The Best Homemade Ketchup


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The Best Homemade Ketchup recipe by Barefeet In The Kitchen

Can ketchup be gourmet? I don’t know, but I think this is. I’ve never been a big fan of ketchup. If I do eat ketchup, it is pretty much only with French fries and then it simply must be Heinz.

So, if you were to ask me why I’ve been obsessed with making ketchup at home, I’d be hard pressed to even explain it.

This version of Homemade Ketchup is fantastic. I am ridiculously proud of how well this turned out. I found this recipe ages ago through and I decided at first glance that I wouldn’t be trying this one.

Good grief, it involves tying spices in cheesecloth and then stovetop simmering for ages. Let’s be honest and admit that’s a heck of a stretch for this girl. However, after a few less than stellar ketchup attempts, it was time for me to try this one.

I have had several people blind taste test this version and the others I made alongside good old Heinz. (Yes, I am weird and obsessive like that) I don’t really tell them that’s the plan. I simply offer them some homemade fries and then set a trio of ketchup in front of them.

As one friend described it, the Quick and Easy version is Acceptable, this version is Exceptional.

Don’t be freaked out by the recipe, once you get past actually bundling your spices (and trust me, it’s no big deal at all) the whole process is very simple. I cannot deny that it is time consuming, but it was worth it.

The taste just can’t be beat. I am impatient now for my fall garden to start producing lovely tomatoes for me to use. I am determined to figure out a way to can this ketchup. I like it that much!

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The Best Homemade Ketchup

Recipe from and with thanks to
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  • 2 lbs tomatoes roughly chopped - I used vine ripened organic tomatoes for this recipe
  • 1 medium yellow onion chopped
  • 1 tablespoon chopped green chili
  • 1/2 cup plain white vinegar
  • 5 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 stick cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon celery seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon whole allspice approximately 5-8 depending on size

Special Tools Needed

  • Mesh strainer
  • Cheesecloth or medical gauze – yes, it works
  • Kitchen twine or white ribbon – yes again


  • Wrap bay leaf, cinnamon, cloves, allspice, red pepper flakes and celery seeds in a double layer of cheesecloth or a triple layer of medical gauze. Tie into a bundle. (At this point, I had a lot of extra material, so I trimmed the extra off of the bundle.) Set aside.
  • Place tomatoes, onions, chili, garlic, vinegar, salt and brown sugar in a 4 quart saucepan. Add the spice bundle and cook over medium heat. Stir frequently while cooking, until  onions and chlie are very soft, approximately 45 minutes.
  • Remove the spice bundle and carefully puree the sauce in a blender or use an immersion blender in the hot pot. Puree the sauce until smooth. Strain the sauce through a medium size sieve. (This meant pressing the sauce through a metal sieve, using the back of a spatula. It takes me about 10 minutes to do this.) Place strained sauce back in a clean 4 quart pot and return to medium low heat.
  • Cook  over medium low, stirring occasionally, until sauce is thickened, about 30 minutes.
  • Transfer the finished ketchup to a glass jar and set aside to cool. Cover with lid and refrigerate. Enjoy!
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Mary Younkin

Mary Younkin

Hi, I’m Mary. I’m the author, cook, photographer, and travel lover behind the scenes here at Barefeet In The Kitchen. I'm also the author of three cookbooks dedicated to making cooking from scratch as simple as possible.

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  1. Beth says

    Bravo for your perseverance! I'm like you – I only really use ketchup on fries, and in a few recipes. But it looks like you've found a winner of a ketcup recipe!

  2. Pam says

    I really need to try making homemade ketchup! Love the photo!

    P.S. Thank you very much for the heads up about my ingredient photo.

  3. Apron Appeal says

    I love your from scratch recipes. Thanks for stopping by the ol' blog and leaving a note. Life is going well, really well just wishing I had a smidge more time to keep the blog rollin' but I won't complain about that.

  4. EcoCatLady says

    Wow! It sounds quite ambitious, but it looks good, and I just picked several huge boxes of tomatoes… unfortunately they're still green and will have to ripen inside as we got a hard freeze and there was no other choice. But I think it might take me an entire lifetime to eat that much ketchup (what's the difference between ketchup and catsup anyhow?)

    But I digress… do you think it would freeze well?

  5. Mary says

    I don't know how well it would freeze. I like it so much though, I'm going to try canning it when my winter tomatoes start ripening.

    Just a heads-up though, it doesn't actually make all that much ketchup. I'll add a note to the recipe as well. It barely filled a 2 cup mason jar. The tomatoes reduce dramatically.

  6. Mary says

    Galley Gourmet, I just used plain anaheim or hatch green chile from a can. You can barely taste it in the sauce, but it makes a huge difference in the flavor.

  7. Mary says

    Three Cookies, I have never heard of ajvar. I just looked it up though and I bet we would like it. With the roasted peppers and the chiles, my husband would be sure to love it. Thanks!

  8. Chris says

    This sounds so good that it would have to be saved for exceptional occasions, it would be a shame to waste on just a plain burger and fries. Maybe a kobe beef burger and hand cut, sea salt fries?

  9. Ruliao says

    I'm a foodie who has just become a Buddhist. It's one thing to not eat red or white meat, fish or eggs. In our group, we also don't eat onions (and their whole family like scallions, leeks, etc) and garlic!

    As you can imagine it's not easy to cut out onion and garlic and a lot of prepared foods like Heinz catsup contain one or both of those(Their ingredients include onion powder). Your recipe sounds delicious and I know you don't have my problem, but I wonder if you could help me think this out. Any ideas what I could use to substitute the medium onion? Thanks!

  10. pollkat says

    Don't want to sound dumb, but do you need to skin the tomatoes first or do you throw the entire tomato in? Thanks. I'm anxious to give this recipe a try. Want to make my own instead of buying commercial brands – even organic,

    • Mary says

      I did not remove the skins. I pureed the tomatoes and then used a fine mesh strainer to make sure it was smooth in the end. There was no need to peel them.