Garden Chili Sauce

In honor of the upcoming New Year’s (and to use up a bag of black eyed peas and a couple of ham hocks languishing in my freezer) I decided to make Black Eyed Peas. And there is no better accompaniment to Black Eyed Peas than a my home-made Chili Sauce.

Garden Chili Sauce
Garden Chili Sauce

Now by “mine” I mean the one I only slightly adapted from Sheila Lukens’ recipe in her USA Cookbook – You might be familiar with her Silver Palate cookbooks. I’ve been making her Garden Chili sauce for years, and originally chose this recipe because it reminded me of the vague list of ingredients my Grandmother left – another of her recipes with no instructions – like her Irish Apple Cake! 🙂 But no worries – I included Sheila’s orignal recipe with my changes in parentheses.)

If you’ve never had a home-made chili sauce, this will blow you away. My son describes it as “overwhelming, flavors flying at you from all different directions – spicy, sweet and confusing!” And it is. Sweet, sour, and just a little hot, you’ll find a zillion uses for it.

Traditional Black Eyed Peas - the perfect bite! Note the Garden Chili Sauce
Traditional Black Eyed Peas – the perfect bite! Note the Garden Chili Sauce

While I’ve used a Heinz Chili Sauce in my meatloaf topping and again in the old standby for Pulled Briskit or Shoulder, this Garden Chili Sauce is a whole ‘nother animal. You can’t even compare it to Heinz.

Today, I cut back the recipe and used canned diced tomatoes since it’s (duh) December in Minnesota and I couldn’t come by decent tomatoes. That’ll teach me! But it was surprisingly good, just a little chunkier than usual due to the firmness of the canned tomatoes.

This is a sauce, though, best (and least expensive) made in the summer with gorgeous home-grown tomatoes. If you don’t have your own, hit up a farmer’s stand or a farmer’s market. I have my own pickling spice that is excellent in this.

Garden Chili Sauce
Garden Chili Sauce

Garden Chili Sauce

  • Servings: 4 pints
  • Difficulty: medium
  • Print

6 pounds plum tomatoes, peeled, cored, coarsely chopped
2 large red peppers, finely diced (1/4″)
2 onions, coarsely chopped
2 hot red chili peppers, seeded and finely chopped (abt 2 tablespoons)
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon coarse salt
3 tablespoons pickling spice
1 tablespoon mustard seeds (I omit)
1 tablespoon celery seeds (I omit)
2 1/2 cups cider vinegar
2 tablespoons lemon juice

Prepare 4 jars and lids by sterilizing in boiling water according to manufacturer’s instructions.

Combine tomatoes, red peppers, onions, hot peppers, brown sugar and salt in a heavy non-reactive pot. Cook gently over medium heat for 45 minutes.

Tie the pickling spices, mustard and celery seeds into a cheesecloth bag, add to the pot and cook over medium low heat until reduced by half, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking, about 45 minutes.

Add the vinegar and cook another 40 minutes over low heat. Remove the spice bag and stir in the lemon juice.

Fill the jars to 1/4-inch from rim; seal and process according to manufacturer’s instructions. Store in a cool, dry place; refrigerate after opening.

Note: if you don’t wish to can this sauce, consider portioning out in Ziploc bags and freezing or reduce the recipe. This will keep for several months in the fridge.

From the kitchen of, adapted from The USA Cookbook


I’ll be taking Garden Chili Sauce to the Fiesta Friday 100 anniversary extravaganza, and I’m also co-hosting this event, so a big shout out to Angie from the Novice Gardener and Fiesta Friday for putting the event on and Steffi from Ginger&Bread, Suzanne from APugintheKitchen and Judi fromCookingwithAuntJuju for co-hosting, too. Stop by, say hi, visit and mingle and I hope to “see” you there!

Of course, I’ll also be posting to Throwback Thursday, a link party co-hosted by Moi!! Yes, that’s me, yours truly! And Alli, Quinn & Meaghan – you’ll see all their links on Throwback Thursday!

34 thoughts on “Garden Chili Sauce”

  1. The sauce sounds great, I love chilli and the combination of flavours. I can’t believe you had ham hocs in the freezer, still can’t find them around here and they are so delicious 🙂

    1. Thanks, Ginger! Here we are in January and it’s COLD – Here, it gets harder and harder to find fresh produce – or at least produce that looks good and doesn’t cost an arm and a leg so I’m already yearning for summer!

  2. Love the chili sauce. I am definitely going to make it! It is so versatile, I think I will be reaching for it with every meal!

    1. Thanks Sandhya – I had to tell my son he couldn’t have anymore because I wanted to take the last of it to my folks! I’m so mean to my son sometimes, haha! 🙂 But he was just eating spoonfuls of it!

  3. Yum.. I can think of so many uses for this chili sauce. My tradition for New Years day is always pork, kraut and egg noodles. I have made black eyed peas a few times but I would be the only person eating them. Happy New Year.
    BTW what recipe plugin are you using?

    1. Hi Quinn, it’s called a shortcode and I think it was developed for wordpress but might work elsewhere. I’ll send it to you. It’s not perfect but better than what I was doing. All fields for recipe, time, difficulty, etc. have to be filled out for it to work.

      I’m really more of a pork, sausage and kraut person, too! Well, as you can imagine…lol!..but was served this once in the South when visiting my brother and became a convert!

  4. I have one of Sheila’s Silver Palate cookbooks – goes back a few years! Thanks for the recipe and as you said it would be better to make in the summer when the veggies are fresh. Still looks delicious – thanks for bringing your homemade chili sauce to Fiesta Friday.

        1. We’re so spoiled with blogging, aren’t we, and all the gorgeous photos – of course, the youngsters have grown up with the internet and have never gotten used to reading recipes and imagining!

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