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Tomato Jam

You’re going to love my easy recipe for old-fashioned Tomato Jam. It’s sweet and spicy with complex yet familiar flavors that can transform even the simplest food into something delicious. This “grown-up ketchup” is the perfect accompaniment for everything from hamburgers and hot dogs to steaks and chicken.

Finished tomato jam in a wire bail top storage jar.

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I’m going to tell you something today that I’ll bet you don’t know about me. I love ketchup. Adore it. I eat it like a six-year-old. On french fries; on hash browns; on hamburgers. And, yes, on steak. Especially on steak, much to the chagrin of servers in steak houses all around this area. It’s just not a steak to me without my ketchup.

This Tomato Jam recipe is what I like to call “grown-up ketchup.” It has the usual sweet, spicy, tomato-ey taste of ketchup but is it ever kicked up a notch or three!

This jam is so good it will make you want to rush over the stove to cook something just so you can have a spoonful of this on the side. No kidding.

Use this as a condiment with anything where you’d normally serve ketchup. It’s great on a burger, especially a turkey burger. It’s fantastic with roast chicken and really wakes up your breakfast hash browns. The flavor is rich and tangy with a spicy kick from the red chili flakes.

It also makes a great appetizer – spread a cracker or toasted slice of baguette with a little goat cheese and top with a bit of tomato jam – yum!

❤️ Why You’ll Love This Recipe


  • Made from scratch without preservatives using simple ingredients.
  • Sweetness and spice level can be adjusted to suit your taste.
  • Makes a great gift for family and friends and is a great hostess gift for a barbecue or party.
  • Tastes wonderful on top of meats like burgers, steaks, and chicken.
  • Can even be used at breakfast on top of eggs or hash browns!

🛒 Ingredient Notes


  • Cherry tomatoes (these are the star of the show; be sure to choose ones that are ripe but firm to the touch and free of blemishes)
  • Sugar (sweetens and thickens the jam)
  • Lime zest and juice (adds a fresh acidic kick)
  • Ginger, cinnamon and cloves (traditional spices for any ketchup, even commercial ones use these)
  • Red chili flakes (adds a subtle heat to the jam that you can customize to suit yourself)
  • Salt (balances the salty and spicy flavors)

You’ll find detailed measurements for all ingredients in the printable version of the recipe at the bottom of this post.

🥄 How to Make Tomato Jam


Yellow and red cherry tomatoes in a white mixing bowl.

You’ll need 2 1/2 pounds of tomatoes for the recipe. You can use any type of tomatoes that are available, but I prefer cherry tomatoes and often mix red and yellow.

Halved cherry tomatoes on a cutting board.
STEP 1.

STEP 1. Cut the tomatoes in half or quarters depending on their size.

Collage showing the addition of ingredients to the cherry tomatoes.
STEP 2.

STEP 2. Combine the tomatoes, sugar, lime zest, lime juice, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, salt, and red chili flakes in a large non-reactive pot.

👉 PRO TIP: If you’re wondering what “non-reactive” pot means, it refers to the kind of metal that a pot or pan is made from. Aluminum, cast iron, and copper are reactive metals; stainless steel, ceramic, glass, and enamel coated cookware are non-reactive. Certain foods when cooked in reactive pots can pick up a metallic flavor or change colors. Tomatoes just happen to do that, so you’d want to use a non-reactive pot for this recipe.

Jam mixture cooking at a rolling boil.
STEP 3.

STEP 3. Bring the mixture up to a rolling boil, then reduce the heat to low and maintain a steady simmer.

👉 PRO TIP: Do not cover the pot while the jam is cooking. The moisture needs to be able to evaporate in order for the jam to thicken.

Jam mixture after simmering for 2 hours.
STEP 4.

STEP 4. Cook for 1 to 2 hours, stirring regularly until the tomatoes become a soft, sticky, jammy consistency. The cooking time will depend on how high you keep your simmering temperature and may actually take up to 3 or more hours.

