Old Fashioned Pepper Relish Recipe

by wsg team

Old Fashioned Pepper Relish Recipe

I think you know how much I love peppers—I cook them with all kinds of sauces. So, when I saw this recipe mentioned by one of my close friends, I had to try it asap. What I really liked was that I could just toss all the veggies into the food processor. It makes things so much easier and faster.

Yeah, I’m a bit lazy sometimes I guess.

I used a few peppers from my garden for this recipe, which makes me oddly proud. I’m not starting with a huge garden, but being able to pick my own peppers is really satisfying.  Next season, I’m definitely planting more.

Anyway, this relish turned out amazing.

I didn’t have fresh lime, so I used commercial lime juice and substituted lemon peel for lime peel. The citrus flavor really stands out and gives the relish a nice kick. It’s pure happiness in a jar! It goes perfectly with burgers—I tried it, and it’s just pure bliss!

Now, What is a Relish?

Relish is a condiment made from chopped vegetables or fruits, usually cooked or pickled, and mixed with spices, vinegar, and sugar. It has a chunky texture(depending on how fine you chop ingredients) and a tangy, sweet, or savory flavor profile. Relish is commonly used to enhance the taste of various dishes, adding a burst of flavor to items like hot dogs, hamburgers, sandwiches, and grilled meats.

There are many types of relishes, but the most common are:

  • Pickle Relish: Made from pickled cucumbers, often sweetened and spiced, commonly used on hot dogs and burgers.
  • Pepper Relish: Made from bell peppers and sometimes hot peppers, mixed with onions, vinegar, sugar, and spices.
  • Corn Relish: Contains corn kernels, bell peppers, onions, and often other vegetables, seasoned with vinegar and spices.
  • Tomato Relish: Made from tomatoes, onions, vinegar, and spices, often served with grilled meats or as a spread.

There are a few foreign alternatives to relish, each with its own unique flavors and ingredients:

  1. Chutney (India): popular condiment made from fruits or vegetables cooked with vinegar, sugar, and spices. Mango chutney is a popular variety, known for its sweet and tangy flavor.
  2. Piccalilli (UK): A type of British relish made from chopped vegetables, usually including cauliflower, onions, and gherkins, pickled in vinegar, mustard, and turmeric. It’s often served with cold meats and cheeses.
  3. Ajvar (Balkans): traditional spread made primarily from roasted red peppers, sometimes with eggplant, garlic, and chili peppers. It has a smoky, sweet flavor and is typically used as a condiment or side dish.
  4. Ajika or adjika is a spicy Georgian condiment made with hot peppers, garlic, herbs, and spices. It’s used as a dipping sauce or seasoning for meats, fish, and vegetables, adding a delicious kick to dishes.
  5. Salsa (Mexico): Typically made with tomatoes, onions, peppers, cilantro, lime juice, and various spices. It can be chunky or smooth and adds a fresh, zesty taste to dishes.
  6. Pepperonata (Italy)sweet and savory mix of bell peppers, tomatoes, onions, garlic, and olive oil, often served as a side dish or condiment.
  7. Zacusca (Romania):  vegetable spread made from roasted red peppers, eggplant, onions, and tomatoes, cooked down with oil and spices. It has a rich, sweet, and smoky flavor.
  8. Lutenitsa (Bulgaria): Lutenitsa is a traditional Bulgarian spread made primarily from peppers and tomatoes, often including other vegetables such as eggplants and carrots.

These alternatives maintain a closer resemblance to pepper relish, focusing on the use of peppers and a combination of sweetish and pleasantly sharp flavors. I really recommend you try them out, as they offer a wide range of flavors to tease your appetite. And they are good for your health too.

That’s if you don’t go overboard, we all know what happens when we  eat that hot Mexican salsa, right ;-).

All in all, relishes are quite versatile and can be adjusted to suit personal taste preferences, whether you prefer them more sweet, spicy, or appetizing. They are a great way to preserve fresh produce and add complexity to simple dishes.

The main ingredients typically include bell peppers, onions, vinegar, sugar, and salt. These ingredients form the foundation of the relish, providing the necessary balance of flavors and the preservation needed for canning.

Here’s a brief explanation of each ingredient’s role in the recipe:

  1. Bell Peppers: Provide the main flavor and texture. You can use a mix of red, green, yellow, and orange peppers for variety in color and taste.
  2. Onions: Add depth of flavor and a bit of crunch.
  3. Vinegar: Acts as a preservative and gives the relish its nicely sourish flavor. White vinegar is commonly used, but apple cider vinegar can be an alternative for a different taste.
  4. Sugar: Balances the acidity of the vinegar and the natural bitterness of the peppers and onions, adding sweetness to the relish.
  5. Salt: Enhances the overall flavor and also acts as a preservative.

