Sweet and Spicy Zucchini Relish

Make a big batch of this easy zucchini relish this summer, and spice up your sandwiches, burgers or hot dogs. It keeps for quite a while in the refrigerator and there's no canning required!

As a nutritionist, I appreciate food for the good things (or not so good things) it does for our bodies. Health aside though, I’ve always said one of the biggest reasons I love food is for the memories it makes.

Food plays such an important role in so many aspects of life. Every holiday, season, birth, death – people celebrate or mourn with food. I think it’s especially amazing how sometimes just a taste or smell or the act of making a certain food will remind you so much of someone you love, or miss.

This recipe I’m sharing today – Zucchini Relish, is from my friend Jill. She makes it in the summer, when there’s so much zucchini you don’t know what to do with it. It reminds me of visiting her Cape Cod house in Orleans, and packing sandwiches at the kitchen counter to take to the beach. There’s always a big jar of this zucchini relish in her refrigerator to add to the sandwiches.

She told me for the longest time she couldn’t bring herself to make it because it reminds her so much of her dad, who she lost unexpectedly and far too early. They always made it together in the summer, probably to put on sandwiches to eat at the beach.

Sweet 'n Spicy Zucchini Relish|Craving Something Healthy

I actually posted this recipe on this blog several years ago. Year after year, it's one of my most popular recipes on Pinterest, so I thought I'd share it again for anyone who's a new here.

I retested it and tweaked it a bit based on some of your helpful comments.  I also added some jalapeño for a bit more spice - if you don't like it very spicy, feel free to leave it out.

Since this relish isn't processed, it should be kept in the refrigerator, but it should keep for several weeks.  It also makes a lovely hostess gift, if you're lucky enough to get an invite to someone's beach house 🙂

UPDATE: I've had SO MANY wonderful comments and quite a few questions and suggestions on this post over the years, so I've compiled a list of my most frequently asked questions about techniques and substitutions here:

FAQs About Homemade Zucchini Relish

Can you make this sweet and spicy zucchini relish sugar-free?

Yes! Many of my readers have asked this question and I'm happy to say now that we have easy access to some good quality zero-carb sweeteners like Swerve, Lakanto, and Splenda Monkfruit (all contain either erythritol and/or monk fruit) you can absolutely substitute those for the sugar in this recipe. I prefer the taste of those zero-calorie sweeteners over stevia, but you can certainly use that too if you prefer.

Can you heat process (can) this zucchini relish?

Personally, I haven't done this, but many of my readers have chimed in to say they have, and it works well. Keep in mind, that when you heat process relish recipes, the sugar helps to preserve the relish by maintaining color and texture and preventing bacterial growth. So I recommend using sugar vs a no-carb sweetener if you plan to heat process and store this on the shelf. Make sure you refrigerate it after popping the lid.

Can you swap cucumber for the zucchini or vice versa?

Absolutely! I like zucchini because it's a bit more firm, but if your garden is overflowing with cucumbers, feel free to substitute or add them along with the zucchini. You can also use yellow summer squash in this relish recipe.

Can you use other types of hot peppers? Or leave them out?

You bet! You can swap any type of hot pepper you like. Jalapenos are easy to find and not super hot, so that's what I use, but serranos, hot Hatch chiles, or even habaneros if you're brave all work. If you want it hot (or hotter) and don't have hot peppers, you can also add a few pinches of red pepper flakes. And if you prefer just a sweet relish, feel free to leave the hot peppers out. You can use more red, yellow, green, sweet Hatch chiles, or even poblanos if you like.

What put zucchini relish on?

Definitely a burger (or veggie burger) or hot dog. But I also love it on a turkey sandwich, chicken sausages, stirred into pasta salad, OR mix it with some ketchup, mayonnaise, and a dash of Worcestershire sauce to make homemade Thousand Island dressing.

What if there's too much liquid?

A few people commented that 6 cups of vinegar seems like too much. I usually let it evaporate a bit and find it to be about right. But you can cut it back a bit if you like, or don't add all of the liquid to the jars. If you have too much liquid, save any leftover pickling liquid and use it in salad dressing (just add some olive oil).

Jars of homemade Sweet 'n Spicy Zucchini Relish by Craving Something Healthy

If you love pickled zucchini recipes - check out my Zesty Zucchini Refrigerator Pickles. They have a similar flavor, but they're pickles.



