Hot Chili Zucchini Marmalade

Sweet, spicy, fragrant, and citrusy, this sassy marmalade hits every destination on my roadmap of favorite flavors.

Vertical image of a white bowl with a vegetable and citrus rind mixture, with text on the top and bottom of the image.

I’ve always considered zucchini a go-to ingredient in my bag of magic cooking tricks. I don’t have much of a green thumb, but I do know that zucchini season brings a whole mess of the yummy summer squash, and people are always after new ways to use up or preserve this tender green veg.

I can’t pass it in the produce aisle without snagging an armful and wondering what lies ahead.

I’ve fried it, pickled it, and even turned it into thick ribbons adorned with an herby vegan sauce.

But never in my wildest dreams did I imagine marrying it with sugar, spice, and everything nice.

(By everything nice, I clearly mean jalapenos.)

A hit of heat, especially in a sea of sweetness, is like finding a twenty in the back pocket of a pair of jeans that were accidentally nestled behind your hamper for a month.

It’s exciting, and unexpected!

But this jam isn’t just sweet and spicy. Warm spices and aromatics come in and shake everything up, with woody cinnamon, bitter clove, and zippy fresh ginger root infusing the concoction with all kinds of pungency.

Vertical image of a spoon holding a chunky mixture of shredded squash and citrus rinds over a jar next to other filled jars and a green vegetable.

When I stood back and examined the components of this recipe spread across my counter, there was a flicker of anticipation in my eyes and a rumbling in my belly.

Probably should have had lunch first…

The bulk of the base is made up of shredded zucchini, and if you’ve ever worked with the vegetable prepped in this way, you know that sucker is packing a lot of water weight.

But that’s one of the benefits of using it to make a marmalade. You don’t need to add additional liquid to dissolve the sugar – it’s already built in.

Also grated into the mix: the flesh of a Granny Smith apple. Celebrated for their tart, sour flavor and bright zing, a little goes a long way, and the fruit’s powerful acidic notes make a lovely match with the fragrant orange and lemon rind.

While we’re on the topic of zest, peep this guide to clear up any confusion between jams, jellies, preserves, and more. You’ll learn that marmalade must be composed of one or more fruits (as well as citrus peel) that are chopped into large pieces and cooked down until syrupy.

Vertical top-down image of a spoon over a bowl holding a light green and orange spread.

I love a good fruit education lesson, don’t you?

The zucchini shreds give the spread a chunky texture that I love, and there’s no need to tear open any powdery packets as the mixture is gelled thanks to natural pectin found in the apple, and the citrus pith.

As for the final product? It’s sweet, vegetal, earthy, and grassy. The jalapeno’s kick subtly smacks the back of your throat in a way that’s not overly aggressive (despite how my description sounds). In fact, it makes you want to take another bite.

And since I started this journey hungry, you better believe I did.

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Horizontal image of a vegetable and citrus rind mixture in a white bow next to a red and white checkered napkin.

Hot Chili Zucchini Marmalade


  • Author: Fanny Slater
  • Total Time: 35 minutes
  • Yield: 3 half-pint jars (about 3 cups) 1x

Description

This citrusy spread, swimming with grated zucchini and tart apple, gets a hint of spice from jalapeno and fresh ginger.


Ingredients

Scale
  • 1/2-inch knob fresh ginger root, peeled and smashed but still intact
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 3 whole cloves
  • 1 medium navel orange, thinly sliced into rounds
  • 1 medium lemon, thinly sliced into rounds
  • 2 1/2 cups grated zucchini (about 3 medium)
  • 1/2 Granny Smith apple, peeled and grated (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1 fresh jalapeno, seeded and minced
  • 2 cups granulated sugar

Instructions

  1. Tie the ginger, cinnamon stick, and cloves in a piece of cheesecloth. Remove and discard any seeds from the orange and lemon, and then finely dice, making sure the peels in particular are chopped small.
  2. In a large saucepot over medium-high heat, add the spice bag, orange and lemon, zucchini, apples, jalapeno, and sugar, and stir until the sugar dissolves.
  3. Continuing to stir constantly, bring the mixture to a rapid boil. Lower the heat to medium and continue to cook until the marmalade reaches a thick consistency, stirring often to prevent sticking, about 15 minutes.
  4. Remove the pot from the heat, and skim off and discard any foam from the top.
  5. Sanitize the jars by filling a large pot with water and placing it over high heat. Add the jars right-side up and boil them for 10 minutes. Reserve the water to process the filled jars.
  6. Discard the spice bag. Ladle the marmalade into the sterile canning jars, leaving about 1/4 inch of room at the top. Wipe the jar rims clean, tightly screw on the lids, and process the jars in the boiling water bath for 10 minutes.
  7. Remove the jars from the pot (making sure that the lids have popped) and set them aside to cool completely before storing or refrigerating.
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Category: Marmalade
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Condiments

Keywords: zucchini, orange, citrus, marmalade, spicy

Cooking By the Numbers…

Step 1 – Prep the Marmalade Ingredients

Using a paring knife or the edge of a spoon, peel the skin from the ginger, and then use the flat side of a chef’s knife to gently smash it.

