10 Hot Pepper Jams And Jellies, Ranked Worst To First

Jams and jellies are delicious and versatile. Their sweet and fruity flavor profile provides a tasty contrast to savory ingredients like cured meats and cheeses, which makes them perfect for sandwiches or charcuterie boards. And when chili peppers are introduced into the mix, these fruity spreads take on a whole new level of tasty complexity. Hot pepper jellies and jams are a shining example of the art and science of flavor balance: These spreads manifest a rewarding pairing of sweetness and capsaicin-induced heat that deliciously electrifies everything they touch.

That said, not all products are created equal. There are a lot of different hot pepper jams and jellies on the market — and each of them contain distinct flavors, textures, and ingredients. While it's true that there are plenty of amazing options to pick from, there are also some duds that aren't really worth your hard-earned money. The good news? We've taken the time to taste a lot of them ourselves to help steer you in the right direction.

We've taken a number of factors into consideration while judging these hot pepper jams and jellies. Each product's spreadability, balance of sweetness and spiciness, ingredient quality, and price point have been thoughtfully taken into account. Keep reading to get the scoop on 10 hot pepper jams and jellies, ranked worst to first.

10. Rothschild hot pepper peach

Featuring a combination of peaches and crushed red pepper, this fruit spread from Rothschild seems promising at first. Containing mostly peaches, sugar, and shimmering flecks of orange peel, this jelly is extremely sweet and fruity with barely any noticeable heat. The jelly is mostly smooth but there are still some little chunks of peaches, which gives the jelly some nice momentary texture. At the same time, while the pieces of orange peel and red pepper definitely add some extra flavor, the strands of their skins are chewy and practically inedible.

This jelly also dissolves remarkably fast on the tongue, turning into a pool of peachy syrup in a matter of seconds. Overall, this hot pepper jelly doesn't really taste like a hot pepper jelly — it just tastes like a peach jelly with little bursts of citrus. The red pepper is so subdued and the sugar is so overpowering that the taste we're left with is mostly one-note: sweetness.

Considering this jelly's weak level of heat, it may be a good entry point for curious newcomers who prefer to err on the side of caution when it comes to spiciness. The peachy sweetness of this jelly could also function as a base for making a glaze for baked ham or grilled pork. As it stands, though, this peach jam from Rothschild was fairly disappointing. There are much more exciting options on the table.

9. Terrapin Ridge Hot Pepper Bacon

Terrapin Ridge's Hot Pepper Bacon jam is mostly made with sugar, roasted bell peppers, jalapenos, and bacon. The smoky scent of bacon immediately radiates from the jar upon opening up this jam. The color is a beautiful mix of amber and crimson, thanks to the brown sugar and red bell peppers. 

Unfortunately, anyone hoping for a decent dose of heat from this is bound to be let down. This is another hot pepper jam that suffers from a severe lack of spice, as the jalapenos are practically indetectable. We aren't expecting any of these jams to scorch our tongues off, but we are expecting to truly feel the presence of the chili pepper. When the word hot is used to market a jam or jelly, we want to feel a pleasant, creeping tingle. This jam does not even remotely deliver that.

Instead, the taste of this jam starts off with sweetness, then rapidly fades into the flavor of bacon. The bacon, which is broken into threadlike bits and pieces throughout the jam, adds a savoriness that complements its sweetness. The issue is the texture of the bacon itself, which is stringy, fibrous, and jerky-like.

We feel like the jam would be so much better if the bacon flavor was extracted but then strained out, leaving only the flavor behind. If the bacon bits were more tender and the jam were a little less sweet and more complex, this jam would place higher in our ranking.

8. Tabasco Mild Jalapeno

Fans of Tabasco will be excited to see that the company also makes pepper jellies out of its mild green hot sauce and its spicier red hot sauce (more on that one in a bit). This jalapeno pepper jelly is made with a blend that includes high fructose corn syrup, green bell peppers, jalapeno peppers, apple juice, vinegar, and Tabasco green pepper sauce. 

It has a light green hue, with jalapeno seeds scattered throughout the jar. The presence of the seeds here is a double-edged sword: they add some nice residual heat and flavor, but they're also a textural nightmare. We think this jelly would be much better if the seeds were removed. They interrupt the smoothness of the jelly and also get stuck between the teeth.

