Homemade Pizza School

Updated: December 10, 2023

Reading Time: 5 Minutes

How to Make Spicy Homemade Giardiniera for Italian Pizza

There are many ways to make homemade pizzas taste better, from dipping sauces to hot sauce to extra cheese to unusual toppings. Everybody has their favorite way to add something extra special to their slice, and we may have found our new favorite, spicy homemade giardiniera.

Key Takeaways:

  • Giardiniera is a spicy Italian condiment made with vegetables that can be used as a topping for salads, sides, sandwiches, and pizza.
  • There are two types of giardiniera: Italian and Chicago-style. Italian giardiniera has bigger pieces of vegetables, while Chicago-style giardiniera is more of a relish and is always hot.
  • Making spicy homemade giardiniera is easy and involves parboiling vegetables in a brine made of water, white wine vinegar, salt, sugar, bay leaves, and peppercorns. The resulting condiment can be used as a topping for salads, sides, sandwiches, and pizza or combined with Italian guanciale meat.
spicy homemade giardiniera for pizza
Photo by Katie Schumm on Flickr

What is Giardiniera?

Giardiniera literally means Italian gardener, and that is because this spicy condiment is full of garden treats like cauliflower, peppers, beans, carrots, and more. Giardiniera is a condiment filled with fresh veggies and then brined in vinegar.

In Italy, it is more than just a condiment; it’s a snack in itself. 

It is often served next to a meat and cheese plate or on a salad or side, and even on pizza. True giardiniera has cauliflower, peppers, celery, carrots, and beans with fresh herbs and spices. But you can customize it with your favorite veggies and leave out any you don’t like. In some regions of Italy, mostly in southern Italy and Sicily, they make giardiniera with olives and hot chilies.

But Italy isn’t the only place with a giardiniera; there is also a Chicago-style giardiniera. And in Chicago, they do it differently in multiple ways like deep dish vs tavern style. Or just watch the TV show The Bear (not for kids). Is that true Chicago?

Another great Italian style pizza that pairs well is mortadella pizza for a great blend of the salty and spicy.

Italian Giardiniera vs. Chicago Giardiniera

two types of giardiniera

Chicago-style giardiniera is always hot, thanks to the abundance of hot peppers mixed in. And they chop the veggies much smaller, so it’s because more of a relish. And what goes hand in hand with relish? Well, the infamous Chicago-style hot dog.

So Chicago-style giardiniera is more of a condiment for hot dogs, burgers, and other tasty sandwiches. Unlike Italian giardiniera, you need a spoon to eat the Chicago version. While the Italian version keeps the veggies in bigger pieces to snack on easily with your fingers.

We like to use both styles on our homemade pizza. It just adds something extra, a tangy vinegary bite that just adds a nice touch to homemade pizza.

You can find both Italian and Chicago-style giardiniera in most grocery stores or online, but it is just as easy to make your own. And when you make your own, you can make it exactly how you like it.

How to Make Spicy Homemade Giardiniera

best homemade giardiniera for pizza
Photo Katie Schumm on Flickr

You don’t have to have any special experience in home canning to make this, but if you want to keep sealed jars of it in your pantry or to give as gifts, then after you make it, you will need to use the water bath canning method to seal it, no pressure canner required.

If you are new to canning, there are two ways to home can, with a pressure canner or a boil water bath method. Basically, anything that you make with vinegar brine can go in a water bath. Pressure canning is for low-acid vegetables, which is pretty much anything that doesn’t have vinegar or is high-acid, like tomatoes.

Making homemade giardiniera starts with the freshest veggies you can find. If you get them from your local farmers market or your home garden, even from a pizza farm on your next visit, you should make giardiniera right away when the veggies are at their best.

If you are planning on making it just to use within the week or it’s your first time pickling, then you can use any jar with a lid, but if you plan on water bath canning, you will need canning jars. 

Here are a few more things you will need to make spicy homemade giardiniera.

Our Homemade Hot Giardiniera Recipe

We generally make several jars at a time, so our recipe is for 3-4 jars, depending on how big they are. You will probably need to play with amounts of veggies to get an idea of what will fit inside your jars. 

  • Half a head of cauliflower
  • 2 red peppers
  • 1 yellow pepper
  • Pearl onions
  • 3 carrots
  • 2 handfuls of green beans
  • 4 seeded jalapeños (or your favorite hot pepper)

The Giardiniera Brine

Start by washing a cutting the veggies. You can cut them however you want just make them similar in size. Next, make the brine. Add all of the ingredients together and bring to a boil. Once the salt and sugar have dissolved, add cauliflower and carrots first and boil for two minutes.

Next, add in the other veggies. Cook for another 2-3 minutes. The idea is not to boil them soft it’s more of a parboil in the brine. When they are done, remove veggies and layout to let cool. 

DO NOT discard the brine.

While veggies are cooling, sterilize your jars. Fill a pot with cold water, add in your jars and lids, and bring to a boil for about 15 minutes. Remove the jars with tongs and set aside to cool.

When jars, veggies, and brine are cool, you can start filling your jars. First, add the veggies and any herbs or spices. Then ladle the brine over make sure to cover the veggies with brine and leave an inch from the top. Now seal the lids.

If you are planning on storing them, then you need to prepare your water bath. If you have a canner, then use that, but if you are just using a large pot, wrap the jars in tea towels with one on the bottom of the pot to keep them from clanking together while boiling. Then boil jars and tea towels for twenty minutes. Remove jars with tongs and let cool.

When they are cool, store them in the pantry for at least a week before opening so the brine has time to soak and flavor the veggies. Keep in the pantry for up to a year. Once opened, they are good in the refrigerator for 4-5 days.

How to Use Giardiniera

Well, we love to use spicy homemade giardiniera with homemade pizza, but this tangy condiment is good on lots of other dishes too. Use it as a:

Have you tried spicy homemade giardiniera? Do you like Italian or Chicago-style giardiniera?

One of our Favorites

If you are a fan of pickled vegetables, then you should definitely consider making your own giardiniera at home. With pickling jars, you can easily store and preserve your homemade giardiniera for a longer period of time. Plus, making your own giardiniera allows you to control the ingredients and customize the flavor to your liking. Pickling jars come in various sizes and shapes, making it easy to find one that suits your needs. So, if you want to enjoy the delicious taste of homemade giardiniera all year round, investing in pickling jars is a must!

Share With Other Pizza Lovers:

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DK & Eliana

DK & Eliana

Thanks for reading about our homemade pizza journey! We're a young married couple who started making pizza at home on our wedding night and haven't looked back yet. We've learned over countless attempts of trial and error how to make the perfect pizza sauce, pizza dough, and exactly which pizza accessories to buy for your home setup...

FYI When you make a purchase or, sometimes, carry out some other action as direct result of clicking on a link at Homemade Pizza School, we will receive a small commission. Gratzie!

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