This Strawberry Habanero Pepper Jelly is sweet, spicy and oh-so-delicious! It’s fabulous paired with cheese and wonderful on a charcuterie board. It’s also great with biscuits, muffins… and SO much more!
Believe it or not, this Strawberry Habanero Pepper Jelly recipe has actually been in the making for well over a year. I was looking for a recipe for a clear strawberry pepper jelly early last spring. I searched online to no avail. There were lots of strawberry pepper jam recipes (even one of ours!) with both jalapenos and habaneros but no true strawberry pepper jelly recipes. So I started afresh and, after lots of experimenting, I’m quite happy with this delicious sweet and spicy condiment. Hope you enjoy it too!
What’s the difference between jam and jelly?
You might lump jam and jelly into the same boat, but that’s not really correct. Jelly, according to the experts at Bon Appetit, is “the firmest, clearest fruit condiment around. Once the fruit is cooked, it’s strained, so that only the juice ends up in the jelly.” Jam, on the other hand, is “the chunkier version of jelly, with more pieces of actual fruit in it and a slightly looser, spoonable texture. Here, chopped or pureed fruit is cooked with sugar, so pieces of the fruit end up in the final product”.
I do like to add a red bell pepper to this jelly recipe so I guess you could technically say that this is a jelly-jam as it does have tiny bits of pepper. You could leave the bell pepper out for a truly clear jelly, but I like the flavor and texture it gives.
My struggle in creating this Strawberry Habanero Pepper Jelly was in figuring out how to make a clear strawberry juice out of fresh strawberries without adding a lot of water and diluting the flavor. I tried several methods but, in the end, the answer was super simple: combine strawberry and a scoop of sugar in a large saucepan. Stir until the sugar dissolves and the berries start releasing their juice. Bring the mixture to a boil for 3 minutes and strain. Voila! Beautiful, clear, crimson strawberry juice, just begging to made into a delicious pepper jelly!
What to do with this Strawberry Habanero Pepper Jelly
If you’re spending a lot of time making a nice dinner, having to plan a yummy appetizer on top of that is sometimes enough to throw you over the cliff! Now, all you need to do is have a stash of pepper jelly, some crackers and a package of cream cheese or goat cheese. Then, when the doorbell’s about to ring, throw the cream cheese on a pretty plate, spoon some pepper jelly over the top and add a fan of crackers. A fantastic appetizer is instantly ready that will receive rave reviews!
But that’s just the beginning – there are lots of other ways to use it:
- As a dipping or drizzling sauce for grilled meat.
- Serve in a small bowl or pretty jar, along with crackers and cheese. We especially like it with smoked cheddar, but it’s also delicious with Havarti, Gouda, Fontina, Comte, Gorgonzola, hard goat cheese… For a really special treat, serve it on a cheese board with these Copycat Rosemary Pecan Rainforest Crackers.
- Spread it on Brie, then wrap the round with phyllo or puff pastry. Bake until golden and the cheese is gooey.
- Spread warm cornbread with butter and a spoonful of pepper jelly.
- Use as a glaze for roasted pork tenderloin.
- Make a grilled ham and cheese with a spread of Strawberry Habanero Pepper Jelly between the layers, yum!
- Season salmon with salt and pepper, then add a layer of pepper jelly. Broil until done.
- Use it for a salad dressing.
- Mix equal amounts of grainy or Dijon mustard with this for a delicious dipping sauce.
- Use it for a sweet and sour stir-fry. Saute garlic and ginger in a splash of oil then add thinly sliced chicken breast. Stir-fry for a few minutes until chicken is almost cooked. Remove chicken with a slotted spoon and stir-fry veggies. Return the chicken to the pan, add a generous scoop of Strawberry Habanero Pepper Jelly, a tablespoon of rice vinegar and soy sauce, to taste. Serve with rice and a sprinkle of cashews.
- For a super fun and gourmet PB&J substitute this Strawberry Habanero Pepper Jelly instead of regular jelly!
- Spoon it over ice cream for a sweet and spicy dessert.
- Spread on toast or on these Ridiculously Easy Biscuits.
It also makes a great gift!
Yes, it certainly does! Give it on its own or pair a jar of this Strawberry Habanero Pepper Jelly with a box of gourmet crackers (or make your own) and a log of goat cheese. Use it as a hostess gift or a thoughtful treat for a friend, neighbor, teacher, hairdresser, mailman… really just about anyone would be thrilled with a gift from the kitchen like this.
To dress up my Strawberry Habanero Pepper Jelly, I’ve created a PDF for a pretty label that I’d be happy to share with you. Just leave a comment in the comment section at the bottom of this post and we’ll email you the labels along with instructions on how to print them.
Don’t let the strawberry season pass without making a batch of this delicious Strawberry Habanero Pepper Jelly. You can store it in your freezer or use a hot water bath to make it shelf stable. Either way, this delicious, sweet, savory, spicy condiment will bring smiles of delight all year long!