Sweet and Spicy Zucchini Relish|Craving Something Healthy

Sweet and Spicy Zucchini Relish

This delicious relish is a perfect way to use up that summer zucchini. Makes about 8 cups.
4.45 from 49 votes
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Course: condiments
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 45 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Servings: 32 about 4 pints
Calories: 113kcal


  • 2 ½ pounds zucchini ends trimmed and cut into slices (about 10 cups)
  • 3 large vidalia or other sweet onions sliced (about 4 cups)
  • 1 medium yellow pepper seeded and quartered
  • 1 medium sweet red pepper seeded and quartered
  • 3 medium jalapeno peppers seeded and sliced
  • 3 Tablespoons kosher or pickling salt divided
  • 6 cups apple cider vinegar
  • 3 ½ cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon tumeric
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch


  • Place zucchini in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the chopping blade, and pulse until it's chopped into very small pieces. Place chopped zucchini into a large colander.
  • Repeat with onions, and then peppers. Place all vegetables into the colander, and toss with about 1 tablespoon salt. Stir well to combine vegetables and salt, and let sit in the colander for at least 30 minutes to release some of their liquid.
  • Meanwhile, mix together remaining ingredients in a large stockpot, and bring to a boil.
  • Add vegetables and return to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 45 minutes.
  • Remove pot from heat, and let cool for about 15 minutes.
  • Ladle the hot relish with some of the liquid into sterilized jars, and seal tightly.
  • Discard any extra liquid, or use for another pickling project.
  • Refrigerate relish for at least 24 hours, and for up to 4 weeks.


Serving: 0g | Calories: 113kcal | Carbohydrates: 26g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 0.3g | Saturated Fat: 0.1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.05g | Monounsaturated Fat: 0.02g | Sodium: 662mg | Potassium: 184mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 25g | Vitamin A: 209IU | Vitamin C: 21mg | Calcium: 17mg | Iron: 0.4mg
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Eat well!









  1. Hi Sarah!
    We have a ton of zuccs this year! We love our cucumber relish, and yours looks delicious.
    Would you recommend canning - either cold- water bath or pressure?
    If so, for how long?
    Thanks, Gene

    1. Hi Gene, I've only tested this as a refrigerator pickled relish, so I unfortunately, I can't comment on canning time. Sorry!

    1. Hi Janette, I usually keep this for at least 4 weeks in the refrigerator. I put it in smaller jars and they'll keep a bit longer if you don't open them until ready to use. I've never tested this recipe using a canning method so you must refrigerate it.

  2. 4 stars
    Made a batch today. It made 12 half pint jars full. I only used 2 3/4 cup vinegar and still had a little liquid to drain. My family’s recipe uses 6 cups of sugar so I was glad to find this one that used less! I also hot water canned the jars since there was no way we will eat that much relish in just a few weeks.

  3. I have shredded zucchini from this year in the freezer. Could I use it? I apologize if you’ve already answered a similar question.

    1. I think you can us it Anita, since everything cooks down anyway. Maybe use a bit less liquid. I've never tried that but let me know if it works!

  4. I made this a year ago and canned it in water bath! It is better than my family recipe as less sugar and can make it anytime! Mine was with green tomatoes and tough to come by! I had way more than 2 quarts but veggies all bigger ! Perfect for liquid! Used your exact recipe and so yummy and processed maybe 15 minutes! Thanks so much and will be doing again very soon as I am almost out! Barb

    1. Thanks Barb! That's so good to know - so many people ask about canning it in a water bath. Glad it works and you like it!

    2. Good to know as this is the best recipe I have found and would like to water bath can as well. Thanks!

      1. I made this for the first time last night, it is runny, should there have been more cornstarch or less liquid?

      2. Audra, you don't have to add all of the liquid to your jars. I would just strain off any excess.

  5. What to do with a 2 pound, 10 ounce zucchini? This! Yum! It made 5 pints! I used Leslie M.’s variation so I could can the relish. Also added a couple yellow banana peppers, as I only had a small red sweet pepper and a green. Also Serrano peppers instead of jalapeños, because we have an abundance, and like extra heat. Definitely works. The next time, I will make this with habaneros. Their fruitiness will complement the relish. With the extra sugar, it thickens enough the cornstarch isn’t necessary, and it cooks down in less than 30 minutes.

    1. That's one large zucchini! So glad you liked the recipe! Thanks for sharing how you made it your own 🙂

      1. Hi Cathy, I've never tried it myself because it lasts for a while in the refrigerator. But I believe many people have tried it and found it to work fine - it's pretty acidic so I think it should last well. Look through the comments and you'll see suggestions people have left.
        Let me know if it works!

      2. I made it last year it was great and little bit hot now I'm doing it again today my friend's and family loves it thank you so much love the Relish

      1. Hi Colleen,
        The cooking is mainly to soften the vegetables. it won't thicken up very much. When I put it into jars, I usually just add a little bit of the liquid with mostly the relish. Hope that helps!