I prefer to chill the citrus before I begin, because I find it’s easier to work with.

Rinse and pat dry the orange and lemon, and then slice off the ends with a sharp knife so they sit flat on your cutting board. Thinly slice them into rounds and then remove and discard any seeds. Dice fine, into pieces about an eighth to a quarter of an inch long, making sure the peels in particular are finely chopped.

Horizontal image of slices of orange, pieces of cinnamon and ginger in a cheesecloth, chopped chili, and shredded squash on a wooden cutting board.

You can also chop the flesh and rind into long strips. This is up to personal preference, depending on the texture you want the final product to have. The natural pectin in the rind and pith is what helps to bind and jell the marmalade.

Grate the zucchini, peel and grate the apple, and seed and mince the jalapeno.

For more of a kick, refrain from removing the seeds from the hot pepper.

Tie the ginger, cinnamon stick, and cloves in a piece of cheesecloth. If you don’t have any cheesecloth on hand, you can grate or finely mince the ginger, and substitute 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon and a pinch of ground cloves for the whole spices. Place them directly in the pot with the other ingredients.

Step 2 – Boil the Marmalade

Add the spice bag, orange and lemon, zucchini, apples, jalapeno, and sugar to a large pot and place it over medium-high heat.

Fold the ingredients together gently until the sugar dissolves so you don’t break open the spice bag.

Horizontal image of a wet mixture with shredded squash and citrus rinds in a pot.

Continuing to stir constantly, bring the mixture to a rapid boil. Lower the heat to medium and continue to cook until the marmalade reaches a thick consistency, stirring often to prevent anything from sticking to the bottom of the pan, for about 15 minutes.

The zucchini will release all of its water as it cooks, but if you still see a tiny bit of liquid in the bottom of the pan after the marmalade has thickened, don’t worry. It will set completely and become incorporated with the mixture once the marmalade cools.

Step 3 – Skim the Foam and Sanitize the Jars

Skim off any foam that comes to the top using a spoon or ladle, and then sanitize the jars while you’re waiting for the marmalade to cool.

Place a large pot of water over high heat. Once the water is hot, but not boiling, place the jars right-side up in the pot making sure that the water comes up about 1 inch over their tops. There’s no need to sanitize the lids and rings.

Horizontal image of a concentrated chunky mixture of shredded squash and rinds in a pot.

Allow the water to reach a full rolling boil and then start a timer for 10 minutes.

Turn off the heat and use jar lifters or tongs to remove the jars and set them aside to dry on a clean surface. If you’re not ready to can the marmalade, you can leave the jars in the hot water for up to 1 hour.

You may use the same pot for the boiling water bath to process the filled marmalade jars, so there’s no need to drain the water.

Step 4 – Fill and Process the Jars

Discard the spice bag and ladle the marmalade into the sterile canning jars, leaving about 1/4 inch of space at the top.

Wipe the jar rims clean using a damp cloth or paper towel, tightly screw on the lids, and process the jars in the boiling water bath for 10 minutes (using the same pot and water that you reserved in the last step).

Horizontal image of a spoon holding a chunky mixture of shredded squash and orange rinds over a glass jar and bowl.

Either as soon as you remove the processed jars from the pot or shortly after, the lids will ping. This sound indicates that the vacuum seal is being formed. Allow the jars to cool to room temperature, and then make sure all of the lids have popped.

If you’re storing the marmalade at room temperature, the jars should be placed in a cool, dark location, and they’ll keep for up to 2 years. Opened marmalade should be refrigerated and may be stored safely in the fridge for up to 6 months.

Spread the Love

Actually, spread this marmalade anywhere you can! I find it to be slightly reminiscent of hot pepper jelly, so it pairs well with fluffy goat or cream cheese on a cracker like nobody’s business. It will also give the inside of your grilled cheese a golden hue and citrusy, spicy tang.

Horizontal image of a vegetable and citrus rind mixture in a white bow next to a red and white checkered napkin.

On the super savory side, I can’t get enough of it with chicken.

The truth is that once the zucchini releases its water, it acts like a sponge to gather up the flavors around it. And if you don’t think ginger, jalapeno, and tart apple are a match made in heaven for smoky grilled chicken thighs or pork, you may need a crash course in cookouts. Give it a try!

