Zucchini Relish Recipe for a Tasty Burger Topping

This zucchini relish recipe is a favorite around here. It’s good on burgers and hot dogs, but excellent for mixing into potato salad, tuna salad, or egg salad for an extra burst of flavor, too.

Got more zucchini than you know what to do with? Try our favorite chocolate zucchini bread, too!

zucchini relish in canning jars.

When zucchini season is upon us, it’s often a challenge to figure out just what to do with all of that abundance. Zucchini — otherwise known as summer squash — is a crop that just keeps on giving.

When you’ve exhausted your repertoire of ways to eat it as part of your daily menu plan, consider preserving some of your extra zucchini for the winter with this easy zucchini relish. Home canning this relish makes it shelf stable so you can enjoy it all year long.

spoonful of zucchini relish, jars in background.

Add a spoonful to your next burger!

Related: Easy Canning Recipes for the Novice Home Canner

Nostalgic Zucchini Relish Recipe

Remember Del Monte hamburger relish? Talk about a blast from the past. This relish recipe, made from zucchini, tastes just like the Del Monte version. It’s sweet and somewhat tangy, but uses only wholesome ingredients that may very well have come out of your garden.

It’s great on burgers, of course, but I use it to add extra flavor to things like egg salad, deviled eggs, potato salad, and even mixed into meatloaf.

The Handcrafted Pantry

Ready to DIY your pantry with more wholesome ingredients? Check out my ebook, The Handcrafted Pantry! Filled with delicious recipes for some of your favorite condiments, snacks, and toppings, it’s the guide you need to start skipping packaged products and embrace homemade.

We’re not the only ones who love this sweet zucchini relish recipe, though. Sarah over at Horseradish and Honey gave it a solid thumbs up over on Instagram.

ingredients gathered for making relish.

Wholesome ingredients, some from your garden or farmers market.


Zucchini This is the star of the recipe! Use fresh zucchini; if you’re using a large zucchini that got away from you, use a spoon to scoop out the spongy seed center.

Red bell peppers — The red pepper provides flavor as well as sweetness. Do not substitute with a green bell pepper; a yellow or orange pepper could work, but I haven’t tried it. 

Onion   I typically use a yellow onion, but you can use any kind of bulb onion you have on hand — white, yellow, or red. 

Salt  — Salting the ingredients and allowing them to stand overnight pulls the moisture from the vegetables. You’ll rinse them and drain off much of the added salt before processing. Use canning salt, kosher salt, or sea salt — avoid salt that is iodized or treated with anti-caking agents.

Jalapeño pepper — Adding jalapeños to the relish gives a very mild spice and a lovely flavor. It won’t be too spicy for tender mouths, promise. (Like it hotter? Feel free to substitute more fiery hot peppers!)

Vinegar — You can use distilled white vinegar here, or apple cider vinegar. I’ve used both. 

Sugar Use your favorite brand of granulated cane sugar. I prefer organic.

Seasonings — The addition of turmeric powder, mustard seeds, black pepper, and a pinch of nutmeg round out the flavors.

4 part collage showing red pepper, zucchini, onion, and jalapeno chopped on a wooden cutting board.

Chop veggies by hand or use a food processor.

Making this recipe

Day 1: Chop the zucchini, onions, and peppers. You can chop by hand or use a food processor to pulse the vegetables into a fine dice. I like to aim for an 1/8″ dice, but if you like slightly larger chunks in your relish, that’s completely fine. 

Combine the chopped vegetables and salt in a large bowl. Refrigerate overnight; this causes the vegetables to release some of their natural juices, preventing the relish from having too much liquid.

colander full of chopped vegetables.

Drain and rinse salted vegetables before adding the remaining ingredients.

The next day: Drain and rinse the zucchini mixture and combine with the remaining ingredients in a large pot. Cook and simmer over medium high heat. 

adding sugar, spiced and vinegar to zucchini relish in a pot.

Combine all ingredients in a stock pot.

To preserve as a shelf stable pantry item, you’ll need to process the relish in a water bath canner. This isn’t difficult to do, but you will need some specialized canning equipment.

jars of zucchini relish, ready for lids.

Fill half-pint or pint sized canning jars, leaving a quarter inch headspace.

