Homemade Chili Sauce. An Old Fashioned Recipe.

Yeahhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!  It’s fall and that means homemade Chili Sauce!  The tangy, sweet, spicy condiment that makes pork, potato pancakes and chicken come ALIVE.  Well, not technically “alive”. That would be quite scary.

If you can chop vegetables, simmer something on the stove and happen to have a working nose you CAN make chili sauce.   It’s full of chunky vegetables and wintery spices like cloves, brown sugar and cinnamon with the added heat of CAYENNE. 

So about that nose thing … several years go I got sinusitis. One of the symptoms of it is not being able to smell anything.  Great for walking through garbage juice puddles at the dump, but not so great when making chili sauce.  The thing about creating great food is you need to taste as you go. Even if you’re using a recipe. And the thing about tasting is you need your sense of smell to get a good idea of how things taste.  So I made my sinusitis chili sauce and had no idea how it tasted. I dragged it around for all of my friends and relatives to taste and got a unanimous decision.

It was gross.

Bland I believe was the actual word. I pulled the spice bag out too early. So as you make this and let it simmer don’t be afraid to adjust things. The inability to adjust is my main complaint about the stupid Instant Pot by the way. You can read my complete unbiased review of how much I don’t like the Instant Pot here.

Shot of a rare museum quality artifact – the recipe card. 

You may be asking yourself why now Karen? Why NOW? Because now (around the end of summer) is when you’re going to find the fresh ingredients for everything you need to make it.

Everything that goes into chili sauce is in season in late summer.

What’s in Chili Sauce

This isn’t the thin runny, condiment you see in the grocery storey. It’s a hearty, full of fruit and vegetables concoction that’s more like a chutney. 

  • Tomatoes
  • Celery
  • Banana Peppers
  • Red Peppers
  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Peaches

As far as spices and flavourings go you have brown sugar, cloves, cinnamon and cayenne pepper.

Honestly all you do is rough chop a bunch of vegetables, throw them in a pot and let ’em simmer. If you can’t manage that then I’m so sorry to hear you’re in a coma.  Get well.

Ready for this old timey, vintage, sweet and spicy chili sauce recipe?  Good. I’m proud you were able to shake yourself out of that coma.

What to Eat it With

Close up shot of potato pancakes served with chutney style sauce.

Canning Chili Sauce

  1. Fill a large stock pot with water and bring to a boil.
  2. Bring sauce to a boil if it isn’t already.
  3. Fill washed, hot pint jars with hot chili sauce, leaving 1/2″ head space.  
  4. Wipe rims, put lids and screw rings on.  Finger tighten the rings.
  5. Process in a hot water bath making sure they are submerged with at least 2″ of water over them.
  6. Process for 20 minutes. Start timing the 20 minutes once the water has returned to boiling after putting all your jars in.
  7. Remove jars from the water bath using a jar lifter and set on the counter undisturbed until you hear the satisfying “pop” of them sealing.

To make canning less of a pain (literally) get one of these cheap canning kits that have a jar lifter, a funnel, tongs and everything else you need for canning.

The Recipe

Chili Sauce

Classic, old fashioned sweet and spicy chili sauce.  PERFECT with potato pancakes, chicken and pork.
3.8 from 5 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Canning/Preserves
Cuisine: English
Prep Time: 1 hour
Cook Time: 7 hours
Canning Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 15 jars
Calories: 643kcal
Author: Karen Bertelsen


  • 18 quarts tomatoes
  • 2 bunches celery
  • 3 quarts banana peppers
  • 10 red peppers
  • 12 onions
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 cup coarse salt
  • 4 cups vinegar
  • 4 peaches
  • 2.5 lbs brown sugar
  • 2 tsps. cayenne pepper
  • 3 tsps. cloves
  • 3 tsps. cinnamon
  • 2 whole cinnamon sticks
  • 10 whole cloves


  • Peel tomatoes by placing them in boiling water for 30 seconds and then plunging them into cold water. The skin will slide right off.  If it doesn’t, plunge them in the hot water again.
  • Wrap all the whole spices in a little cheesecloth bag.
  • Rough chop the remaining ingredients.  Don’t worry about it being pretty, just chop them up into pieces between 1/4″ – 1/2″.
  • Put all the ingredients into a large stock pot and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat to a simmer and simmer until thick and reduced by 1/3rd.  This will take many hours. 5-10 hours depending on the type of tomatoes you use.
  • Taste as you go! If after 3 hours you find you like the taste of it, then remove the spice bag and continue to simmer until thickened. I always leave my spice bag in until the end though.


