Sweet and Spicy Pickle Relish Recipe

A small batch of relish is simple and versatile.

A jar of sweet and spicy pickle relish.

Serious Eats / Marisa McClellan

Why This Recipe Works

  • You can use a box grater to shred the vegetables, but a food processor and a grating disc are quick and simple.
  • Adding more vinegar after the vegetables have simmered ensures a lively brine, as the vegetables express water when cooked.

I grew up believing firmly in a condiment matrix. Mustard went on hot dogs, ketchup belonged to hamburgers, and relish was only applicable if I had a Dodger Dog in my hands. As I got older, I began to bend my self-imposed condiment rules and explored other applications. I discovered that mustard could also be good whisked into salad dressing and ketchup made an excellent glaze for meatloaf.

Chunked of green peppers in a colander.

Serious Eats / Marisa McClellan

And then there's relish. True, it's good on hot dogs, but this condiment can do so much more. I think it's time to shake off the lowbrow reputation that pickle relish has been saddled with for so long and bring it out into the limelight. Since it's essentially a chopped pickle, you can use it anywhere that a bit of sliced or minced dill pickle might go. Spread it on a sandwich, stir it into tuna or chicken salad, or even put it out on a cheese tray along with a dish of tapenade.

Shredded vegetables in a pot, ready to simmer.

Serious Eats / Marisa McClellan

Another virtue of this type of relish is that it has the ability to absorb mountains of garden produce. Cucumbers and green peppers take up a heck of a lot of space in their natural form, but once shredded, they become compact and manageable.

Before You Get Started

If you have a food processor with a fine grating disc blade, this is a good time to pull it out. You can use a box grater, but using an appliance makes really quick work of it and keeps your knuckles entirely intact.

The reason that the recipe has you simmer the vegetables in apple cider, drain them, and then add more is because these vegetables have a very high water content. They express enough liquid into the vinegar that they can dilute and leave the relish tasting weak and lifeless.

Pickle relish in a jar, ready to can.

Serious Eats / Marisa McClellan

I like to add enough red chile flake to this relish to ensure that I experience a pleasant tingle while eating it. However, if you like things a little less hot, feel free to reduce or omit the chile flakes.

July 2012

Recipe Details

Sweet and Spicy Pickle Relish Recipe

Active 45 mins
Total 60 mins
Serves 32 servings
Makes 2 pints

A small batch of relish is simple and versatile.


  • 3 cups grated green pepper (about 2 large)

  • 3 cups grated pickling cucumber (6 to 8 pickles)

  • 1 cup minced or grated onion (about 1 medium)

  • 2 cups apple cider vinegar, divided

  • 1 cup granulated sugar

  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt

  • 1 tablespoon mustard seeds

  • 1/2 teaspoon celery seeds

  • 1 teaspoon red chile flakes


  1. Combine prepared green pepper, cucumber, and onion in a large, non-reactive (stainless steel or enamel-coated) pot. Stir in one cup of apple cider vinegar and bring to a simmer. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until vegetables have cooked down and liquid is reduced by about 1/3, about 30 minutes. Drain vegetables, discard liquid, and return vegetables to pot.

  2. Add remaining vinegar, sugar, and spices. Bring to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes. Remove pot from heat.

  3. Fill jars, wipe rims, apply lids and rings. Process in a boiling water canner for 10 minutes (starting time when pot returns to a boil). Remove jars from pot and let cool on a towel-lined countertop.

  4. When jars are completely cool, remove rings and test seals. The relish is good to eat immediately. Store sealed jars in a cool dark place for up to a year.

Special Equipment

Food processor, mason jars, canning pot

Nutrition Facts (per serving)
34 Calories
0g Fat
8g Carbs
0g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 32
Amount per serving
Calories 34
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 0g 0%
Saturated Fat 0g 0%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 119mg 5%
Total Carbohydrate 8g 3%
Dietary Fiber 0g 1%
Total Sugars 7g
Protein 0g
Vitamin C 6mg 29%
Calcium 5mg 0%
Iron 0mg 1%
Potassium 47mg 1%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)