are so many ways to go with it and I love that I don’t actually have to can, not that I’m trying to discourage you from canning.

 Check out this post; canning isn’t as hard as you think.

But no lies, the stovetop method is easier and yielded a very similar-tasting result with less time and much less effort involved, which is a win-win.

It’s been very spicy and peppery and hot around here. Where’s the water?

Have you ever made jam, jelly, preserves or something similar?

If you’re intimidated by canning, you could try “freezer jam” which is made by simply cooking the fruit or berries with sugar, adding pectin, placing into freezer-safe containers or baggies, and un-thaw as needed.  It’s easy and will make quick use of strawberries, blueberries, or other seasonal fruit. It’s a good “gateway” jam-making process if you don’t want to try full-out canning.

And the method I used for the stovetop hot pepper jelly was incredibly easy, and no pectin required, similar to the Cranberry & Orange Ginger Mango Chutney method.

What’s your favorite kind of jam or jelly?

I love strawberry jam that’s really thick and chunky with big pieces and bits of fruit. I also love the smoothness of a good grape or apple jelly. The flavor of peach jam or jelly, or a mango chutney, they’re all favorites of mine. When it comes to jam, jelly, preserves, I’m not picky other than to say that homemade is always better than storebought.

Thanks for the Marshmallow Madness Cookbook Giveaway entries


  1. Unfortunately after letting it sit over night in the fridge it hasn’t set like a typical jelly – still a bit runny. I did cook it on medium heat for 30 minutes. I was worried about cooking it too long after reading the posts. Maybe I can use it anyway in other dishes……any ideas?

    • You didn’t cook it long enough. Your choices are to either re-cook it OR eat it as is – runny jelly is still fine! Use it as a marinade for something or use it as a component of a sauce. See my tofu recipes or my sauces/dips for ideas.

  2. Unfortunately, mine turned to candy! I guess there’s a need to reduce the heat from med lo to lo? The liquid had only reduced by 25%, and then the candying started.

    • Yes you need to keep an eye on it based on how fast the boil is, how much liquid there was to begin with, what medium heat on your stove vs. my medium heat, how thick is thick for your batch vs. mine – lots of variables but just play around with the duration, heat levels, etc. and you’ll get there. Sounds like your mixture was drier to begin with than mine and/or your heat hotter than mine. You’ll get there!

  3. Went to the Whistler Farmer’s Market today (which is amazing!!!) and bought a bag of peppers for $5. I mean a big bag – they say stuff as many in the bag as you can and then fill the bag with mini peppers! Needless to say I have a lot of peppers. Googled easy red pepper recipes and yours came up. My first batch was a bit if a disaster as I cooked it to candy -(well past the 20 min u recommend). Learned my lesson, have read the posted comments and am now on my second batch. Will take it off after 20 minutes even it if seems runny. Runny is better than candy anyway! Thanks for the recipe!

    • Margaret yes it’s a bit of an art and because the exact amount of peppers, the size people dice them, the moisture content in said peppers, the speed at which I call a rolling boil a rolling boil and yours, stirring, etc there’s going to be some gray area. I say take it off sooner rather than later. Wait a half hour or so and look at it. And if you think you need to bring it back up to a boil, you can, for another few minutes. It does thicken up with time, yes. It won’t go from runny like thin mustard to thick like peanut butter or anything, but it does thicken. It’s a bi art and with trial & error you’ll find that middle ground :)

    • 2nd batch was successful – I did have to put it back on the stove and cook it a bit but it turned out great! I’m wondering if I could cut the sugar a bit (seems so much!) Would this affect the “jellying” process?

    • Glad there was success! I think cutting back on the sugar by a tiny bit *may* be okay…but it will effect taste AND setting up properties. So unless you have really good reason, I personally wouldn’t. It’s not like you’re eating this stuff by the 1-cup amount at a sitting :)

  4. I am going to try the stovetop pepper jelly. Really liked your article and pictures.

  5. Just used your recipe as a base for a habanero cranberry jelly. Cooked it forever (I used about 20 lbs of habs, filled up a huge stock pot) Still quite runny, but it is really good (and very hot!). Going to be giving them out, and spreading it on cream cheese and crackers through the holidays.

