Pickled Peppers


These are by far the most extraordinary pickles I know. I have been preparing them for long years and always in several big batches because they are also my family’s and friends’ favourite preserves. I already wrote about these pickles about two years ago, but at the time I didn’t have many visitors, so they remained unnoticed. When recently Jeno from Weeknite Meals commented on this old forgotten post I felt I had to dig it out and share with all my visiting and blogging friends (while making this weekend’s batch I also changed the previous awful photo). Thank you, Jeno, for drawing my attention to this post.

I can shamelessly affirm that these are the best pickled peppers I have ever tasted because I am not the author of the recipe. I got it from a friend, who, in her turn, got it from her boss, an excellent cook. I have never had a chance to taste her boss’s peppers, but I believed my friend when she said they were simply the best. She was right because I have never even tried to modify the original recipe. I have always put the same spices, the same proportion of vinegar and sugar and the same significant amount of garlic too. I also never skip the tablespoon of oil which smooths and “polishes” the flavours.

Every variety of pepper can be pickled this way and as you can see below the process is quite easy. The most important is that the peppers be fresh and ripe. The stronger their aroma the better the pickle will be. Of course red peppers are most beautiful. The jars keep for at least a year, but a three year old jar I recently found at the back of my pantry was still perfect. You should wait at least a couple of weeks before tasting, but it largely improves with time.

I pickle also Hot Chili Peppers, but in a slightly different way. Click here to see the recipe.

Preparation: 1 hour+processing


1.5 kg (3,3 pounds) sweet peppers

about 20 peeled garlic cloves

up to 10 bay leaves

a couple of teaspoons mustard grains

a couple of teaspoons black pepper grains

2-3 teaspoons allspice grains

1 litre (about 4 cups) cider/white wine/other alcohol vinegar (mine was 4,5%, if you use a stronger one, add proportionally more water)

1.1 litre (about 4 cups and 3 oz) water

400 g (1 3/4 cups) caster sugar

3 tablespoons salt

olive oil (or other good quality oil)

Cut the peppers’ stems, discard all the seeds and white parts. Cut them into 2-3 cm pieces.

Fill in empty jars with pepper pieces (no more than 2/3 jars’ height), add 2 garlic cloves, 3 allspice berries, 3 pepper grains, 6 mustard grains and 1 bay leaf per every 500 ml jar.

Put the vinegar, the water, the sugar and the salt in a pan and let it boil a couple of minutes, stirring well until all the sugar is dissolved. Put aside.

Fill the jars with hot (no longer boiling!) vinegar mixture, leaving 1,5 cm from the rim. Pour a generous tablespoon of oil in each jar. Close the jars and let them cool down.

Place the cool jars into a big pan, bottom lined with an old kitchen towel folded in two (this will prevent the jars from breaking), cover up with hot – but not boiling- water to the level just below the lid. Bring to the boil and keep on a very low heat, in simmering water, for around 20 minutes.
Stick on self-adhesive labels, write the name of the pickle and don’t forget to mark the date.

Wait at least a couple of weeks before opening the jars. As do most pickles, this one improves with time. Pickled peppers are perfect with cold meats, in sandwiches, on toast, as a side dish…


52 Replies to “Pickled Peppers”

  1. My mum makes these – she buys 100s of kilos of capsicum at a time, from the farmers! And you’re right they are the best! I bought some recently but haven’t gotten around to it. Thanks for inspiring me to get my act together. Of by the way I think pumpkin or sugar plums done the same way is even more unique, though very Polish as you would know. 🙂

    1. Thanks, Martyna. I’m not surprised your mum buys a big amount at the same time. My mum did the same and personally the 1,5 kg is the minimum batch I prepare. Making ten or twenty jars almost makes no difference in time, but if you do it in two separate batches it’s lots of work.
      In all modern preserving books they advise small batches (and also beautiful good quality produce). It certainly discourages people from preserving. When my mum was making a jam, she would never just use only 2 kg strawberries and most of all not beautiful strawberries! Lots of work and money for just a few jars. I feel that people start treating now preserves like a kind of luxury, while it is so basic and easy and shouldn’t be expensive…
      I know very well pumpkin and plums preserved in sweet vinegar. Unfortunately I’m not a big fan of pumpkin. I make plums from time to time though and like them more every year.