Did you take your zucchini marmalade in a sweet, spicy, or savory direction when you popped the top and put it to good use? Share your tasty tips in the comments below! And don’t forget to give this recipe a five-star rating if you loved it.

Looking to master more marmalades, or find new ways to use them in your cooking? Give these recipes a try next:

Photos by Fanny Slater, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Originally published by Lorna Kring on July 9, 2015. Last updated on December 28, 2021.

Nutritional information derived from a database of known generic and branded foods and ingredients and was not compiled by a registered dietitian or submitted for lab testing. It should be viewed as an approximation.

About Fanny Slater

Fanny Slater is a home-taught food enthusiast based in Wilmington, North Carolina who won the “Rachael Ray Show” Great American Cookbook Competition in 2014, and published her cookbook “Orange, Lavender & Figs” in 2016. Fanny is a food and beverage writer, recipe developer, and social media influencer. She was a co-host on the Food Network series “Kitchen Sink,” was featured on Cooking Channel’s longtime popular series “The Best Thing I Ever Ate,” and continues to appear regularly on the “Rachael Ray Show.”

40 thoughts on “Hot Chili Zucchini Marmalade”

  1. Thanks for this! It looks so sophisticated and I’ve been looking for recipes to elevate my dishes to the next level. We come from a middle class family and its great to put something elegant on the table with something you can actually afford!

    Reply
    • I totally agree! This is very adventurous for me but it sounds so delicious. I like that the recipe doesn’t intimidate me! I really feel like I could make that, but it would definitely be the most fancy food I’ve ever made! I also absolutely love that you could make this with so many garden fresh veggies. I hope to make it soon.

      Reply
      • This recipe was one of my first attempts at making preserves, oh those many years ago. It is an adventure nebula, and one that has pretty tasty results… hope you enjoy it!

        Reply
    • This marmalade does make a nice presentation on the table Mattsmom, it’s tasty, very easy to make and economical – ideal for families.

      Reply
  2. Nice, I really like this combo. It certainly is so much better for you than a store bought marmalade. The zucchini and peppers I never would of thought. There’s so many different dishes you can add this to. My grandmother loved this on her toast for breakfast. I’m thinking on a soft serve yogurt or ice cream as a topping. It would be great on top of pancakes. Some people like pineapple on top of ham. This might be an idea.
    There would be many different vegan dishes to use this with. I’m going to have to think of some combos. A marmalade and cashew butter sandwich with tapioca bread. Yeah, that would be really good.

    Reply
    • Wow, awesome ideas Love2eat, I can verify this marmalade is indeed good on pancakes. And crepes stuffed with ricotta cheese, waffles with a cloud of whipped cream, scones, crumpets, and toasted bagels too!

      Reply
  3. Marmalade and zucchini? That sounds like an interesting receipe. What other things do you ads with marmalade?

    Reply
  4. That is a very interesting recipe you have here. Normally when I think of marmalade, I think of it as being sweet and something to put on my toast/biscuit. I do have a question about it, however and it is if I can substitute the Zucchini for maybe cucumber and still have it come out similar? I ask this because while I would like to try out this recipe, I have little love for any squash and never liked the taste of it.

    Reply
    • Zucchini has such a mild, non-squashy flavour, and with all the flavouring additives you will never know it’s there. Trust me!

      Reply
  5. I’ve never canned, and the process always seemed elaborate and scary, but this sounds manageable. I love marmalade, and never would have thought to make it with zucchini. This is a great way to add some vegetables into your diet without even doing in consciously. I do think it sounds like a step up from regular preserves, and this would be great to serve at dinner parties or other evening events, where a bit of bite would be appreciated.

    Reply
    • Prepping for canning is a bit of a production, but the process itself very straightforward. And very rewarding, especially in the winter when you open a jar of homemade goodies… and a canning party is a good excuse for a get together with friends at harvest time.

      This marmalade is nice at dinner parties Diane, either as an appy with crackers, goat cheese and a sprinkle of chopped pecans or as a condiment for pork and chicken.

      Reply
  6. Wow! I have heard of canning it, but never making a marmalade out of it. With how much I love squash of all varieties, you’d think I would have thought of every way to use them. This is very innovative, definitely a recipe I’ll have to try.

    Reply
  7. This sounds like a really intriguing flavor combo. I’m a sucker for anything on the sour side anyway, so I’m sure I’d absolutely love it. Especially with the spice to shake things up. Thank you for sharing!

