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Made with fresh cherries, red bell pepper, and jalapeño peppers, Hot Cherry Pepper Jelly is deliciously sweet and spicy hot. Serve it on toast or scones, use it to make easy cream cheese appetizers, or even as a cheese board accompaniment.
Now that sweet, red cherries are readily available at the produce market, you can bet I’ll be making lots of yummy cherry desserts and another batch of this tasty Hot Cherry Pepper Jelly.
One batch makes 7 half-pint jars, so there is plenty to save for holiday appetizers like this popular Hot Pepper Jelly Cheese Dip with Bacon or to spread over baked brie.
But, don’t wait until the holiday season to enjoy this homemade jelly. Hot Cherry Pepper Jelly also makes a tasty glaze for Summer grilling, especially on chicken or pork tenderloin.
If you’ve never tried making your own jelly or jam, this recipe using liquid pectin is a good — and tasty — starting point.
Hot Cherry Pepper Jelly
It’s not that often that I drag out my grandmother’s old Granite Ware canner, but after making this easy Hot Cherry Pepper Jelly, I’m dreaming up all kinds of tasty ways to put it to use. Not only is this jelly easy to prepare, the total ingredient cost is about half what I’d pay for an equal number jars of hot pepper jelly at the grocery store.
I’m so very thankful that I learned preserving basics while helping my grandmother can vegetables and make jams and jellies when I was a teenager. Since I no longer live on a farm, canning isn’t a regular habit for me. After making this jelly, though, I’m wondering why I stopped?
Making jams and jellies when fresh berries and fruit are in season is not only fulfilling, it’s a great addition to gift baskets — a homemade, personal touch that’s always appreciated and enjoyed.
- Fresh sweet, red Bing cherries — the darker the cherries the sweeter they taste
- Red bell pepper — you can actually use any kind of bell pepper, but I prefer the flavor and color you get with the red variety
- Jalapeño peppers — for a bit of spice and heat
- Apple cider vinegar — adds mellow acidity and enhances the flavor of the fruit
- Sugar — for sweetening
- Liquid pectin — for thickening the jelly. Using pectin shortens the amount of cooking time required to bind the sugar and fruit into a gel.
More about liquid fruit pectin
This was the first time I’ve used liquid fruit pectin (instead of the powdered kind) and now I’m hooked. The powdered pectin variety is added to the recipe along with the sugar and thickens the jam or jelly as it cooks.
With liquid fruit pectin, you simply whisk it in at the end before you ladle the jelly into jars. As the jelly cools, it continues to jell and thicken.
Water bath canning
Water bath canning is a preserving process often used when making homemade jams and jellies. This method creates a vacuum seal by drawing out trapped air that occurs when packing the jelly into jars.
Properly canned and sealed jars of jams and jellies prevent bacteria from growing and have a shelf life of about 18 months.
The safest way to do water bath canning is by using a large canning pot and rack designed for home preserving. I use my grandmother’s old Granite Ware stove top canner and it works perfectly.
For today’s recipe, after the jelly is packed in the jars they are submerged in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes. When the time is up, let the jars rest in the canner for 5 minutes, then carefully set them on a towel on the kitchen counter.
Let the jars cool for 12 to 24 hours before storing them in your pantry.
Do you have more questions about preserving jellies?
If you’re new at canning or preserving, there are a few basic things you should review before getting started. This short FAQ that I posted with my Homemade Blueberry Jam recipe answers essential questions about pectin, sterilizing jars, and shelf life.
Learn more about food preservation at the National Center for Home Food Preservation.
Serving ideas for Hot Cherry Pepper Jelly
My husband’s favorite holiday recipe is my Hot Pepper Jelly Cheese Dip with Bacon — it’s so good! I can’t wait to use a jar of my Hot Cherry Pepper Jelly in that recipe, but there are a lot of other delicious ways to serve Hot Cherry Pepper Jelly, like:
- Spread Hot Cherry Pepper Jelly over a block of softened cream cheese and serve with assorted crackers for a quick and easy appetizer.