The flavor of the apple juice really comes through. Because this jelly is marketed as mild, using apple juice is a smart way to add some fruity flavor to help balance out the hot sauce and jalapenos in the recipe. That said, the flavor of this hot pepper jelly would benefit from more green bell peppers to balance out the sugar and apple juice. Even though this is marketed as mild, it could still use a few more splashes of Tabasco green pepper sauce. Anyone expecting the flavor of Tabasco's green pepper hot sauce to be prominent might be surprised by how nearly imperceptible it is.

7. Stonewall Kitchen Hot Pepper Jelly

Stonewall Kitchen makes a wide range of food products, including salsas, dressings, syrups, and chutneys. The company also makes a lot of different jams, jellies, and marmalades. A few of Stonewall Kitchen's spreads feature hot chili peppers, like its Ghost Pepper Jelly and Apple Jalapeno Jelly. Stonewall Kitchen's Hot Pepper Jelly is another popular product from the company. This hot pepper jelly is on the mild end of the heat spectrum. This batch is made with ingredients such as pure cane sugar, onions, roasted red bell peppers, jalapenos, vinegar, and cayenne peppers.

What's pleasantly surprising about this jelly is the taste of onions, possessing a caramelized flavor and adding a roasty complexity. The taste of onions rises above the peppers, only outshined by the sugar. The onions are soft, finely minced, and sprinkled throughout the jelly. They are perfectly cooked and have a little bit of bite to them.

The texture of this jelly is smooth and easily spreadable, instead of being overly clumpy or too gelatinous. This is another jelly that could definitely use just a tad more heat to it. That said, the flavor is still quite enjoyable. The taste of onions and bell peppers in this would make this a great glaze for stir-fry. This would also pair nicely with saltier cheeses like cheddar.

6. Rothschild Hot Pepper Raspberry

Rothschild's Hot Pepper Raspberry comes in a small 4.9-ounce jar, which makes it a little more approachable financially. Because hot pepper jams and jellies tend to use premium ingredients, bigger jars can be a bit pricey, so having smaller jars like this is a good option that can have more mass appeal. This hot pepper fruit spread contains only a few ingredients: red raspberry puree, cane sugar, crushed red pepper flakes, and pectin. Pectin is a thickener commonly used in jams and other food products.

The deep raspberry flavor in this jam is truly delicious. The flavor of the fruit tastes stronger than the sugar, which is how we prefer our jams and jellies. Once again, though, this is a case where the seeds in the jam are overwhelming. Because raspberry seeds are so small, each mouthful of this jam contains constellations of countless seeds that add a lot of unpleasant crunchiness to the texture. The good news is that the heat level on this jam is very nice. A subtle tingle can be felt on the tongue and roof of the mouth, but doesn't last long enough to be overpowering or challenging.

This hot pepper raspberry jam would taste wonderful on goat cheese or brie, or turned into a glaze for fried chicken wings. The flavor on this stuff is seriously nice, and if the seeds in this jam were extracted, this spread would place higher on our ranking.

5. Fischer & Wieser Mild Green Jalapeno

This Mild Green Jalapeno jelly from Fischer & Wieser mainly contains sugar, apple cider vinegar, green bell peppers, and jalapenos. What's immediately noticeable in this jam is the apple cider vinegar, in both scent and taste. The apple cider vinegar adds a refreshing pop that helps cut through the sweetness of the sugar. True to its mild label, the spiciness of this jam is remarkably tame, so it seems that there aren't too many jalapenos in the recipe. Even so, this jam is still remarkably flavorful and interesting.

The consistency is a bit thinner than most of the other jams on this list, perhaps due to the prominence of apple cider vinegar. That said, it's still thick enough to stick to a spoon. The flavor of the bell peppers is dialed in just right, adding a grassy bitterness that helps balance out the sweetness of the sugar and the funky undertones of apple cider vinegar. This jam would go great on cream cheese, and could also be used to glaze pork or steak. It could be another great gateway option for anyone who's reluctant to dive into the world of spice, and potentially spark a new passion for gourmet jams and jellies.

4. Tabasco Spicy

Unlike the mild green jelly from Tabasco, this red pepper jelly from the company delivers more of its hot sauce flavor. The color of this jelly matches its spicy hot sauce's signature reddish-orange hue, glowing like the dying light of a sunset. There are a few seeds scattered throughout the jam, but they are not pervasive enough to detract from the spread's consistency.

