Vivi’s Chiles en Vinagre, the Best Mexican Snack

Abuela Approved Badge Vivi chiles en vinagre or chiles escabeche

Chiles en vinagre, a pickled mix of jalapeños, onions, garlic and carrots, is a traditional Mexican table treat. And one of our favorite Chicago-area Mexican cooks, Vanessa Abeja, who goes by Vivi, is all about this traditional tart snack in her latest Instagram Live.

”Isn’t it beautiful?” says Vivi, holding up her colorful mason jar packed with the vinegar-covered vegetables and fruits (that’s right: chiles are a fruit!).

Vivi chiles en vinagre
“Food is my love language,” says Vivi Abeja. Her latest Instagram Live Vivis_Table episode of “Feeding the Soul” is about chiles en vinagre or chiles in vinager.

With our shared love of abuela cooking and deep belief in the power of family and food traditions to remind us who we are and where we come from, Familia Kitchen could not be more excited to announce that we are officially partnering with Vivis_Table. Each week, we will showcase Vivi’s “Feeding the Soul” Live recipe-cookalongs. By highlighting one new recipe each week, we are honored to help celebrate and share Vivi’s love of traditional Mexican with our comida Latina-loving community of homecooks.

Vivi lives in the historically Mexican Chicago neighborhood of Little Village, where she grew up near her abuela, Elisa Abeja. Vivi’s love of food is inspired by her grandmother, who has taught her so many traditional recipes, including the Michoacan-style tamales known as corundas and uchepes that Vivi started selling on the streets of Little Village during COVID. Even though she has since graduated from, a local ed-tech startup and culinary school dedicated to helping Latinos enter the food industry, Vivi still works as a street vendor when she can on weekends, serving the corn delicacies to her loyal Little Village customers. “I’m on a mission to keep my abuela’s recipes going. Sharing food with people makes my heart full,” she says.

Vivi and her abuela
One of the most important people in Vivi’s life and an enduring cooking inspiration is her abuelita, Elisa Abeja, left, who came to the United States from Michoacan, Mexico, a half century ago to make a better life for her family.

Let’s Make Chiles en Vinagre: Live!

”Hello good people! I’m so excited for this week’s Live!” says Vivi, with an enorme smile at the start this new ”Feeding the Soul” episode. “I’ll be making one of my favorites: Chiles en vinagre. It’s also known as escabeche. Check out this super-easy recipe for you to try at home.”

Vivi chiles en vinagre
Vivi gathers the fresh ingredients for today’s pickled recipe: jalapeños, onions, carrots, garlic and bay leaves.

And then, because the jar of vinegar-covered ingredients has to sit in the fridge for 24 hours before it’s ready, she adds, ”I cannot wait for these to be ready to eat. I love snacking on chiles en vinagre!” Vivi holds up a plate with the fresh chiles, vegetables and aromatics she will be searing in her medium-high pan: jalapeños, onions, carrots, a whole head of garlic, and bay leaves. She confesses that she bought all the ingredients earlier, but forgot them at her boyfriend’ house. “But thank God,” she smiles, ”Shoutout to past Vivi, because I pretty much had everything I needed in my home’s fridge and pantry.”

Vivi chiles en vinagre
Vivi caramelizes and browns the garlic for maximum sabor.

Vivi shows her audience how she browns the jalapeños, uncut and seeds in, on all sides and the onions and garlic. Vivi then holds up one large carrot and advises, ”Cook the carrots last because they will turn the oil slightly orange. I like to pull out the carrots when they get that nice texture, before they start to steam, because I love the crunch and the bite.”

Vivi chiles en vinagre
Vivi mixes all the ingredients and then transfers them to a jar to cover in white vinegar. Let the pickling begin!

Last, Vivi tosses all the ingredients together in the bowl, mixing in the Mexican oregano and salt. ”You can actually add any type of vegetables you want. You can use cauliflower, lots of people do,” she notes. Vivi peers into her bowl, satisfied. ”This is the traditional way to make it, with ajo, onions, jalapeños, carrots and spices, and I love it that way.” Viv pauses mid-sentence to wave at the streaming list of names joining today’s Instagram Live, greeting friends and regulars. As she signs off, ready to store the chiles en vinagre in the fridge for 24 hours, she reminds everyone to acknowledge their feelings and follow their hearts when cooking—and in everything else, too. “You do what makes you happy.”

Watch Vivi make her traditional chiles en vinagre on her Live stream here, as she makes her way through her favorite Mexican, abuela-cooking recipes.

Ready to Make Vivi’s Chiles en Vinagre?

Chiles en Vinagre or Chiles Escabeche, the Best Mexican Snack

Recipe by Vivi Abeja
5.0 from 3 votes
Cuisine: Mexican


Prep time


Cooking time




  • 8 jalapeños

  • 3 to 4 Tbsp olive oil, divided

  • 1/2 white onion, sliced

  • 1 head garlic, sliced in half

  • 1 carrot, large, sliced

  • 4 bay leaves

  • 1 tsp Mexican oregano

  • 1 1/2 tsp salt

  • White vinegar, to cover all the ingredients in a jar


  • In a large pan on the stovetop set to medium-high, add 3 Tbsp of olive oil.
  • Rinse and puncture your jalapeños with a fork. Sauté in the hot pan until they get a nice sear on all sides. Place the jalapeños in a bowl and set aside.
  • In the same pan still set to medium-high, place the onion slices and the garlic halves, cut side down. Stir occasionally. Add 1 Tbsp more oil, if needed. When the onions turn translucent and start to wilt, add them to the bowl. When the garlic starts to turn golden and become caramelized, about 3 to 4 minutes, add to the bowl.
  • Sear the carrots last because they will change the color of the oil they are cooking in. Remove the carrots when they start to brown and before they begin to steam to avoid soggy carrots. When they are ready, add to the bowl with the rest of the ingredients.
  • In the same pan, sauté the bay leaves for about 20 seconds and then add to the bowl. Turn off the heat.
  • Add Mexican oregano and salt to your bowl with the chiles and vegetables. Mix well.
  • When all the ingredients are thoroughly coated with the spices, place them in a glass jar with a tight lid. Fill the jar with white vinegar, so that all the ingredients are fully covered.
  • Let the ingredients and vinegar cool down to room temperature. Then, tightly cover the jar with the lid. Store it in the fridge for 24 hours and enjoy!


  • If you love garlic, like she does, Vivi suggests adding extra cloves to the hot pan, to pump up the garlicky sabor.

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