Hot Water Bath Canning this Zucchini Relish

Canning this relish in a water bath canner makes it a shelf stable product that can last a year or so in the pantry. 

black canning ladle with a scoop of relish over a glass jar.

A canning funnel makes it easy to fill jars.

Once the relish is ready, ladle it into canning jars while it’s still hot. You can use 1/2 pint or pint jars. I have a canning funnel for this purpose, that makes it easier to transfer hot products into the jars without a lot of mess. 

Use a bubble remover or plastic knife to remove any visible air bubbles. 

Use a damp cloth to wipe the rim of each jar; a little bit of food on the jar rim can prevent the lids from sealing properly. Set the lids in place and screw the bands on finger tight. Use a jar lifter to transfer jars into the gently boiling water. As stated above, the water in the pot should cover the jars by two inches. If necessary add more water to the canner.

Hot tip: Boil some extra water in a saucepan or electric kettle as you’re working. If you need to top off the water in the canner, you won’t cool down the water too much.

Process jars for the recommended time. (See below.) When time is up, use the jar lifter to transfer jars to a flat surface that’s padded with a kitchen towel. Allow jars to cool completely. As they cool, you’ll begin to hear a canner’s favorite sound: That lovely little tink! that indicates a successful seal.

Storing Jars of Zucchini Relish

Once jars of relish are thoroughly cooled, check the seal on all of the jars. The lid should be concave and solid. If it flexes at all, it’s not sealed. (Place any jars that didn’t seal in the refrigerator and use them first. They are not shelf stable.)

Remove bands from cooled jars and rinse the jars. Store jars without the bands.

Remove the jars from the canner and cool; you’ll hear a little “tink!” as each seals. The lids should feel taut and somewhat concave. These are safe to store at room temperature. Any that don’t seal should be refrigerated and used first.

Do you have questions about home canning? First time canner? Check out this list of 101 frequently asked canning questions!

🍅 Safety First!

Canning is an excellent way to preserve food for the pantry, but there are some important safety considerations to keep in mind. The recipes on this site have been made following safe canning procedures by a certified Master Food Preserver.

zucchini relish canning label.


A jar of zucchini relish makes a great gift. Grab a FREE download of these cute printable canning labels — complete with a gentle reminder to return the jar!

three jars of zucchini relish, stacked.

★ Did you make this zucchini relish? Don’t forget to give it a star rating below! ★

zucchini relish in canning jars.

Zucchini Relish Recipe

This homemade zucchini relish recipe is a favorite around here. It's good on burgers, but excellent for mixing into potato salad or egg salad, too.
4.59 from 91 votes
Print Pin Rate
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Inactive Time: 8 hours
Total Time: 9 hours 5 minutes
Servings: 3 pints
Author: Kris Bordessa


  • 4 cups zucchini chopped
  • 2 cups onion finely chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper seeded and diced
  • 1 jalapeno pepper chopped
  • 1 ½ teaspoons sea salt
  • 1 ½ cups sugar
  • 1 ½ cups vinegar
  • 1 ½ teaspoons ground turmeric
  • 2 teaspoons mustard seeds
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • Pinch nutmeg


Make the relish:

  • If you have a food processor you can just toss roughly chopped zucchini, onions, and peppers into the bowl of the processor and pulse until they're a good size. I like mine in about 1/8 - 1/4" pieces. If you don't have a food processor, just chop them finely by hand.
    4 cups zucchini, 2 cups onion, 1 red bell pepper, 1 jalapeno pepper
  • Combine chopped zucchini, onion, peppers, and salt in a large bowl, stirring well. Chill overnight.
    1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
  • Place in a colander to drain; rinse thoroughly and drain again.
  • Transfer to a large stock pot and add remaining ingredients; bring just to a boil. Simmer for 10 minutes. At this point, the relish is done. You can just put it in jars and then in the refrigerator to use right away or give as gifts.
    1 1/2 cups sugar, 1 1/2 cups vinegar, 1 1/2 teaspoons ground turmeric, 2 teaspoons mustard seeds, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, Pinch nutmeg
  • If you'd like your relish to be shelf stable, you'll need to process it.

