Spicy Chicago-Style Giardiniera Recipe

Spicy Chicago-Style Giardiniera Recipe

Chicago-style giardiniera is a popular condiment in the Windy City, known for its bold, spicy flavor and crisp texture. This pickled vegetable mix typically includes a mix of cauliflower, carrots, bell peppers, and hot chili peppers which add a spicy kick. Wellness coach and recipe developer Miriam Hahn brings us this recipe for spicy Chicago-style giardiniera recipe and says, "I love having giardiniera on hand in my fridge to use as a condiment for so many things. It adds great flavor and crunch along with lots of fiber and nutrition."

Another perk to making this condiment homemade, as opposed to buying a jar from the store, is that you can control what flavors go in. "I also love making it at home so you can control the heat," Hahn explains. "If you prefer it a little less spicy, you can omit one or two of the peppers, or add more if you really want to kick up the spiciness." We love to add it to toasted baguette with hummus as a healthy appetizer. It's also a great addition to pizza, sandwiches, or even tacos.

Gather the ingredients for spicy Chicago-style giardiniera

To make this recipe, we'll need several items from the product aisle. Grab some jalapeños, a Serrano pepper, cauliflower, red pepper, carrot, celery, and garlic. "You can mix and match the peppers in this recipe. If you want to use other colors of bell peppers that works fine and you can experiment with other hot peppers also," Hahn shares. Then we'll need some pickling basics like white vinegar, sugar, coarse salt, olive oil, celery seeds, and oregano. "I prefer to use a natural, non-iodized salt for this because the iodine and anti-caking agents that are in table salt can affect the color of the finished giardiniera," Hahn explains

Cook the hot peppers to make the brine

To make our brine, we'll be boiling the hot peppers in a mixture of vinegar, sugar, and salt. Add the whole jalapeños and Serrano into a medium pot with the pickling ingredients and bring to a boil. Cook for about 10 minutes on medium-high heat. Then drain the peppers over a bowl to reserve the liquid.

Prepare the other vegetables

While the peppers are cooking, we can prep the rest of the vegetables that will be going into the final mixture. Trim the cauliflower into small ½-inch florets and cut the red pepper into ½-inch pieces. Then thinly slice the carrots, celery, and garlic. "It is important to slice these very thin so they will be easy to eat when serving the giardiniera. You can cut them by hand or pull out a madonline if you have one," Hahn remarks. When the hot peppers are done cooking and have cooled, you can slice these up and add them to the vegetable mix. As you cut the vegetables add them to a large bowl.

Add the pickling liquid, fill the jars, and refrigerate

Now go ahead and add the reserved pickling liquid to our large bowl of vegetables and stir to combine. Transfer the mixture into one large 32-ounce jar or two smaller jars. Add the lids and refrigerate for 24 hours so the vegetable mixture can marinate. Then your giardiniera is ready to eat as is or add to the food of your choice. "If you are entertaining and have a spread of food for your guests, I think it's a nice addition to have a condiment bar with various toppers," Hahn suggests. "Giardiniera looks so bright and festive and you'll really impress your guests with this delicious, spicy combination."

Spicy Chicago-Style Giardiniera
5 from 46 ratings
This spicy Chicago-style giardiniera is the ideal condiment for Italian beef sandwiches, hot dogs, and much more.
Prep Time
Cook Time
two jars of giardiniera
Total time: 24 hours, 25 minutes
  • 3 jalapeño peppers
  • 1 Serrano chile
  • 2 cups white vinegar
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons coarse salt
  • 2 cups cauliflower florets
  • 1 red pepper
  • 3 carrots
  • 1 celery stalk
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon celery seeds
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  1. Add the peppers, white vinegar, sugar, and salt to a medium pot. Bring this to a boil and cook on medium-high heat for 10 minutes. Drain the peppers over a bowl to reserve the vinegar pickling liquid.
  2. While the peppers are cooking, cut the cauliflower into small ½-inch florets and cut the red pepper into ½-inch pieces. Slice the carrots, celery, and garlic into thin slices.
  3. When the hot peppers are cool enough to handle, slice them into ¼-inch pieces. In a large bowl, combine the peppers with the cauliflower, red pepper, carrots, celery, garlic, olive oil, celery seeds, and oregano. Then pour in the reserved pickling liquid.
  4. Transfer the mixture into jars with lids and put into the fridge to marinate for 24 hours. The giardiniera will last in the fridge for 2 weeks.
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