Giardiniera is the Italian pickled vegetable condiment that’s a must for sandwiches, burgers, and so much more! This crunchy combination of carrots, celery, cauliflower, and peppers is so easy to make at home you’ll never use store-bought giardiniera again!

Quart containers and mason jars filled with giardiniera on wooden table.


I’ve had store-bought giardiniera many times throughout my life and while it’s always been good, it never had that “wow factor”.

And then I made it at home and haven’t looked back.

Not only is homemade giardiniera surprisingly easy to make at home, it’s entirely customizable which means you can make it as mild or hot as you’d like.

While giardiniera is the traditional accompaniment to Chicago-style Italian beef sandwiches, it’s also great on top of potato frittatas, pepper and egg sandwiches, grilled steak, pizza, and just about anything else you can think of!

Recipe Ingredients

All ingredients for this recipe are shown in the pic below and special notes are made in this bulleted list to assist you.

Ingredients shown: onion, hot peppers, carrot, celery, olives, olive oil, spices, vinegar, cauliflower, garlic, and bell pepper.
  • Cauliflower, carrots, and celery. These 3 are the main stars of the show and a must for traditional giardiniera.
  • Jalapeños and serranos. Spicy peppers are great in giardiniera, especially for those who like some heat. If you prefer no spice, simply omit them or replace them with a green bell pepper.
  • Green olives. While green olives aren’t a requirement in giardiniera, they add great flavor.
  • Olive oil. You can use regular olive oil or extra virgin.
  • Vinegar. White vinegar is preferred and will preserve better than water, which believe it or not, is often used over vinegar in Chicago Italian beef joints. I personally prefer vinegar.
  • Seasoning. We’re using a combination of celery seeds, dried oregano, fennel seeds, and hot red pepper flakes to elevate the flavors in our homemade giardiniera.

See the recipe card for complete information on ingredients and quantities.

How to make it

Each number corresponds to the numbered written steps below.

  1. Chop 4 cups worth of cauliflower (approximately 3/4 of a head), and dice 5 celery ribs and 2 large carrots. Dice 1 large sweet onion, 1 large red bell pepper, and chop 1/2 cup of pitted green olives (Photo #1).
Giardiniera recipe process shot collage showing chopped cauliflower and chopped serano and jalapeno peppers.
  1. Dice 3 serrano peppers and 8 jalapeño peppers (Photo #2).
  2. Place the chopped vegetables into a large bowl, add 1/4 cup of salt, and mix to distribute evenly (Photo #3).
Process shot collage group two showing mixing chopped vegetables in bowl with salt and covering bowl with plastic wrap.
  1. Cover a lid or plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 8 hours, but preferably overnight (Photo #4).
  2. Once the vegetables have sat overnight, they will have released much of their water. Rinse them well in a colander to remove the excess salt and drain (Photo #5). While they’re draining, mince 5 cloves of garlic.
Process shot collage group number three showing veggies after 1 night in the fridge and showing veggies mixed with oil and vinegar.
  1. Place the vegetables into a clean large mixing bowl and combine with 2 cups of olive oil, 2 cups of white vinegar, the minced garlic, 1/2 teaspoon of celery seeds, 2 teaspoons of dried oregano, 1 teaspoon of hot red pepper flakes, and a 1/2 teaspoon of fennel seeds. Taste test and adjust salt and pepper, but I doubt you will need either. Place the giardiniera in clean jars and top with vinegar. Refrigerate for 2 days prior to serving so the flavors have time to mingle (Photo #6). Enjoy!
Large bowl of giardiniera with wooden ladle.

Top tips

  • Ingredient size. I did an average-sized cut for my giardiniera veggies. If you prefer them smaller, which works well for Italian beef sandwiches, feel free to cut them into even smaller pieces, and likewise for larger pieces.
  • Brine. It’s really important to let the veggies sit with the salt brine for at least 8 hours, but the giardiniera will be even better when brined overnight and up to 2 days. Just don’t forget to rinse the salt away before combining with the vinegar, oil, and spice mixture!
  • Let it sit. Though it’s tempting to eat the giardiniera right away, it will be even better after it has sat in the fridge for 2-3 days.
How should I store giardiniera?