  2. What a pretty pickled pepper picture! 😀
    It certainly looks very pretty in red. And this is giving me ideas for Christmas if I were to mix green and red ones together! I haven’t tasted pickled peppers before but I can imagine it’ll go very well with my favorite burger or sandwich. Does it go soft? Or does it stay crunchy? This certainly has peaked my interest and I definitely will be making some but of a smaller quantity…. for now 🙂

    1. Hi Ping. Thank you so much for the compliments. It’s an excellent present idea indeed and people appreciate that you have put your heart into it. I always give jars to my family and friends (but not necessarily for Christmas or other special occasions, I think it’s better to bring a jar of pickles the host likes than just a bunch of flowers… I certainly would prefer pickles 😉 ).
      Peppers soften a bit, but don’t go extremely soft if you don’t forget them at the water bath processing stage (I sometimes do…). They stay slightly crunchy, but not like cucumbers for example. I don’t mind if the peppers go very soft though. They really have a wonderful taste. If you make the first jars and feel that the taste is too sour (too much vinegar) increase the sugar amount (don’t add water!). For me the above proportions are perfect, but I know that everyone has different preferences. Of course check the acidity % on your vinegar. Mine is always 4,5%, so if you use a stronger one, add more water (and ask me of course if you have any problems). Good luck!

  3. What a lovely pickle recipe Sissi. I’ll have to keep my eyes open for local peppers on sale! I adore pickled hot peppers too!

  4. The colours of the peppers and pickling spices etc are just amazing. I have to praise your industry even though I’m not a fan of most pickled products. 🙂

  5. Hi Sissi! Thank you for the mention, I am thrilled your visitors get to see this posting due to my question!!!

    That photo is gorgeous, the colors and the lighting is just perfect! I will have to make this soon, right after the technician comes to fix the fridge this Thursday. This weekend is going to be a big day for grocery shopping, I can NOT wait!

    Is there a special way you sanitize the jars? Or do you think they are ready to be used after being washed and steamed in the dish washer?

    1. Thank you so much, Jeno, for the compliments. I struggle a lot with photos, so I was happy that this one at least looked better than the previous one. Thank you once more for giving me this re-post idea and for giving me the occasion to change the awful photo.
      (In the meantime I have written a veeeeery long answer so I have deleted it and I will simply write you an email instead 😉 ).
      If you start preserving, write to me if you have any questions or doubts. I will be very happy to help.
      (Of course if you intend to keep the jars in the fridge only, not the pantry, you don’t even need the hot water bath… not to mention sterilising).
      I cross my fingers for the quick fridge repair!

  6. Oh I do love pickled anything and this recipe definitely excites me since you mentioned that you’ve been making them for years! I love those tried and true recipes! Sweet peppers are just showing up at the markets for cheap so this just got added to the to make list!

    1. THank you so much, MJ. Do ask me questions if if you ever use my recipe and have any doubts. I’m not sure if everything is clear…

  7. I am drooling Sissi, I love pickled peppers. I never tried pickling them, [I buy an occasional jar at the deli] because my better half doesn’t like them. I think I will have to do an exception and make a few jars this year for myself… using your recipe of course.

    1. Thank you, Zsuzsa. We both like these pickles with my husband, but you know I regularly make preserves he doesn’t like at all. Also those I never eat (like strawberry jam) because he likes a lot.

