James Peterson's Pickled Chiles

jar of pickled chiles
Photograph: James Peterson

Pickled chiles are a versatile pantry staple. They can be used to add mouth-puckering tang to just about any place you'd ordinarily use hot peppers, they keep for weeks at a time, and they take all of five minutes to prepare.

While it is easy to throw just about anything into a hot pickle brine, James Peterson keeps his pickled chiles simple in Vegetables.

Encouraging readers to experiment with chile varieties (he recommends both hot jalapeños and mild poblanos), he provides a barebones description of the technique as well as a slightly more elaborate recipe. Still, even in the recipe, he adds only onion, garlic, and thyme to the chiles and covers them with brine made of nothing but boiling white wine vinegar and salt.

Why I Picked This Recipe: Hot peppers are prolific in late summer, and not much goes better on a taco than a few slices of pickled chiles.

What Worked: Pickling is pretty foolproof; I had no problems following the method.

What Didn't: Nada.

Suggested Tweaks: I'd add a bit of sugar to the brine next time to balance the heat and tang. So far, I've only tasted the chiles (and onions) on their own next to a bit of cheese, but I plan to serve them on tacos, in black beans, and maybe on a hot grilled cheese.

Reprinted with permission from Vegetables, Revised by James Peterson. Copyright 2012. Published by Ten Speed Press. Available wherever books are sold. All rights reserved.

Recipe Facts

Active: 15 mins
Total: 0 mins
Makes: 1 quart

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  • About 1 pound assorted large fresh chiles, such as poblano, Anaheim, or New Mexico, or 1 1/4 pounds small fresh chiles, such as jalapeños
  • 1 medium red onion, thinly sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 5 sprigs fresh thyme or marjoram
  • 1 tablespoon coarse salt
  • 3 cups white wine vinegar or sherry vinegar


  1. Rinse off the chiles and remove their stems. Cut large chiles in half lengthwise and, wearing rubber gloves, pull out their seeds. Leave small chiles whole. Fill a 1-quart mason jar with the chiles, distributing the onion, garlic, thyme, and salt evenly among the layers of chiles. Bring the vinegar to a boil and immediately pour it over the chiles. Be sure the chiles are completely covered with hot vinegar. Immediately twist on the cap and let cool without opening. Refrigerate the chiles and serve within several weeks.