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Spicy Pepper Relish Cheese Spread



Sweet, tangy homemade Pepper Relish with a spicy jalapeno kick served over cream cheese.  An easy 15-minute appetizer for any occasion.

Easy Pepper Relish cheese spread with crackers appetizer | Kitchen Cents

Are you looking for a beautiful, delicious appetizer for New Year’s Eve?

Found it!

This Sweet & Spicy Pepper Relish Cheese Spread is a crowd-pleaser all the way.  

Homemade and super easy to make, this pepper relish, with its spicy jalapeno peppers, sweet tangy syrup, and cream cheese layer, are amazing together.  Pair it with crackers, salami, or toasted baguette rounds and everyone will love it.

It’s a family favorite with my extended family, even with those that don’t like the spice.

Easy Pepper Relish cheese spread with crackers appetizer | Kitchen Cents

This easy appetizer recipe came about thanks to my sister-in-law.  She got my creative foodie juices flowing a while back, all because she shared an amazing pepper jam sauce on Thanksgiving.

It was a recipe passed down from her grandmother, to use like a cranberry sauce with the Turkey.  She gave me her family’s recipe for their sweet red bell pepper jam and I’ve been exploring its flavors ever since.  

This sweet, spicy pepper relish recipe is the product of my experimentation and is now a new found favorite, especially served over cream cheese.  

On any given day you will find a jar of this pepper relish in my fridge ready to use at a moment’s notice.

What’s even better? I like to make an extra-large, triple batch and can it for later using a water bath method. This makes the relish shelf-stable for a year or better. Of course, you’ll need to store it in the fridge once it’s been opened.

Easy Pepper Relish cheese spread with crackers appetizer | Kitchen Cents



It’s SOOO easy! It can be ready in about 10-15 minutes with the right tools.

If you need a last-minute appetizer or relish to serve at a BBQ or party, this recipe is perfect. You can prepare the relish ahead of time which makes this quick and easy hors d’oeuvre a low-stress no-brainer! 

The ingredients are so simple too.  Here’s what you’ll need:

Easy Sweet & Spicy Pepper Relish Cream Cheese Spread | KitchenCents.com


First up are the peppers. 

You can get extra festive with this relish by switching out the color of peppers you use.  For example, to make a Christmas-y red and green sweet & spicy jingle pepper relish, using red bell peppers and jalapeno peppers. Use red, orange, and yellow bell pepper with jalapenos, as I have here for a flare of New Year’s fun. 

Start by seeding the peppers and give them a nice fine dice.  To save on time I like to use my BlendTec or a food processor to do the job.  It will seriously save you 15-30 minutes of chopping.

Small Diced PeppersEasy Sweet & Spicy Pepper Relish Cream Cheese Spread | KitchenCents.com

Once the peppers are finely chopped it’s time for the “brine.”  

Mix together the salt, warm water, and garlic, then pour over the peppers.  Let the peppers chillax for 10-30 minutes, depending on how much time you have, while you prepare the syrup.

Salt and Garlic Brine | KitchenCents.com

The syrup comes together very quickly.

In a saucepan, add the vinegar and sugar.  Bring to a rolling boil.  Boil until the mixture begins to thicken (about 5-7 minutes).  Remove from the heat. It should look like a syrup.

Sweet and Tangy SyrupEasy Sweet & Spicy Pepper Relish Cream Cheese Spread | KitchenCents.com

Drain brine off peppers and rinse in cold water.  Make sure to rinse the peppers well to remove all the salt.  Squeeze excess water from peppers.  If this step is skipped or not done well the relish will be salty and/or too runny.  

When the peppers are mixed into the syrup, some of the moisture from the peppers will come out and thin the syrup a bit.

Peppers after brine | KitchenCents.com

Remove hot syrup from heat and add drained peppers.  Place relish in the fridge until you’re ready to serve or carefully spoon over cheese.

Peppers in syrup | KitchenCents.com


If you choose to serve this pepper relish over cheese this is how I prepare it. 

Warm an 8-oz block of cream cheese in the oven for a few minutes to soften or serve it at room temperature.  Make sure the cheese is at room temperature or warmer otherwise it will be hard to spread.

Warmed Cream Cheese Easy Sweet & Spicy Pepper Relish Cream Cheese Spread | KitchenCents.com

Place the block of cheese on your serving dish of choice.

Make sure whatever serving dish you chose has a lip on the edge to avoid spillage. Once the warmed cream cheese is in place, top with the homemade pepper relish.  You can serve the relish hot from the pan or chilled.  It will thicken a little more after it has been chilled which can be a benefit when serving.

Pepper Relish Cheese Platter | KitchenCents.com

What should I serve with this pepper relish cheese spread?

This is a fantastic party spread for a large crowd or as a snack for one because you can store the relish and cream cheese in the fridge and use them as you please.  We like to serve this spicy pepper relish cheese spread with:

  • crackers
  • salami slices
  • toasted baguette rounds
  • on hamburgers or sandwiches
  • on hot dogs
  • as a sandwich spread

If you’re not a cream cheese fan, my husband can’t stand any kind of cheese, try this relish on hamburgers, hotdogs, sandwiches, and more.

