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Homemade Ketchup Recipe: So Much Better Than Store Bought!

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Homemade Ketchup

Have you had a banner tomato year? I had a season in 2022 where my tomatoes just wouldn’t quit! I had so much sauce canned already that I was on the hunt for something else to do with my abundant harvest. So I made ketchup. Homemade ketchup seems like a luxury to some, but it’s easy and oh, so worth it!

When you make your own ketchup you can control the ingredients. Particularly, you can limit the amount of sugar. Have you ever read the labels of most ketchup brands? They are very high in high-fructose corn syrup. It’s usually the second ingredient listed, after tomatoes. Sometimes it is listed after vinegar, sometimes it is cane sugar, but even so, there is a LOT of sugar.

There are other benefits of making your own ketchup besides controlling the sugar content. You can also play around with the flavors. I like to add a bit of cayenne for an extra kick of spice in my ketchup. You can add more garlic and onions if you like. You can add herbs or warming spices as well. The sky is the limit when you make it yourself!

Homemade Ketchup Recipe


  • 4 quarts (about 24) ripe tomatoes, peeled, cored, and chopped
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 large red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and chopped
  • 1 1/2 tsp. celery seed
  • 1 tsp. mustard seed
  • 1 tsp. whole allspice
  • 1 stick cinnamon
  • 1 cup firmly packed brown sugar* or less, depending on taste
  • 1 Tbs. salt
  • 1 1/2 cups cider vinegar
  • 1 Tbs. paprika, or smoked paprika

Additional Suggestions:

  • *substitute fruit for sugar: equal parts apples and peaches, peeled and chopped
  • add 1/4 to 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper powder for a spicy kick
  • add 2 or 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • add liquid smoke, and/or Worcestershire sauce
  • substitute liquid aminos for salt


  1. In a large, nonreactive saucepan or Dutch oven, combine tomatoes, onion, and red bell pepper, and cook over medium heat until soft. Using a food mill or immersion blender (Karen’s favorite kitchen tool!) make a puree. Return to the saucepan.
  2. Over high heat, cook the puree rapidly until it is thick and reduced by half, stirring constantly. You can also take the slow method and cook in a crock pot with the lid off for a longer time.
  3. Place the celery seed, mustard seed, allspice and cinnamon stick in the center of a piece of cheesecloth and gather to form a bag, tie with string. Add the spice bag, brown sugar, and salt to the tomato mixture. Cook over low heat for 25 minutes, stirring often.
  4. Stir in the cider vinegar and paprika. Continue to cook until the desired thickness.
  5. Remove the bag, spoon into 3 hot sterilized pint jars, leafing 1/8 head space. Wipe the rims, cover, and process for 10 minutes in boiling water. (See the instructions in the Ball Canning Book, or any other canning recipe)

Homemade Bar-B-Que Sauce

Now that you’ve made your homemade ketchup, you can easily turn it into Barbeque Sauce! Here’s a basic recipe:


  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 2 Tbs. Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 Tbs sugar
  • 1/4 cup cider vinegar
  • 2 Tbs mustard
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. ground black pepper


In a medium, nonreactive saucepan , combine all the ingredients. Simmer over low heat for 20 minutes. Let cool. If desired, blend ingredients for finer texture.

Store in airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week, or frozen for up to 6 months.

homemade ketchup recipe

What Else Can You do with Homemade Ketchup?

Whether you are growing heirloom tomatoes, hybrids, paste tomatoes, or cherries, they all make great ketchup! If you don’t consume a lot of ketchup, there are still many things you can do with your homemade deliciousness. Here are a few ideas to get you salivating:

  1. Fry Sauce: Mix ketchup with mayonnaise, a splash of pickle juice, and a dash of hot sauce for a delicious dip for fries or onion rings.
  2. Cocktail Sauce: Blend homemade ketchup with horseradish, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, and a sprinkle of black pepper to create a zesty cocktail sauce perfect for shrimp or seafood.
  3. Sweet and Sour Sauce: Combine ketchup with rice vinegar, brown sugar, soy sauce, garlic, and ginger for a tangy sweet and sour sauce. Add a cornstarch slurry to thicken if desired.
  4. Russian Dressing: Mix ketchup with mayonnaise, pickle relish, Worcestershire sauce, and a touch of hot sauce for a creamy and tangy dressing, perfect for salads or sandwiches.
  5. Honey Mustard Sauce: Combine ketchup with Dijon mustard, honey, and a splash of apple cider vinegar for a sweet and tangy sauce, great for dipping chicken tenders or pretzels.
  6. Buffalo Sauce: Mix ketchup with hot sauce, melted butter, garlic powder, and a splash of vinegar for a milder, tangy buffalo sauce perfect for wings or cauliflower bites.
  7. Tangy Dipping Sauce: Blend ketchup with balsamic vinegar, honey, minced garlic, and a pinch of Italian seasoning for a tangy dipping sauce for veggies or mozzarella sticks.

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