Why I'm Making Homemade Pepper Jelly For All My Friends This Christmas

It's an inexpensive yet thoughtful gift any Southerner is sure to love.

Pepper Jelly
Photo: Ralph Anderson

While I don’t usually spend a ton of money buying over-the-top Christmas gifts for my friends, I always like to have a little something to give them when we gather to celebrate Christmas. I want it to be something they’ll enjoy and can actually use, but still be fun and festive. After watching Southern Living Editorial Producer Ivy Odom make homemade pepper jelly in a Tiktok video, I decided it would be the perfect homemade gift to give my friends this year.

The hands-on time required to make pepper jelly is just 20 minutes, and it can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks, so I plan to make it a couple of weeks in advance. Odom said she was surprised at how easy it is to make, so I'm also banking on that. After chopping your peppers, all you have to do is add the ingredients to your pot and cook as instructed. It is important to note that once you pour the pepper jelly into jars, it needs to be refrigerated for at least 6 hours before it’s served, so for gifting you’ll want to make sure to prepare it at least one day in advance.

The recipe for homemade Red Chipotle Pepper Jelly is simple too. In addition to pantry staples (salt, sugar, apple cider vinegar, and garlic powder), the only ingredients I have to buy are the red bell peppers, canned chipotle chiles in adobo sauce, liquid pectin, and, of course, mason jars to pour the pepper jelly into. The recipe makes 6 ½-pint jars, so I plan to make at least two batches so I’ll have plenty of jars to give to friends, and maybe a few family members. And I'll need to keep a jar for myself, obviously.  

I personally love the festive color that the red bell peppers give the pepper jelly, but the recipe also includes variations for Yellow Pepper Jelly with Ginger and Green Pepper Jelly with Basil if you prefer the yellow or green varieties. Just before gifting each jar, I’m going to tie a festive ribbon with a tag around the top and pair it with a pack of entertaining crackers in a bag for a complete gift that I think my friends will love.

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