Prepare for Canning

  • Wash the jars you'll use, making sure each is clean and free of nicks in the rim, which could impede sealing.
  • Wash the lids and rings in hot soapy water. (If you're using non-Ball brand lids, prepare as suggested by manufacturer.)
  • Place empty jars in a canning pot or large stock pot with enough water to cover by an inch or two, cover pot, and set on high heat. It can take awhile for the water to heat, so get it started when you start heating the relish.

Canning the zucchini relish:

  • Remove empty jars from canner, draining water back into pot.
  • Ladle hot relish into pint or half-pint jars, leaving 1/2" head space. A canning funnel makes this easy.
  • Use a bubble remover or plastic knife to remove any visible bubbles. 
  • Wipe jar rims to remove any relish that may have spilled. A clean rim is essential to a good seal.
  • Set jar lids in place. Screw bands on finger tight.
  • Use a jar lifter to lower jars into hot water in canning pot. Water should cover the top of the jars by two inches. The water will cool somewhat in reaction to the addition of the jars. Return the water to a simmer and set the timer.
  • Process for 15 minutes 0-6,000 feet altitude; 20 minutes over 6,000 feet.
  • Allow jars to cool overnight.
  • Check for seal: the lids should feel solid and slightly indented. If they flex, that are not shelf stable and should be refrigerated and used first.
  • Wash jars, remove rings, and store in a cool, dry place for a year.


  • The red pepper provides flavor as well as sweetness. Do not substitute with a green bell pepper; a yellow or orange pepper could work, but I haven't tried it.
  • This recipe tested at 3.0 pH, making it safe for water bath canning.
  • Boiling lids or heating above 180°F as once recommended can damage the sealing compound.


Serving: 1tablespoon | Calories: 32kcal | Carbohydrates: 7g | Protein: 0.3g | Fat: 0.1g | Saturated Fat: 0.02g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.03g | Monounsaturated Fat: 0.03g | Sodium: 74mg | Potassium: 46mg | Fiber: 0.3g | Sugar: 7g | Vitamin A: 102IU | Vitamin C: 6mg | Calcium: 5mg | Iron: 0.1mg
Did you make this recipe?Mention @attainablesustainable or tag #attainablesustainable!
Originally published September 2013; this post has been updated.

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About the author: Kris Bordessa is an award-winning National Geographic author and a certified Master Food Preserver. Read more about Kris and how she got started with this site here. If you want to send Kris a quick message, you can get in touch here.

69 comments… add one
  • SandyS Jun 24, 2024 @ 2:45

    This has been my go to recipe for relish for the past 2 years. My family loves it. As soon as my zucchini from my garden comes in, I start making it. My personal preference is put on salmon and crab cakes but it is delicious no matter what you eat it with!

    • Kris Bordessa, National Geographic author Jul 8, 2024 @ 15:35

      Yay! It’s one of my faves, too!

  • Herman Kern Nov 29, 2023 @ 20:36

    Hand chopped, slightly coarser than recommended, adds to the texture. 24 hours in the refrigerator and only drained the excessive moisture (my take on rinsing is that you rinse away all the taste). A winner! A few friends are going to get this for Christmas gifts. PS. It definately needs a bit of heat, a teaspoon of dried crushed chillies have never caused anybody any harm!

    • AttainableSustainable Nov 30, 2023 @ 5:23

      I’m glad you made it your own with success!

  • Alicia Oct 3, 2023 @ 15:01

    Is it possible to do half zucchini and half cucumber for the relish base?

    • Kris Bordessa Oct 10, 2023 @ 12:30

      You could try it and refrigerate it, but I’d hesitate to can it.

  • Roger Simmons Sep 9, 2023 @ 9:58

    Hi Kim. I see many questioning the use of alternative sugars here, and I have a definitive answer to that as a result of extensive testing. We substitute local honey In many pickling recipes as our local honey producer is also diabetic. We use an electronic pH tester which shows the difference between sugar and honey in recipes is negligible. All of our relishes test out between 4.0 and 4.2 pH when using honey. I hope this helps.

  • AnneMarie Holland Sep 4, 2022 @ 8:19

    Can this be frozen in small containers?

