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. Kathleen
      Tuesday, July 4th, 2017
      Is it possible to substitute splenda for the sugar in this recipe? How would I do this?
      • Cindy
        Monday, July 10th, 2017
        I am not sure Kathleen. Canning can be tricky keeping the PH okay. I would call your local county extension agent and ask their thoughts. They are a wealth of information on canning. I hope this helps. Please let us know what they say!
    2. Diane
      Tuesday, May 16th, 2017
      I made one batch and it all went,nobody knew it wasn't Harry and David. I was wondering though about the pectin does it make the texture more like a jam.i also wanted to know if one box is1.75 oz and you use 2 of them.
    3. Roxanne Miller
      Wednesday, August 3rd, 2016
      This recipe turned out great and is very forgiving. I used blanched and peeled tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, bell peppers, banana peppers, and jalapenos from my garden. I followed the advice of commenters and was sure to cook it down for at least 3 hours. It had been simmering nicely, so I went to play a soccer game with my son and his friends. When I came back on, it was boiling on low and starting to scorch. It STILL turned out fine. It added a nice smoky flavor.
      The jars sealed nicely, the color is rich, and I plan to share a few jars as gifts if I can part with them.
    4. 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!!!
      • susie
        Thursday, August 25th, 2016
        I have used 5 cups chopped, peeled tomatoes in place of the cans. I also have used two 29.5 oz cans of diced tomatoes. Sometimes on sale for $1 each. Easier than peeling and chopping tomatoes!
    5. 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?
    6. 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!
    7. 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
    8. 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.
    9. 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 :)
    10. 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
    11. 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!
    12. 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.
    13. kim
      Monday, November 5th, 2012
      Made it. Personally i like it better. Will be making more this weekend.
    14. 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..
    15. Renee'
      Sunday, July 29th, 2012
      Made this today. It is delish! Next time will cook longer for a thicker consistency.
    16. 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
      • carole
        Wednesday, July 12th, 2017
        Read your comments re: pepper onion relish and would like your recipe if you are willing to share. Thank you so much.
      • Cindy
        Friday, August 11th, 2017
        Jamie, I would love it if you wanted to share here in the comments!
      • carole
        Thursday, August 24th, 2017
        I have been making the pepper and onion relish for a few years but would like to have your recipe for comparison. I use the pectin but still doesn't get thick. I do strain everything. Thanks much.
    17. 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.
    18. 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.
    19. 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..
    20. 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!
    21. 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!
    22. 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.
    23. 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!
    24. 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!
    25. Sunday, November 27th, 2011
      Valuable info. Lucky me I discovered your website accidentally, and I am shocked why this twist of fate did not took place in advance! I bookmarked it.
    26. Thursday, October 27th, 2011
      I made this relish this week. So delicious!! I blogged about it too :) http://www.dairyfreediva.com/2011/10/canning-harry-davids-style-pepper-and.html
    27. leesa connolly
      Wednesday, October 26th, 2011
      what is the life shelf of this?
      thank you very much for your help.
      • Wednesday, October 26th, 2011
        It should last about a year.
    28. Dora Komaromi
      Wednesday, October 26th, 2011
      I just had my first experience with H&D Onion & Pepper Relish a couple nights ago. It was made into a dip with the cream cheese and OMG I thought I was gonna HURT myself with it!!! I'm SO glad to find this recipe as I can now forego the drastic expense of the original.