While some variations of pepper relish might include additional spices or ingredients like garlic, mustard seeds, or celery, the basic version with these five ingredients is a staple in many traditional recipes. It will give you a nice starting point to experiment making other variants of the old fashioned pepper relish.

Now, lets make this easy traditional recipe, shall we.

Old Fashioned Pepper Relish Recipe

Old Fashioned Pepper Relish Recipe

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Course Appetizer


  • 4 cups bell peppers red, green, or a mix, finely chopped
  • 2 cups onions finely chopped
  • 2 cups white vinegar
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon salt


  • Prepare the Vegetables: Finely chop the bell peppers and onions. You can use a food processor for quicker results, but be careful not to over-process them into a paste.
  • Combine Ingredients: In a large pot, combine the chopped bell peppers, onions, vinegar, sugar, and salt.
  • Cook the Relish: Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. Once it reaches a boil, reduce the heat to low and let it simmer for about 30 minutes, stirring frequently. The relish should thicken slightly and the vegetables should become tender.
  • Sterilize the Jars: While the relish is simmering, sterilize your canning jars and lids by boiling them in water for 10 minutes. This step is crucial for safe preservation.
  • Can the Relish: Carefully ladle the hot relish into the sterilized jars, leaving about 1/2 inch of headspace at the top. Wipe the rims clean, place the lids on, and screw on the bands until fingertip-tight.
  • Process the Jars: Process the filled jars in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes to ensure they are sealed properly. Start timing once the water returns to a full boil.
  • Cool and Store: Remove the jars from the water bath and let them cool on a towel or cooling rack. Once cooled, check the seals by pressing down on the center of each lid. If it doesn't pop back, the jar is sealed. Store sealed jars in a cool, dark place. Unsealed jars should be refrigerated and used within a few weeks.


Feel free to add other vegetables like hot peppers for a spicier relish, or carrots for a sweeter touch.
This relish can be made with either red, green, or a combination of bell peppers to add color and variety.
Keyword chutney, peppers, relish

This relish is a great addition for sandwiches, burgers, hot dogs, or as a flavorful addition to many dishes.

Enjoy 😉


Additional Variation of the recipe:

For a colorful twist, try this variation of the Old-Fashioned Pepper Relish recipe:


  • 4 green peppers
  • 4 red peppers (mix of yellow, orange, chocolate, and cream)
  • 2 medium onions (yellow or red)
  • 4 tsp (20 ml) lemon peel
  • 4 tsp (20 ml) lime juice
  • 2 cups (500 ml) apple cider vinegar
  • 1 1/3 cup (265 g) granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp (10 ml) non-iodized salt
  • 2 tsp (10 ml) dry mustard
  • 2 tsp (10 ml) Hungarian chili pepper
  • 4 tsp (20 ml) all-purpose flour


  • Prepare and cook as per the main recipe, but for a colorful mix, use a combination of green and various colored peppers. After simmering, thicken the relish by mixing flour with hot liquid from the relish until smooth. Continue cooking for a few more minutes before canning.

This variation adds a burst of color and flavor to your relish, perfect for brightening up any dish!

Yield: gives 4 jars of 250 ml (6 if your peppers are big)

You can also add a little Jalapenos or pepperoncini peppers for a more spicy version.

As I mentioned there are several equally delicious alternative and one of my favorites are lutenitsa and the Ajvar.

Below I will show you an easy homemade recipe for traditional Ajvar.

How to make Ajvar relish at home?

traditional Ajvar recipe

Ajvar, pepper caviar and eggplant recipe

So, Ajvar is like this awesome red pepper and eggplant spread, kinda like caviar (it’s why they also call it pepper caviar) but way tastier, you know? They serve it up as a dip or condiment in the Balkans, and it’s just so good.

Unsurprisingly, there are different versions depending on where you are.

In spots like Montenegro, Serbia, and Albania, they add red peppers, making it super strong and spicy. But head over to Slovenia or Croatia, and it’s all about those sweet peppers, keeping things mild and tasty. In Bulgaria they have versions with sweet and hot peppers, so you get the best of both worlds ;-).