    • AttainableSustainable Sep 8, 2022 @ 12:22

      I haven’t tried that, but as an alternative to canning, I think it would work ok!

  • Carol L Aug 21, 2022 @ 10:33

    The only pH strips I could find to work are for winemaking: (pH range fro 2.2-4.4) all others were in single digits 1-2-3-, etc, not 1.4, etc, or for higher ranges 5-9, etc.
    IF I changed the recipe slightly, like using a non sugar substitute, or replacing one veg for another, AND used the strips to ensure the pH range was lower than 4.2, would that be ok?

    • Kris Bordessa Aug 21, 2022 @ 10:38

      If you are confident in the accuracy of your testing, it should be safe to use a sugar substitute. The sugar is there for flavor more than preservation, but *definitely test to make sure. I’ve not canned with sugar subs.

  • Kerrie A Jan 21, 2022 @ 0:22

    Delicious! I had a spare apple so I chopped it up and added it to the mix.
    This will be my “go to” zucc relish from now on. Thank you.

    • Kris Bordessa Jan 22, 2022 @ 9:24

      Do be mindful that changes to a recipe can alter the pH; for safety purposes it’s recommended that you don’t. But I’m glad you like it!

    • Sonya G. Sep 3, 2022 @ 8:24

      How important is the dry mustard seed? Is there a sub for it, as I don’t have any.

      • AttainableSustainable Sep 20, 2022 @ 11:59

        The mustard seed will add flavor, you could try mustard powder or caraway seeds, although I can’t say for sure how it’ll turn out. Try looking in bulk spices for mustard seeds too, sometimes that’s a good place to find them!

  • Carol L Sep 12, 2021 @ 4:07

    You mention ph papers: What should the ph be to can safely?
    I’m thinking of altering this for a diabetic safe ‘sugar’, but want to be sure it has the correct ph before canning. I need to correct ph in order to do so. Thank you

    • Kris Bordessa Sep 12, 2021 @ 8:27

      Thanks for pointing that out! The Hawaii Master Food Preservers suggest a pH of 4.2 or lower in the tropics. In other regions, the recommended pH is 4.6 or lower.

  • Marian Lund Jun 12, 2021 @ 23:12

    Hi, I’m from England. Here we don’t do ‘canning’. We make ‘chutney’, not relish. We just sterilize the jars and lids, add the hot chutney, put on the lids and store – for months, or weeks in the fridge once it’s opened. I’m curious – why do Americans call it ‘canning’ when it uses glass jars? And why do you consider the water bath necessary when it’s made with vinegar and sugar and is airtight? Thanks

    • Attainable Sustainable Jul 1, 2021 @ 10:52

      The biggest difference, if I am understanding you corre3ctly, is that you are storing in the fridge. Our canning process, with the water bath and everything, creates a vacuum for a shelf stable finished product.

  • Cherokee Lawrence Jan 4, 2021 @ 11:53

    WOW! I made one batch and we ate it so fast. Now quadrupled the batch and have given heaps away. About to make another batch. (This is all in the same week!) So good. I didn’t have a capsicum so put in a few more red chilies. Yummy. I also used patty pan squash as that is what I had the most of at the moment. Holds up really nice in the relish. This recipe is a keeper!

    • Kris Bordessa Mar 11, 2021 @ 8:27

      I’m so glad – we love it!

  • Kelly Dec 8, 2020 @ 6:42

    Can I use green tomatoes, I don’t have zucchini?

  • DeeDee Oct 18, 2020 @ 9:52

    If the exact amount of ingredients is so important, could you provide grams rather than cups? I am certain that my 4 cups zucchini does not equal someone else’s 4 cups of zucchini.

    • Kris Bordessa Oct 26, 2020 @ 12:24

      I’ll add that to my list of things to do!

  • Carol Sep 12, 2020 @ 12:08

    What is the refrigerated self life?

    • Kris Bordessa Sep 18, 2020 @ 11:04

      It will last for several months in the fridge.

  • Epicuriousbynature Aug 26, 2020 @ 17:36

    Excellent recipe and fantastic way to use up zucchini, especially when cucumbers are done for the year. I followed your recipe exactly and actually doubled it. I’ll definitely make it again! Thank you for such a beautiful recipe!!