    • TWENTY pounds!!! Holy Moly! No wonder it took forever to cook/simmer down but batch-cooking in quantity in the end saves time! And what lucky friends/fam you have to be receive it! Thanks for LMK you made it!

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  8. Thank you for the inspiration! I started out this evening to make roasted pineapple hot pepper jelly, only to discover too far into the process that my pectin was out of date. Ahhh! So upon reading your post, decided to just do the stove top method. It is a good sized batch (pineapple, orange & red pepper, 3 jalapeños) along with 1 + 1/4 cup vinegar and 3 cups of sugar. I also added 1 tsp paprika and 1 tsp ginger, trying to get some depth of flavour happening. Smells spicy and tastes yummy! I’m going to consider this jam. Am excited to add it to a stir fry or use as a dipping sauce. Thanks again! Angela

  9. Can’t wait to use the no pectin hot pepper jelly recipe. Have one that is flavored with cranberries and apricots, but wanted one that is rather clear with bits of pepper. Will try this one. Many thanks for offering it.

  10. Want to make this today. Stuck in the house due to snowstorm and have everything required EXCEPT enough white sugar. Was debating using the one cup of white sugar I have and one cup of light brown sugar. Pondering!!!
    Looks great

    • It’s a judgment call. It may or may not set up; and it may or may not have the right flavor balance. With the peppers/heat level mine are, I do need the full amount for proper flavor balance, and have no idea what it does to the recipe in terms of turning out if you omit it and/or using brown sugar. I think using a combo is safer than omitting it.

    • I was thinking of possibly using the combo BUT decided instead to risk my life :) and go out to get the sugar. Was able to get it in my local Duane Reade (right on corner). Now I am ready to rock! Thanks for the prompt reply. Will let you know how it turns out

  11. Didn’t taste yet but looks awesome. Took a little longer to reduce. Guess this all depends on size of pot used and other variables. Had about 1 lb of peppers. My neighbor games me a bag of multi-colored mini peppers which I used along with a big jalapeno I had. Thanks lots. This might be a start of a new obsession for me :)

  12. I tried making this with Splenda. It did NOT work. I cooked it for over 2 hours and it’s still liquid. I’ll try it again this weekend with sugar.

  13. I did a batch of peach freezer jam, no pectin, with 1/2 stevia and 1/2 the sugar. Worked great.

  14. Thanks for this recipe! I have pickled tons of jalapeños that my plants have produced, but also have a load of hungarian wax peppers that need to be used. I’m not a fan of pectin, so I appreciate your reassurance that making jelly without pectin is OK!

    Just a little side note for you; you were talking about using other fruits like mango or pineapple, and my suggestion is not to use pineapple. There is an enzyme called bromelain in pineapple (the reason eating pineapple tingles the tongue!) that will prevent the jelly from setting. :)

  15. Thanks for the recipe! I don’t have the time or space for canning, so it’s great to get a chance to make this jam without that process. I used 2 jalepenos, seeded and a bell pepper, also seeded., and only 3/4 cup of acv (that’s all I had). It took a long time to thicken- I burned my first batch (oops! Now I know jam can burn!), so I kept the heat low, so that was probably why it took so long. I did let it cook too long- it was very very thick, but next time I will know to take it off the heat sooner. I don’t think my jalepenos were very spicy, so I got almost no spice in the jelly. This is a great recipe- definitely using it again!

    • Jam-making with the thickness level of things based on in the pot, and then after it’s cooled, it’s a bit of trial and error, isn’t it. And so are jalepenos and peppers in general. Some are super hot and I don’t expect it, and others I expect to be crazy hot, and they’re pretty mild. It’s sometimes a bit of ‘pot luck’ but glad the recipe will come in handy for future experiments!

  16. I’m excited about the simplicity of this recipe!  My one question is, if I were to make more and want to preserve it, can they still be canned and have a shelf life or is this a refrigerator/freezer jelly only?

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