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Smoked Pickled Jalapenos

by Brad Prose

Top it, chop it, crunch it, snack on it. However you decide to use Smoked Pickled Jalapenos, you will find yourself reaching into the pepper jar again and again.

Jar of smoked pickled jalapenos

Some people might reach for the pickle jar; we always have a variety of pickled jalapenos in our fridge. While these are irresistibly snackable on their own, their subtle smoky heat will have you dreaming up what to add them to next.

Want more ideas for toppings and condiments? Try out Roasted Hatch Chile Salsa Verde, Fire Roasted Santa Maria Salsa, Pickled Mustard Seeds, or Korean Honey Mustard.

Why You’ll Love Smoked Pickled Jalapenos

Crunchy pickled jalapenos are the sprinkles of the savory world. From topping nachos to crowning juicy smoked burgers, they go with everything. 

  • Smoked Pickled Jalapenos are the ultimate make-ahead dish. They get better and better as they cure in the brine.
  • Simple process, utilizing a quick pickle method. Smoke, brine, refrigerate, and get your snack on. It’s that easy!
  • Accessible ingredients. Armed with a pile of peppers and pantry basics, there’s no need for anything exotic.
  • These jalapenos are just lightly smoked, allowing them to retain their crunch.
  • Whether you’re giving your steak night a kick or taking your jalapeno pimento cheese to the next level, these go with anything.
Smoked pickled jalapenos are brined and ready to eat.

Why Smoke Jalapenos Before Pickling?

The first part of the process of creating the solution to any snack attack begins with how to smoke jalapeno peppers. This additional layer of flavor is the ultimate secret ingredient.

  • Brings out the heat. The process of smoking the jalapenos brings out more of the heat from the jalapeno. Cooking peppers releases more capsaicin as they break down. These jalapenos are smoked for a short period of time, but it’s just enough to notice a spicy difference.
  • Adds another layer of flavor. The kiss of smoke permeates not just the jalapenos themselves, but the brine as they cure giving a hint of mystery.
  • Retains a crisp texture. Because the jalapenos are smoked at low heat, they retain the integrity of their snappy crunch. Grilling or roasting jalapenos will not only char the skin but cause the flesh to become soft, which is not ideal for this use.
  • Minimal effort for maximum payoff. This is a quick smoke. You only need about 30 minutes to smoke your jalapenos before continuing on to the next step. Toss them in the smoker while you’re making something else, such as Smoked Chuck Roast or Juicy Smoked Burgers.
Put the fresh jalapenos into the smoker right after they are washed

Ingredients You’ll Need

Whether you’re hitting up your local farmer’s market or stocking up on your peppers at the grocery store, this easy and delicious recipe can be broken down into two parts, the jalapeno peppers themselves, and the brine.

  • Jalapeno Peppers – You want to pick peppers that are firm with shiny skin. Jalapenos that have wrinkled lines in them are older and tend to be hotter.
  • Water – The brine for these quick refrigerator pickles can be considered an easy mathematical equation, 50% water, 50% vinegar. 
  • Distilled white vinegar – Neutral, crisp vinegar that lets the other flavors shine without competing.
  • Kosher Salt – Neutral, pure salt flavor free of additives like iodine in table salt. 
  • Brown Sugar – Unlike other recipes for Mexican pickled jalapenos, this recipe uses brown sugar giving the brine more depth and complexity.
  • Bay Leaf – Adds a subtle woodsy flavor to the brine. In addition, bay leaves contain tannins which prevent the cell wall of the jalapenos from breaking down, helping them maintain their texture.
  • Mexican Oregano – Floral, citrusy, with a hint of anise flavor, this brings an herbaceous note to the brine.
  • Dried Thyme – Adds a hint of lemon while accenting the herbaceous notes in the bay leaf and Mexican oregano.
How to smoke jalapeno peppers

If you’ve ever wondered how to pickle jalapeno peppers, the process couldn’t be any easier. The inactive period of this recipe is just as important as the active steps. The hardest part is not giving in to tasting one while you’re waiting for them to cure!