    • Kris Bordessa Aug 28, 2020 @ 7:30

      Glad you like it!

  • Elaine Aug 16, 2020 @ 5:38

    Have you ever made it without sugar?

    • Kris Bordessa Aug 18, 2020 @ 7:30

      I have not.

  • Amalea Aug 14, 2020 @ 17:49

    I’m making this tonight and I tripled it because I have so much zucchini… literally did everything exactly tripled, no mistakes (other than the fact that my food processor is so powerful it really pulverized the veggies into very tiny pieces, rather than chunks), and somehow now being at the “final stage” (boiling it) I’ve only ended up with 10 cups (5 pints) of relish mixture and Im super worried now that it’s going to be way too sweet and completely messed up. Any advice? I realize you wouldn’t see this right now, but I’d love to hear your feedback. I’m so baffled. Thanks!

    • Kris Bordessa Aug 18, 2020 @ 7:32

      That is so odd. I’m probably too late, but I’d definitely taste it before canning it. If you find it too sweet, you could add more veggies to counter the sweetness BUT at that point you’re so far away from the original recipe that I wouldn’t be comfortable suggesting that you can it. (Canning recipes really shouldn’t be fiddled with.)

  • Louise Leslie Aug 11, 2020 @ 7:55

    This is so good on hotdogs and hamburgers, also good on brown beans. I have made three runs this summer.

  • Terri Phillips Aug 11, 2020 @ 7:14

    OMG this is so good! I made a single batch last week and processed most of it and we had a little left over and we ate it up!
    I just made a double batch! Thank you! This is so yummy!

    • Kris Bordessa Aug 11, 2020 @ 7:26

      I’m glad you love it!

  • Lisa Hasted Jul 19, 2020 @ 14:01

    For canning what is the shelf life?

    • Kris Bordessa Aug 6, 2020 @ 15:36

      12-18 months.

  • Sherri B. Jul 15, 2020 @ 17:10

    Love this recipe. This was my first adventure into canning. I’ve made two batches of the recipe, both with golden griller squash and green pepper. One batch was hand cut, small dice. The other I used a food processor on. Both turned out beautiful. The relish tastes delicious. The recipe was easy to understand for this canning newbie. Thank you for sharing!!

  • Ann Key Jul 12, 2020 @ 15:17

    Are you using apple cider vinegar or white vinegar?

    • Kris Bordessa Jul 15, 2020 @ 14:39

      You can use either, the flavor will vary slightly.

  • Diane Camp Jul 1, 2020 @ 8:15

    Can I mix yellow squash with the zucchini?

    • Kris Bordessa Jul 1, 2020 @ 8:18


  • Carol B Jun 21, 2020 @ 4:24

    Hello, Kris. I’m going to be making this relish today. I wonder why you say to store the shelf stable version without rings? I’m going to be shipping a couple of the jars to family, and will need to put the rings on those jars.

    • Kris Bordessa Jun 21, 2020 @ 14:33

      Yes, definitely ship them with rings. If you keep the rings on, it’s harder to discern if the seal has been compromised.

  • Wanda Jun 17, 2020 @ 11:01

    Could you tell me how many pints of relish this recipe makes please. My kitchen space is very small and before I start any new recipes I like to know how much of everything I should get ready. It just makes things so much easier as I only have about 2 feet of counter space. I would like to can some to give away but I don’t want to set it all up 3 or 4 times if it only makes a couple of pints. Also can the recipe be doubled? thank you in advance

    • Kris Bordessa Jun 21, 2020 @ 15:30

      About 3 pints, and yes, it can be doubled!

  • Michele Jun 17, 2020 @ 2:45

    Can this be made with less sugar?

    • Kris Bordessa Jun 21, 2020 @ 15:38

      I don’t suggest making changes to canning recipes, as it can alter the pH.

  • Anastasia Papapetros Jun 7, 2020 @ 1:56

    Just wondering if this recipe would work with monk fruit sweetener or erythritol sweetener. Looks sooo delicious

    • Kris Bordessa Jun 21, 2020 @ 15:46

      I don’t suggest making changes to canning recipes as it can alter the pH. You could certainly do it for fresh consumption, though.

