Homemade Zucchini Relish Recipe ♥

Homemade Zucchini Relish ♥ AVeggieVenture.com, a perfect way to use up giant zucchini from the garden.
How to make zucchini relish, an almost-savory mix of grated zucchini, onion, peppers and carrots with spices, sugar (or honey) and vinegar. It's a great spread for sandwiches, hot dogs, a condiment on the side, spread on cream cheese and crackers, so much more. If you have baseball bat size zucchini, this just might be your recipe!

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Free Food?!

Think monster zucchini and prolific peppers. This time of year, free food makes its way into our kitchens where we become its steward, charged with no waste and looking for recipes to use up large zucchini and piles of peppers. With this recipe for zucchini relish, I made good use of two extra-large zucchinis, each one weighing 2+ pounds and still only Size XXL beside a four-pound Size XXXXL.

The zucchini relish recipe is tried and true – it came from my friend Linda who got it from her friend Kathie who got it from her mother-in-law who got it from, well, you know. Grating and chopping takes a good hour, then the vegetables rest for three hours before getting cooked and processed in canning jars.

The relish is sweet, almost enough to be called a zucchini jam but still, leans to the savory side. It's got some bite too, thanks to a good measure of black pepper which shouldn't be skipped. It's thick and good for spreading (as photographed, on bread atop feta cheese, say).

And the color is beautiful! The carrots and red peppers stay bright and colorful, the zucchini takes on the amber color of turmeric. Yes, I really like this stuff!

Sugar vs Honey

Kathie and I keep up a friendly if occasional correspondence. She says, "I had an 80-year old neighbor who put it on all her sandwiches (said it stimulated her appetite) and always wanted me to sell the relish. For Christmas, my siblings ask for relish, nothing else. I think the turmeric makes it special."

She's also experimented with sweetening the relish with honey instead of sugar and recommends five cups of honey as a substitute for six cups of sugar. Pricey but ... a natural sweetener!

Homemade Zucchini Relish Needs "Canning"

Heaven knows, I'm a fan of refrigerator pickles. Beets. Red onions. Asparagus. Jalapeños. These are the "quick" kind of pickles that keep for a few weeks in the refrigerator.

But this zucchini relish is not a quick pickle. It needs what we call "canning" in special glass canning jars with special lids and rings that, when immersed in boiling water for 10 minutes, safely seal the contents for storage outside the refrigerator for a year or more.

"... the zucchini relish is becoming famous here too... I made my first batch in August, and my pots just flew out of the door ..." ~ Kathleen
"... nothing but rave reviews. The kids are eating it by the spoonful and the neighbor has polished off three jars." ~ Anonymous
"Wow! This zucchini relish are amazing!" ~ Jeff
"... the relish is very tasty. ... YUMMY!" ~ Unknown

Homemade Zucchini Relish ♥ AVeggieVenture.com, a perfect way to use up giant zucchini from the garden.


Hands-on time: 60 minutes up front, an hour or so to can
Time to table: 6 hours
Makes 8 or so pints but can be canned in half pints if preferred

15 cups grated zucchini, from about 4 + pounds of fresh zucchini
1 pound carrots, grated
6 cups chopped onion, from about 5 onions
8 sweet peppers, a mix of red and green, chopped ( 2 red, 6 green is nice)
1/3 cup pickling salt or table salt

3 cups vinegar
6 cups sugar
3 teaspoon celery seed
1-1/2 teaspoons black pepper
1-1/2 teaspoons turmeric
1-1/2 teaspoons nutmeg
3 tablespoons cornstarch stirred into a little cold water to make a paste

VEGETABLES Mix these together in a very large bowl. Let stand at room temperature for at least three hours or even overnight. (A day or two works too but it should be refrigerated then.) Drain in a colander or wrap in cheesecloth so the excess liquid can be squeezed out.

LIQUID & SPICES Mix ingredients in a very large kettle, stir until the sugar dissolves. Add the drained vegetables and bring to a boil. Let cook just a few minutes, until the liquid is mostly gone.

CAN Transfer relish into sterilized jars and seal. Process in a hot water bath for 10 minutes.

LARGE ZUCCHINI Large zucchini can be seedy and spongy in the centers, cut out and discard this before grating. If large pieces of skin get through the grater, pull these out, they'll likely be tough. The small slivers cook fine, however.
USE THE FOOD PROCESSOR? Grate the zucchini and carrots in the food processor. Onion and peppers get mushy in the food processor so should be chopped by hand.
VINEGAR Apple cider vinegar is preferred because it's gentler and more fruity but I've also use plain white vinegar and it works fine.
CANNING TIPS Even though I've done a lot of canning, I always review my own practical home canning tips before getting started on a new batch. There's always something to forget, otherwise!