    Reply
  8. WOW !! In my life time i have never heard of a marmalade with this level of creativity and class. After showing this to my husband like an hour ago,he is in the kitchen trying to prove a point (how good a chef he is ) This is definitely something I would want to have a taste of. I know its not just me who sees the defined elegance in this recipe. I will surely let you know the outcome when the chef is done.

    Reply
  9. What a wonderful idea! I had a real glut of zucchinis this year and made them into various chutneys and relishes (as well as giving them away, eating them fresh off the plants and in ratatouille of course) but this looks like a really novel way to prepare and preserve them. I shall keep this recipe by me for next summer when they start to grow again. You wait so long for the first one to appear and be big enough to eat, then you have so many you don’t know what to do with them!

    Reply
    • They can become overwhelming really quickly Sue! And the marmalade is a nice change from the regular zucchini recipes… hope you try out next summer.

      Reply
  10. As a lover of all foods savory, I normally stay away from jams and jellies. This savory jelly sounds excellent. My friend recently introduced me to eating jelly (hers was a chili jelly, definitely not sugary) with goat cheese and I’m never going back! Can’t wait to try this!

    Reply
  11. I have a question, would it be possible to substitute say, habanero peppers for a little extra kick to the marmalade? I LOVE spicy jellies and marmalades so much, but I tend to always want to feel a bit more heat than a jalapeno has to offer me.

    Either way, this sounds amazing and I can’t wait to try it myself.

    Reply
  12. I always have a huge glut of zucchini (I call them courgettes) every year, as I grow a few varieties every summer. They’re so easy to grow, and so prolific! I thought I’d found and used just about every recipe known to man in order to use them up, but this marmalade sounds yummy, and what an excellent all rounder.

    This is definitely going to be made in volumes this year – thank you for a great looking recipe.

    Reply
    • If you grow them, a new recipe is always welcome! Hope the marmalade adds to your harvest enjoyment this year MissyFit.

      Reply
  13. I absolutely adore hot pepper jam and marmalade, so I will definitely be giving this recipe a try. This is an excellent idea especially because if you were to make it in bulk you could buy small mason jars or decorate them yourself to give the marmalade as a gift. I’ve made hot pepper jam before but usually use fruit as an additive, so it will be interesting to see how zucchini tastes. Thank you so much for sharing this!

    Reply
    • I think you’ll like it jinkies! And you’re right, some small decorated jars make great gifts, but make lots… it’s very popular!

      Reply
  14. This is great! I love sweet marmalade made with fruits and never tried it with chlli before.
    We have some chilli in our garden.
    I am very eager to try to make it myself.
    Thanks for sharing.

    Reply
  15. This is definitely an interesting combination, I have heard about zucchini before, but in completely different meals, I have never thought that can be used as marmalade material, and now that I think about it almost anything can be, which is great. I can’t really picture how this will taste, but the combination seems to be perfect for some crackers, maybe as a cool snack on a picnic, great idea!
    Thanks for sharing.

    Reply
    • You’ve got the right idea ae… crackers, some cream cheese, a cool, bubbly drink, and your favorite picnic site!

      Reply
  16. Back in the chill of last November, I promised I’d give this recipe a go when zucchini season came round again. Well, I made a batch this morning and I can officially report that it is *gorgeous*. I had fresh nasturtium flowers growing too and added some of those and it looks as lovely as it tastes. It’s going to be a taste of summer through the winter evenings and I shall certainly make another batch for the larder.

    Reply
  17. That is great to hear Sue, so glad it turned out well for you – it’s a delicious combo! And don’t the nasturtiums look pretty?! Thanks for letting us know of your success…

    Reply
  18. This is very interesting. I had no idea that there was even such a thing, much less that I could make it myself. I have to say that serving it with soft cheeses sounds quite nice. Would gourmet crackers be better or some nice, crusty, bread? I could really see it with either one.

    I know just who to make this for too, and the best part is that the person I have in mind always has extras of the main ingredient, from their garden. I can’t wait to try it. Something like this would make a nice “thank you” for all the veggies I’ve been gifted.

    Reply
  19. Well I am just going to take the “good for a rub over pork” and run with it, because that is exactly what I thought of when I first say it. This sounds delicious, and I have to say that I am not I have ever had a zucchini marmalade before, or really anything close to it, but this seems like a zesty and perfect way for me to try it out. Looks like another winner, so thank you.

    Reply
  20. That doesn’t sound too appealing to me but I’m sure it tastes amazing, looks pretty good from the pictures. Spreading it over some homemade bread or crackers would probably be the way I eat it. Is the taste of ginger really strong?

    Reply
  21. On a scale of 1 to 5 (5 being the strongest), I’d rate the ginger strength at a 1 – but it’s easy enough to adjust the amount of ginger to suit personal tastes.

    Reply

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