Garden Chili Sauce

This is gonna blow you away!!

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 - small batch, 4 pints
Garden Chili Sauce – small batch, 4 pints

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 - small batch, 4 pints
Garden Chili Sauce – small batch, 4 pints

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!