Smoky tomato ketchup

A grown-up version of a favourite condiment!

I’ve always had a bit of a love-hate relationship with ketchup. I cannot imagine eating a burger or hotdog without a generous squeeze of ketchup, but I find it a little unsettling to watch people who slather it on everything. Horrifyingly, my brothers used to put it on white rice when they were little (not to mention on plain spaghetti and fish sticks), so when my kids were young I worked hard to make sure they didn’t get hooked on the stuff. I’m singing a different tune, now, since creating this gem of a condiment. It’s full of flavour and adds just a little heat along with a lingering smoky aftertaste to anything you serve it with. As a bonus, it’s lower in sugar that most commercial brands (none of that nasty high-fructose corn syrup here, please). We’ve used it as a dipper for meatballs, enjoyed it with our favourite crispy oven-baked French fries and even spooned some into our mac ‘n cheese at lunch today. I don’t think I’ll ever buy a bottle of ketchup again.

Smoky Tomato Ketchup


  • 3 tablespoons (45 mL) olive oil
  • 1 medium-sized onion, finely minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons (1/4 of a 7 oz/200 mL can) chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (or to taste)
  • 2 tablespoons (30 mL) molasses
  • 3 tablespoons (45 mL) tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons (30 mL) maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons (30 mL) cider vinegar
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • one 680 mL jar strained crushed tomatoes (Passata)*
  • few dashes liquid smoke**

*You can substitute with 3 cups of diced fresh tomatoes (or one large can of diced tomatoes) – simply puree then pass the tomatoes through a sieve to remove seeds before adding to pot.

**Available in most grocery stores near the bottled barbeque sauces.


  • Heat the oil in a medium pot set over medium-low heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring often, for 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook 2 minutes more, stirring often.
  • Add all other ingredients and cook, uncovered, for about an hour. At this point, you can remove the chipotle peppers if you don’t want the ketchup too spicy.
  • Alternatively, if you want a little more heat, use a stick or regular blender to purée the mixture including the peppers (there’s no need to purée it if you remove the peppers).
  • Transfer to clean glass jars and store in refrigerator up to 3 months.

Makes approximately 3 cups (750 mL).

Smoky Tomato Catsup

Author: Paula Roy

Welcome to my kitchen! I love simple dishes prepared with passion and am always seeking to find new methods to make food as fun and flavourful as possible. If you enjoy this space be sure to check out my Rogers TV Ottawa cooking show, Paula Roy's Favourite Foods, available on local cable, streaming and a dedicated playlist on Rogers TV's YouTube channel.

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