Granny’s Sweet Pepper Relish Recipe

One of my favorite childhood foods! I have been anxious to make my grandmother’s pepper relish recipe for years. I was afraid that I was in over my head. But Granny was right, it was so easy!


Makes about 3 pints of sweet pepper relish.

  • 2-3 Onions (preferably sweet, enough to make 3 cups diced)
  • Several Fresh Peppers (enough to make 4 cups diced – See suggestions below)
  • 1.5 cups sugar
  • 1.5 cups white vinegar

Directions:  (more detailed instructions below)

  • Dice 3 cups of onion in food processor. Put in strainer.
  • Dice 4 cups fresh peppers in food processor. Out in strainer.
  • Let onions and peppers drain for a “long time.”
    (1 – 10 hours, the more juice you drain the more flavor these can pick up.)
  • Stir 1.5 cup sugar and 1.5 cup vinegar into a large saucepan over medium-high heat.
  • When sugar is dissolved, carefully add the pepper and onion.
  • Once the mixture starts to boil, reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
    (The smell can be strong! I like to cover it for the first 10 minutes of simmering.)
  • Prepare canning jars and lids while the mixture simmers.
  • Turn off heat (for relish and for prepared jars)

Can in Hot Water Bath

  • Add relish to prepared hot jars. Be sure to leave about 1/2 inch air space at top.
  • Use bubble popper tool or other stick to release bubbles
  • Wipe rims
  • Add flat lids
  • Add bands “fingertip tight” (stop as soon as you feel a little resistance – the goal is to make lids tight enough that water will not easily seep in when submerged, but still lose enough that a little hot air can escape as it expands)
  • Make sure there is a dish towel or rack and hot water in bottom of large/canning pot
  • Lower jars into large pot
  • Add hot water if necessary to make sure jars are covered with at least 1 inch of water
  • Boil for 10 minutes (15 if the jar is a pint or larger)
  • Carefully remove jars from boiling water and set on clean, dry dish towel
  • You should hear a “pop” within a few seconds to a couple of minutes as the jar seals.
  • Let cool to room temperature for several hours

Tip: Label jars with a name and batch number. My grandmother only kept up with if her relish was hot or mild and if it contained any alternative sweeteners. I like to add a batch number that includes the date so that I can look back and see what I did differently if a batch stands out.

Mmmm… Delicious pepper relish!

Once cool, any jars that did not properly seal and any relish that you are not canning should be placed in the refrigerator. Let set for 48 hours before tasting.

The longer your pepper relish sets, the more the flavors can mix.

Properly sealed jars can be stored for several months. A cool, dark place is best. I have enjoyed relish up to 2 years old. But taste and appearance do noticeably change between the 1-2 year marks. Refrigerate after opening.


  • Knife
  • Cutting Board
  • Measuring Cup
  • Food Processor
  • Large Saucepan or Pot (2.5 qt minimum)
  • Large spoon
  • Strainer in a large bowl *

* Note: If your strainer does not have legs or a stand, you will either need something like a cup to suspend it over the large bowl or you can leave it sitting in a sink for several hours.

Pepper relish can be stored in the refrigerator for several weeks. Canning tools will be necessary for long-term preservation.

Canning Tools: (for preserving)

  • Canning Jars, Lids, and Bands
  • Funnel
  • Jar Lifter
  • Bubble Releaser (can be a bamboo stick)
  • 2-3 Dish Towels
  • Paper Towel
  • Large/Canning Pot (Inside should be at least a few inches taller than your jars)

Next time I want to upgrade to the 6-piece Norpro Canning Essentials Boxed Set.

Veggie Preparation:

Dice 3 Cups Onion

Remove skin and chop 2-3 onions into similar size chunks. Pulse in food processor until small pieces. Depending on the size of your food processor, you may have to do this in multiple batches. Add to measuring cup until you have 3 cups.

Dump into the strainer. Remove and re-chop any larger pieces (either with the food processor or a knife) and set aside to drain.

Preference: I use Texas Sweet yellow onions

Dice 4 Cups Fresh Pepper

Note: If you are working with hot peppers, I strongly suggest you wear disposable gloves. Some types of pepper chop faster than others. Put one type of pepper at a time in the food processor.

Wash, de-seed, and chop 1 kind of pepper at a time into similar size chunks. Pulse in a food processor until small pieces. Depending on the size of your food processor, you may have to do this in multiple batches. Add each kind of diced pepper into a measuring cup until you have 4 cups.

Dump into the strainer. Remove and re-chop any larger pieces (either with the food processor or a knife) and set aside to drain.

Mild Mix: 1 green bell pepper, 1/2 red bell pepper, 2 anaheim chili peppers, and 9 sweet banana peppers

Medium Mix: 1 green bell pepper, 1/2 red bell pepper, 4 banana peppers, 6 anaheim chili peppers, 4 serrano peppers

Canning Jar Preparation:

Quick changes in temperature can weaken the glass and cause it to shatter. Since we will be canning hot off the stove pepper relish, you will want to make sure that your jars and lids are both hot and sterile.

You can sterilize and heat your jars and flat lids by placing them in warm water. Simmer then turn off heat. Use a Jar Lifter to lower jars into and remove them from hot water.

If you do not have a rack to hold your jars in place, you can put a clean dishcloth at the bottom of your pan. I found that this does slowly release any built-up laundry detergent. You will want hot water to rinse your jars before filling them.

Serving Suggestions:

Top ground meat with jalapenos, cheddar cheese, and pepper relish.

Serve with purple hull peas and cornbread.

Top turkey burgers with a slice of tomato, a scoop of pepper relish, and a squeeze of mustard.

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