Corn Relish

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Similar to Southern chow chow relish, my easy corn relish recipe is bursting with flavor and vegetables, like bell peppers, onion, tomatoes, and corn (of course). It’s tart, sweet, and oh so delicious.

Although it may be considered antiquated and unnecessary by some, I personally love to can things! I can’t help but think about the old days, how efficient houses ran back then, out of necessity. Women would tend to their gardens all summer long not as a hobby but knowing that how that garden fared would determine how their family fared over the winter months. Eating fresh vegetables during the summer with a constant eye on canning, dehydrating, and various other methods of “putting up” food for the winter. How much a woman canned really made all the difference in whether or not her family went hungry. With that in mind, it’s hard not to have a reverence and appreciation for canning today.

Why Make Relish?

Relish was an easy way to save vegetables and the combinations were limitless. This corn relish recipe is a little similar to a relish called “End Of The Garden Relish” or chow chow, where you pretty much took everything that was left in the garden and combined it together. However, chow chow’s main vegetable is cabbage, while this time we’re focusing on corn. I customized this recipe for my own tastes and you can do that, too. Just know that as you add or take away you will end up with more or less in terms of quantity to can.

This time around, I’m pickling corn, bell pepper, tomatoes, and onion in a pickling liquid that’s bursting with flavor. It includes vinegar, turmeric, ground mustard, celery seed, sugar, and salt. This is a really easy relish recipe to make, I promise. And the reward is multiple jars of corn relish to keep you and your family happy for a long time. 

You Absolutely Can Can!

Now for those of you who say “I wish I could can” I want you to know that you ABSOLUTELY can! Canning is simple as can be, so don’t be intimidated by it. Folks have been doing it for countless generations and there is absolutely no reason why you can’t, too. You don’t even need any special equipment, other than the jars and lids. I don’t even own a canner, I just use a big old pot lined with a dish towel to keep my jars from clinking together while they are boiling. I did a full tutorial on this a year or so ago with step-by-step photos and even a little video to start it out so click here to go visit that and can away!

Recipe Ingredients

  • Bell peppers
  • Tomatoes
  • Vidalia onions
  • Vinegar
  • Frozen corn
  • Spices: ground turmeric, ground mustard, and celery seed.
  • Salt 
  • Sugar

How to Make Corn Relish

chop up bell peppers and onions

Chop up your onion and bell peppers.

chop up and add your tomatoes

Add your tomatoes.

add your corn, water and stir it up

Add in your corn and water.

Now you’re gonna need a R-E-A-L-L-Y big pot! 

add in sugar salt and vinegar

And your sugar, salt, and vinegar.

I know you are thinking this is a lot of salt but keep the number of vegetables in perspective and it really isn’t. You do need the salt, honest. It won’t taste salty when you are done.

add your spices

Add your spices.

stir your corn relish on the stove top

Stir that up as best you can.

First, you’re going to bring it to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring often. Then reduce the heat to medium and keep stirring every now and then, for about 30 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender.

You are going to think “wow, this is not nearly enough liquid” but as your vegetables start cooking up it will generate a whole lot more.

corn relish cooking

Here it is stirred up after it has cooked for a little bit.

jar of corn relish

Can according to directions found here.

Enjoy your garden all year long with this yummy sweet corn relish.


When canned and stored in a cool, dry place, your corn relish will last for up to one year. Once opened, the relish will last in the fridge for up to 2 months.

Recipe Notes

  • Here are some variations to make this corn relish recipe work for you:
    • Use white vinegar, white wine vinegar, or apple cider vinegar.
    • Add red bell peppers or green bell peppers, and yellow onion or sweet onion.
    • Add other vegetables you might have on hand, like celery or cucumber.
    • Use different spices, like ground allspice, mustard seeds, crushed red pepper flakes, coriander seeds, or ground cumin.
    • Add 1 minced jalapeno pepper or serrano pepper for some spice!
  • You want to use coarse salt like pickle salt or kosher salt, not iodized table salt.

Recipe FAQs

Should I use fresh or frozen corn?

