What Is Jezebel Sauce?

Cynde Gregory

Jezebel sauce is claimed by a number of Southern states, including Mississippi, Kansas, and Louisiana. The inclusion of mustard, horseradish, or both as a zippy foil to the sweet fruit jelly or preserves that compose the gentler side of the sauce adds a spicy heat. Traditionally, Jezebel sauce is served with pork and chicken dishes, as well as an accompaniment to beef dishes. Aficionados insist that the sauce must always be served with ham or meatloaf; some go as far as to say that local police will issue tickets to cooks who serve these dishes unaccompanied.

Traditional Jezebel sauce includes apple jelly.
Traditional Jezebel sauce includes apple jelly.

Many Southerners swear, however, that the sauce shows its true worth not as a plate mate that brings out meat's savor but as a sweetly sharp topping for cream cheese and cocktail crackers. This can be served simply, with thin slices of cream cheese offered on a plate with crackers and the sauce in a small bowl. For a fancier presentation, a "cheesecake" can be created by beating the cream cheese and forming it into a small, circular pie. Spooning a dollop of sauce atop the cream cheese as a glaze results in a treat as pretty as it is delicious.

Southern Jezebel sauce commonly features pineapple preserved.
Southern Jezebel sauce commonly features pineapple preserved.

The sweet base of a truly Southern Jezebel sauce typically combines peach, apricot, or pineapple preserves with an equal amount of apple jelly. To this is added a good amount of strong horseradish as well as dry mustard. Home cooks throughout the South blend these basic ingredients and store them for a week or two in glass jars in the refrigerator, although most cooks will point out that the contents rarely last that long.

Traditionalists claim that the only true Jezebel sauce variations are the result of greater or lesser amounts of horseradish and dry mustard or fresh cracked pepper. Cooks who aren’t tied to the condiment’s history can throw caution to the wind, experimenting with different fruit jellies or preserves or adding slivers of sweet red or hot chili pepper. Some toss in a few chopped, yellow raisins that have been soaked in white grape juice. Others begin with a base using fruit preserves and canned crushed pineapple instead of apple jelly.

Cracker topping variations include substituting tortilla chips for crackers. Some cooks insist that this delightful sauce can be blended with cream cheese rather than served atop it to save time or make serving it easier. Grating fresh ginger serves as a brilliant counterpoint by offering another type of heat that complements the sweet.

Apricot preserves are typically used in Jezebel sauce.
Apricot preserves are typically used in Jezebel sauce.

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Discussion Comments


When I get off of work there is nothing that I like better than coming home, kicking off my shoes and sitting down with a glass of white wine and some Jezebel sauce over cream cheese on crackers. That for me is total relaxation.


Jezebel sauce is the perfect sauce for pork tenderloin. Pork is a delicious meat but it has a very mild flavor and it really requires a bold sauce to complete the meal.

I have my own Jezebel sauce recipe that I have been tinkering with for a few years. It is mostly pineapple jelly but it also has very spicy mustard that I get from an import store. You have to use it sparingly but the flavor that just a little dollop provides is amazing.


I love the combination of sweet things with sharp tangy flavors and Jezebel sauce is one of the finest examples. I eat it on just about anything. Meat, sandwiches, crackers and cheese, you name it, I've eaten it.

I am surprised that more people do not know about it. It seems to be confined mostly to the south and even there it is not a staple on everyone's kitchen table.

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