👉 PRO TIP: Check the progress and stir occasionally until you achieve your desired consistency. I like mine very thick. My cooking time is actually closer to four hours because I keep my temperature very low. I’d rather cook it lower and longer so I don’t have to watch it so closely. If you simmer at a higher temperature you could risk scorching the jam.

STEP 5. When cooking is complete, remove the pan from the heat. Spoon the jam into a storage jar and keep it in the refrigerator.

Makes about two pints.

Finished tomato jam in a wire bail top storage jar.

❗ Recipe Tips


  • Cooking time will depend on your simmering temperature and desired thickness. It may take 3 hours or more for the mixture to reach the correct consistency.
  • Make sure to use a clean, sanitized jar for storage.
  • This is not a canning recipe. It’s not shelf stable and must be stored under refrigeration rather than in the pantry.

🔀 Variations



  • Change the color by using all yellow tomatoes.
  • Add a dash of liquid smoke for a smoky tomato jam.
  • Stir in a bit of curry powder for a curried tomato jam to use in Indian dishes.
  • Use lemon juice and zest instead of lime for a bright citrus flavor.
  • For a more Asian flavor, add a teaspoon of toasted sesame oil.

🍚 Storing and Freezing


  • Storing: Store the cooled jam in jars with sealed in the fridge. Use within 3 weeks.
  • Freezing: You can freeze the cooled jam in a freezer safe zip-top bag or plastic container for up to 3 months. Thaw completely in the fridge overnight before using.

❓ Questions About Tomato Jam


What are some ideas for using tomato jam?

Glad you asked! It’s actually great on a grilled cheese sandwich. Or try it on buttered toast with cream cheese. Some people like to use it as an on-the-side condiment with meat pies, particularly beef. You can also use it as the topping on a meatloaf, or on a meatloaf sandwich. Basically, anywhere you’d use ketchup, you can use tomato jam.

What are the best tomatoes to use for this recipe?

I personally like using cherry tomatoes because they don’t have as much juice as other tomatoes. The juicier the tomatoes, the longer you’ll have to cook your jam to get to the thick, sticky consistency of jam.

Can I make this in a slow cooker?

In order for the jam to thicken, the moisture needs to evaporate off during cooking. Because slow cookers hold moisture in, I don’t recommend using a slow cooker for this recipe.

Lana Stuart.

More Questions? I’m happy to help!

If you have more questions about the recipe, or if you’ve made it and would like to leave a comment, scroll down to leave your thoughts, questions, and/or rating!

Thanks so much for stopping by!

📖 Recipe

Finished tomato jam in a wire bail top storage jar.

Tomato Jam

This sweet and spicy Tomato Jam, or "grown-up ketchup," is perfect with everything from hamburgers and hot dogs to steaks and chicken.
5 from 17 votes
Print It Rate It Save
Course: Condiments and Extras
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours 30 minutes
Total Time: 3 hours
Servings: 32 servings
Calories: 50kcal
Author: Lana Stuart

Ingredients

  • 2 ½ pounds cherry tomatoes halved (about 4 pints)
  • 1 ¾ cups sugar
  • Grated zest of 1 lime
  • 4 tablespoons lime juice about 2 limes
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 ½ teaspoons salt
  • 1 ½ teaspoons red pepper flakes

Instructions

  • Cut the tomatoes in half or quarters depending on their size.
  • Combine the tomatoes, sugar, lime zest, lime juice, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, salt and red chili flakes in a large non-reactive pot.
  • Bring the mixture up to a rolling boil, then reduce the heat to maintain a steady simmer. Do not cover the pot.
  • Cook for 1 to 2 hours, stirring regularly, until the tomatoes become a soft, sticky, jammy consistency. The cooking time will depend on how high you keep your simmering temperature and may actually take up to 3 or more hours (see notes).
  • Check the progress and stir occasionally until you achieve your desired consistency.
  • When cooking is complete, remove the pan from the heat.
  • Spoon the jam into a jar and store in the refrigerator.
  • Makes approximately 4 cups of jam. Serving size = 2 tablespoons.