  6. The recipe says to put in sterilized jars. Can you tell me how you do that since I don’t have canning equipment.

    1. Hi Michelle,
      If you just run your jars through the dishwasher they'll be good to go. Or if you have a tall stockpot, fill it with water, bring it to a boil and dip the jars in for a minute. You just want to make sure the jars are clean and free from any bacteria.

      1. Hi, I put my jars in the oven on low fan at 100 deg. C while I'm cooking the relish. Usually about 20mins or so. Lids go in as well. The relish goes into the jars hot. Usually the lids pop well.

      2. Interesting! I've never heard of the oven method! Thanks for sharing 🙂

  7. Wanting to make this relish. Recipe called for 3 Tablespoons of salt, divided. You only used 1tablespoon of the salt. When so I use the rest of the salt? Thanks, Donna.

    1. Hi Donna, one tablespoon gets tossed with the vegetables to release some of the liquid, and the remainder goes into the pot with everything else! Enjoy!

      1. I completely forgot about the rest of the salt and didn’t add it. It’s not cool yet, I guess I can add it now and put back on simmer a bit.

      2. Oh shoot! I just saw your message Liz. If you've already canned it, just taste it when you open the jar and season it then.

      1. Yes it does Gail - because it's not heat processed. Some readers have mentioned that they heat-processed it though. If you look through the comments, you should see their suggestions.

  8. Would it be possible to replace the cornstarch with arrowroot powder?
    I have many allergies and intolerances and corn is at the top.

    Thank you

    1. Hi Tammy - I think you could swap it or leave it out. It's really just to thicken it up a bit.

  9. I made the relish but I did change the of vinegar. 6 cups of vinegar would make it too sour so I went off of another relish recipe and it was equal amount sugar and vinegar so I used 3 1/2 cups of each and it was perfect. I also processed it for 23 minutes in a canner. Now the relish will last for a couple of years and does not need to be refrigerated. Thanks for the recipe it is delicious.

    1. Thanks so much for sharing your changes and the canning technique Leslie! I'll publish it so everyone can see. Glad you like it - I think it's a great condiment to have on hand.

      1. Hi Kate - I've never tried canning it but a few people have asked and I haven't heard anyone say it didn't work. It's pretty acidic so I think you'd be OK. Let me know if it works and I'll update the recipe to mention it!

  10. hi, I am excited to try this recipe. I did not grow jalapeno peppers, I grew pobleno peppers. Can I replace the Jalapeno for Pobleno?

    1. Hi Lisa, of course you can! They just won't be as spicy. If you want some heat, add about 1/2 teaspoon of dried chili pepper flakes. Enjoy!

    1. Hi Angela -
      I think white vinegar would be fine. It just has a sharper taste, so you might want to add more sugar or cut it with some water. I used apple cider because it has a slightly sweeter, fruity flavor. Let me know how it works!

    1. Hi Kathy, I'm so sorry - I recently updated this recipe and just realized the quantity doesn't show up for some reason. I updated the recipe summary to say 8 cups. I usually get enough to fill 2 large, quart-size mason jars. I transfer it to smaller jars as needed. Enjoy!

    1. Hi Letha - I've never tried it without the sugar, but I think as long as you keep it refrigerated and use it quickly, you can try stevia or another type of sugar-free sweetener. I've seen sweet pickles made that way. Maybe try to halve the recipe the first time to see how it goes. Let me know how it works!

      1. Any sugar substitute except aspertine is heating stable. So swerve, stevia, Splenda are all ok. I do recommend using cup for cup versions

  11. Thanks for this lovely recipe ! I made it and simmered it for longer - until a lot of the liquid had evaporated, which is what I always do with any of my chutneys. When it's done, you draw a line with a spoon through it, and it should take a few seconds for the line to fill up - then you know it's ready. I then sealed it when still hot in warm, sterilised jars, with cellophane covers and lids.

      1. Hi again Anne, It seems to have kept fine so far (13 days now) having warmed the sterilised jars and added the relish when hot and sealed straight away. It tastes absolutely delicious and I will be making a lot more of this with my courgette glut and will make enough to see us through till next year. I'm happy I reduced the mixture down and didn't have to get rid of any liquid - more flavour that way too. It is fabulous in sandwiches (husband can't get enough of it and eats it with everything!) , with bbq meats, with cheese....I also make the Hairy Bikers' chicken tikka kebabs, and it is perfect with that. Thanks again for this recipe - it's a real winner !

      2. Thanks so much for letting me/us know Sarah! I'm so glad you like it, and I so appreciate the tips about heating the jars and reducing the liquid. I love it on everything too. It's been a popular recipe, so I know everyone appreciates the info 🙂

    1. This is what I did. When I simmered the relish, I also left the lid to the pot slightly open to release extra liquid. Liked the consistency.

