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. 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.
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.
- 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.
After cooling the jars of jelly, check the seals 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 have not sealed, you may repeat the water bath process.
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Amount Per Serving: Calories: 53Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 2mgCarbohydrates: 13gFiber: 0gSugar: 13gProtein: 0g
Nutrition values for a serving size of 1 tablespoon
Sheila Thigpen, author of Easy Chicken Cookbook and The 5-Ingredient Fresh and Easy Cookbook, is a recipe developer, food photographer, and food writer. She spent 20+ years as a business manager in the publishing industry before she retired in 2018 to focus on her passions — cooking, photography, and writing. Living near the beautiful Smoky Mountains, Sheila and her husband have two adult daughters and two fine sons-in-law, are active in their church, love to travel, and have a precious little granddaughter who has stolen their hearts. Follow Sheila on YouTube, Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter!