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Pickled pequin peppers (Chile pequin en escabeche)

July 27, 2013


UPDATE:  It’s been brought to my attention that the name of the peppers  featured here is not “pequin”.  Common names given to these are “tepin” or “chiltepin”.  Various websites show pequins as similar in size to those in the photo but slightly elongated.  I identify these as “pequins” because that is the name I’ve known them as since very young.  My dad, who grew up on the Texas Mexico border called these peppers “chile pequins”.  I’m no expert on nomenclature and history of these types of peppers so I’m disclaiming any kind of authority.  My guess is that “pequin” was an acceptable common name in some parts of the country.


Throughout the years, there has always seemed to be a pequin pepper bush around my house.  It’s never from my doing though,  I’m pretty sure they’ve always sprouted up from bird droppings.  They always pop up by a fence, under a tree,  or under a roof ledge.  These tiny peppers pack a punch and are among the hottest you’ll ever try.  I love its distinct piquant flavor and heat it releases when I bite on one.  Crushed dried pequins can also flavor and spice up foods.


It’s hard to imagine a life without peppers of some kind.


A splash of the vinegar makes a great flavor enhancer for many dishes like tacos,  cooked greens or cabbage, and salads.  I think the small bit of sugar adds a subtle dimension to the flavor and balances out the vinegar to a degree.


1/2 cup chile pequin

a small ring of red onion cut into 3 or 4 pieces

3 to 4 thinly sliced petit carrots (or use about an equal amount of French or regular size carrots)

1 small clove of garlic

a couple of pinches of dried oregano

1/2 small bay leaf

1/2 cup white distilled vinegar

2 teaspoons sugar

1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt


I thoroughly wash a pint size Kerr jar for this recipe.   If you feel safer sterilizing the jar by all means do so.  I am no canning or pickling expert,  however I do regularly make refrigerator pickles at work that are safely stored chilled for several weeks.

Wash your peppers very well.  Place them in your clean pickling jar along with the red onion,  carrot,  garlic,  oregano and 1/2 bay leaf.

Put the vinegar,  salt  and sugar in a small saucepan.  Bring to a boil and stir to dissolve the sugar and salt.  Pour the vinegar solution into your jar and let cool.  Store the peppers in your refrigerator.


Niki has often crawled under the pequin bush for relief from our scorching summer.

25 Comments leave one →
  1. July 27, 2013 6:51 pm

    That’s beautiful, Gerard! The pickles and the plant. Oh, and Niki, too. Never tried pequin peppers before, they look cute. It’s nice to have plants that planted themselves. They always seem healthier than the ones you start indoors. I wonder why.

  2. July 27, 2013 7:12 pm

    Thanks! Yes, except for the watering I do as a safeguard, nature does all the work on this one. Since they are native to the south and Mexico they do pretty well here. That 2 year old bush has been very fruitful. A little goes along way for these peppers! And oh yes, I’ve been a little more aware of my back yard since following your blog.

  3. July 29, 2013 9:02 pm

    Looks tasty. Thinking of growing my own peppers next summer. I must give this a go!

  4. July 29, 2013 10:15 pm

    One of the things pequins have going for them is that one bush can yield hundreds of very fiery peppers. 2 or 3 is all I need per meal!

  5. Marcella Rousseau permalink
    September 22, 2013 8:13 pm

    I have the birds to thank for several of my plants and trees too! They do seem hardier for having traveled through a bird’s system! Niki looks like she’s about to howl at the moon! I really should try pickling my own peppers if I could only get peppers to grow here! I bought another Serrano pepper and I’m going to use my heirloom tomatoes to make a tomato sauce for pasta with it. Can’t wait to try it. What is the plant growing on the ground in the photo?

    • FoxyRoxy1220 permalink
      June 7, 2016 7:54 pm

      That is cactus that is growing. Have you ever ate cactus? It is good with eggs.

      • June 7, 2016 10:57 pm

        Yes I have, it is very good, in fact my next post will have cactus. Thank you for visiting!

  6. September 22, 2013 9:34 pm

    I think Niki was enjoying the day and must have been trying to sense what was in the air. Man’s best friend doesn’t seem to let anything get by without inspection! I’ve also read that the seeds benefit from going through a bird’s system. That bush is going through another cycle of peppers. It’s amazing how much it has yielded. I don’t see pickled Serranos very much at all and wonder why not…. I have no idea what the other plant is. I don’t mind it in my yard. It gives tiny yellow-orange flowers and only grows to that height.

  7. jeremy adair permalink
    February 28, 2014 2:11 pm

    I recently tried pequin peppers or as my new amigo chino called them “peh-keen peppahs”. I travel the US in an rv doing controls work in plants. My new found friends chino doug and mike worked in the asphault buisness. As me and chino were the last left around our mequite grill fire eating very good chicken I got to try these after admitting I like habaneros. Would you believe I have some pequin peppah seeds already headed to my PO box? Your pickling recipe looks perfect. I will enjoy it. Take care.

    • March 1, 2014 12:04 am

      Hello Jeremy, thanks for visiting my blog. Pickling the peppers allowed me to enjoy them through the winter. Best of luck growing them. That bush in the photo rendered new peppers 3 separate times last year. Safe travels! Thanks again!

