Homemade chilli jam

Hanno and I had a lovely day out last Thursday, visiting friends just north of here. Our good friends Beverly and Michael have just moved into a beautiful home on 400 acres on the Mary River. Michael took us down to the river where we stood in the shade and watched fish swim around in the river. They plan to develop the property as a multifaceted centre for indigenous groups, local and international tourists and for growing vegetable crops for sale. They have a couple of horses, chickens and, the day after we were there, they were getting a house cow and calf. Beverly wants me to help her deliver some skill building workshops in the future and I'm happy to do that.

After visiting Beverly and Michael, we drove further north to the home of Ann and Don. Ann is Calico Ann who reads here and at the forum. I met Ann at one of my book signings during the year. Another beautiful property where we enjoyed a delicious lunch on the verandah overlooking bush land and birds feeding in trays along the fence line. Ann's garden is like ours, on it's last legs, and probably by now has been dug in. She gave us a nice crop of mild spicy peppers and a few chillis to bring home.

I already had a bush full of small hot chillis, and I'll be drying many of them for use later in the year, so I made chilli jam using the chillis we brought home, with some from the backyard. Chilli jam is a delicious condiment to use on cold meat, chicken, avocado, eggs and with cheese. It's hot, spicy and sweet but if you taste it as you go along, you can make it to suit your own taste. A small jar of chilli jam here costs six or seven dollars so making your own gives you a very nice alternative to mustard or pickles, while keeping your hard-erned money in your purse.

Please note: the hotness of your chilli jam will depend on the type of chillis or peppers you use. I used a combination of the medium sized, low heat peppers Ann gave me, with six, small, hot chillis from our bush and one large red capsicum/pepper. The heat will also depend on the amount of seeds and membranes you use from the chillies. Taste as you go. If it's too hot for you, add another red capsicum/pepper, if it's not hot enough, add more seeds or more small chillies.

INGREDIENTS - the mix of chillies below gives a hot result. For a milder chilli jam, use fewer hot chillies.
  • 10 medium mild chillies
  • 6 small hot chillies
  • 4 cayenne chillies
  • 1 red capsicum/pepper 
  • 2 large brown onions
  • 2 cloves crushed garlic
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • ½ cup white vinegar (good white vinegar, not your cleaning vinegar)
  • ½ cup water
  • juice of one lime or lemon
  • 1 teaspoon fish sauce
Wash the chillies, remove the top stem and chop roughly, leaving in the seeds. Removing the seeds and the inside membranes of the hotter chillies will reduce the hotness of the jam.

  • Place the chopped chillies, onions, and garlic in a food processor and blitz until the chillies are in tiny pieces.

  • Place the contents of the food processor into a saucepan and add the sugar and all the liquid ingredients.

  • Stir until the sugar is dissolved and bring the jam to the boil. Take out a spoon full at this point to taste and adjust as needed. 
  • Let the jam cook on a rolling boil for 45 minutes. A rolling boil is when the jam boils and even when you put a spoon in to stir it, it continues boiling, but doesn't boil over.

  • When the jam is cooked and the right consistency (above), pour it into pre-sterilised jars. Put the lids on straight away and secure. Leave out on the kitchen bench overnight and when they're completely cool, store them in the fridge or the cupboard. There is enough vinegar and sugar in this jam to preserve it, you don't have to water bath it as well.

If you don't eat it before, or give it as Christmas gifts, this jam will last for about six months.

It is a worthwhile use of your time and effort to learn how to make the range of jams, marmalades, sauces, preserves, relishes and pickles that your family enjoys. Those you make will taste better than the bought varieties, trust me, they will, and they'll be healthier and cheaper. It also allows you to use food from your backyard in a number of ways and to store food for use later instead of it being wasted. Jam and preserve making is one kitchen skill we should all have.


  1. I also make chilli jam Rhonda but I always wear gloves when chopping the chillies and watch the fumes in my eyes when cooking the jam. My DH loves it and he is pretty much the only chilli eater nthe house. I love capsicums and other sweet salad peppers but chillie is overwhelming for me.

    1. Yes, some chillies can be overwhelming. I'm used to them now. I don't get any problems after cutting them but it does pay to be careful and either wear gloves or wash hands after handling them. Is your recipe similar to this one?

