Make your own cowboy candy at home and store it for up to one year after canning! Easy, spicy and sweet cowboy candy recipe for canning using an Instant Pot!
Cowboy candy, also known as candied jalapeños, is a popular treat that can be used to add a sweet and spicy kick to a variety of dishes. It’s easy to make and can be canned for later use, making it a great addition to any pantry.
But what if I also told you that you can make the canning process easier and faster by using an Instant Pot? You can use the Instant Pot Steam function to can your cowboy candy without having to boil a large pot of water on the stove.
In this recipe, I will show you how to make cowboy candy and use the Instant Pot Steam function for canning. This method will save you time and energy and give you delicious jars of cowboy candy that will last for months!
To make candied jalapeños, you'll need:
- Fresh jalapeños
- White vinegar (or apple cider vinegar)
- Granulated sugar (white or brown sugar works)
- Turmeric powder
- Garlic cloves
- Celery seeds
See the recipe card for precise quantities, tips, and instructions.
With some careful prep of the jalapeños, you'll have your candied jalapeños ready to can in the Instant Pot in no time!
Wash the jalapeños well under running water and pat them dry with paper towels. Cut off the stems and slice them into thin rounds. Discard the seeds if you want less heat. Transfer the sliced jalapeños to a large bowl and set aside.
In a large pan or pot over medium-high heat, combine the vinegar, sugar, turmeric, celery seed, garlic, and cayenne pepper (if using). Stir well until the sugar dissolves. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for about 10 minutes.
Carefully add the sliced jalapeños to the syrup and stir well to coat them evenly. Bring the mixture back to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer.
Using a slotted spoon or tongs, transfer the jalapeños to clean jars with lids.
Return the pot with syrup to high heat and boil until slightly thickened for about 10 minutes.
Simmer for another 10 minutes or until the jalapeños are slightly softened but still crunchy. Be careful of the vinegar fumes, they can be strong!
Using a ladle, fill each jar with an even amount of the sliced jalapeños. Pack them tightly but do not crush them. Pour enough hot syrup over each jar through a funnel to cover all jalapeño slices leaving about ¼ inch headspace at the top of the jar.
Hint: Be careful transferring the jalapeños and the hot syrup into the jars, it's easy to burn yourself.
Cowboy candy is a name for candied jalapeños that are preserved in sweet and tangy syrup. They are perfect for adding some kick to your sandwiches, burgers, salads, and cheese boards, or just snacking on them straight from the jar. Cowboy candy is a delicious way to enjoy spicy jalapeños with a sweet twist!
To make cowboy candy, you need some fresh jalapeños, sugar, vinegar, and some spices like mustard seeds, cumin seeds, or celery seeds. You slice the jalapeños into thin rounds and simmer them in a syrup made of sugar, vinegar, and spices until they are soft and candied. Then you transfer them to sterilized jars and store them in the fridge or process them for longer shelf life.
Cowboy candy is a versatile condiment that can be used in many ways. You can eat them straight out of the jar as a snack, chop them up and add them to salads, sandwiches, burgers, tacos, nachos, cheese boards, or dips. You can also use the leftover syrup as a marinade, glaze, dressing, or sauce for meats, vegetables, or cocktails.
Use the Steam function on your Instant Pot to can cowboy easily! Add 3 cups of water to the Instant Pot and insert the trivet. Bring the water to a boil using the saute function. Then carefully place the jars onto the trivet using a jar lifter. Close the Instant Pot lid, turn the valve to the "Venting" position, and press the Steam function button. Adjust the time to 15 minutes.
Once the time has elapsed, turn off the Instant Pot and open the lid.
Remove jars and let cool: Carefully remove the jars from the Instant Pot after 5 minutes and place them on a cooling rack to cool for up to 24 hours. Once they are cool, check the seals by pressing on the center of the lids. If they do not pop back up, the jars are sealed and can be stored in a cool, dry place for up to a year.
Here are some suggestions for simple substitutions that you can make based on what you have available:
- Sugar - white and brown sugar can be used for this recipe
- Vinegars - you can also use apple cider vinegar for this recipe.
- Spices - you can also use cumin seeds and mustard seeds for some extra flavor
While the traditional cowboy candy recipe features jalapeños, there are many variations of this popular treat that you can try. Here are some ideas:
- Habanero Cowboy Candy: If you like things really spicy, try swapping out the jalapeños for habanero peppers. Just be warned, this variation is not for the faint of heart!