Notes

The recipe makes approximately 4 cups of jam. Nutrition values are calculated on a serving size of 2 tablespoons.
Notes
  • About the cooking time: Check the progress and stir occasionally until you achieve your desired consistency. Depending on the heat, cooking time may take up to four hours.
  • Do not cover the pot while the jam cooks. The moisture needs to be able to evaporate in order for the jam to thicken. A slow cooker is not recommended for this recipe.
Tips and FAQs
  • Make sure to use a clean, sanitized jar for storage. This is not a canning recipe. It’s not shelf stable and must be stored under refrigeration rather than in the pantry.
Storing and Freezing
  • Storing: Store the cooled jam in sealed jars in the fridge. Use within 3 weeks.
  • Freezing: You can freeze the cooled jam in a freezer safe zip-top bag or plastic container for up to 3 months. Thaw completely in the fridge overnight before using.

Nutrition Information

Serving 2tablespoons | Calories 50kcal | Carbohydrates 13g | Protein 1g | Fat 1g | Saturated Fat 1g | Sodium 115mg | Potassium 82mg | Fiber 1g | Sugar 12g | Vitamin A 202IU | Vitamin C 9mg | Calcium 5mg | Iron 1mg

Nutrition information is calculated by software based on the ingredients in each recipe. It is an estimate only and is provided for informational purposes. You should consult your healthcare provider or a registered dietitian if precise nutrition calculations are needed for health reasons.

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Recipe Rating




67 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    I peeled the tomatoes first because its been so hot here that some of the skins are tough. I even peeled the little yellow pear tomatoes. I cooked the mixture for about 3hours and then did a water bath so I could store the jam longer.

    1. MaryLou — This is not a canning recipe. A water bath will not make it shelf stable or safe. It must be stored under refrigeration.

  2. Frank Swift says:

    5 stars
    Increased ingredients:
    1 TBLS freshly grated ginger
    1 tsp cinnamon
    1/2 tsp ground cloves
    2 tsp Himalayan Pink Salt
    Prep time 1 hour to quarter 2.5 pounds of mixed cherry tomatoes.
    Cooked in slow cooker without lid, after bring to a boil on range, for 8 hours.
    We love the zestier version on toast, cracker & cheese, and meats.

  3. I made this yesterday, and used it on lamb chops. Very good.

    I was concerned about the tomato peels, so I laboriously quartered the tomatoes, thinking that smaller peels would be better. First bite I took, got one of those peels that sticks to your teeth. Several rude words were said. When the jam was done cooking (a bit more than 3 hours), I put it through a food mill, which made the consistency perfect.

    Great recipe.

    Thanks,
    Joe

  4. Denisa Cate says:

    5 stars
    My husband loves this – eats it regularly. He puts it on many things especially his favorite breakfast quesadilla.

    1. Thanks for letting me know! I think tomato jam on quesadillas sounds great, too :-)

  5. Gail Claggett says:

    5 stars
    Is it cardamon or cinnamon?

  6. can this be made in crock pot

    1. Hi Ann — The moisture needs to be able to evaporate during cooking in order for the jam to thicken. Because of that, a slow cooker is not recommended for this recipe.

  7. Have you ever had trouble with the skins breaking down?

    1. Hi Britteny – I’m not sure exactly what you’re asking about the skins breaking down?

      1. The skins or peels all rolled up after the tomatoes cooked down and they get stuck in your teeth and the roof of your mouth. I keep gagging on them. The flavor is so good, but the peels are awful.

        1. Wow, no, I’ve never had that to happen. Cherry tomatoes usually have really thin, tender skin and it almost disappears into the mixture. I’d suggest processing it through a food mill, or in a food processor maybe. You could even press it through a fine mesh metal sieve to remove most of the skins if you wanted to.