How to Make Smoked Pickled Jalapenos

  • Prep Work – Preheat your smoker to 250°F. While you’re waiting for your smoker to come to temperature, wash your jalapenos. You want them a little wet when they go on as this will help them absorb more smoke flavor and prevent the skin from getting too dry.
  • Smoke Sesh – Allow your jalapenos to smoke for about 30 minutes. You will know they are done when their color has dulled and they have slight grill marks. They should still be firm to the touch. You are not cooking the jalapenos, you’re simply allowing them to pick up some of the smoke flavors.
  • Rings of Fire – Slice up your jalapenos. You can eliminate even more heat by removing the seeds if you like. Recommend using gloves for this portion, as the chile oil can leech onto your fingers!
  • Brine Time – Add all of your ingredients for the brine to a small saucepan. You are simply warming it up and allowing the salt and sugar to completely dissolve.
  • Cool Down – Add your jalapeno rings to a mason jar, or another airtight container. Carefully pour the hot brine over the top of the jalapenos and allow them to sit out until they come to room temperature and you can easily handle the jar.
  • Waiting Game – cap your jar of smoked pickled jalapenos and allow them to refrigerate for at least 8 hours. You will already be ready to make more after that first bite!

Tips and Tricks

This recipe is all about capturing that kiss of smoke while maintaining the crisp texture of the jalapenos. To help achieve that, wash your jalapenos just prior to putting them on the smoker and place them on the grates wet. This will help them pick up more of the smoke flavor while also keeping the skin supple.

Crunchy pickled jalapenos that have been smoked.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use an oven?

No, the direct, high heat of the oven will cause the skin of the jalapenos to blister as well as cook and soften the flesh of the peppers. Also, there’s no smoke. Unless you’re burning something…

Can I use other peppers besides jalapenos?

Yes, this same method and brine will work with any of your favorite pickling peppers such as a Fresno or serrano. You can also use a combination.

Are pickled jalapenos spicy?

Generally, pickled jalapenos are more mild than raw, however, cooking the jalapenos does draw out more capsaicin. These smoked pickled jalapenos can be spicer than traditional ones.

What is the difference between a quick pickle and a fermented pickle?

Quick pickles, sometimes referred to as refrigerator pickles, combine a hot brine with a vinegar base. The acidic brine is more about adding flavor while making these pickled peppers ready to eat in about eight hours. Fermented pickles use water-based brine. Through the canning process oxygen is removed from the jars allowing probiotics to grow. These generally take at least seven days to cure.

Can I use a different vinegar?

You can use a different vinegar, but depending upon what you use, you might create a pickled jalapeno that has a little more sweetness, or a little more acidity.

How long do smoked pickled jalapenos last?

You can store these for 3-4 weeks in the refrigerator. However, they probably won’t last that long!

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Jar of smoked pickled jalapenos

Smoked Pickled Jalapenos

Top it, chop it, crunch it, snack on it. However you decide to use Smoked Pickled Jalapenos, you will find yourself reaching into the pepper jar again and again.

  • Total Time: 35
  • Yield: About 3 Cups 1x

Ingredients

Scale
  • 10 jalapeno peppers
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup white vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ½ teaspoon Mexican oregano
  • ½ teaspoon dried thyme

Instructions

  1. Preheat the smoker to 250°F. Place the jalapenos on the grates and allow them to smoke for about 30 minutes. They should still be firm, with mild grill marks and slightly duller color.
  2. Slice the jalapenos into ⅛-inch rings. Remove the seeds for a more mild heat.
  3. In a medium pot combine the water, salt, vinegar, sugar, bay leaf, oregano, and thyme and bring to a boil. Stir to dissolve the salt and sugar, then remove from the heat.
  4. Transfer the jalapenos and salt to a 1-quart mason jar or similar container. Pour the hot brine over the top and let the jar cool at room temperature until it can be handled. Cover with a secure lid and rest in the refrigerator for at least 8 hours. Jalapenos will stay good for up to 3-4 weeks unless you eat them all first.
  • Author: Brad Prose
  • Prep Time: 5
  • Cook Time: 30
  • Category: Sauces & Salsas
  • Method: Smoking
  • Cuisine: Condiment

Keywords: smoked jalapenos, pickled jalapenos, smoked pickled jalapenos, condiment, Mexican food

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