Mom’s Quick and Easy Hot Pepper Jelly

filled jelly jars on white kitchen towel on counter with tiled backsplash

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If you’re looking for a sweet n’ spicy appetizer with some extra kick, pour a generous helping of Mom’s hot pepper jelly on softened cream cheese, then snarf it down with crackers. It’s great for holidays and parties, too!


  • 34 regular-sized bell peppers (we used a few small ones that would probably have equalled one regular one)
  • 4 jalapeño peppers
  • 1 small habanero pepper
  • 1 box package of powdered pectin
  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 5 cups sugar


  • Sterilize canning jars, lids, and bands according to manufacturer’s instructions. Fill a large pot with water and heat it up on the stove.
  • Chop peppers into chunks. For less heat, remove seeds (we removed half of the jalapeño seeds in this batch). Put all chopped pieces in blender and blend until there are no large chunks.
  • Place pepper blend in a large saucepan over high heat, stirring constantly. Add vinegar and pectin and continue stirring until the mixture is at a full rolling boil.
  • Add sugar and stir, returning to a full roiling boil for exactly 1 minute.
  • Remove from heat and skim off any foam with a spoon.
  • Ladle jelly into jars up to 1/4 inch from the top. Cover with lids and bands; screw on tight.
  • Place jars into canning pot, either on canning rack (slowly lower it into the pot) or (in Mom’s case) with a dish towel on the bottom of the pot to keep the jars from touching. The water should cover the jars and be hot, but not boiling. Bring water to a boil and let process for 5 minutes.
  • To prevent the seeds from settling on the bottom, flip the jars over for about five minutes while the jelly begins to cool. Turn them right side up to cool for the rest.
  • You might hear pops from the lids forming a vacuum as the jelly cools. After 12 – 24 hours of cooling, remove the bands and push your finger down on the lids. If the lid still looks like it has a bump and/or flexes when you push down, the lid is unsealed and needs to be immediately stored in the fridge or reprocessed.


  • Prepare and sterilize your jars, lids, and bands ahead of time. Here’s a more extensive post on the subject.
  • Never reuse lids.
  • Homemade jelly is meant for small batches; doubling up the recipe can mess with the pectin and cause the jelly not to set properly.
  • If you don’t hear the jelly lid pop, or if you test the lid and it isn’t sealed properly, you can change the lid and reprocess it or immediately put it in the fridge and eat. It will keep for about a week with the lid on in the fridge.
  • Jelly/jam that’s unopened can last for up to two years if it’s given a proper water bath. Once opened, you can store it in the fridge for up to three months (I’ve read six months online as well, but I’m not sure about that).