  8. Lana Stuart says:

    I think it would probably work great in the crock pot, Debbie!

  9. Lana

    I made this jam last year. Loved it and mad another batch and canned it. We just had some the other evening with goat cheese and crackers and it seemed to be perfectly fine. A big hit with all of our friends!!

    1. Lana Stuart says:

      You’ve reminded me that I need to make a batch of this! We enjoy with all kinds of things in place of catsup.

  10. Thank you! This is one of those things I have been looking for. The best appetizer I’ve ever had was a wedge of Brie, roasted garlic, tomato jam, a few baby greens,all served with pita points. The flavors,tasted all together were fantastic.
    PS I’m still finding interesting recipes as I continue exploring your blog.

    1. Lana Stuart says:

      That sounds really delicious, Shelby. I can’t wait to try that for myself!

  11. I just made this with cherry toms from my garden – it was my first ever jam and it was SO easy and tastes really good! Thanks a lot – I will definitely be making more!

    1. Lana Stuart says:

      Glad you liked it, Clare. Reminds me that I need to make some more!

  12. I just made this last night in the crockpot. Cooked on high with the lid half off for 12 hours. Totally easy and boy did my house smell yummy. Thanks for the great idea.

  13. Hey can you think of any reason why you couldn’t waterbath can this?

    1. Yes, I can. It’s probably not acidic enough for water bath canning. Honestly, I don’t take chances with canning anything that hasn’t been tested and approved for canning by USDA. And this is not an approved canning recipe.

  14. I made this today. What a great way to use up cherry tomatoes! I’m not a ketchup fan, so I am not sure what I’m gonna try it on first. LOL I really like the taste though. I’m gonna can it for gifts. I know some people who will love it! I didn’t care for the skins, so I hit it with the stick blender.. that made it better for me… Thank you for this interesting and yummy, super easy in the crock pot recipe!
    It may sound like I wasn’t crazy about it… but it’s really good and perfect for me since I’m down and out with my back.. leaving it to cook in the crock pot was so fun!

    1. Joyce – I’m so glad you enjoyed making the tomato jam and hope you really enjoy using it! You said you planned to can it for gifts. Just be aware that this is not an approved canning recipe. It hasn’t been tested to determine whether it has the required pH to make it shelf-stable. You could, however, certainly pack it into jars to keep in the refrigerator and tell your recipients to do the same :-)

  15. Thanks for this great recipe, Lana. I’ve made it several times, with a couple of slight adjustments. I add a couple of shallots, and reduce the sugar somewhat. I actually canned this and gave it as Christmas presents to several friends this year, and it went over really well! YUMmmmm!

  16. I’ve never made tomato jam and it looks fabulous! I love the sweet and spicy. It is definitely something that sounds good spread on a cracker for a little snack. I love that kind of snack!

  17. How long will it keep in the fridge?

    1. I don’t really know just how long this will keep in the fridge. It never lasts long enough around here to test that. To be safe, I probably wouldn’t keep it more than a couple of weeks.

  18. purabi naha says:

    I loved this jam. Such breathtaking photographs! I loved your site.

  19. seriously beautiful photographs and what a wonderful recipe!

  20. I have always wanted to make Tomato Jam. This looks FABULOUS!

    1. Thanks! It’s really quite easy to make – you should try it.

  21. Kevin (Closet Cooking) says:

    A tomato jam sounds really good!

  22. Miss @ Miss in the Kitchen says:

    This looks really good. I actually don’t like ketchup, it actually inspired me to create a bbq sauce business! My kids and husband think that ketchup is it’s own food group, so I will be trying this.

    1. I’d be right there with your hubby and kids. Ketchup is most definitely its own food group in my house :-)

  23. While I am a mustard person, my daughter adores ketchup – puts it on her eggs even, not sure where I went wrong with her! :D

    I’ll have to make this for her.