  • Jane Jun 5, 2020 @ 5:59

    Zucchini is my fav summer veg. Loved the relish as I realized I hadn’t seen burger relish in a store in quite a while. The smaller zucchini also make great pickles. I did dill as slices and spears. Hard water helps for crisp pickles. (reallly good as fried pickles too) thanks for the nostalgia factor, as a teen worked at drive in where we mixed bgr relish with mayo. Go Pats Drive in!! (sorry long gone via dozer)

  • Carol L Jun 5, 2020 @ 3:59

    Actually, zucchini is the long green squash; what is referred to as summer squash is the yellow one. Often with a ‘crooked’ neck, which is why those shapes are called crooked neck squash, but the straight yellow ones are called summer squash.

    • Debbie Jul 27, 2020 @ 2:42

      Actually Yellow Zucchini are a real thing…..not the same animal as Yellow Straight and Crooked Squash…..

  • Lea Suter Nov 4, 2019 @ 20:40

    I absolutely love the zucchini relish! It tastes amazing with Raclette. And with a lot of other things. Because of this recipe I started getting into hot water bath canning and I am totally addicted to it by now. Anyways, I learned that relishes should be canned for 30 minutes for them to have a really long shelf life.

    • Kris Bordessa Nov 7, 2019 @ 19:39

      I’m glad you like it!

  • Iris Sep 11, 2018 @ 8:31

    I have never made any relish of any kind before, so when I was gifted some large zucchinis both yellow and green. I needed to do something besides shred and freeze for cakes. Since I have never eaten or used the yellow ones before and found the skins rather tough I made the relish. It is wonderful, thank you so much for sharing your recipe.

    • Kris Bordessa Sep 16, 2018 @ 9:44

      Yay, I’m glad you liked it!

  • Gale Sep 19, 2016 @ 13:08

    Thanks for the recipe. I’m going to have to try it out it looks great.

  • Carol Jul 10, 2016 @ 8:57

    OK< am I that old? I DO remember Del Monte relish!!!
    I thought it was still around, but then, I don’t shop the regular isles, and I don’t buy commercial stuff anymore.
    Thanks for the recipe!

  • Jeanine Barone Sep 26, 2013 @ 18:40

    Both the zucchini and watermelon rind relishes sound great. I never would have thought of using either in a relish. I don’t eat hamburgers but I’d like to try ’em on a turkey or veggie burger.

  • Donna Hull Sep 24, 2013 @ 15:39

    I don’t remember Del Monte hamburger relish but this is a great use for zucchini. They are usually so prolific.

  • Jane Boursaw Sep 18, 2013 @ 11:51

    Thank you for the “this is not scary” line. I often look at recipes and photos and my eyes sort of glaze over. But this one does indeed look easy and delicious. If I could send you some of our zucchini, I would totally do it.

  • Vera MarieBadertscher Sep 17, 2013 @ 17:55

    This does sound good, but I wouldn’t dare tell my family what is in it.. When I had a garden the zucchini was so prolific that my sons won’t even look at the stuff any more.

  • jan pelmulder Sep 11, 2013 @ 8:54

    Why can’t you grow zucchini?

    • Kris Bordessa Sep 11, 2013 @ 8:58

      Maybe I should say: I haven’t yet figured out how to successfully grow zucchini! Cucurbits have so far eluded me, due to something called a pickleworm. Photographic evidence: https://on.fb.me/1eiqINU.

      • Sharon Aug 7, 2020 @ 8:53

        If you live in New England you are the only per who can’t grow zucchini. Lol That, or the critters love your garden! I made this relish with adjustments since I didn’t have turmeric, I used an Orange and Turmeric tea granulated I was gifted that was too strong to drink and no mustard seeds, so I used the some of my homemade mustard. It tastes delicious and I too remember Del Monte’s Hamburger Relish. It was the only one I would touch as a child. I only got 4 jelly jars although I followed the veggie directions. Perhaps I should measure after “fine” chopping?

  • Brette @ Putting It All on the Table Sep 11, 2013 @ 7:15

    I’ve never heard of the Del Monte relish! This sounds good though. Definitely an idea for using up zucchini!

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