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Grandma’s Zucchini Relish Recipe

Although most homemade relish recipes are made with cucumbers, my Grandma always made relish using zucchini instead. It was a great way to preserve the abundance of zucchini that came out of her garden every summer.

The neutral taste of zucchini allows it to absorb the flavors of the other ingredients much better than the cucumbers. The result is a slightly sweet and tangy condiment that tastes very similar to traditional relish, but a little more intense.

I now actually prefer the taste when it is made with zucchini. Best of all it requires very few ingredients to prepare and by canning it you can enjoy the taste of summer well into the winter months.

Grandma's zucchini relish in white bowl

It is a great staple to have in the pantry at all times. However, don’t just think about using relish as a condiment for hot dogs. Because this recipe makes several pints, you will have enough on hand to use it in a variety of ways.

Tips For Making Grandma’s Zucchini Relish

1. Use Fresh Ingredients

Be sure to use zucchini that is fresh, undamaged and not overgrown. This is not the time to use the zucchini that you found hiding under those big leaves in the middle of summer.

In addition, use fresh onions and bell peppers so that your relish still has a slight crunch to it after processing.

2. Drain Excess Moisture

Zucchini has a high water content, which can make your relish too watery if not properly drained. After grating the zucchini, sprinkle it with salt and let it sit in a colander for several hours. This will help draw out the excess moisture.

Then before making the relish rinse the zucchini to remove the salt and squeeze out as much water as possible using a clean kitchen towel or cheesecloth.

grating zucchini
You can shred the zucchini with a box grater or in a food processor.

3. Balance the Sweetness and Acidity

Finding the right balance between the vinegar and sugar is crucial to make the relish taste exactly how you prefer. Therefore taste the relish and adjust the amount of sugar and vinegar to suit your taste.

However, if you prefer a tangier relish, add a bit more vinegar. For a sweeter relish, increase the amount of sugar. And if you are one who loves spicier foods try my Sweet and Spicy Zucchini Relish recipe.

4. Add Spices Gradually

Start with smaller amounts of spices and seasonings, and taste as you go. You can always add more, but it’s difficult to correct if you add too much from the start. The spices used in Grandma’s zucchini relish include mustard seeds, celery seeds, and turmeric.

5. Storing

Once your relish is ready and tastes just how you like it, now you must decide how you are going to store it. Because this recipe makes 8-9 pints, the most common choice is to process it in a hot water bath canner. Below are the specific canning instructions for this recipe.

However, if you aren’t comfortable with canning or don’t have the correct equipment, you can opt to freeze the relish instead. Just be sure to leave 1/2 inch headspace at the top of the freezer safe container to allow room for expansion.

jars in water bath canner
Be sure that the jars are covered by 1-2 inches of water when water bath canning.

How To Can Grandma’s Zucchini Relish

Ladle the hot relish into warm, sterilized pint mason jars, leaving 1/2 inch headspace at the top of the jar. Then run a plastic knife down the sides of the jars to remove any air bubbles.

Wipe the rim of each jar clean with a damp washcloth. Then apply a canning lid and finger tighten the band.

TIP – For those who have been canning for many years, please note that some brands of canning lids no longer require you to heat them. Therefore, be sure to read the label on the package for specific instructions.

Have your water bath canner near boiling (this is key to keep the the relish crisp). Then using jar lifters lower the jars in the water. Be sure that the top of the jars are covered with 1-2 inches of water.

As soon as the water comes to a rapid boil set the timer for 15 minutes, adjusting for altitude as necessary. Turn off the heat and once the water stops boiling carefully use the jar lifters to carefully remove the jars from the hot water.

Place the hot jars on a thick towel that is on a heat resistant counter/table. Then let the jars sit undisturbed for 24 hours.

Then before storing press down on each lid to make sure they do not pop back up. If they do not, the jars have sealed properly and can be stored in a cool dark place for up to 1 year.

If there are any jars that did not seal then store the jar in the refrigerator or place in a freezer safe container. Grandma’s Zucchini Relish can last up to 9 months in the refrigerator or for up to 18 months in the freezer.

