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The Perfect Spicy Piccalilli Recipe

Updated on October 27, 2011

My Spicy Piccalilli Recipe

I love the taste of a tangy, spicy piccalilli, especially with a nice ham sandwich or salad.

My piccalilli recipe contains chunky, crunchy vegetables and is seasoned with English mustard, turmeric and chilli which gives it that spicy bite. The bright yellow colouring which gives piccalilli its distinctive look is due to the mustard and turmeric.

This British piccalilli is not only good with ham and salads but also makes a fantastic accompaniment to other meats, cheese and pork pies, something which always made an appearance at the Boxing Day buffet at our house, and whilst I'm not a lover of pork pies I do like the cold leftover turkey with piccalilli and pickled red cabbage, it is just part of Chrismas for me.

But of course you can have piccalilli at any time of the year and it is readily available in the supermarkets if you don't want to make your own, but I do like the homemade version and, if you put it in a fancy jar, it makes a nice little inexpensive gift if you have made more than enough piccalilli for yourself.

Pre Made Piccalilli Is Readily Available

As I said, you will have no problem finding ready made piccalilli on the shelves of most grocery stores and supermarkets. It used to be a regular part of my weekly shop, and one day I discovered a hot and spicy piccalilly which was appropriately called 'chillililli' and I loved it! So much so that when there was a time that I couldn't find it in my local supermarket I decided to make my own Spicy Piccalilli.

My recipe is below for those who want to try a piccalilli with an extra kick!

I recommend that when you first try it you stick to just the one chilli so that you can see how it tastes. If you like it, and you feel that it could use more heat just increase the amount of chilli in your next batch.

Ingredients You Will Need To Make The Spicy Piccalilli Recipe

These are the ingredients I would normally use to make the spicy piccalilli, but I have substituted the cucumber for courgettes (zucchini) in the past and they have worked well.

  • 500g cauliflower (broken into small florets)
  • 1/2 cucumber
  • 200g carrots (sliced about 5mm thick)
  • 150g green beans (trimmed and cut into 2.5cm lengths)
  • 225g large shallots cut into about 3mm slices
  • 1 fat garlic clove (crushed)
  • 50g coarsely grated fresh ginger

  • 1 red chilli (deseeded and chopped finely)
  • 1/2 tsp chilli flakes
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 2 tbs ground turmeric
  • 2 tbs English mustard powder
  • 4 tbs cornflour
  • 175g caster sugar
  • 900ml distilled malt vinegar (plus an extra 4 tbs)


If you can get them, try using little silverskin onions instead of the shallots, they add a nice crunchy bite to the piccalilli but aren't always available.

How To Make The Piccalilli

Dissolve the salt in 2 1/2 litres of cold water then divide the brine between 2 large bowls and put to one side. Cut the cucumber in half lengthways and scoop out the seeds (I find that using a teaspoon works well for this). Cut the cucumber into haves again along the length and chop into fairly thick slices of about 5mm. Put the cauliflower, carrots and green beans into one of the bowls of salt water and the cucumber and shallots into the other. Keep the vegetables submerged in the brine for 24 hours. (i find that putting a plate on top of the vegetables helps to keep them submerged in the salted water.

The next day drain the vegetables and rinse well to remove any traces of the salt water, making sure that the two lots of vegetables are still kept separate. Put the vinegar, sugar, garlic and ginger into a large stainless steel pan and bring the mixture to the boil.
Now add the contents of the bowl containing the cauliflower and cook for around 5 to 6 mins.
Working quickly, remove the veg with a slotted spoon return it to the mixing bowl.
Bring the vinegar mix back to the boil, add the contents of the other bowl and cook for 2 mins.
Remove with a slotted spoon and add to the other vegetables.

Don't overcook the vegetables as they still need to have a bit of a crunch to them.

Now make a paste with the cornflour, mustard powder, turmeric, ground ginger, chilli and the extra 4 tbs of vinegar.

Add a little of the vinegar from the pan into the paste to loosen it then stir it all back into the pan with the hot vinegar and bring the mix to the boil, stirring continuously. Simmer for 2 minutes until the sauce is smooth and thick.

Now add the sauce and the chopped red chilli to the vegetables in the bowl and stir well.

Spoon the piccalilli into warm, sterilized jars, cover with waxed discs and seal with vinegar proof lids. Leave to cool and store in a cool, dark place.

The piccalilli is ready to eat straight away but I prefer to store mine a week or two before eating.


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