  8. Jose Reyes permalink
    July 9, 2014 2:40 am

    How long do you allow them to pickle before consuming? I remember my mom serving them up with our meals and they were soft with a nice flavor. My father in law has a plant and it is yielding a lot of peppers.

    • July 9, 2014 10:15 am

      Hello Jose, Give them at least 2 days before eating. The photos, which shows them still bright in color was taken right after I pickled them. They will eventually turn a dull color. While they do also soften up some they still have a bit of crispness to them. If your family’s were completely soft, maybe your mom or dad lightly cooked them first. Some pickled jalapeno recipes involve cooking them slightly in oil. I haven’t tried that on pequins.
      My plant is also giving out many peppers.
      Thanks for visiting!

  9. Frank Noge permalink
    August 27, 2015 9:58 am

    I love the blog! I found this page while researching the specific variety of “bird peppers” that pop up in my Orlando-area yard. Based on the few dozen web sites I’ve encountered I think you’ve mis-identified the peppers you’ve got. They appear to be chili tepin’s, not pequins. The majority of sites I’ve seen say the tepins are round like yours, pequins look more like Thai or cayenne peppers, from 3/4 to 1/5 inches in length. I’ve seen the tepins while visiting friends in TX. There are definite differences in the appearance of the plants as well. Same family, different varieties.


    • Frank Noge permalink
      August 27, 2015 9:59 am

      (should be 1.5 inches, not 1/5!)

    • August 29, 2015 3:49 pm

      Hello! Thank you for visiting my blog, commenting and correcting! It seems that “pequin” refers to the small more elongated pepper. There is some misnaming and confusion out there. Ever since I can remember, even as a small kid, “pequin” referred to the peppers featured on this post. “Chiltepin” is a term I’ve only seen in more recent times mostly through the internet and perhaps one book. A friend from Mexico I asked yesterday identified the pepper as you did. . I think that “pequin” was one of the names commonly given to the pepper in some areas before the internet era. I’ll have to give an update.
      Thanks again.

      • Frank Noge permalink
        August 29, 2015 4:00 pm

        You’re welcome! In the mean time I’ve seen the pequins are one of the two chilis (along with chili arbol) in Cholula, my absolute favorite hot sauce. I’ve never heard of the arbol but I know I need to find some seeds 🙂

        happy cooking!

    • September 2, 2015 1:21 am

      Cholula is also my bottled hot sauce of choice! I also noticed the ingredients. Arbol peppers are on the hotter side as well. Chipotle Tabasco is another favorite.
      Thank you very much for the follow!

  10. Claudia permalink
    July 1, 2016 11:17 am

    I just made your recipe. Thank You!
    I was wondering for how long can I keep them in my fridge before they go bad?

    • July 2, 2016 10:47 am

      Hi Claudia, thank you very much for visiting my blog. I would use the pickled pequins up to 2 months. Just keep them stored in the refrigerator. They may turn dull in color, but that’s normal, The 2 months is just a safety precaution. If you sterilized the jars, they will last much longer. Thank you for using the recipe, I hope you enjoy them as much as I have!

  11. Gina Serrano permalink
    November 5, 2016 7:24 pm

    I just pickled 4 jars of peppers. I read your comment above about them lasting two months or longer. If I were to seal the lids, would they last longer? And if so, how do I do that?

    • November 6, 2016 7:26 pm

      Hi Gina! Thank you for visiting my site. Four jars of pequin peppers is a lot of picking! When I researched recommendations for pickling without sterilizing the jars, I found 2 months to be a safe time. One said pickled peppers were good for several months. I’m not sure what you mean by sealing the lids. If you didn’t sterilize the jars and lids, I’d stick with 2, maybe 3 months. Of course, if you did sterilized them, they are good for much longer. I hope this helps you!

  12. Vina permalink
    November 18, 2017 3:36 pm

    The diamond-leaved plant under Niki that has light orange-gol five-petaled flowers is one I identified once and can no longer find the identification. Butterflies love it, but I don’t. It’s very invasive and hard to destroy. I pull Straight up on the roots after a soaking rain. Can anyone identify it for me again so I can write it down? I picked my tiny peppers and hope to pickle today. Thanks for the recipe. I have a yard full of the pepper plants and am slowly destroying my yard full of the underlying plant.

    • November 20, 2017 8:59 pm

      Hi Vina, Thank you very much for visiting my page and commenting. You have a sharp eye recognizing that plant. It really does well in these parts of Texas. I wish I could identify it for you. If you find out, please let me know! I don’t mind the plant/weed so much. I hope you like the recipe if you try it. That pequin plant finally died this past year. It was a good 7 or 8 years old and gave a lot of peppers each year. Fortunately, 3 more bushes have popped up in my yard. I bet you get so many peppers that you give them away!
      Thanks again,

      • Ian permalink
        November 26, 2018 3:14 am

        The plant looks like Wedelia. Does it occassionally bloom yellow? If so, it’s probably Wedelia.

  13. November 28, 2018 10:36 am

    Hi Ian, The plants and flowers in my backyard don’t look like ones I see in photos of Wedelia. The one I have seems to be much smaller. Maybe they are related. Thanks for visiting!

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