This jelly's ingredients include sugar, apple cider vinegar, red and green bell peppers, aged pepper mash, and Tabasco pepper sauce. The presence of aged pepper mash gives this jelly a hint of heat that elevates it above many of its competitors on this list. The burn on this jelly is more pronounced than many of the other selections in our ranking, but it's by no means overly spicy. Instead, this jelly strikes a perfect balance between extremes, heatwise.

This would be great on top of cream cheese-stuffed jalapeno poppers, or spread on a fresh breakfast biscuit sandwich with bacon or sausage. Another idea would be brushing this on ribs over the grill towards the end of cooking, to help caramelize the meat over the fire. There's no doubt that Tabasco's spicy pepper jelly walks the delicate balance between sweet and spicy with delicious grace.

3. Bellisari's Blistered Jalapeno Fig

Figs have a deliciously sticky, honey-like sweetness that makes them extremely well-suited for jams. Bellisari's smartly capitalizes on this with its Blistered Jalapeno and Fig Spread, which is made with ingredients like fig puree, apple juice, and chili peppers. One of the things we love about this hot pepper jam is the texture. It almost has the consistency of room-temperature butter, which makes it amazingly easy to spread. We put this on a toasted English muffin for breakfast with some cream cheese, and we were in heaven.

Another thing we appreciate about this spread is the heat level. The spice on this is solidly mid-range and really sets in about three or four seconds after tasting, but smoothly starts to fade away about 10 seconds later. The flavor of figs blends seamlessly with the taste of jalapenos, creating a truly enticing combo. This would also be excellent with charcuterie or on grilled cheese with thinly-sliced apples and cheddar. 

The only potential downside? The taste of figs dominates so much that some might consider this spread a little too one-note, flavor-wise. Perhaps a little brightness, like orange zest or lemon juice, would liven this up and add a touch more complexity. But the bottom line here is that if you love the flavor of figs and appreciate a little sparkle of spice, then this pick is a no-brainer. Score yourself a jar and see what you've been missing out on. 

2. Terrapin Ridge Hot Pepper Berry Bacon

Even though this pick appears to barely differ from Terrapin Ridge's Hot Pepper Bacon jam, the truth is this one is somehow light-years better. Is it the addition of strawberries and raspberries? That definitely has something to do with it, but there's a lot more going on here.

Aside from the inclusion of berries, the texture of this jam is also more desirable than the company's Hot Pepper Bacon spread. This jam feels smoother and lighter. Surprisingly, even the bacon takes on a completely different texture in this jam compared to the previous bacon jam from Terrapin Ridge on this list. While the earlier one we ranked had bacon that was tough and jerky-like, the bacon in Terrapin Ridge's Hot Pepper Berry Bacon jam is far more tender. The flavor of bacon is also present but a little less pronounced, matched or perhaps slightly surpassed by the berries. This is seriously delicious stuff — and one of the best hot pepper jams we've tasted.

This jam is sweet and smoky, with a lovely layer of spice that just barely hovers on the surface. We enjoyed this with colby jack and crackers, but also used it as a spread on cheeseburgers with homemade onion rings. Its inherent smokiness makes this jam taste like fruity barbecue sauce, so we could also imagine this being used on pulled pork or brisket. If the heat were more pronounced, this pick may have taken the crown.

1. Braswell's Jalapeno

Gleaming ruby red and bursting with flavor, Braswell's Jalapeno Pepper jelly takes the cake for best of the bunch. This jelly is made with a mix that includes jalapeno peppers and red bell peppers, sugar, vinegar, and minced onions. What's truly exceptional about this jelly is how perfectly balanced it is. Tart, sweet, and spicy, this pick embodies everything we crave from a hot pepper jelly.

The flavor and presence of minced onions in this jelly is heavy without being obtrusive. They are cooked but still have a level of crispness to them that adds some nice texture to the jelly. The jalapenos add an exciting kick to this jelly — it should be noted that this is the spiciest jelly in our ranking. That said, this heat on this jelly is still very approachable, so there's no need to feel intimidated. This jelly has a pleasant, subtle burn that will probably only last a few minutes in most cases. Braswell's understands that a great hot pepper jelly should have a respectable amount of spice to it, which is greatly appreciated.

You'll be surprised by how many different ways you can use this jam. Try this to boost a BLT or make it into a dipping sauce for egg rolls. Glaze it over some crispy salmon, or make a sauce to drizzle over some fried chicken and waffles. With a delicious hot pepper jelly like this, you can't lose.