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May 22, 2023 4 min read

Pepper jelly has long been a popular condiment for its unique combination of sweet and spicy flavors. With the growing interest in plant-based diets, it's no wonder that vegetarian and vegan food enthusiasts are seeking ways to incorporate pepper jelly into their meals. In this article, we'll explore some delicious and creative options for using pepper jelly in vegetarian and vegan cuisine, adding a burst of flavor to a variety of dishes.

Brussel Sprouts with Cranberry Pepper Jelly

Brussel Sprouts with Cranberry Pepper Jelly

Adapting Pepper Jelly for Plant-Based Diets

A. Vegan-friendly pepper jelly

  1. Look for commercial brands made without gelatin or other animal-based ingredients
  2. Make your own vegan pepper jelly at home using pectin or agar-agar as a thickening agent

Caribbean Mango Pepper Jelly

B. Creative flavor combinations

  1. Pair pepper jelly with fruits, vegetables, and plant-based proteins for a variety of unique and delicious dishes
  2. Use your favorite type of pepper jelly or experiment with different flavors to find the perfect match for your meal

Variety of Pepper Jellies

Variety of Pepper Jellies

Vegetarian and Vegan Dishes Featuring Pepper Jelly

A. Appetizers and snacks

  1. Pepper jelly and cream cheese-stuffed mushrooms
  2. Spicy pepper jelly and hummus pinwheels
  3. Vegan cheese and pepper jelly crostini

B. Main courses

  1. Pepper jelly-glazed tofu or tempeh
  2. Spicy veggie burger with pepper jelly
  3. Stuffed bell peppers with pepper jelly-infused quinoa or couscous

C. Side dishes

  1. Roasted vegetables with pepper jelly glaze
  2. Grilled corn with pepper jelly butter
  3. Sweet and spicy coleslaw with pepper jelly dressing

Photo by Jacques Bopp on Unsplash

D. Condiments and sauces

  1. Pepper jelly BBQ sauce for grilled vegetables or plant-based proteins
  2. Vegan aioli with a touch of pepper jelly for sandwiches and wraps
  3. Spicy-sweet salad dressing made with pepper jelly
  4. Spicy pepper jelly and Frank's Red Hot (great on tofu!)

Pepper Jelly BBQ Sauce or Spicy Pepper Jelly and Frank's Red Hot Sauce

Pepper Jelly BBQ Sauce or Spicy Pepper Jelly and Frank's Red Hot Sauce

Tips for Cooking with Pepper Jelly in Vegetarian and Vegan Cuisine

A. Balancing flavors

  1. Adjust the heat level of your pepper jelly to suit your taste preferences
  2. Pair pepper jelly with cooling ingredients like avocado, yogurt, or vegan sour cream to balance the spice

Select a flavor like "Cranberry" for a fruity flavor.

B. Versatility in the kitchen

  1. Use pepper jelly as a glaze, marinade, or dipping sauce for a variety of plant-based dishes
  2. Experiment with different types of pepper jelly to find the perfect match for your meal

Add Pepper Jelly to Any Vegan Meal!

Add Pepper Jelly to Any Vegan Meal!


Pepper jelly is a versatile and flavorful addition to any vegetarian or vegan meal. Whether used as a condiment, glaze, or sauce, its sweet and spicy profile can elevate even the simplest of dishes. With so many creative ways to incorporate pepper jelly into plant-based cuisine, there's no reason not to give it a try. Bon appétit!

Frequently Asked Questions:

1. Q: Is pepper jelly vegan-friendly?

A: Yes, traditional pepper jelly is generally vegan-friendly as it is typically made from peppers, sugar, vinegar, and pectin. However, always check the ingredient list as some brands may use non-vegan ingredients or processing aids.

2. Q: What are some vegetarian and vegan dishes that I can use pepper jelly in?

A: There are many ways to incorporate pepper jelly into your vegetarian and vegan dishes. It can be used as a glaze for tofu, a spicy-sweet sauce for stir-fried vegetables, a topping on vegan cream cheese and crackers, or even as a unique salad dressing.

3. Q: Does pepper jelly contain any animal products or by-products?

A: Traditional pepper jelly does not typically contain any animal products or by-products. However, some brands may use ingredients like honey, which is not considered vegan, so it's always important to read labels.

4. Q: Can I use pepper jelly in place of other condiments in my vegan recipes?

A: Absolutely! Pepper jelly can add a unique flavor profile to your dishes and can be used in place of other condiments in many recipes. It can replace barbecue sauce in veggie burgers, ketchup in sandwiches, or even the traditional cranberry sauce in holiday meals.

5. Q: Are there vegan pepper jelly brands available in the market?

A: Yes, there are several vegan pepper jelly brands available in the market. Examples include Grandma Jones' Originals, The Nashville Jam Co., Robert Rothschild Farm, and Mrs. G's, among others. Always check the labels to ensure they meet your dietary needs.

6. Q: Can I make my own vegan pepper jelly at home?

A: Absolutely! Making your own pepper jelly at home allows you to control the ingredients and customize the flavors to your preference. Just make sure to use vegan sugar (sugar not processed with bone char) and natural pectin.

7. Q: Is the pectin used in pepper jelly vegan?

A: Yes, pectin is a plant-based substance extracted from citrus fruits, and it's used as a thickening agent in jellies and jams, making it suitable for vegans. However, always check the labels as some brands may use different types of gelling agents.

8. Q: What are some ways to serve pepper jelly at a vegan party?

A: There are plenty of creative ways to serve pepper jelly at a vegan party. You can serve it as a dip with assorted veggies, add it to vegan cheese platters, spread it on vegan sliders, or even blend it into cocktails for a sweet and spicy kick.

Remember, while pepper jelly can be a delicious addition to your vegetarian or vegan diet, always read labels or ask manufacturers if you're unsure about certain ingredients. Happy cooking!