    1. I hope you’ll try it and she likes it!

  24. I love tomato jam so much but I can never find a recipe that looks as good as the ones I pick up at the farmers’ market. This one though– I’m going to make it as soon as I can.

    1. Sarah – I don’t think you’ll be disappointed at all. This is a really great tomato jam!

  25. Lauren | Have Fork Will Eat says:

    Looks delicious!

  26. Hi! Although I’m couch- ridden with the flu, I’m going to try your recipe as soon as I’m back in business! Thanks!

  27. This looks and sounds delicious! I adore tomato jams and chutneys and love making my own, I shall have to give your version a go! Also, some of the most beautiful ‘step by step’ photography I’ve seen in a while – bravo!

  28. Lauren at Keep It Sweet says:

    My husband also loves ketchup. This looks really delicious and would be great to spice up some chicken.

  29. This looks like a wonderful blend of flavors. Loved the lemon zest in it. We make a chutney with tomatoes , different seasonings and no lemon zest…that looks like this jam , i know this jam will be a great hit in my kitchen too.
    Wonderful pictures.

    1. Thanks, Sangeeta, but it’s actually lime zest. Lemon would be good, too, I’m sure.

  30. Mama Kelly aka Jia says:

    I have bookmarked this and will be making it this summer for sure. Hubby likes ketchup on just about everything and I would bet he would love this!!

    1. Hope you and he both like it, Jia!

  31. You really awakened my tastebuds with this delicious post Lana. Gorgeous pictures & just the right foodie pick up for me. Love the pictures and all the flavours that you got in the jar! Mmmm

    1. Thanks, Deeba. I was really happy with the most of the photos on this post. I keep working on those photography skills!

  32. SMITH BITES says:

    you are a woman after my own heart Lana – i’m a ketchup girl myself; BUT i am also a HUGE fan of tomato jams! i’ve made a couple of different versions but both have some sort of sweet-spicy heat to them that just make everything taste better!

    1. I’m so glad to find out I’m not the only grown-up ketchup lover :-)

  33. this looks beautiful! I’ll have to give it a try!

    1. Thanks, Lucy. Give it a try – it’s very easy.

  34. Happier Than A Pig in Mud says:

    This sounds great! I bet you could also cook it down in the crock pot, I’ve made pear butter like that and it worked well:@)

    1. Oh, great idea about using the crock pot. I think I’ll try that next time!

  35. Feast on the Cheap says:

    I’m a closet ketchup addict… Guess what’s on my must-make list?

    1. If you do make it, I’d really like to know what you think of it!

  36. Jennifer @ Jane Deere says:

    Hi Lana! What a beautiful jam! My husband’s grandfather always wanted me to make tomato jam and I tried a couple of different recipes that he liked OK, but never quite hit that spot in his memory. I bet this recipe would be closer!

    He said that the recipe he remembers eating was fairly sweet and he liked to eat it on toast. Do you think this would be a good one on toast?

    1. Hi Jennifer – this jam is quite sweet. I think it would be fabulous on a piece of buttery toasted bread :-)

  37. Cookin' Canuck says:

    This would be great in a grilled cheese sandwich. My son has taken a liking to chili sauce lately, and I think he would absolutely love this.

    1. That’s a great idea, Dara! I never thought of it, but this would be so good with grilled cheese. I’m going to try that myself.

  38. Barbara @ Modern Comfort Food says:

    Lana, you’re my go-to source when it come really wonderful preserves, and this one is absolutely right up my alley. So timely, too. Our garden’s tomato season is nearing its end, and we must have five pounds of very ripe tomatoes in the kitchen now, waiting for a good use. This is it, and I’m sharing this with my husband, who is our family’s canning czar. Wonderful!!

    1. Hope you enjoy it, Barbara! And you don’t have to use cherry tomatoes, any old variety will work.

  39. Sounds amazing! My brother used to eat ketchup sandwiches (barf), tell me you don’t go that far.

    1. I do love my ketchup, but ketchup sandwiches! Uh, no LOL!