What kind of party appetizers do you like?

I’d love to hear about them! Drop me a note in the comments. 🙂

Easy Pepper Relish cheese spread with crackers appetizer | Kitchen Cents

Full printable recipe here:

Easy Pepper Relish cheese spread with crackers appetizer | Kitchen Cents

Sweet & Spicy Pepper Relish Cheese Spread

Yield: 2 to 2 1/2 cups relish
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes

Homemade Sweet & Spicy Pepper Relish Cheese Spread, with its spicy jalapeno peppers, sweet syrup and cream cheese base, will be a crowd pleaser.


  • 3 bell peppers, color of your choice, seeded and diced fine (1-1 1/2 cups)
  • 6-8 jalapeno peppers, seeded and diced fine (1-1 1/2 cups)
  • 1/3 cup salt
  • 2 cups warm water
  • 1 Tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 8 oz cream cheese
  • crackers, salami, toasted baguette rounds


  1. Mix warm water, salt, and garlic powder until salt is mostly dissolved to make brine. Pour brine over diced peppers. Let sit 10-30 minutes (depending on how much time you have).
  2. Pour brine off peppers and rinse well (2-3 time) using cold water and squeeze to remove excess water. Set aside.
  3. In a medium sauce pan add sugar and vinegar. Bring to a boil and boil for 5-8 minutes until mixture begins to thicken like a syrup.
  4. Remove from heat and add drained peppers. Stir. Let cool and store in refrigerator until ready to serve.
  5. Warm cream cheese in oven (300 degrees for 8-10 minute to soften. Place on serving dish. You may also serve cheese at room temperature).
  6. Carefully spoon pepper relish to top of cream cheese.
  7. Serve with crackers, salami or toasted baguette rounds.


Sweet & Spicy Pepper Relish came be used on hamburgers, hot dogs, sandwiches and more.

Make sure to remove syrup from heat before adding peppers. If peppers cook, they will lose their color and texture.

To make a Christmas-y pepper relish use red bell peppers and green jalapeno peppers only.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 12 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 92Total Fat: 1gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 1mgSodium: 3149mgCarbohydrates: 21gFiber: 1gSugar: 18gProtein: 1g

OP: 12.28.16                           Updated: 12.30.20

26 thoughts on “Spicy Pepper Relish Cheese Spread”

  1. This looks so good! I’ve never tried this, but my grandmother and I used to put Jalapeno jelly over cream cheese and eat it on crackers like that-it’s soooooo good. I love the sweet and spicey with the creamy and crunchy!

    • Hi there! I have canned this in the past but the peppers lose their “crunchy” relish texture. It still tastes great but the texture does change.

      • Hi, Cindy! I believe one of the reasons for the brine is to help draw off excess water from the veggies. Last thing we want is a watered down relish, right? 😉 Hope this helps. This relish is fantastic! Thanks for stopping by.

  2. Hi there! I have no bell peppers, but i have tons of mini sweet peppers I got a the farmers market. Could I use those instead? If so, about how many would you use? Looks great!

    • Hi Nichole! Yes, mini sweet peppers would work and will look beautiful. You’ll want about 1 to 1 1/2 cups sweet peppers to 1 to 1 1/2 spicy. I’m not sure how big your mini peppers are but I would cut enough to fill a 1 to 1 1/2 cups. Hope this helps and so glad you stopped by.

  3. I had this at a baby shower over the summer and it was so good!!! I am making this for my family on Thanksgiving and was wondering if there an alternative to the sugar used in this recipe if you’re trying to stay away from regular sugar.

    • Hi Christina! I’m so glad you liked it over the summer and am so excited to hear you planned to make it for Thanksgiving. Were you about to do that? How did your family like it? I hope you are having a wonderful holiday season!

  4. When i boil the apple cinder with sugar within 5-8 minutes, it was so very sticky when i put the peppers on that syrup like, it crystallized, can you help me ? This dish will be performed tommorow for my kitchen test.

    • I’m so sorry to hear this Daryl and I apologize for my delay in responding. Our new baby has thrown me for a loop, a very sleepless loop. Crystallization occurs when there are still sugar crystals present. If all the sugar wasn’t dissolved (for instance, if you stir the mixture and sugar crystals get up on the sides of the pan), it can cause a reaction and crystallize or become grainy. To avoid this, you can wash down the sides as you cook the syrup. Simply use a basting brush and water to wash the sides and push any crystals back into the mixture to be melted. I hope this helps. It’s a delicious appetizer!

    • You can actually can this recipe but the texture becomes much softer. If you make it as directed (not canning it) the vinegar acts as a mild preservative. It should keep in the fridge for 1-2 weeks. Just make sure you don’t add the relish to the cheese until you are ready to serve. Thanks for stopping by and I hope you love this recipe as much as I do. ?

  5. How long can this be kept in the refrigerator? We are not big fans of cream cheese but would definitely use it on sandwiches and burgers.


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