  2. Your chilli jam looks delicious. I made the raspberry cordial from one of your earlier blog posts. It's delicious but i'm having problems. It seems to be fermenting. I had an explosion out of 1 bottle last night when i discovered it had leaked all over the bench. Just hope no more happens as i would really like to drink it not have it wasted. :)

    1. Jeanette, if it's fermenting, it's probably because the bottles weren't sterile when you bottled it. I wouldn't drink it.

  3. What a surprise to open your blog this morning and find you have written up a recipe for Chilli Jam
    I spent a lot of time yesterday searching Internet and my cookbooks for such a recipe.
    I had the idea to make some for daughter's partner for Xhristmas as he is fond of chilli.
    I shall give this a go
    Kay ( Duckedout )

  4. Another good reason to learn to make such condiments is that they lend different flavors profiles to the same food, staving off boredom when stretching those grocery dollars. Something nice like this can spark interest in even the most ordinary fare. I keep a good selection of things like these in the fridge. While I've made pepper mustard, I've never made pepper jam. I'm certainly going to make up a batch next year when my garden peppers are popping. Thanks!

    1. Rhonda - a question. Do I read this right: "rolling boil for 45 minutes"? I've never boiled anything that long in my life.

    2. Yes Kris, boil for 45 minutes. You'll have to make sure it doesn't stick to the bottom during that time. You'll need it to be above a simmer, but not boiling over. Boiling for a period helps the jam set. Of course, if you reach the consistency you want before 45 minutes, then stop.

    3. I've never heard of pepper mustard, but it sounds good. Care to share the recipe?

  5. I have made a batch of chilli jam and it is part of my Christmas gifts, along with apricot jam (made from dried apricots) and green tomato relish. I don't use the small chillis - only the long thin ones and only seeds from one chilli. I have two recipes. One uses capsicum and chillis and the other has chilli and tomatoes. Both are excellent!

  6. oh wow! I grow chillies every year but have never thought of making jam! One on my to do list now!

  7. thankyou for this recipe and for the step by step i will be trying this one for sure.xx

  8. Mmmmm ...looks wonderful! I use a similar condiment, sweet chili sauce, on fried fish and we love it. Thanks for sharing your recipe :)

  9. Looks fabulous Rhonda - although I would have problems also with the fumes from the chilli's as an earlier commenter said! My eyes are starting to water just looking at the picture of the food-processed chillis! As somebody else says I buy sweet chilli sauce from the chinese supermarket and that is fabulous too - makes a great stir fry sauce. I guess you could let this jam down and use it in the same way.

  10. I love this stuff, great alternative to sweet chilli sauce, friends make it but I have never had the recipe, thanks. Yum.

  11. I make a pepper jelly, but it is different from this jam, no onions and uses commercial pectin. I am definately trying this one! We grow a variety of peppers, including ghost peppers (supposed to be the world's hottest pepper) and datil peppers, and I am always looking for new ways to use them.

  12. Craig is going to LOVE this recipe when our chillies are ready to harvest. Going to pin this one to my recipe board.

  13. Hi there, looks like a wonderful recipe I hope to try when my cayennes are ready to pick! Just one question, as the size/weight of chilis and capsicums vary quite a lot, have you got an idea of how many grams/cups of chili/capsicum you use in total? I would just like to make sure I have more or less the correct proportions, that's all!

    Thanks, Mara

    1. I didn't weigh anything, Mara. I just tasted as I went along.

  14. i make heaps of jam but this is my first go at chilli jam John

  15. Thanks very much for this recipe Rhonda, I am a chili fanatic and i grow lots of different varieties, including habanero and ghost chili's.
    I have made this 3 times now, and my partner who doesnt like food that is too hot absolutely loves it, she has it with her bacon/eggs, pies and smears it on her steak.
    For myself i make it without the capsicum, just using some bell peppers from the garden, and for my partner i use a couple of small tomatoes from the garden also.
    Thanks again. Easy and well worth the (small) effort. (I made my 3rd batch today)
    Shane from Adelaide.

  16. That's just the way to make it Shane. Modifying it for your own needs. I'm really pleased it works for you and your partner. Thanks for the feedback. :- )

  17. I made the chilli jam today with chillies grown in our hothouse, it is very yummy and looks just like the picture - thank you!!
    Jane - Tasmania

  18. I made your chilli jam today i added ginger coriander roots and lemongrass to the receipt man what taste very delicious

  19. I used this recipe yesterday and it turned out amazing, just what I wanted. Thanks.

  20. I am going to make this recipe but am unsure how many jars it will make? thanks.


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