Memorial Day is the ultimate grilling day!  Nothing goes with burgers and hot dogs like Ketchup.  So I decided to tackle homemade ketchup. This ketchup is made with tomatoes, brown sugar, vinegar and spices.  No high fructose corn syrup, preservatives or fillers. Homemade ketchup is not only good for you, it is also customizable to your varying taste buds. Besides a great topping for hamburgers and hot dogs, ketchup is also the perfect base for homemade barbecue sauce.  Make this ketchup and you are half way to making a championship barbecue sauce.

Tomato Ketchup – Adapted from Paul Kirk Championship BBQ

  • 28 oz can whole tomatoes
  • 1 small onion, finely diced or grated
  • 1/3 cup vinegar
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1/2 tsp mustard seed
  • 1/2 tsp allspice berries
  • 1/2 tsp black peppercorns
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 whole cloves
  • pinch celery seeds
  • pinch red pepper flakes
  • 4 tsp brown sugar
  • 2 tsp granulated sugar

Empty the contents of the can of tomatoes in a large nonreactive pan.  Bring them to a boil, and then reduce the heat to medium-low.  Let simmer for 30-45 minutes, or until the tomatoes are soft.


Add the onions, vinegar, garlic, salt and both sugars into the pot.

Place the spices in a cheesecloth and make a small spice bag by forming a pouch and tying it off.

Spice Bag

Add the spice bag to the tomato mixture and simmer over medium/medium-high heat for 45-60 minutes or until the sauce thickens.

Simmer till thick

Remove the spice bag from the mixture and then puree using an immersion blender or by pouring the mixture into a blender.  Remember that the sauce is extremely hot, so be careful when blending.


Pour the sauce into a large sieve or strainer.  Press the mixture through the sieve to get all of the flavor from the juices. Discard the pulp, seeds and spice bag.

Strain the Ketchup

If you wish the mixture to be thicker you can pour it back into the pan and simmer till it reduced to your desired thickness.  I have found that as soon as the ketchup clings to the back of a wooden spoon it will be the perfect consistency when cooled.

Homemade Ketchup

The ketchup tastes great as is, but will taste better after aging for a few weeks. Keep this stuff refrigerated and it will stick around for about 6 months.  However, I can not guarantee that you will not go through it in a couple of days.

This ketchup is simple and easy to make.  It makes about 2 cups of finished ketchup.  It contains no fillers or chemical thickeners.  It is pure tomatoes and a tad bit of sugar.  It was perfect.  Dana thought it was ok, but she is a slave to our friends over at Heinz.  I can’t blame her, that stuff is good.  However, this was also delicious.  Let me know what you think.

Rex is an avid griller, barbecuer and bacon enthusiast. He is the Pitmaster for the Rex BBQ competition team. Rex was also featured on the TV show American Grilled. If you have any questions or wish to have Rex decode your favorite dish, click on the ASK REX link in the menu above.


  1. Thanks Erin. It was super easy to do. Plus you can add a few more hot pepper flakes and make spicy ketchup. So good.

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