- Use Hot Cherry Pepper Jelly to glaze grilled chicken, salmon, pork chops, or pork tenderloin.
- Spread Hot Cherry Pepper Jelly on a round of brie cheese and bake for 10 minutes, then serve it with a sliced baguette.
- Add Hot Cherry Pepper Jelly to your cheese board and pair it with goat cheese or manchego cheese and almonds — delicious!
Let’s make jelly!
One last reminder, after the Hot Pepper Cherry Jelly has been processed and the jars have properly cooled for 12 to 24 hours, check the seals. Do this by pressing on the center of the lid. If it doesn’t move, it has sealed properly.
Although highly unusual, if any of the jars do not seal, you may repeat the water bath process.
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Hot Cherry Pepper Jelly
- 1 cup fresh sweet cherries stemmed and pitted
- 1 large red bell pepper cut into 1-inch chunks
- 2 jalapeno peppers seeded and diced to make 1/2 cup
- 2 cups apple cider vinegar divided
- 6 cups sugar
- 2 3-oz. pkgs. liquid pectin
- Properly clean and sterilize the jars, lids, and bands. Preheat the oven to 250 degrees and place clean jars on the rack to keep warm and sterilized.
- As you prepare the jelly, place the canner filled half full with water on the stove and allow it to come to a slow simmer.
- In the bowl of a food processor, place the pitted cherries, red bell pepper, diced jalapeno peppers, and 1 cup of apple cider vinegar. Chop the mixture, leaving some small pieces, by pulsing until the desired consistency.
- Pour the chopped mixture into a DEEP stock pot and stir in the remaining 1 cup apple cider vinegar and sugar. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring often.
- Once it reaches a rolling boil, stir constantly for 5 minutes (stirring will keep it from boiling over).
- Remove the pot from the heat and skim off any foam. Cool for 2 minutes, then whisk in the liquid pectin. Ladle the jelly into the sterilized jars, wiping the lips with a clean cloth to remove any drips. Cover with a lid and band and place in the rack of the canner.
- Bring the water the canner back to a boil, making sure the jar lids are submerged in the water. Process in the boiling water bath for 10 minutes. Turn off the heat and allow the jars to set in the water for 5 minutes before transferring them to a towel on the kitchen counter.
- Cool completely for 12 to 24 hours before disturbing.
About Sheila Thigpen
Recipe Developer, Food Photographer, Food Writer
Sheila Thigpen is the publisher of Life, Love, and Good Food — a Southern food blog — and the author of Easy Chicken Cookbook and The 5-Ingredient Fresh and Easy Cookbook. After 20+ years in the publishing industry, she retired in 2018 to focus on her own creative endeavors full time. She and her husband live near the beautiful Smoky Mountains and have a precious little granddaughter who has stolen their hearts. As an influencer, Sheila has collaborated with brands like Creamette, Kroger, HERSHEY’S, Hamilton Beach, Garafalo Pasta, OXO, Smithfield, Valley Fig Growers, and more.
I don’t know what I did. But I made this exactly how you said and it cooled and it is still liquid
Tammy, how long after you made the jelly did you check the consistency? It can take it several hours up to an entire day to thicken after putting into jars.
I just had the same problem. First batch was awesome and this one is total liquid. I am researching how to fix and am curious if I cook it down again how much pectin should I use? I followed the recipe exactly.
Hi, Ashley. In doing a little research, I’m learning that all the elements (heat, sugar, liquid, pectin) must be in sync, so it’s hard to say what may have happened differently with your second batch. You may find these blog posts helpful from this canning expert: https://foodinjars.com/blog/canning-101-how-to-save-runny-jam/ and https://foodinjars.com/blog/canning-101-how-to-ensure-that-your-jam-sets/
I made this yesterday, and has not set yet. And I see in one area you say heat, sugar, pectin. And in another area add mixture, ACV, and sugar bring to boil. ♀️ I guess I should of read these comments before attempting to make this recipe. I know in the regular jalapeño jelly recipe it calls for 2 packs of pectin. And about same amount of everything else. Could that be the problem?
