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 14 votes
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours 30 minutes
Finished tomato jam in a wire bail top storage jar.

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.

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.

Finished tomato jam in a wire bail top storage jar.

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!

Ingredients You’ll Need


  • 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.

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.

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.

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.
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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.

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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 14 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 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.

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 health care provider or a registered dietitian if precise nutrition calculations are needed for health reasons.

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Recipe Rating




65 Comments

  1. 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.

  2. 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

  3. 5 stars
    My husband loves this – eats it regularly. He puts it on many things especially his favorite breakfast quesadilla.

    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.

      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.

      2. 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.

  4. 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!!

  5. 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.

  6. 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!

  7. 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.

    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.

  8. 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 :-)

  9. 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!

  10. 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!

    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.