Copycat Recipes

Pioneer Woman Texas Cowboy Candy Recipe

Rustle up some sweet and spicy pickled peppers!

Claire Onidi By
Claire Onidi
Passionate about food and pastries since always, Claire spends most of her time in the kitchen to develop new recipes. She is French but lived many years abroad.
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Updated September 29, 2022

For a delicious and spicy condiment, make this copycat Pioneer Woman Texas cowboy candy recipe. Cowboy candy is slices of spicy jalapeno peppers in a sweet sugar glaze — and they’re very addictive!

copycat Pioneer Woman Texas cowboy candy recipe

Cowboy candy comes from St. Augustine, Texas. In 1922, a young woman called Mindie Heironimus grew too many jalapeños, so she decided to experiment.

She knew how to can cucumbers, so she thought she’d use her peppers the same way. So, she mixed them with sugar and spices, layered them with grape leaves, and stored them in crocks.

Thanks to Mindie, we have this delicious creation! But, luckily, you can eat these in under an hour instead of waiting for them to pickle.

You make cowboy candy by slicing jalapeno peppers and then simmering them in a spiced simple syrup. And then you get a sweet, tangy, and versatile condiment.

I put these peppers in a variety of dishes, including burgers, hot dogs, sandwiches, and nachos. Once you taste these, you’ll want to put them on everything!

I’ve made my own version of the Pioneer Woman’s cowboy candy using spices that I love. But feel free to experiment with your own favorites!

Tips and Tricks for Making Texas Cowboy Candy

Wear Gloves

Jalapeno peppers can hurt you! And the best way to protect yourself is by wearing rubber gloves.

Capsaicin is the compound in hot peppers that makes them taste spicy. But it can also feel like you’ve burned yourself if you get pepper juice on your skin.

Therefore, even if you’re wearing gloves, try not to touch your eyes or nose while you’re handling peppers. And, wash your hands with dish soap to remove the pepper’s oils from your skin.

Control the Heat

If you like lots of heat, just slice the jalapenos and start cooking. However, you can make these candied jalapenos less spicy by removing the pith and seeds from inside each pepper before you boil them.

Buy Fresh

Don’t use frozen jalapenos! This recipe tastes best if you use fresh peppers.

To pick the perfect ones, make sure that the peppers are about the same size, the flesh is firm, and there aren’t any bruises or blemishes.

Then, clean the outside of the peppers, and you’re ready to start slicing!

Wait (If You Can)

While you can eat these peppers immediately after you make them, they’ll be even more delicious if you wait for 2 weeks.

While they sit, the flavors have a chance to meld, and the peppers will absorb more of the syrup.

Reuse the Syrup

Never toss the leftover syrup! You can use it in myriad ways.

For example, you can marinate grilled ribs with it, or toss some into homemade barbecue sauce.

Or, you can even add it to cocktails for a kick!

copycat Pioneer Woman Texas cowboy candy

Pioneer Woman Texas Cowboy Candy – Candied Jalapenos Recipe

  • Prep Time25 min
  • Cook Time30 min
  • Total Time55 min
  • Servings8-10
  • Yield2 cups

Level: Easy




  1. Prep the Jar

    First, sanitize your jar. Start by preheating your oven to 320-355 degrees F.

    Then, wash the jar with hot water and soap, but don’t dry it. Rather, place the wet jar upside down on the oven tray.

    Next, put the tray in the preheated oven for 15 minutes.

    If you’re canning multiple items (or doubling this recipe), you can follow this procedure to make several sterile canning jars.

  2. Prep the Peppers

    Meanwhile, remove the stems from the peppers, and throw them away. Then, cut the jalapenos width-wise into ¼-inch rounds.

    Put the pepper slices to the side.

  3. Boil Everything

    Next, place the saucepan on the stove and turn heat to medium-high. Add the vinegar, sugar, salt, and spices to the pan, and stir everything together.

    Let the mixture come to a full rolling boil, and cook it for about 3 minutes until the sugar melts and dissolves. Also, make sure you stir the pan every so often so the mixture doesn’t stick.

  4. Add the Peppers

    Once the sugar has dissolved completely, reduce heat and add the jalapeno slices. Then, stir the peppers so everything is well-mixed, and continue simmering on medium-low.