To can this chili sauce:
  1. Prepare a water bath.
  2. Fill canning jars with hot chili sauce then put on sealer and band.
  3. Process for 20 minutes in water bath.
If you want you can also add other spices to the spice bag. Mustard seed, star anise, peppercorns would all be good additions.


Serving: 1jar | Calories: 643kcal | Carbohydrates: 150g | Protein: 12g | Fat: 3g | Sodium: 2616mg | Potassium: 3230mg | Fiber: 25g | Sugar: 120g | Vitamin A: 12395IU | Vitamin C: 290mg | Calcium: 239mg | Iron: 4.6mg

This recipe makes a HUGE batch so either half it or plan on preserving it.  

Pro tip? Do not attempt this while suffering from sinusitis. 

→Follow me on Instagram where I often make a fool of myself←

Homemade Chili Sauce. An Old Fashioned Recipe.


  1. Donna says:

    One fall when our house was for sale I made chili sauce. The buyer’s offer stipulated that we leave two jars of chili sauce in the cupboard. Good selling tip!!

  2. Alisha says:

    I just got into canning – made me some pickled shallots. And we go through chili sauce like it’s going out of style. I’ll have to ramp up the hotness and we can ditch the processed (but delicious) crap in my fridge. Now all I need is a how-to on building a cellar in a rented basement suite. I’m not good at sharing.

  3. Barbie says:

    I’ve never done chili sauce….Looks good ….I always love the way you photograph your food….every time I take a photo for my blog I think “Now how would Karen take this photo”? Hmmmm she always either turns the dish a certain way or only photographs half of it or something or with a little sprinkle on the side….Anyway….that is always what I notice about your foodie posts!

  4. Toronto Boy says:

    What did you say Mr. Stomach? Yes I know! I haven’t made chilli sauce in nearly 3 years! I guess it’s time to change that!

    First we need to go to the grocery store and pick up a few red kidney beans, a package of mince meat, some cheddar cheese, a ripe green pepper, and a packet of chilli powder! Then it’s time to start the party over at the stove top!

  5. Susan says:

    Now, if it was me, I’d have gone with a pasta sauce today, just to get one more dig in after yesterday’s Facebook debacle, but I guess chili sauce is close enough. If you don’t want to make this post public on the blog, Karen, that’s fine with me. I was saying it more to you than anyone else, anyway. Keep strong.

  6. Patti says:

    So sweet you read my ramblings and responded … I’m triple blessed … got Canada backing me! Just so you know, my dear, grandpa Jeanne Pierre Comeau was born in Nova Scotia! Never got his American status cause only a midwife (long dead) could confirm his birth. So I’m kinda a Canadian! Well hell, I love it!

  7. Wendy says:

    I seem to not know how to spell corderoy. Or “ex-boyfriend.”

  8. Wendy says:

    Okay. So here’s my thing with chili sauce:

    When I was kid in the late 70’s/early 80’s my mum had a boyfriend who canned his own chili sauce. He also carried around a man purse with all his newspapers in it, and his information for his various sports pools. He and my mum made matching caftans, and they sewed up a giant beenbag “snake” out of brown corderoi filled with those little bean bag beans that got everywhere.

    He was an eccentric guy, who watched hockey, but also got me interested in the shows “Hill Street Blues” and “WKRP in Cincinatti.” I did and do think well of him.

    He canned his own chili sauce. It was awesome. On scrambled eggs. (Note: I feel very strongly against ketchup on scrambled eggs–ugh.)

    It is very unlikely that I will be making my own. I love your blog, Karen, but I know my own limitations. I will not be making chili sauce.

    But boy, did your post get me thinking about my mum’s wonderful oex-boyfriend, and what a good almost step-dad he was, in all his eccentricities.

    • Jenny says:

      Your comment made me smile! He sounded like an interesting guy with a man purse.

      Ps….I eat ketchup with everything….especially eggs! :X :D

    • Cussot says:

      Aww, so sweet, Wendy. I can hear the theme songs, feel the corduroy and oh look, there’s a styrofoam bean clinging to my shirt, damnit. Thanks for the story.

  9. christine says:

    Tortiere, baby!

  10. Rondina says:

    Like Annie, I’m confused as to what all this chili sauce will be used for. I can see it being used in scrabbled eggs, on hamburgers, or hot dogs—but this will hardly use up the batch. Are you using this as a base for chili?

    A side question. What kind of camera are you using? Your pictures are always great.

  11. Shauna says:

    I’m glad I’m not the only one to ask – inquiring minds want to know…how do we use chili sauce? It looks delicious and I imagine using it on hot dogs, hamburgers…maybe steak? What else? Is there a common way to use it?

  12. Nancy Blue Moon says:

    Good on hot dogs and burgers right?? It looks good anyway!

