Homemade Onion and Pepper Relish

    Posted by  ·  December 3, 2009

    I love Harry & David’s Onion Pepper Relish mixed with cream cheese. It makes the most delicious and quick dip.  I thought a little homemade jar of this would make a yummy gift that would be handy for friends to have on hand for holiday entertaining.


    Onion and Pepper Relish

    5 –  14.5 oz. cans chopped tomatoes (drained)

    6 bell peppers (seeds and ribs removed) (I used two each of red, yellow and green)

    6 cups sugar

    2 Tablespoons salt

    1 – 2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes (I used 1 1/2 tsp)

    6 jalapeno peppers with seeds and ribs removed (a spoon does this easily)

    3 medium onions

    2 cups white vinegar

    2 small boxes powered pectin (1.75 oz)

    First chop all vegetables. It goes together very easily once all the chopping is done. To make this quicker I used a food processor.


    Mix everything together, except the pectin, in a large pot. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer about 1 hour. Add in the  pectin and boil for 1 minute.


    Pour relish into hot sterilized half pint jars, leaving about 1/2 inch head room. I needed 13 half pint jars.


    Place lids and rings on jars. Process jars by placing them in a large pot of water. Water level should be an inch over jars. Boil for 15 minutes.  Carefully remove jars from water and allow to cool. You know jars are sealed when there is no give in the lid.

    I plan to attach a tag to mine that says, “For an easy dip, mix jar contents with 2 – 8 oz packages of cream cheese and serve with corn chip scoopers.”


    If you are looking for more ideas on handmade gift giving, take a moment to browse through the Handmade Gift Guide.

    Leave a Comment


    1. Beth
      Thursday, December 8th, 2011
      when you say 2 boxes of pectin do you actually mean 2 boxes or do you mean the 2 packets that are inside 1 box? Thanks so much!
    2. Kaci
      Sunday, December 11th, 2011
      Cindy -

      I've canned this recipe 2 times before with no problems. My family loves it and we give it out for Christmas gifts. I've canned this twice in the last week and can't get it to stand up - it has been really runny. I've followed the recipe perfectly and drained the tomatoes really well. What could the problem be? I only have 1 more week to try this before Christmas!