Giardiniera should be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator and can be kept for up to 3 weeks. As you use the giardiniera, you can continue to add a bit of vinegar to ensure the veggies remain covered.

What does giardiniera mean?

Giardiniera is Italian for “gardener” which makes sense considering this condiment is essentially a medley of diced pickled veggies straight from the garden!

Mason jars filled with giardiniera.

More homemade condiment recipes

Here are a few more of our favorite condiments to make at home. For more on Italian condiments, check out our Top Italian Condiments podcast episode!

If you’ve enjoyed this giardiniera recipe or any recipe on this site, give it a 5-star rating and tell us about it in the comments below.

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Giardiniera

5 from 3 votes
Prep: 20 minutes
salting time: 8 hours
Total: 8 hours 20 minutes
Servings: 3 quarts
A medley of pickled chopped vegetables, giardiniera is a versatile condiment that adds some zing to whatever it's added to! Great with sandwiches, frittatas, salads, and so much more, homemade giardiniera is so easy to make you'll never buy store bought again!

Ingredients 

Brine the vegetables

  • 4 cups cauliflower flourets chopped, (about 3/4 head of cauliflower)
  • 5 ribs celery diced
  • 2 large carrots diced
  • 1 large sweet onion diced
  • 1 large red bell pepper diced
  • 8 jalapeno peppers diced
  • 3 serrano chili peppers diced
  • 1/2 cup pitted green olives chopped
  • 1/4 cup salt

Finish the giardiniera

  • 2 cups olive oil
  • 2 cups white vinegar
  • 5 cloves garlic minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon celery seeds
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes or to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds

Instructions 

  • Place the vegetables in a large bowl and mix with the salt. Refrigerate for at least 8 hours but prefereably overnight.
  • Rinse the vegetables in a colander and drain.
  • Place all of the vegetables into a large mixing bowl and combine with the olive oil, vinegar, garlic, celery seeds, oregano, and hot red pepper flakes.
  • Taste test and adjust salt and pepper if required. Place the giardiniera in clean jars and top with vinegar. Refrigerate for 2 days before serving so that flavors meld together. Enjoy!

Notes

  • Though you can brine the veggies for as little as 8 hours it is recommended to brined overnight or for 2 days.  Also, let the finished giardiniera sit in the fridge for 2-3 days before serving for optimal flavor.
  • Any type of vegetable can be used for this recipe.  If you like more cauliflower or pepper, feel free to make those adjustments.
  • For a mild giardiniera, simply omit the hot peppers and/or hot red pepper flakes.
  • Giardiniera can be saved in the fridge for up to 3 weeks. 

Nutrition

Calories: 1309kcal | Carbohydrates: 24.6g | Protein: 4.1g | Fat: 137.3g | Saturated Fat: 19.6g | Sodium: 2443mg | Potassium: 941mg | Fiber: 7.8g | Sugar: 11.5g | Calcium: 112mg | Iron: 3mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

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16 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    The giardiniera that is commonly used for Chicago Italian beef sandwiches is in a oil solution. Can oil be substituted for vinegar or is a mixture required?

    1. Hi Mordechai, thanks for the comment and great question. Texture is an important part of giardiniera so I’m not sure how the texture would be with frozen cauliflower. If you do use it, I’d completely defrost it, let it drain, and then use it.

  2. 5 stars
    I have never made homemade giardiniera but it was surprisingly easy. It smells amazing–can’t wait to use on my Italian roast beef sandwiches next week. Have you ever used zucchini in this? It seems like it might work deliciously. I enjoy all of your recipes Jim. Thanks for making me a great cook!

    1. Hi Cheryl, thanks for the comment and so happy you enjoyed it! You can use zucchini but it’s not as hearty/crispy as the others so it wouldn’t be my first choice. I hope that helps!

  3. Weird question… can I use a sweeter vinegar such as apple cider or rice vinegar? I don’t like the harsh acidity of the white vinegar.

    1. Hi Patricia, you can use a different vinegar if you prefer, although it may change the taste. You can also consider omitting the vinegar and just use water if the acidity bothers you.

    1. Hi Andrea, you can jar or can it using proper canning procedures/protocol, however, these are not outlined here in the this recipe. This recipe is for the refrigerated version only.