      I do have a question...Can this be frozen instead of canned? I've never canned anything before and frankly it scares me! LOL! If not advisable to freeze, how long can it be kept refrigerated? Thanks for the recipe.
      • Wednesday, October 26th, 2011
        I don't see why this couldn't be frozen (but I think you would love the canning process, it truly is rewarding). It has enough sugar and acid (vinegar) that it should also last for awhile (possibly 3 months) in the refrigerator.
    29. Posti4
      Saturday, October 15th, 2011
      Almost done with my first batch! Boiling the jars now. Took a taste it is great.
      Question for you.. Do you have to can them? Could I give it as a gift and say eat this week?!!
    30. Mac
      Friday, October 7th, 2011
      Im, too, am using tomatoes from my garden and wondering what the proportion should be and how I should prepare them for this recipe. I use H & D Relish all the time and am totally excited to try this recipe. Thank you very much
    31. kris
      Monday, September 19th, 2011
      I was just wondering if you add the pectin staight from the box or mix it with hot water so it doesn't clump??????(like sure gel directions) This recipe looks delicious. Thanks
    32. Adonna
      Sunday, September 11th, 2011
      love the recipe, the pics, ? tho...
      if using fresh tomatoes ( seeded, peeled, and chopped) what's the measurement?
    33. Nan
      Saturday, September 10th, 2011
      made this today..it yielded 19 half pints..I calculated my cost to about 50 cents a jar..(not including the actual jar and lids) this stuff is fabulous...i plan to make it a christmas sharing item..love the bowl idea as well
    34. Patty
      Wednesday, September 7th, 2011
      I doubled the batch yesterday and made 33 jars. Today I opened one up and I'm amazed on how dead on it's like the Harry and David brand. Thank you so much for the recipe. Definately a keeper plus a great gift for friends and teachers during the holidays. Thank you!!!
    35. Linda
      Sunday, August 14th, 2011
      Love the recipe, but I found that it isn't quite as thick - in fact it is runny. What am I doing wrong. I really drained the tomatoes, so I don't understand what the problem could be. Any advice? Followed the directions to a T.
    36. Dianne
      Tuesday, August 9th, 2011
      I have made this before and my family loves it.
      Last weekend my future daughter in law and I made 2 batches for hostess gifts.
      Everyone was so impressed with the gift. She put them in 4 oz jars and gave 2 jars to each hostess with a glass bowl.
      I made hang tag labels in her wedding colors and it looked very impressive.
    37. Elaine Dornquast
      Friday, August 5th, 2011
      Sounds good, but can you put this in the freezer? I don't trust canning anymore.
    38. Carol
      Sunday, July 31st, 2011
      I just finished making this recipe. I had to make a substitution though. My grocer didn't have any jalapeno peppers today. I used a 3 oz tube of ground chili peppers and increased the pepper flakes to 3 Tbsp. I like a little kick. All I can say is Yummmmmo! I got 15 half pint jars and enough to snack on tomorrow. Great recipe. I will definately make this again.
    39. Martha
      Monday, July 18th, 2011
      On my way to the farm market to buy the ingredients. This looks great
    40. Brenda
      Sunday, July 17th, 2011
      Just tried making a half batch of the onion & pepper relish. It was so great. That is the closest I Have found to Harry & David's relish and believe me I have tried several recipes trying to match theirs. It was easy and it tasted so good. My family loved it. Thanks so much for the recipe. Can't wait to try some more of your recipes. Thanks again!
    41. Marylou
      Monday, July 11th, 2011
      I tried to clone Harry and Davids Relish recipe and started with a 10 oz can of Rotel...close enough for me and spicy too!!
    42. Michelle Drayton-Fisher
      Sunday, July 3rd, 2011
      Question regarding recipe: I don't think I simmered this batch correctly.... I COVERED the pot to simmer for an hour and ended up with 20 1/2 pints!!!! Should I simmer UNCOVERED? Hope this turns out OK!! I'll let you know.
    43. Rita
      Monday, December 20th, 2010
      I LOVE tomato pepper relish! We, in the South, use it with Pinto beans, and cornbread! YUM!
    44. Tuesday, December 7th, 2010
      Ooooo! This looks so tasty and easy too! I have a ton of leftover 1/2 pint jars from making jam and now I have something to fill them with! Thank you so much for sharing! :)
      ~Clarissa @ A Little Stone House
    45. Angela
      Saturday, November 13th, 2010
      I have never canned anything in my life but this recipe looks delicious. I am a big fan of H&D relish and cannot wait to try this. My question is...how long will this stay good for? If I make for gifts will it last for a couple of weeks or does it need to be gifted and eaten right away? Thanks so much!!
    46. Sunni
      Thursday, October 21st, 2010
      Also great with eggs or mixed with tuna instead of mayo for a sandwhich.
    47. Patricia
      Wednesday, October 13th, 2010
      I made this last Friday!! It was so easy!! I didnt chop the peppers and onions as small as pictured....I made 16 8oz jars....and it is really good....I ate it with tortilla chips, and cream cheese!!

      thanks so much...def a keeper!
    48. susieqrn
      Thursday, September 30th, 2010
      change the above to 17 1/2 pts. 8oz jelly jar
    49. susieqrn
      Wednesday, September 29th, 2010
      Made this today and believe it is as close or better that H & D's. I figured it cost me .80 for an 8oz jar compared to 5.50 for an 11 oz jar of Harry and Davids. About 10 cents an ounce compared to .55 for the other stuff. I got 17 pints.