Of course, you can use fresh corn kernels but I gotta tell ya, if I’m going to go to the trouble of shucking and preparing fresh corn, I’m gonna eat every last bite of it fried. I recently put up 80 ears of corn and ended up with enough for about 5 meals. That’s a lot of work for just a few meals! Fresh corn is a precious thing and since we’re canning this you won’t be able to tell much difference so let’s keep it easy, alrighty?

Do the tomatoes need to be ripe?

They don’t have to be ripe, but if they are that is alright. You can even use green tomatoes if you like.

Where did corn relish originate?

It’s believed that traditional corn relish originated in the South and in particular in Louisiana. 

How do you serve corn relish?

When it comes to ways to serve corn relish, the options are basically endless:

Check out these other relish recipes:

Asian Relish (Achar)

Green Tomato Relish

How To Make Squash Relish

Candied Dill Pickles

How To Make Kimchi At Home

Sweet Pickles

Corn Relish

Similar to Southern chow chow relish, my easy corn relish recipe is bursting with flavor and vegetables, like bell pepper, onion, tomato, and corn.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Course: Appetizer, Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Keyword: corn, relish
Servings: 12 pints


  • 3 32-ounce packages frozen whole kernel corn
  • 4 cups chopped bell peppers
  • 2 cups chopped Vidalia onions
  • 4 cups chopped red tomatoes
  • 5 cups vinegar
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/4 cup kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon turmeric
  • 1 tablespoon celery seed
  • 1/2 tablespoon ground mustard or dry mustard powder


  • Combine all vegetables in a large pot. Add vinegar, sugar, salt, turmeric, celery seed, and mustard. Heat to a boil, stirring often. Reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes or until vegetables are tender, stirring every now and then to ensure even cooking.
    3 32-ounce packages frozen whole kernel corn, 4 cups chopped bell peppers, 2 cups chopped Vidalia onions, 4 cups chopped red tomatoes, 5 cups vinegar, 2 cups sugar, 1/4 cup kosher salt, 1 tablespoon turmeric, 1 tablespoon celery seed, 1/2 tablespoon ground mustard or dry mustard powder
  • Seal in hot, sterilized canning jars according to directions that can be found in my canning tutorial. Try to get an equal amount of liquid in each jar. You need a good bit of liquid to cover the vegetables but you strain that out when you serve them. Process for 10 minutes in boiling water for pint size, and 5 for half pints.
Tried this recipe?Mention @southernplate or tag #southernplate!

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  1. This recipe is average to below average because of the use of Vidalia onions. Vidalia onions are one of the worst tasting onions out there because of his high sulfur content. Vidalia onions are technically a type of white onion though it is marketed as a yellow type on purpose. This is because Yellow onions are sweeter than white ones. The variety of Yellow can be slightly sweet to very sweet raw and be literally candy level sweet when caramelized.
    Using yellow sweet onions actually changes the flavor profile of this recipe where you do not have that bitter onion profile. If you want to reduce sugar in recipe then go with Karo corn syrup at 1/2 of processed granular sugar. Then again, sweetness is a matter of personal taste as to how much or less you choose. You can also use the sweetest onion which is the Yellow Texas Sweet. That is an onion that you can eat raw and not have any burn or flavor problems. This is what is most used in Texas Mex recipes or in BBQ sauces.

    1. Hi Paul, thanks for your opinion and comment. I personally love the Vidalia onions taste so I think it is more of a preference than a general rule. But I agree that using other onions, will change the flavor. I suggest use what onions appeal to you.

  2. Hi

    Can i add ascorbic acid to this to keep the relish from discoloring. All home canned corned relish I have seen has discolored. It looks terribly unappetizing and so I have never tried to make it. If you have any suggestions I would be very grateful. Yours looks brilliantly colored and sounds delicious.
    Thank you

      1. The color problem is mostly due to using to high of heat or over cooking corn. You can also add 1-2 tablespoons of lime juice to the corn and let it sit in refrigerator for 10 minutes before the cooking process. This also helps preserve the color.

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