Hi, Krista. I’m sorry you didn’t have great results with the recipe. After doing a bit more research, I believe that you are correct about the amount of liquid pectin, so I have updated the recipe card to reflect the change.Thank you for the feedback!
Can I use frozen cherrys?
Beautiful color but mine also did not thicken as it should. I followed the recipe exactly. I’ll be looking for another one to try.
Once you add the liquid pectin you are supposed to bring it back up to a rolling boil (that can not be stirred down) for 1 minute. Not add it off heat, it needs the boiling point to set properly. I do this with a similar recipe, cranberry jalapeno. I had a bunch of cherries in the freezer and huge japalapenos in the garden and was looking up recipes to see if I could try the same method with cherries when I ran across yours and was confused with pectin directions. When cranberries are in season try using 1 package cranberries instead of cherries, 3 jalapeños, same sugar, cider vinegar and only 1 package liquid pectin (one package pectin because cranberries are high in natural pectin), it is delicious. I am going to try yours. Makes great Christmas gifts.
I just ran across your recipe for this cherry jalapeno jelly and would love to make this. Unfortunately, I missed the cherry season. Do you know if it would work with frozen cherries? Thanks for the great recipe!!!
Hi, Debra. I haven’t tried the recipe with frozen cherries, so I can’t confirm the results. HOWEVER, I believe that you should be able to use frozen cherries if you let them thaw first and drain off all the juices before adding to the recipe.
Thanks Sheila. I’m anxious to try this. My son in law will love it!!! I’ll let you know if it works.
Everything went perfectly for us following your recipe! First time I have ever canned jam/jelly! Thank you so much!
Could this recipe be made with powdered pectin instead of liquid?
Joanne, this recipe is especially written to use the liquid pectin. If you use the powdered kind, read the label to determine the correct steps.
@Sheila, I used powdered pectin and it worked great! I just added the pectin to the fruit, then added the sugar after it boiled.
It is delicious but unfortunately like the others mine did not set correctly. it is quite runny. This was the second jam I made, the first being a recipe for peach pepper jam which came out excellent. I was disappointed and as a jam I will not use this recipe again. However I will look for another one with similar ingredients for making my cherry pepper jam as it delicious. I would categorize this as syrup.
Hi, I’ve been making jelly for many years and don’t understand why the recipe doesn’t call for the mixture to he boiled for 1 minute after adding pectin. Liquid pectin must be boiled at least 1 minute for it to gel properly. I had to redo the entire recipe so it would gel.Anyine else have this problem?
Love this recipe, simple to follow. I like spicy, sweet combination so I used red hot peppers. Delicious!
What I’ve done when my finished product turns out runny, I used it as a glaze for BBQ’d meats. Just a suggestion.
Thank you for sharing this recipe.
Has anyone tried this using frozen cherries? My jalapeno peppers are finally ready but cherries are done.
@Denise, I would like to know as well
@Alyssa, I used frozen Bing cherries (they were picked, rinsed and frozen with stems and pits) and the recipe turned out fine (see my other comment about how I used dry pectin). I thawed the cherries in the refrigerator, then drained and pitted them.
Great recipe! I couldn’t find liquid pectin, so I went old-school with boxes of Sure Jell pectin. I mixed all ingredients (including boxed pectin), except the sugar, and brought to boiling. Then I added the sugar, returned to a boil, and boiled for five minutes. The jars set and sealed without a water bath. I made a second batch, replacing the apple cider vinegar with 75% apple cider and 25% lemon juice for a less vinegary taste. I used 4 oz jars – perfect size to toss into a picnic basket or for charcuterie.
This recipe look delicious and I’m anxious to make it! Since I don’t have the canning equipment, Can the jelly be frozen?
Kathy, I haven’t tried freezing this jelly, but you might want to check the package of pectin to see if it has any info on freezing jams and jellies.