Spicy Pepper Relish Cheese Spread – sweet, tangy homemade pepper relish with a spicy jalapeno pepper kick served over cream cheese. An easy 15-minute appetizer for any occasion. Pair it with crackers and it’ll be a party favorite hit.
Are you looking for a beautiful, delicious appetizer for New Year’s Eve? This Sweet & Spicy Pepper Relish Cheese Spread is a crowd pleaser. This homemade 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.
This easy appetizer recipe came about thanks to my sister-in-law. She got my creative foodie juices flowing a couple years ago but bringing an amazing pepper jam sauce to Thanksgiving dinner (a recipe passed down from her grandmother) to use like a cranberry sauce with our 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. On any given day you will find at least one jar of it in my fridge ready to use at a moments notice or a jar I canned and is shelf stable (a little more involvement required to do that).
How hard is this pepper relish recipe to make?
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, this recipe is excellent. The show-stopping pepper relish is definitely the star of this appetizer and when you taste it, you’ll know why. 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.
Making the pepper relish:
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.
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 this sit for 10-30 minutes (depending on how much time you have) while you prepare the syrup.
The syrup comes together very quickly. In a saucepan, add the vinegar and sugar. Bring to a rolling boil. Boil until mixture begins to thicken (about 5-7 minutes). Remove from heat.
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.
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.
Serving this Pepper Relish Cheese Spread:
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 tempurature. Make sure the cheese is at least room tempurature otherwise it will be hard to spread.
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.
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 as you please). We like to serve this spicy pepper relish cheese spread with:
- salami slices
- toasted baguette rounds
- on hamburgers or sandwiches
- on hot dogs
If you’re not a cream cheese fan (my husband can’t stand it LOL) 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. 🙂
Full printable recipe here:
Sweet & Spicy Pepper Relish Cheese Spread
- 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
- crackers, salami, toasted baguette rounds
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).
Pour brine off peppers and rinse well (2-3 time) using cold water and squeeze to remove excess water. Set aside.
- 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.
- Remove from heat and add drained peppers. Stir. Let cool and store in refrigerator until ready to serve.
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).
Carefully spoon pepper relish to top of cream cheese.
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.
OP: 12.28.16 Updated: 12.26.18