    1. I thought so too, so I used half. Vinegar flavor was overpowering when it was done simmering, ended up adding an extra 2 zucchinis, still thought it was too much and strained some of the liquid out.
      Personally, I still think it's too much vinegar.
      But thank you for the inspiration and all your other lovely recipes! 🙂

      1. Thanks so much for your comment Madeleine! I will make this recipe again in a few weeks and see if it needs a vinegar tweak.

  12. I was wondering, I saw a recipe very similar to yours here. But the only difference was it was 2 1/2 cups of vinegar, instead of the 12 you have listed here. That seems like an awful lot. Any chance it was a typo?

    1. Hi Lori! Thanks for your question. This recipe makes a large batch and calls for several pounds of veggies, so that's why there's so much pickling liquid. You can probably cut it back a bit - I usually have some leftover, but it should be 2 parts vinegar to 1 part sugar.

      1. I used the full amount of vinegar and it is a bit too much of a vinegar flavor. I have not put in jars yet. Anything I can do to fix it now!

      2. Hi Tammy,
        If it's too tangy for you, add some water to the mix and discard some of the vinegar.

    1. Gosh Monica - I don't even know - I just looped it and it worked! If you google decorative knots, you might find it. Thanks for visiting!

    2. This sounds like something I want to can. What are the instructions for water bath canning this recipe? I like my relish shelf stable. Ideally, I want to use half pint jars. Any help you can give me would be appreciated.

      1. Hi,
        I'm so sorry but I've never canned it so I can't help! There are specific acid levels needed for shelf stable canning so I'd check with an expert at your local university extension program.

  13. I have a variation of this recipe and use the hot water bath canning method with great success. After the 30 minutes of simmering, do not cool the recipe, rather ladle immediately into sterilized jars (hot pack method) and seal (lids/rings) using a water bath canner, processing for the time required (depending on recipe, I process my recipe for 10 minutes) with any additional adjustments according to your altitude. Hope this helps! http://www.freshpreserving.com/tools/waterbath-canning

  14. Please share how you canned it. I've been looking for recipes with all the zucchini in my garden that will last us through the fall.

    Thanks in advance!

    1. Hi Ashley and everyone else who is asking about canning. I wanted to share the link to the National Center for Home Food Preservation: http://nchfp.uga.edu
      They have helpful info on canning and preserving, and probably an 800 number for questions. I wish I could help, but I know that most canning recipes require a certain ratio of acid to salt to vinegar, and I don't want to give anyone incorrect info. If anyone has success, please share!

    2. Hi Ashley and everyone else who is asking about canning. I wanted to share the link to the National Center for Home Preservation: http://nchfp.uga.edu
      They have helpful info on canning and preserving, and probably an 800 number for questions. I wish I could help, but I know that most canning recipes require a certain ratio of acid to salt to vinegar, and I don't want to give anyone incorrect info. If anyone has success, please share!

    1. Hmmm I never thought about freezing this Holly. I'm not sure how the vegetables would hold up and I think the relish might be end up mushy, but the flavor would still be there. Maybe make a small batch and try it and let me know! Wish I could be of more help :/

    1. My husband thinks 6 cups of vinegar is to much and that I must be reading the recipe wrong. Is it 6 cups red wine vinegar? Thanks

      1. Hi JoAnn, Yes, I do use 6 cups of apple cider vinegar (I've never tried it with red wine vinegar). You will have liquid left over though, which you can use to pickle something else or else discard.

    1. Hi Christina! I honestly can't advise on the canning process since I've never tried it. Most canning recipes have specific requirements for the amount of salt/sugar/acid in the product in order for it to keep longer and be shelf stable, and this recipe wasn't created with that in mind. I think if you're going to refrigerate it, you could get a tighter seal and a bit of longer life, but I wouldn't advise storing it without refrigeration. Hope that helps!

    2. Christina I was wondering the same thing. Cause I was going to can it. So did u can it. And if so. How did it turn out.

    3. Christina I am making Zucchini relish by the case. I use a lot of it in my pasta salads and potato salad along with using on hotdogs. I can mine and have nothing be Splendid results. I live in New Mexico and I hot water bath for 23 minutes same as I do my Hot Salsa made with green chili and jalapenos. Look on the BALL CANNING WEBSITE and find your elevation and it will tell you how long to process.

      1. Thanks so much for sharing! I've posted your comment on the recipe for those who would like to try canning.

    4. My grandmother makes a relish almost exactly like this and can it. It lasts forever but i cant remeber at the moment what the process is.

      1. Hi Kierstyn - I few people have chimed in with canning suggestions, and I've added their comments to the string. I wonder if you called your local extension school - they might be able to offer some suggestions. Thanks for stopping by!

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