  13. christine says:

    Do you think you could do this in a slow cooker? I have a fear of canning, so would just give away jars to people to be used ASAP. LOL

    • Karen says:

      If you slow cooker can simmer with the lid off then you can slow cook it. You’d also need QUITE a large slow cooker. It’ll stay good in the fridge for at least a couple of months. ~ karen!

  14. Vicky says:

    This sounds like a salsa recipe. I defintely will be trying it.

  15. toekneetoni says:

    it sounds delicious. at the risk of sounding silly i want to ask, how do you use it other than whipping up a batch of chili? i mean as creative as you are, i’m sure you use it in a variety of ways. please share.

  16. Ev says:

    Thanks Karen. This recipe is safely ensconced in “The List”, my large recipe file on computer. Recently spent waaay too much time tweaking it. Many of your recipes are there, and thanks for that!
    My tomato crop was miserable this year, so no sauce. Maybe someday….

  17. Feral Turtle says:

    Yummy! Forwarded your link to my sister……You never know, we might score some chili sauce for Christmas!

  18. Edith says:

    Hi Karen,

    What the heck is Chili Sauce and what do you do with it? It looks like a condiment. Does it go IN things or ON things? I’m down here in Texas where Chili recipes abound but I’ve never heard of Chili Sauce. Is it a Canadian thing like Vegemite for the Australians?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Edith – It *is* a condiment. It actually has nothing to do with chili, LOL. It can be used like a chutney with chicken or pork and is great on potato pancakes or eggs. ~ karen!

  19. RosieW says:

    Dani, you keep what you’ll use, then make others happy by gifting the rest. I sure welcome these gifts.

  20. Annie says:

    I have never understood chili sauce. Can anyone explain?
    Do you use it like ketchup? Or salsa? or just sauce?
    How do you use chili sauce? Are there rules?

    This recipe looks so tastey! I imagine having it with eggs. Is that weird? Ok hungry now.

    Thanks Karen!

  21. Adrienne says:

    This looks like a great gift. Anything that has to cook that long seems like a magical experiment, and to me that equals fun. If I were to put suggestions for how to use the sauce on a card for recipients, what would be your favorite suggestions? I suspect this would be best used on beef, poultry, or pork, but I’m one if those pescatarian types and didn’t use super spicy stuff back when I wasn’t, so some recommendations would be much appreciated.

    Also, if we don’t fully can it, any idea how long it would last in the fridge once opened?


    • Karen says:

      Adrienne! My favourite way to have this is on potato pancakes. It’s also great with chicken (like a chutney), pork or with eggs. My mother particularly loves it with eggs! No idea how long it would last in the fridge, but I know I’ve had some in my fridge for several months and still used it. i’m not sure if I should recommend doing that or not though, LOL. ~ karen

  22. mimiindublin says:

    Marti has it in 1!
    I love your recipe card for its little blotches, reminds me of that saying about an Italian kitchen-something about shouldn’t be too clean cos that’s a sign you don’t cook!
    I just bottled a batch of tomato and vanilla chutney, sounds weird to me but recipe came from a reliable source. Suggests you eat it with ricotta.

  23. Kim says:

    “No need to be pretty about it. I mean, you can be pretty while you’re doing it…”
    Loved this! Made me guffaw! Ok, maybe not guffaw. But definitely an audible chuckle.

  24. This looks delicious. Not sure what I would do with 15 jars of chili sauce, but it’s better than having 35 jars of red pepper jelly which is what happened with my chili peppers last year. This might just be the year of the chili sauce in my house.

  25. Marti says:

    Karen, I just want you to know that you are the ONLY person I know who would start a blog post about homemade chili sauce by discussing her sinusitis.

    And certainly the only person I know whose recipe post with such an enticing first line would I ever read.

    I’m not even sure I like chili sauce, but I may try this recipe…in spite of both of us.

    • Karen says:

      LOL. Wait’ll my next recipe post when I discuss my cat’s weepy eye.

      • Patti says:

        Lord you make me laugh out loud … and proud I might add! I’m the South Carolina rattle snake lady. Guess good things come from bad times. Now it is confirmed I have friends in my neighborhood …. bless them, they check on me daily now! As a single “mature” woman, with kids grown and out of the nest, I kind of retreated into my big empty house. But, that damn rattler reunited me with people … my loving neighbors, who came with shovels and hoes in hand to protect me. Kinda like a scene from Frankenstein … without the torches … it was day time!

      • Karen says:

        Neighbours can be as important as family Patti! Glad they circled around you. ~ karen!

    • Ms Mathieu says:

      I am going to give this a try ,thanks

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