Grandma's zucchini relish on hot dog

Ways To Use Zucchini Relish

The most common way to use relish is as a classic topping for hot dogs and hamburgers. However, there are many other ways that you can use relish to add flavor to your foods.

Sandwiches and Wraps: Spread relish on deli sandwiches and in wraps to add a little tang and a crunchy texture.

Tuna, Chicken, Ham or Egg Salad: One of my favorite ways to add flavor to these creamy salads. Mix relish into tuna, chicken, ham or egg salad for added zest and sweetness.

Deviled Eggs: Add relish to the filling of deviled eggs for extra flavor. It works well with the creamy egg filling and adds a nice crunch.

Potato Salad: Many potato salad recipes call for an addition of relish. This is the perfect time to pull out Grandma’s Zucchini Relish from the pantry.

Dips and Spreads: Combine relish with cream cheese, sour cream, or yogurt to create easy dips and spreads for crackers, chips, or vegetables.

Charcuterie Boards: Because charcuterie boards are all the rage right now, add a side of relish with your cheese, meats, and crackers.

Grandma’s Zucchini Relish Recipe

*Complete recipe instructions including specific measurements, cook temperatures and times are located in a printable recipe card at the bottom of this article. However, be sure to keep reading for helpful tips and tricks when making this recipe.

Yield: approximately 8-9 pints


  • 10 cups shredded zucchini
  • 3 cups onions
  • 4 red bell peppers
  • 5 tablespoons salt
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 3 cups apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon coarse black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon celery seed
Grandma's zucchini relish in pot
A pot of zucchini relish on the stove.


1. Grate zucchini, onions and peppers using a hand grater or in a food processor. Then place the grated vegetables in a large bowl and add salt. Mix well. Then cover and let stand at room temperature 8-10 hours. 

2. Rinse the grated vegetables thoroughly in a large strainer and then drain well. Use the back of the spoon to push mixture against strainer to release as much water as you can. 

3. Place the zucchini mixture in a large stockpot and then add remaining ingredients. Stir until well incorporated.

4. Continue to mix well and then bring the mixture to a boil. Keep the pot at a simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. 

5. Ladle the relish in sterilized pint jars and then follow the canning instructions above. Process the jars in a hot water bath for 15 minutes (adjust for altitude as required). 


Mary and Jim

Jim and Mary Competti have been writing gardening, DIY and recipe articles and books for over 15 years from their 46 acre Ohio farm. The two are frequent speakers on all things gardening and love to travel in their spare time.

As always, feel free to email us at with comments, questions, or to simply say hello! You can sign up for our free email list in the subscribe now box in the middle of this article. Follow us on Facebook here : OWG Facebook. This article may contain affiliate links.

Yield: 5 pints

Grandma's Zucchini Relish Recipe

zucchini relish

The most delicious relish recipe that is made with fresh picked zucchini and not cucumbers. A great way to use up the zucchini from your garden so that you can enjoy it all year long!

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Inactive Time 30 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes


  • 10 cups zucchini
  • 3 cups onions
  • 4 red bell peppers
  • 5 tablespoons salt
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 3 cups apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1 teaspoon coarse black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon celery seed


  1. Grate zucchini, onions and peppers in a food processor. Place in a large bowl and add salt. Mix well. Cover and let stand at room temperature 8-10 hours.
  2. Rinse thoroughly in a large strainer and drain well. Use the back of the spoon to push mixture against strainer to release as much water as you can.
  3. Place zucchini mixture in a large stockpot and add remaining ingredients.
  4. Mix well and bring to a boil. Keep at a low boil for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  5. Place the relish in sterilized pint jars and process in a hot water bath for 15 minutes (adjust for altitude as needed) See the Grandma's Zucchini relish article for specific step by step canning instructions.


Recipe courtesy of Old World Garden Farms

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:

1 pint

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 649Total Fat: 2gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 6372mgCarbohydrates: 153gFiber: 8gSugar: 138gProtein: 8g

Nutritional Information is to be used as a general guideline only . Nutritional calculations will vary from the types and brands of the products used.

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