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Still Hungry?

More Favorite Recipes for Jams, Pickled & Preserves

~ Practical Home Canning Tips ~
~ Ripe-Tomato Relish with Peaches & Pears (Sharon's Pickle) ~
~ Green Pepper Jelly ~
~ more canning & preserving recipes ~
from A Veggie Venture

~ How to Make Rhubarb Jam & Rhubarb Jelly ~
~ Slow-Roasted Tomatoes ~
~ Cranberry Chutney ~
~ more Jams, Pickles & Preserves ~
from Kitchen Parade

Looking for healthy new ways to cook vegetables? A Veggie Venture is home to hundreds of super-organized quick, easy and healthful vegetable recipes and the famous asparagus-to-zucchini Alphabet of Vegetables. Join "veggie evangelist" Alanna Kellogg to explore the exciting world of common and not-so-common vegetables, seasonal to staples, savory to sweet, salads to sides, soups to supper, simple to special.

© Copyright Kitchen Parade
2008, 2014 (repub) & 2020

Alanna Kellogg
Alanna Kellogg

A Veggie Venture is home of "veggie evangelist" Alanna Kellogg and the famous asparagus-to-zucchini Alphabet of Vegetables.


  1. Just in time, this recipe, as the zucchini glut has begun! In fact, I'm expecting to get home later tonight to find piles of zucchini on my front porch, as more than one friend has emailed while I've been on vacation to say that she is dropping off a few zukes... and you know what "a few" means!

  2. Hi Alanna,

    I came across your blog about a year ago. I just love all the recipes and checking my mail to find a new one!

    I'm also on the WW program, and though we count our points slightly different, your recipes are so easy to fit in!

    I just wanted to let you know that the zucchini relish is becoming famous here too... I made my first batch in August, and my pots just flew out of the door. My mother-in-law is making it herself (and she is not a foodie), her neighbour got a taste of mine, and almost stalked me for a translation in Dutch, LOL.

    Last week I took a can of it to my WW-leader (my third batch and probably last, giant zucchini-out-of-the-garden season is over) and she claims she is addicted ...

    Anyway I'm taking the recipe to my next WW-meeting, so I guess there will be a lot of new addicts too...

  3. Hi Kathleen - What good news, it will so please my friend who shared the recipe (after getting permission from HER friend, the one she'd gotten it from, because well, you know, if you share a recipe with me it just might get blogged ...).

    Thanks so much for sending the news -- and the pictures! Your jars look just beautiful!

  4. Wow I tried this recipe and had nothing but rave reviews. The kids are eating it by the spoonful and the neighbor has polished off three jars. I even like it and I don't normally use relish on my burgers.

  5. AnonymousMay 07, 2011

    When you let the veggies rest, do you put them in the refrigerator?

  6. Hi Anonymous ~ Mine didn't go into the fridge, in fact, the huge bowl I used wouldn't even FIT into my fridge! Let me know how your batch goes!

  7. I have a bunch of raw shredded zucchini in the freezer right now and I was thinking about trying this recipe. Do you think it will work with the frozen zucchini or should I stick to fresh?

  8. Hi Anonymous, Wow, what a question. You've got the zucchini, it must be tempting to use it up and not many recipes do call for so much. And yet it's a lot of work to put up a relish.

    Here's what I'd do. I'd see how "fresh" the zucchini seems after it thaws. If there's any hint of freezer burn, I'd go for the fresh. If it seems fresh, then I'd go for it.

    I hope you'll let me know how it goes!

  9. Wow! This zucchini relish are amazing!

  10. ... the relish is very tasty. Everyone agrees. My youngest daughter said they had it on burgers last night, and it was YUMMY!

  11. Is it possible to make this with a fine chop? We like our relish chunky.

  12. Lori ~ Yes, I think so! And thanks for the reminder, our zucchini are just now starting to produce in a major way. I see a canning day in my future! Let me know how your chunky version goes.

  13. Hiya, do you wash the salt off the veg before mixing with the other ingredients? Thank, excited to try the recipe!!!

  14. Katie ~ No, don’t wash the salt off. Much of it will drain off when you drain/squeeze the zucchini/pepper/onion mixture and most importantly, salt is a preservative here. Good luck! I still haven’t made this year’s batch, must get to it!


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Thank you for taking a moment to write! I read each and every comment, for each and every recipe, whether a current recipe or a long-ago favorite. If you have a specific question, it's nearly always answered quick-quick. ~ Alanna