  8. After reading your post…I just realized that I never had peppers pickles…looks beautiful and exploding in flavors.
    Thanks for the recipe and hope you have a wonderful week Sissi 🙂

  9. Such a lovely recipe! Have bookmarked to try this one: thanks! Of course, having been born in N Europe I was brought up on pickled pumpkin and homemade pickled small cucumbers – the first a punchy recipe I still make [one of the few Euro recipes still in use 🙂 !] and the second a much gentler version, in no way vinegary, just juicy and almost fresh-tasting . . .

    1. Thank you, Eha. I know pickled pumpkin and of course cucumbers too! I only make the latter though (I am one of these weird people who are not fond of pumpkin 😉 ).

  10. This recipe sounds tasty. I was reading your recipe and my mouth naturally water – I love pickles. I can chew on it and love the sour taste and I do enjoy it. I genetically cannot digest bell peppers or any kind of peppers (how weird is that), so even though I love sweet peppers I cannot eat more than a tiny bite. I can almost taste it by my great imagination… 😀 Thanks Cindy for bringing up this recipe! 😉

    1. Thank you very much, Nami. Are you sure it’s pepper and not pepper skin? I know someone who doesn’t digest pepper skin… so whenever she cooks, she peels peppers before.

        1. I cross my fingers and hope it’s true for you too! I will soon post a salad with some skinned pepper. I had it a couple of days ago and I wish I could have made you taste it…

    1. Hi, Shuhan. As you see I’m in the middle of pickling and preserving madness, so when I saw your achar, I started even to wonder if I could change your achar recipe into a long-term preserve 😉

  11. What a gorgeous recipe Sissi and your photo is so enticing – the vibrant colours and elements really pop. I especially like the two (mustard seeds I think) on the leaf… with these ingredients, I have no trouble imagining that these are the best tasting pickled peppers around! And I love their long shelf life too :).

    1. Thank you very much, Kelly. You will not believe me but I haven’t arranged anything in the jar! The leaf has just swum to the surface as well as the mustard seeds… I like this photo a lot (I rarely like my photos…) although I suppose it’s not considered technically correct with the sun spots.
      I don’t prepare short-term preserves (unless there is no possibility, for example kimchi or other Japanese pickles) because I always lack space in my fridge…

      1. It’s an absolutely gorgeous shot and I never thought I’d live to see the day when you would actually say you liked one of your photos!!! Hallelujah :).

        p.s. on your site looking up your shoyu chicken recipe ;-).

        1. Kelly, you are really sweet 🙂 Thank you!
          Thank you for reminding me of shoyu chicken (to be honest I make it regularly too! It was such a lucky find!). I am so proud and happy you like it (I remember you have prepared it already once or twice and I was thrilled every time). I really appreciate your kind messages.

  12. Sissi, dear! I adore your pickled peppers; just love pickles, and pickled peppers, veggies ie. carrots, cauliflower, the Chinese chow-chow, I think is what you call the pickled mixed vegetable, but the pepper?…oh my, I could just eat them like candy!
    Thanks for sharing your awesome recipe!

    1. Thank you so much, Elisabeth. I pickle also cucumbers, chili peppers, mushrooms but the pickled sweet pepper turns out always the best.

  13. I’m bookmarking this recipe, Sissi, I’m not going to have many peppers from my garden this year unlike most years. I love pickled peppers and hopefully will have a large crop next year to make your pickled peppers.

    1. Hi, Mr. Three-Cookies. Thank you for the kind words. You must taste my pickled pepper one day to make sure you are not wrong 🙂

  14. I love pickled vegetables and I use them in my cooking and salads almost everyday! I would love to taste these pickled peppers in my salad!

  15. What a lovely recipe – I’m digging all that garlic and the mustard there! I’ve never tried making pickled peppers before. I sometimes roast them and cover them with olive oil, but never pickling them directly. I bought some not long ago… they were terrible… the pickling liquid they were in tasted so artificial, but I’d love to give this a try! Thanks for breathing some new life into such a delicious looking dish Sissi!

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