      To Lisa: I don't think that little bit difference in pectin will make a difference. May be a little thicker but that shouldn't matter.
    50. Lisa
      Tuesday, September 14th, 2010
      Our pectin in the store all came in 2 oz packages. Will that make a difference? Should I take out a small amount since it will be over .5 oz? First time canner, not sure. thanks
    51. Saturday, August 28th, 2010
      Has anyone tried making it with fresh tomatoes instead on canned? I have lots of tomatoes still in the garden and already made tons of salsa and spaghetti sauce. Just wondering how many cups of tomatoes I would need and if it would work.
    52. sherry
      Sunday, August 22nd, 2010
      thank you so much i will be making this as a gift also i will put a card with the recipe.
    53. Wednesday, August 18th, 2010
      I tried your recipe. I LOVE it. I'm blogging about your recipe tomorrow. Many thanks for sharing such good pictures.
    54. Linda
      Friday, August 13th, 2010
      This sounds really good but I'm just wondering how hot is this. Sounds like some potent stuff with the extra Jalapenos. What number would it be from 1 to 10?
    55. Saturday, August 7th, 2010
      Thank you, it looks delicious, can't wait to try it
      I have just featured this recipe on my blog at http://thatcutelittlecake.blogspot.com/2010/08/christmas-in-july-find-foodie-gifts.html and linked back to your blog
    56. Bill and Alice Hoot
      Sunday, February 28th, 2010
      Well all we can say to you is. "BRAVOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!" The recipe for Harry and David's Pepper/Tomato Relish from your site is a dead ringer. We tried a half batch just to make sure before we went with full recipe ingredients. Filled 6 pints, and pressure canned them to 15 pounds because it's so much faster and safe/certain with peppers and tomatoes than the water bath method. Be sure and let it cool in the fridge because the flavors do develop over time. At $7.00 a half pint retail, these are delicious results.
    57. Michaeleen
      Monday, December 28th, 2009
      I LOVE this stuff and am always buying it. Now I don't have to. Thanks for sharing!
    58. Saturday, December 19th, 2009
      Hi! The recipes here are fanstastic. Thanks for having this site. I just found a recipe for Eggplant Parmesan that I LOVE! The eggplant flavor is like beef, but without the fat and calories. It's a really nice substitute for meat. Visit my site if you'd like to read more. Thanks again - great site!
    59. Saturday, December 5th, 2009
      I LOVE that stuff from Harry & David. I was SO excited when I saw your recipe for it! My mom and I made it this afternoon and decided it's even better than the H&D version. SO good! Thank you for sharing!

      I made it with the intention of giving it out as gifts for some friends for the holidays. But I'm not sure there will be any left. :)
    60. PhilPhil
      Thursday, December 3rd, 2009
      Never heard of H & D but love all sorts of pepper relish recipes. Can't wait to find out what all the hoop la is all about!
    61. Patty
      Thursday, December 3rd, 2009
      Well now, we just got home from a 1 1/2 hour trip which we planned around going to Harry & Davids for this salsa, I turn on the computer and what do you know I find this recipe! Even though I am stocked for the time being and bought enough for some friends, I will definitely keep this and try this. So appreciate your blog.
    62. Thursday, December 3rd, 2009
      We love onions. We love peppers. We love dip. Oh. My. YUMMY!!
    63. iluvdandelions
      Thursday, December 3rd, 2009
      Thanks so much for the recipe! My family is addicted to Harry & David's Onion & Pepper Relish. I am so excited to try my hand at making my own. :)
    64. Charity
      Thursday, December 3rd, 2009
      YUMMY!!! Thank you.
    65. Angel Pongrac
      Thursday, December 3rd, 2009
      I absolutely positively cannot wait to try this!!! I love this dip and happen to dabble a little bit in home canning so this is right up my alley. YOU ROCK!!!
    66. Jana
      Thursday, December 3rd, 2009
      So excited. I live nowhere near a Harry & David and ordering it, with s&h is so expensive. I am making this this year for sure...for myself of course!
    67. Barbara
      Thursday, December 3rd, 2009
      I was looking at an old Martha Stewart (Christmas) magazine yesterday and there were several recipes using the Harry & David onion & pepper relish. I knew that I wasn't interested in paying the price for the H & D, so I skipped over it. But if you need more recipes, first, I'm sure the H & D website has some, but you just might be able to find some on Martha's site too.

      Thanks for sharing - I might just add this to my canning repertoire next year and include a little booklet of recipes.
    68. Jenny
      Thursday, December 3rd, 2009
      Loved this at our Thanksgiving gathering -- yummy! It had THE BEST comments from all of our guests! Wow, we are one lucky family to have Skip to my Lou as our very own in-house gourmet cook! Thanks for this great recipe!
    69. Thursday, December 3rd, 2009
      Looks SO GOOD!!!
    70. Thursday, December 3rd, 2009
      I adore this stuff and stock up every time I see a Harry & David's store - so excited that I can now make my own. My favorite dipper is a pretzel - yum!!
    71. Thursday, December 3rd, 2009
      Wow, I love your blog! Thanks for sharing so much of your stuff, so inspiring!!Nadine x