- Mango Cowboy Candy: For a tropical twist, add diced mango to your cowboy candy recipe. The sweet and spicy combination is sure to be a hit.
- Pineapple Cowboy Candy: Another fruity variation, pineapple cowboy candy is perfect for adding a little extra zing to your dishes.
- Mixed Pepper Cowboy Candy: If you want to mix things up, try using a variety of peppers in your cowboy candy recipe. Serranos, poblanos, and bell peppers all work well.
- Smoky Cowboy Candy: To add a smoky flavor to your cowboy candy, try using smoked paprika or chipotle peppers in the recipe.
This recipe has been developed and tested using a 6-quart (5.5 L) Instant Pot Duo. You can use any electric pressure cooker for canning the cowboy candy, otherwise, you can process the cans normally in a pot of boiling water.
A full list of the necessary equipment is listed in the recipe card below.
The canned cowboy candy can be stored in your pantry or refrigerator for up to one year. If you decide not to can the cowboy candy, it can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 months.
This recipe is not meant to be frozen, the canned cowboy candy can be stored in your refrigerator or pantry.
👨🏻🍳 Top tips
- Do not use the pressure cooking function on the Instant Pot to can your cowboy candy. This method of canning does not work for this recipe, but instead, you can use the Steam function on your Instant Pot to process the jars.
- Wear gloves when handling the jalapeños to avoid getting the oils on your skin.
- You can adjust the amount of sugar in the recipe to make the cowboy candy sweeter or less sweet, depending on your preference.
- Cowboy candy can be used in a variety of ways, such as on top of burgers, in tacos, or on a charcuterie board.
The BEST Cowboy Candy Recipe for Canning
- Instant Pot and Metal Trivet, or a large pot or use a large pot and steam rack
- A sharp knife and a cutting board
- A wooden spoon
- A ladle
- A funnel
- A jar lifter or trivet or tongs
- 6 half-pint canning jars with lids
- 3 lbs fresh jalapeños sliced
- 2 cups white vinegar
- 6 cups granulated sugar
- ½ teaspoon turmeric
- ½ teaspoon celery seed
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- Slice the jalapeños: Wearing gloves, slice the jalapeños into ¼ inch rounds. Be sure to remove the stems and discard any rotten or damaged peppers.
- Prepare the brine: In a large pot, combine the vinegar, sugar, turmeric, celery seed and minced garlic. Bring the mixture to a boil and stir until the sugar has completely dissolved.
- Add the jalapeños: Once the brine is boiling, add the sliced jalapeños and stir to combine. Allow the mixture to cook for 7-10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Sterilize your jars and lids: While the jalapeños are cooking, sterilize your canning jars and lids. You can do this by boiling them in water for 10 minutes or running them through a dishwasher cycle.
- To sterlize your jars and lids in the Instant Pot, place 1 cup of water, 2 teaspoons of vinegar and the trivet in the Instant Pot. Then place your jars and lids onto the trivet. Pressure cook for 5 minutes.
- Fill your jars: Using a slotted spoon, transfer the jalapeños to your sterilized jars, leaving about ¼ inch of headspace at the top of each jar.
- Fill with brine: Simmer the leftover brine for a few minutes before transferring them to the jars. Once the jalapeños are in the jars, use a ladle to pour the brine over them, making sure to leave ¼ inch of headspace at the top of each jar.
- Remove air bubbles: Use a chopstick or a plastic spatula to remove any air bubbles that may have formed in the jar.
- Wipe the rims: Using a clean, damp cloth, wipe the rims of the jars to remove any excess brine or debris.
- Add lids and rings: Place the lids on the jars and tighten the rings until they are snug, but not too tight.
- Steam canning in Instant Pot: Add 3 cups of water to the Instant Pot and insert the trivet. Bring the water to a boil using the saute function. Then carefully place the jars onto the trivet using a jar lifter. Close the Instant Pot lid, turn the valve to the "Venting" position, and press the Steam function button. Adjust the time to 15 minutes. Once the time has elapsed, turn off the Instant Pot and open the lid.
- Remove jars and let cool: Carefully remove the jars from the Instant Pot after 5 minutes and place them on a cooling rack to cool for up to 24 hours. Once they are cool, check the seals by pressing on the center of the lids. If they do not pop back up, the jars are sealed and can be stored in a cool, dry place for up to a year.