I mixed up a couple of recipes I found online, and let me tell you, it turned out spicy and seriously delicious. Here’s what you need for a bowl or a couple of jars:


  • 500g of red peppers
  • 500g of eggplant
  • 2 red chilies (if you’re feeling bold)
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 teaspoon of hot paprika
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil

How to Make It:

  1. Heat up your oven to 220°C.
  2. Poke the eggplants and peppers a few times with a knife to stop them from exploding in the oven. Seriously, trust me on this—I still have a scar from a rogue eggplant incident!
  3. Roast those peppers and eggplants in the oven for around 30 minutes, turning them halfway through so they cook up nice and even.
  4. If you’re adding chilies for that extra kick, toss them in for the last 10 minutes.
  5. Once they’re done, chuck ’em in a plastic bag and seal it up tight. Let them chill in there for about 15 minutes.
  6. This part’s kinda messy but worth it: peel off the skin from all the veggies and deseed the peppers and chilies. Then, drain ’em in a colander for 30 minutes.
  7. After the draining, give ’em another squeeze to get rid of any leftover water.
  8. Chuck the garlic, hot paprika, salt, and pepper into a blender and blitz until it’s all smooth.
  9. Stir in those 2 tablespoons of olive oil and transfer the mix to a saucepan.
  10. Cook it up over low heat for about 30 minutes, stirring now and then to stop it from sticking.
  11. Finish it off with a sprinkle of parsley, and you’re ready to dive in! It’s perfect as a dip or slathered on pretty much anything.

And another yummy relish recipe.

Relish with zucchini and red peppers

Relish with zucchini and red peppers

Here’s the relish recipe I’ve been making for a few years now—it’s absolutely delicious.

I tried this recipe awhile ago, but it’s become a staple in our annual canning ritual now. I remember the first time I made it, I had to resist eating it straight from the jar like jam. This relish isn’t too vinegary, has a slight sweet taste, and is easier to digest than the traditional cucumber version.


  • 3 lbs of zucchini (about 6 to 7 cups in pieces), seeds removed
  • 3 onions, cut into large pieces
  • 2 red peppers, seeded and finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup marinating salt (coarse)
  • 4 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 1/2 cups vinegar
  • 1 1/2 tsp mustard powder
  • 1 tsp celery seeds or celery salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground pepper
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tbsp water
  • 2 tsp cornstarch


  1. Prep the Veggies: Finely chop the zucchini, onions, and peppers in a food processor. Put them in a large bowl.
  2. Salt the Veggies: Sprinkle the vegetables with marinating salt and mix well. Let it sit for 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Drain the veggies in a large colander lined with three layers of cheesecloth. Rinse thoroughly with cold water, squeezing to remove excess liquid. (Tip: Gather the corners of the cheesecloth to make a bundle and press out the liquid.)
  3. Cook the Relish: In a large, thick-bottomed saucepan, mix the sugar, vinegar, mustard powder, celery seeds, pepper, and turmeric. Bring to a boil. Add the drained vegetables and return to a boil, stirring often.
  4. Simmer: Reduce the heat and simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes until the liquid has thickened. Mix the water and cornstarch together, then add to the mixture. Cook, stirring, for 5 more minutes.
  5. Color (Optional): For a vibrant color, add a drop of green food coloring and a drop of blue.
  6. Can the Relish: Pour the hot relish into sterilized jars, leaving some headspace. Boil the jars in a water bath for 10 minutes to seal.

This recipe makes 4 jars of 500 ml each.


  • Weigh your zucchini pieces to get the exact amount.
  • Make sure to drain the veggies well by squeezing out as much liquid as possible. This step is crucial to avoid a watery relish.
  • Enjoy this relish with burgers, sandwiches, or as a side—it’s delicious!

Storage Tips for the Pepper Relish

  1. Refrigeration: Once opened, keep your pepper relish in the refrigerator. It should stay fresh for up to a month.
  2. Canning: Properly can your pepper relish to extend its shelf life. Sterilize jars and lids before filling them with hot relish, then process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.
  3. Cool, Dark Place: Store sealed jars in a cool, dark place like a pantry or cellar. Properly canned relish can last up to a year.
  4. Labeling: Label jars with the date they were made to keep track of freshness.
  5. Avoid Contamination: Always use a clean spoon to scoop out relish to avoid introducing bacteria.
  6. Check Seals: Before consuming, ensure the jar’s seal is intact. If the lid is bulging or the seal is broken, discard the relish.

Following these tips will help ensure your pepper relish remains delicious and safe to eat for awhile!

Old Fashioned Pepper Relish Recipe

Pepper relish appetizer view from above

Wrapping up!

I’m sure you’ll enjoy making this old fashioned pepper relish recipe at home! It’s a perfect blend of sweet and bright feel, and it’s sure to add a burst of flavor to your favorite dishes. Whether you’re slathering it on burgers, mixing it into salads, or just enjoying it straight from the jar, this relish is a true delight.

Happy canning!

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