      Thanks for the help!
    3. Roberto
      Friday, January 6th, 2012
      Not much of a cook, but since H&D's tasty, but expensive relish has been out of stock for many weeks, I decided to take a shot. It seemed simple enough, but preparing the 3 pound bag of small sweet peppers I bought on sale was time consuming. I added another 2 large bell peppers. I only used 5-6 jalapenos, and it wasn't as spicy as it should be. 3 medium onions. I may have cooked it down a little thicker than called for, simmering about 2 hours. I've seen another faux recipe calling for 8 cups of sugar. I like it sweet and wouldn't have minded, but 7 is a good compromise. I used 6.5. Unfortunately, the canned tomatoes I purchased were in tomato sauce. I didn't rinse, but did drain off most of the sauce. All in all, I used about 6 cups of tomatoes. The only major issue was with the pectin. The calcium activated 1 oz. packet I used failed to dissolve. It immediately clumped up and no amount of whisking would break up. It lead to unsightly white lumps, but in a cream cheese dip, it won't be noticed. I could have fished most of it out, but the timing I guessed is critical here. Instead of adding more problem pectin I used 1 oz of unflavored gelatin I had on hand. Except for being non-vegetarian, it actually works better, dissolving easily. I filled (8) 12 oz mason jars and had about a half quart left in the pot which I put into a plastic container. If you don't want to mess with boiling all the jars, I don't see why you cannot use sealable hi-temp plastic and maybe even freeze. Mine may have 'set' too well. After refrigerating, I could turn the wide container upside down with no lid and it stayed put. I saved half a cup to try immediately in 4oz of cream cheese. I'd say it was 90% like the store brand. Could have been a little sweeter and more spicy. But all in all, not bad at all for a first try. Recommended tweaking: Sub 1 oz total of gelatin (more if you don't simmer as long), a little more sugar, and more jalapenos. Good luck.
    4. Gail
      Thursday, February 16th, 2012
      I made this last night and then let it cool in the fridge. I have never done any type of canning and was wondering if I needed to heat the relish back up before I processed them in jars, or if I even could now? I really don't think I could tell the difference between this and the "real" deal in a blind taste test! Thank you so very much!
    5. Jane
      Thursday, July 5th, 2012
      My husband loves H&D onion pepper relish so we were excited about this. I just made it and it is so runny and so sweet it's only usable for marinating meat! It also made twice as much as 13 1/2 pint jars - more like 13 pint jars. I want to try it again, but wonder what might have gone wrong. I drained the tomatoes well, cooked for an hour, but the liquid content just did not go down. 2 hours? Half the sugar? HELP!
    6. Monday, July 9th, 2012
      I made this recipe and really loved it. I have expierence at canning and should have trusted my instinct.. It was thicker than it should have been so I made another batch and mixed the 2 together without using any pectin in the 2nd batch...It was Great,,,,Thank you for sharing this recipe and saving me money..
    7. Denise
      Tuesday, July 10th, 2012
      Jane, mine didn't set either, so I brought it to a full rolling boil again and added two more packs of pectin. I stirred in the pectin completely and brought it to a boil again for only one minute. It set the second time. Because your batch make twice as much, you could try cutting them in half and processing both halves separately. For the sweetness, you could try adding some lemon or lime juice to cut the sweetness. It might help.
    8. Sandy Metzger
      Tuesday, July 17th, 2012
      Made this yesterday! Had a jar of Harry & David's and did a blind taste test on husband and he couldn't tell the difference! I did some changes because of an abundant garden! I prepared fresh tomatoes as if I was canning diced tomatoes (without liquid)and used 2 packages of liquid pectin. Mine has too much juice. Should I have used more pectin, or used the boxed powder? Suggestions to make the next batch better would be appreciated.
    9. Jamie
      Thursday, July 19th, 2012
      You need to cook for at least 2 to 2 1/2 hours so it thickens up good. I use a similar recipe and I cook it 2 1/2 hours and it works perfect every time. Send me an email if you would like the recipe I use.
      Thanks Jamie
    10. Renee'
      Sunday, July 29th, 2012
      Made this today. It is delish! Next time will cook longer for a thicker consistency.
    11. Patty
      Tuesday, August 7th, 2012
      I had to make a bigger batch..I doubled the recipe and it made 12 pints..The first batch was a TEASER.. I had great sucess both times with this recipe..Everybody in the family is making there own..( because I am having a hard time giving it away..I want to keep it all.) Love the recipe !!! Thanks so much..
    12. kim
      Monday, November 5th, 2012
      Made it. Personally i like it better. Will be making more this weekend.
    13. Edith Walker
      Sunday, December 16th, 2012
      Was at a Christmas party today. I TASTED hds PEPPER 7 ONION relish, YUM. i'm going to make some this week. Can I mix Sugar with Splenda< as I'm Diabetic? I wander if the consistentcy would be the same. Thanks, Edith Walker
      • Sunday, December 16th, 2012
        Edith I don't know. I wonder if there is information on their website about canning.
    14. Sarah Held
      Sunday, August 25th, 2013
      Will be making my second batch this weekend. People fought over my last jars! Recipe is perfect. I drained my tomatoes really well and then used a salad spinner to take out a little more juice. Great recipe!
    15. Monday, November 4th, 2013
      Thank you, I've just been looking for information approximately this subject for a while and yours is the greatest I have discovered till now.
      But, what in regards to the bottom line? Are you positive about the
    16. leah
      Wednesday, November 6th, 2013
      I used to work for Harry and David and loved making this dip. Since most of the stores here in my state closed down except for one, it has been hard to come by. I am excited to try this and see if I can taste the difference. Thanks for the tips :)
    17. Patsy
      Friday, November 8th, 2013
      I just finished processing 9 - 1/2 pint jars. Followed the recipe except for the pectin. I did not add any pectin ! Just cooked the mixture down until it was thick. I think someone in a previous comment said 2 1/2 hours, but it only took 2 hours for me. Processed in water bath and the jars started popping (sealing )as soon as I got them out.The flavors become more intense w/longer cooking and NO pectin needed. You must stir fairly often, but the result is worth the effort.
    18. Susan and Steve Woods
      Wednesday, November 5th, 2014
      We made this once before. This time I just used 4 cups of sugar. It was very sweet last time and I added more crushed pepper flakes. I'm thinking it will be spicey . We are going to give this for Xmas !,, last time it was good but I'm hoping it will be better this time. Thank you
    19. Terry
      Saturday, August 1st, 2015
      Love this recipe! Husband even likes it in chili and mixed in meatloaf. Can this and use all year round. THANKS!
    20. Julie
      Saturday, August 8th, 2015
      I use a pressure cooker for processing. What would be the processing time in a pressure cooker for this recipe?
    21. Kristin simmons
      Friday, August 21st, 2015
      am I able to sub fresh tomatoes for the canned? I'm looking for ways to use up my abundance of tomatoes from my garden!!!