Homemade Ketchup

Ketchup is a burger staple. Here is a fool-proof recipe you can make in a pinch all summer long.

The best homemade ketchup in a glass jar.
Alison Bickel

Ketchup is one of those sauces, that complements a dish, but for the most part you don’t notice it—it lets the main star shine. T

his is a reliable recipe you can use in a pinch (when you don’t have time to run to the grocery store and guests are arriving at your backyard BBQ in less than an hour.) 

This ketchup is a balance of sweet, salty, and most of all, a little sour from the vinegar. We don’t want a cloying dollop of sugary tomatoes or complicated spices. Ketchup is one of those condiments you can depend on, so this is a super straight forward version that will get the job done. 

It’s the perfect addition to your grilled burgers and hot dogs at your next cookout.   

What is Ketchup?

Ketchup, a sweet, salty, and tart sauce relies on vinegar to bring everything together. We tend to associate ketchup with tomatoes, but tomatoes are simply a complementary vessel to carry the tang of the vinegar.

Without a certain amount of acidity, it wouldn’t be the burger topping, or the essential meatloaf glaze that defines some of our favorite foods.

Clove is the spice which gives ketchup a depth of flavor and a gentle warmth that no other spice could provide. Additionally, we’ve used honey as a sweetener, and also to give a little body to the consistency of the ketchup. 

A ketchup recipe being spooned out of a glass jar.
Alison Bickel

Tips for Making Homemade Ketchup

Here are some tips to making the perfect ketchup recipe every single time:

  • Be careful when blending a hot liquid, as the build-up of heat can pop the lid off the blender. Work in batches. Fill the blender only 1/3 to 1/2 full, and remove the center cap on the blender lid. Use a kitchen towel to cover the hole and hold the lid in place with your hand. 
  • Use a countertop blender for a smooth consistency. An immersion blender will also work well, but it will be a bit chunkier. This is where personal preference comes into play. If you want to explore what the texture of your ketchup will be like with an immersion blender, here is a guide to the best models

Ketchup Recipe Swaps and Substitutions

Here are some swaps and substitutions to try just in case you wanted to slightly mix up the flavor profile of your ketchup:

  • Replace the red wine vinegar with apple cider vinegar.
  • Swap the sweet paprika with cayenne pepper, if you prefer a little heat in your ketchup.
  • Include 1/2 teaspoon of ground all spice, as an additional spice.
Ketchup recipe on a hamburger.
Alison Bickel

How to Store Homemade Ketchup

Transfer the finished ketchup to a glass jar or plastic container. The ketchup will keep for one month refrigerated. 

Homemade Ketchup

Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 48 mins
Cooling Time 30 mins
Total Time 88 mins
Servings 40 servings
Yield 2 1/2 cups ketchup

Ingredients

  • 1 medium (1 cup) yellow onion
  • 1/2 teaspoon olive oil
  • 3 teaspoons salt, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground clove
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon 
  • 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 3 ounces tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar, divided
  • 1 (14 ounce) can crushed tomatoes

Method

  1. Dice the onions: 

    Cut the onion to medium dice and place in a medium bowl.

    Chopped onions in a metal bowl to make ketchup from scratch.
    Alison Bickel
  2. Sauté the onions: 

    In a Dutch oven or 3-quart sauté pan over medium heat, warm the olive oil. Add the onions and 1 teaspoon of salt. Cook the onions until translucent, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes.

    Reduce the heat to medium-low, and add the clove, cinnamon, and sweet paprika to the onions. Stir for 1 minute, coating the onions. At this point, we are building flavor for the ketchup.

    Add the sugar and 1 teaspoon of salt, and stir until the sugar melts, about 30 seconds. Add the tomato paste and honey, stirring for 2 minutes. The onion mixture will have a look of a shiny, jammy BBQ sauce. If you stopped at this point and ate a few spoonful’s, don’t worry, nobody’s looking. I won’t judge you.

    Cooking onions in a pot to make ketchup from scratch
    Alison Bickel
    Ketchup cooking on the stove.
    Alison Bickel
    The best homemade ketchup cooking in a pot.
    Alison Bickel
    Cooking easy homemade ketchup in a pot.
    Alison Bickel
  3. Add the liquid ingredients: 

    Add 2/3 cup of red wine vinegar and the crushed tomatoes. Reduce the heat to low. Set a lid on the Dutch oven, leaving it slightly ajar to allow for evaporation, but also control any splatter. Cook, stirring occasionally, 20-25 minutes.

    Cooking easy homemade ketchup in a pot.
    Alison Bickel
    A covered pot on the stove making a homemade ketchup recipe.
    Alison Bickel
  4. Pour ketchup into large bowl, then blend in batches: 

    Remove from the heat and set aside for 5 minutes to slightly cool. Pour the unblended ketchup into a large bowl and set the Dutch oven aside. You will use it again later. 

    Blend the ketchup mixture in batches, filling your countertop blender 1/3 to 1/2 full at a time.

    Remove the cap from the top of the blender lid, cover the hole with a kitchen towel, and hold the lid with your hand. Start the blender at a low setting, slowly increase to high. The sauce will be bright red with a consistency similar to a ribbony pudding.

    Pour the blended ketchup mixture back into the Dutch oven. Repeat until all of the ketchup is blended. 

    The best homemade ketchup blended in a blender.
    Alison Bickel
  5. Season, simmer, and cool the ketchup: 

    Add the remaining 1 teaspoon of salt and the remaining 2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar to the ketchup.

    Simmer the mixture on a low heat for 5 minutes. Think cake frosting and a deep color of sunset red, and you’re all done. Remove from the heat and allow to cool, 20-30 minutes.

    Ketchup from scratch simmering on the stove.
    Alison Bickel
  6. Store the ketchup: 

    Transfer the ketchup to a glass jar or plastic container, and store in the refrigerator for up to one month. It is ready to use immediately.