This homemade pickled jalapenos recipe makes quick and easy refrigerator pickles that are fantastic served as a side or topped on Mexican dishes such as tacos and enchiladas and Tex-Mex favourites such as nachos and burritos. Also called quick pickles, they take ten minutes to make and are far more affordable and more delicious than a jar of store-bought jalapeños.
You’re going to love this homemade pickled jalapeños recipe if you made and enjoyed our Mexican quick pickled onions recipe for cebollas curtidas or cebollas en escabeche or our quick pickled red cabbage recipe for col roja en escabeche, col lombarda en escabeche or col morada en escabeche.
You can use these homemade pickled jalapeños in exactly the same way you would use the pickled onions and pickled cabbage and serve them sprinkled on top of any number of Mexican breakfast dishes, on tacos, tortillas, nachos, and chilli con carne, served as sides to tostadas, or lay them on the fillings of enchiladas and burritos. You can also use them in burgers and sandwiches.
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Pickled Jalapenos Recipe for Quick and Easy Refrigerator Pickles
We had been buying jars of commercial jalapeños in supermarkets for decades before I realised that homemade pickled jalapeños not only taste infinitely better but are far more affordable to make at home. Keeping in mind, of course, that we live in Southeast Asia where Mexican and North American brands of jalapeños in jars and cans are a relatively expensive imported product that has increased in price since the pandemic, compared to the price of local pickled peppers.
While you should try to make your homemade pickled jalapeños with fresh jalapeño chilli peppers, we can’t get fresh jalapeños here in Cambodia so for now we’re using another local green chilli pepper that looks more like an unripe serrano pepper.
We have a variety of fresh green chillies – long and short, mild and spicy – that sell for around $3 a kilo (they cost less at the markets), but fresh garlic, limes, vinegars, salt, and sugar are all cheap. Depending on where you live, that may not be the case, and it may in fact be more affordable to buy commercial jalapeños.
Pickled chilli peppers are served as a condiment here and in other Southeast Asian countries – you’ll often spot them in the condiment caddy at street food eateries – and some varieties of chillies, like the one we are using, look and taste the same as pickled jalapeños. Do a blind tasting and you probably won’t notice a difference between them.
Aside from the cost, this homemade pickled jalapenos recipe makes a far more delicious pickled jalapeño (or pickled serranos) plus you can adapt these jalapeño pickles to suit your taste by adding more or less salt, sugar, garlic, and/or spices, and adjusting the ratios of vinegar, lime juice and water to suit your taste. I only have a few tips to making this homemade pickled jalapeños recipe.
Tips to Making This Homemade Pickled Jalapenos Recipe
Just a few tips to making this homemade pickled jalapenos recipe but they’re important tips. Even though these are quick pickles or refrigerator pickles, and you’re not going to be canning them, it’s still important to make sure your jars are sterilised, and that you wash the vegetables well.
These quick pickles are also called refrigerator pickles for a reason. They must be kept in the fridge. You can’t store these pickles in your pantry, as you can pickles that have gone through a bathing and canning process.
While ‘quick pickles’ refers primarily to the fact that these pickles take no time to prepare, it also suggests that these pickles don’t last long, but how long exactly do quick pickles last?
Some pickling experts recommend that this style of quick pickles should be used within a few days, others suggest using them within a couple of weeks maximum, and yet others argue that these pickles can last up to a few months.
We live in Cambodia, a country where pickling, along with fermenting and other forms of preservation, are key elements of the culinary culture. Our Cambodian friends pickle things all the time. As part of our culinary research and the occasional culinary tour I’ve hosted, I’ve spotted huge jars of pickles sitting in the outdoor kitchens and around the ground floor level of traditional wooden houses where people cook and eat.
I can assure you that aside from the pro chefs, many of those friends and pickle-loving locals are not paying attention to how long their jars of pickles are sitting around. The pickles last as long as they take to be eaten. If they’re off they’ll get thrown out.
Just trust your instincts and senses. If the pickles look too soft, if they’re discoloured, if they smell bad, or if they have any sign of mould on them, then toss them.
We make and keep these pickles in small 200 ml jars, as I suggest in the homemade pickled jalapenos recipe below, so after we open one jar we might finish them within a few days or over the course of a few meals. I don’t recommend making these pickles in a larger jar that you’ll be digging in and out of over a period of weeks or months.
When it comes to vinegar, you can use either a distilled white vinegar or a cider vinegar, or even a combination of the two. When it comes to salt, we recommend sea salt or Kosher salt. Don’t use fine grained table salt or iodised salt because this usually contains potassium iodide, dextrose and chemicals such as calcium silicate and sodium silicoaluminate, which will make your water cloudy and ‘muddy’ the pickling liquid, while the potassium iodide can cause the pickles to darken in colour.
Lastly, do taste your pickle brine and adjust the seasoning before adding it to the jar. We all have different palates. While this homemade pickled jalapenos recipe is perfect for me, it might not be for you and that’s fine.
Perhaps follow this recipe the first time you make these pickles, then the next time adjust it to your taste, adding more or less salt, sugar, garlic, and/or spices, and adjusting the ratios of vinegar and lime juice to your liking.
Pickled Jalapenos Recipe for Quick Refrigerator Pickles
- 2 garlic cloves - peeled
- 300 g jalapenos or other green chillies - sliced
- 1 red birds eye chillies or other red chilli - sliced
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 tsp sea salt
- 2 tsp caster sugar
- 1 tsp black peppercorns
- 300 ml distilled white vinegar or cider vinegar
- 4 limes - juice only
- Drop one garlic clove into each of the jars, then divide the sliced jalapenos or other green chillies between the two jars. Note that if this isn’t enough to fill your jars, do add more so that the jar is full.
- Add a few slices of red birds eye chillies or other red chillies to each jar for colour and kick and slide a couple of bay leaves into each jar.
- Divide the salt, sugar and black peppercorns evenly between the two jars, then add the white vinegar or cider vinegar, and squeeze in the juice of the limes into each jar.
- Taste the brine with a clean spoon and adjust seasoning as necessary then, with a new spoon (don’t put the same spoon back into the jars), taste again. Alternatively, make your pickle brine in a separate jar, then, when you’re happy with the seasoning, pour the brine into the jars.
- Make sure the jalapenos are covered with brine, and if they’re not, top up the jar with more lime juice or vinegar, so it’s covered, then shake again, screw the lids on and refrigerate for an absolute minimum of one hour before serving, although they’re far better if left overnight or for a few days.
Please do let us know in the comments below if you made our homemade pickled jalapenos recipe as we’d love to know how they turned out for you.