    Cook the peppers for 5-6 minutes. At this point, they will be a bit shrunken, and the liquid will look glossy.

    Next, remove the peppers from the pan with your slotted spoon, and place them in the sanitized jar.

  5. Reduce the Syrup

    Once more, turn up the heat and let the syrup boil. Continue cooking for about 8-10 minutes until only 1 ½ cups remain.

    Then, pour the syrup into the jar over the peppers. Also, use a spoon to submerge the peppers fully.

  6. Seal and Enjoy!

    Finally, cool your peppers down, and then seal the jar. For best results, refrigerate the jar for 2 weeks before eating.

    But if you can’t wait, dig in!

Cowboy Candy Variations

Mix Up Your Peppers

While I like to make cowboy candy with jalapenos, you can also use other peppers for great results. For instance, some people use banana peppers, red chiles, or superhot chili peppers.

But watch out – while red chiles are a little sweeter, they’re also usually hotter than jalapenos!

Spice Your Syrup

I love the spices in this syrup, but you can change it up as you like it. For example, try adding a teaspoon each of ground ginger and chili powder, and a pinch of red pepper flakes.

Or, if you love garlic like I do, additional granulated garlic or chopped fresh garlic cloves.

Sub Your Sugar

For this recipe, you can use either white or brown sugar. Brown sugar has a few more trace minerals than white sugar, but it’s not actually healthier (1).

Additionally, candied jalapenos made with white sugar will be a little bit crisper than those made with brown sugar.

copycat Pioneer Woman Texas cowboy candy recipe_

Ways to Enjoy Pioneer Woman Texas Cowboy Candy

In my opinion, there’s no bad way to eat sweet pickled jalapeño peppers. They taste great on anything – or just by themselves like cucumber pickles!

  • For example, I love pairing candied jalapenos with smoked meats or barbecued ribs. They’re also killer on pulled pork sandwiches.

  • Or, add them to dishes where you’d add regular pickled jalapenos or banana peppers. For instance, you can put them on hamburgers and hot dogs, in burritos or tacos, or on top of nachos.

  • And for an easy party snack, make a cream cheese dip! Simply layer cowboy candy on top of whipped cream cheese, and put out a bowl of tortilla chips for dipping.

  • As well, you can add candied jalapenos to potato salad or deviled eggs instead of sweet pickle relish. Or toss them in omelets or on top of pizza.

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Storage Instructions

If you want to store cowboy candy in the refrigerator, put the peppers in clean jars or containers, top them completely with syrup, and put on an airtight lid. Refrigerated, they’ll last for up to 1 month.

But if you want to keep the peppers for longer, you can fully can them. For canning, you prepare the peppers and syrup as usual, but you need to make sure your jars are fully sterilized.

Once the empty jars come out of the oven, put ¼ teaspoon of salt and half a clove of garlic per half-pint jar. So, if you are using pint jars, double this amount per jar.

Then, place the peppers on top, and pour the boiling syrup over them. However, you should leave ½ an inch of space at the top of each jar.

Next, place the lids on and boil the jars in your canner to sterilize them once more. The amount of boiling time depends on elevation:

  • 0-1000 ft: 5 minutes

  • 1001-6000 ft: 10 minutes

  • Over 6000 ft: 15 minutes

Once the cans are ready, remove them with canning tongs, and place the jars on a rack to cool. And keep them there for 24 hours before moving them.

Finally, wipe each jar with a damp paper towel or washcloth, and label them with the date. You can store them in your pantry for up to 12 months.

copycat Pioneer Woman Texas cowboy candy recipe - pinterest

Nutrition Facts (per serving)
  • 133Calories
  • 0.5gFat
  • 33.1gCarbs
  • 0.6gProtein
Show Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: Per serving (1/10 recipe)
Amount per serving
% Daily Value*
Total Fat0.5g1%
Saturated Fat0g0%
Total Carbohydrate33.1g12%
Dietary Fiber1.3g5%
Total Sugars31.3g
Vitamin C0mcg0%
*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. In cases where multiple ingredient alternatives are given, the first listed is calculated for nutrition. Garnishes and optional ingredients are not included.
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