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Zucchini Relish Recipe for Topping Burgers and More

This zucchini relish recipe is a favorite around here. It’s good on burgers, but excellent for mixing into potato 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 on a spoon

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 it for the winter with this easy zucchini relish.

spoon full of red relish in a jar

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.

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


The Handcrafted Pantry

Ready to DIY your pantry with healthier 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.


 

chopped zucchini, onions, and peppers

Making this recipe

You’ll make this recipe in two stages. First, chop the zucchini, onions, and peppers and allow them to sit overnight with salt. This causes the vegetables to release some of their natural juices.

The next day, drain the vegetables then cook with the remaining ingredients.

ingredients for zucchini relish

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.

Canning 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. 

Once the relish is ready, ladle it into canning jars while it’s still hot. 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 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 an inch. 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.

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.

jars of relish

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.

Canning Safety

Canning is an excellent way to preserve food for the pantry, but there are some important safety considerations to keep in mind. 

  • Know the difference between water bath canning and pressure canning. Low acid items must be pressure canned for safety. 
  • Altering ingredients may change the recipe’s pH, posing a safety issue. I highly recommend investing in pH paper to test your products for acidity level when canning. Note: 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.
  • Use the proper jars and lids. Never reuse lids, with the exception of the Tattler lids that are intended for such a purpose.
  • For more on canning equipment, please go here
  • The recipes on this site have been made following safe canning procedures by a certified Master Food Preserver.

Related: Canning Recipes to Preserve the Summertime Garden Abundance

zucchini relish on a spoon sitting on a tray

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

jars of relish

Zucchini Relish Recipe

Yield: 3-4 pints
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Inactive Time: 8 hours
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 9 hours 5 minutes

This zucchini relish recipe is a favorite around here. It's good on burgers, but excellent for mixing into potato salad or egg salad, too.

Ingredients

Instructions

Make the relish:

  1. 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.
  2. Combine chopped zucchini, onion, peppers, and salt in a large bowl, stirring well. Chill overnight.
  3. Place in a colander to drain; rinse thoroughly and drain again.
  4. 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.
  5. If you'd like your relish to be shelf stable, you'll need to process it.

Canning the zucchini relish:

  1. While the relish is cooking, fill a canning pot with water, set the lid in place, and heat on high heat until boiling.
  2. Ladle hot relish into pint or half-pint jars, leaving 1/4" head space. A canning funnel makes this easy.
  3. Wipe jar rims to remove any relish that may have spilled. A clean rim is essential to a good seal.
  4. Set jar lids in place. Screw bands on finger tight.
  5. Use a jar lifter to gently submerge jars into hot water in canning pot. Water should cover the top of the jars by an inch. The water will cool somewhat in reaction to the addition of the jars. Return the water to a simmer and set the timer.
  6. Process for 15 minutes 0-6,000 feet altitude; 20 minutes over 6,000 feet.
  7. Allow jars to cool overnight.
  8. 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.
  9. Wash jars, remove rings, and store in a cool, dry place for a year.

Notes

Important: This is not scary. It takes about an hour to make 3 pints of relish. If you know how to operate a stove and chop veggies, you’re good to go.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 100 Serving Size: 1 tablespoon
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 16Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 1mgCarbohydrates: 4gFiber: 0gSugar: 3gProtein: 0g

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Originally published September 2013; this post has been updated.

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53 comments… add one
  • 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

      Yes.

  • 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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