Cafe Tips for making this Strawberry Habanero Pepper Jelly
- This recipe calls for liquid pectin. Here in the United States, the most common pectin available is the Certo brand made by Kraft. You’ll find it in the same area of the grocery store as the mason jars and other canning supplies. You can also find Certo online.
- The habaneros are what give this Strawberry Habanero Pepper Jelly its heat. Habaneros are slightly sweet and fruity but also very hot. In comparison to jalapeños, which range from 2,500 to 8,000 on the Scoville heat scale where in comparison, habaneros range from 100,000 to 350,000 units! We like things medium spicy and I only use 1 medium-size habanero without any of the seeds or white pith (which is the spiciest part of the pepper). Start out with a half to a whole habanero and taste a bit of the jelly after its cooked. You can always add more heat but you can’t take it away.
- If you can’t find habaneros, feel free to use jalapeños although you’ll want to use more or use the seeds and pith as well) to add a little extra heat. If you can find red jalapeños, they will blend in really nicely with the color or the jam. Fresno peppers, between a jalapeño and a habanero as far as heat goes, will also work.
- Important! – You may notice that I have a fair number of seeds in my pepper jelly pics. I don’t use the habanero seeds as I’m afraid that would make the jelly too spicy for us. I do, however, use the seeds from the red bell pepper in this recipe. It’s totally optional, but I like the look of the jelly with the seeds.
- I use my Vidalia Chopper to chop the bell pepper in this recipe. It’s a wonderful little kitchen workhorse that I use for peppers, onions, celery, apples, potatoes, cucumbers… so many things! It really speeds up the chopping process.
- This jelly is not difficult to make but jam/jelly making is an exact science. Be sure to measure carefully and accurately for good results. I love to improvise in the kitchen but not with jam and jelly – unless of course, I’m creating a new recipe – but then it might take me 3 or 4 tries before I get it right.
- I know 4 cups of sugar (the total amount) sounds like a lot. But the recipe makes a lot of jelly and you generally only eat a spoonful at a time so the amount of sugar per serving is really quite small.
- If you want to make a jam or jelly with less sugar, there are low-sugar and no-sugar pectins but you will need to follow a recipe for that type of pectin, not this one.
- This jelly will keep well in the refrigerator for several weeks. You can also freeze it. If freezing, be sure to allow about ½ inch of space at the top of each jar to allow for expansion.
- It’s a good idea to use gloves when handling habaneros or any hot peppers, as they can burn your skin.
- Apples? You will notice if you look at the recipe that there’s half of an apple included. Strawberries are low in pectin so I add some apple (high in pectin) slices to the jelly mixture as it boils. The apple slices are removed before ladling the jelly into jars but they ensure a nice set.
- Wondering about the butter in the recipe? A half teaspoon of butter will help keep the mixture from foaming up too much when it simmers.
Thought for the day:
Even to your old age
and gray hairs I am He,
I am He who will sustain you.
I have made you
and I will carry you;
I will sustain you
and I will rescue you.
What we’re listening to for inspiration:
If you enjoyed this recipe, please come back and leave a star rating and review! It’s so helpful to other readers to hear your results, adaptations and ideas for variations.
This Strawberry Habanero Pepper Jelly is sweet, spicy and oh-so-delicious! It's fabulous paired with cheese and wonderful on a charcuterie board. It's also great with biscuits, muffins... and SO much more!
- 2 quarts fresh strawberries stemmed and sliced
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- 1½ cups strawberry juice
- 1 medium red bell pepper seeded and diced small
- 1/2 medium apple (red, yellow or green) cut into 4 slices
- 3½ cups sugar
- 1 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1 habanero pepper finely chopped (see Café Tips above)
- ½ teaspoon butter
- 3 ounces CERTO Fruit Pectin pouch (1 packet)
Combine sliced strawberries and sugar in a medium large pot over medium heat. Stir until berries begin to release their juice.
Bring mixture to a full rolling boil and boil for 3 minutes, stirring frequently. Drain berry mixture through a fine strainer or a (regular strainer lined with several layers of cheese cloth) for 30-45 minutes until you have 1 ½ cups of clear berry juice.
Combine exactly 1 ½ cups of strawberry juice, the vinegar, sugar, diced bell pepper, apple slices, habanero and butter in a large saucepan (at least 6-quart size). Stir and bring to a boil. Boil for 3 minutes, watching carefully to keep the mixture from boiling up over the top of the pot and stirring occasionally.
Add Certo pectin and bring to a full, rolling boil (that can’t be stirred down.)
Boil for exactly one minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and remove the apple slices with a slotted spoon. Skim off any foam with a metal teaspoon.
Taste (be careful, it's hot!) and add more habanero if desired, to taste. Ladle into clean jars, leaving ½ inch headspace at the top.
Cover jars and , if storing in the freezer, allow the jars to sit at room temperature for 24 hours then refrigerate for up to 3 weeks or store in the freezer for up to 9 months.
Jelly can also be processed with a hot water bath at this point, using these directions.
See Café Tips above in post for lots of additional information and specific tips for making this recipe.
Makes about 4½ cups of jelly or 9 4-ounce jars.