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This homemade ketchup recipe tastes gourmet with little effort! Here’s how to make ketchup at home…with the best savory, tangy flavor.

Homemade ketchup

Did you know you can mix up an incredible gourmet ketchup recipe…in the comfort of your own home? Introducing…the most delicious Homemade Ketchup! This glistening bright red sauce is bright, tangy, and a little smoky, inspired by a gourmet ketchup we dipped crispy fries into at fancy brunch. With a homemade ketchup, you know exactly what goes into it: no high fructose corn syrup or preservatives. You can also use a natural sugar like honey or maple syrup if you like (or good old brown sugar). Let’s do this!

What’s in a homemade ketchup recipe?

Ketchup, aka catsup or catchup, is a sauce made from tomatoes, vinegar, sugar and spices. Ketchup can be made with other ingredients, but tomato ketchup is by far the most popular (but did you know mushroom ketchup is a thing in the UK?). Tomato ketchup was invented in the early 1800’s, and the Heinz company started selling nationally back in 1876. So this tangy condiment has a long history prior to the 1950’s, when manufacturing made the mass produced version available in every grocery store.

There are two ways to make a homemade ketchup recipe: using fresh tomatoes, or using canned tomato sauces or pastes. This recipe uses canned tomatoes for ease of use. Here’s what you need to make your own ketchup:

  • Tomato sauce
  • Tomato paste
  • Apple cider vinegar
  • White vinegar
  • Brown sugar, honey or maple syrup
  • Spices: Chili powder, onion powder, garlic powder, paprika, allspice, smoked paprika
  • Cornstarch or arrowroot powder
  • Salt
Ketchup recipe

How to make ketchup

The key to homemade ketchup is this: the glossy texture comes from straining it. You’ll need a fine mesh strainer to strain out the fibrous bits of the tomatoes. That’s really the only trick to this ketchup recipe! Otherwise, it just involves a bit of simmering. Here’s how to make ketchup at home:

  • Simmer all ingredients for 15 minutes, except the cornstarch and smoked paprika.
  • Pass the mixture through a fine mesh sieve or strainer. This takes a few minutes, and you’ll need a spatula to force it through. You’ll be left with a thick, chunky paste, which you can discard.
  • Return to the pot and simmer with cornstarch. This thickens the mixture and helps it to become even more glossy.
  • Optionally, strain it one more time. To make it perfectly glossy, sieve it one more time: this time will be much quicker. Or, you can skip this step if you’re not picky when it comes to texture.

The key to this ketchup recipe: smoked paprika!

What adds that touch of flair to this homemade ketchup recipe? Smoked paprika. It adds a subtle smoky nuance to the finish of each bite. If you don’t already have this spice in your pantry, now’s the time to add it! It’s one of our top recommendations and we use it all the time (see our top 20 Smoked Paprika Recipes). Here’s a little more about this very special spice:

  • Smoked paprika is similar to the more common Hungarian sweet paprika, but it’s Spanish in origin. It’s made up of dried pimiento peppers that that are smoked over a fire, then ground.
  • It’s available at most grocery stores and may be labeled as any of the following: pimentón, Spanish smoked paprika or sweet smoked paprika.
How to make ketchup

Natural sweeteners for this recipe

Mass produced ketchup is known for having high fructose corn syrup (HFCS). So the best way to make ketchup without it? Make your own! This ketchup recipe is not overly sweet: it tastes just sweet enough. Pick from one of these various sweeteners when you make it:

  • Brown sugar adds a subtle molasses-like undertone
  • Coconut sugar works if that’s your sugar of choice
  • Honey is a great natural sweetener option (use local if you can)
  • Maple syrup is another great natural sweetner
  • Agave syrup also works if that is your preference

Let us know in the comments below what you used for making this recipe!

How long it lasts

How long does this homemade ketchup recipe last? Store homemade ketchup refrigerated for up to 3 weeks. The flavor even develops a bit over time! This recipe makes 1 ½ cups of ketchup, so if you’d like more for leftovers, make a double batch.

Homemade ketchup recipe

What to serve with homemade ketchup

What we love about this homemade ketchup is that it’s gourmet in flavor! It’s tangy, not too sweet, and a little smoky on the finish: perfect for dipping fries of all kinds! There’s nothing better than homemade ketchup and homemade fries. Here are some of our favorites for dipping:

Of course, you can slather it on burgers too. Might we recommend Salmon Burgers, Mushroom Burgers or Chickpea Burgers?

This homemade ketchup recipe is…

Vegetarian, vegan, plant-based, dairy-free and gluten-free.

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Homemade Ketchup

Homemade Ketchup Recipe (Best Flavor!)

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 25 minutes
  • Total Time: 35 minutes
  • Yield: 1 ½ cups 1x


This homemade ketchup recipe tastes gourmet with little effort! Here’s how to make ketchup at home…with the best savory, tangy flavor.


  • 1 15-ounce tomato sauce
  • 1 6-ounce can tomato paste
  • ¾ cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar
  • ¼ cup brown sugar, honey, or maple syrup*
  • 1 teaspoon each chili powder, onion powder, and garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • ⅛ teaspoon allspice
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch (or arrowroot powder)
  • ½ teaspoon smoked paprika


  1. In a saucepan, mix together the tomato sauce, tomato paste, apple cider vinegar, white vinegar, sugar or honey, chili powder, onion powder, garlic powder, paprika, allspice, and kosher salt. Simmer on low heat for 15 minutes.  
  2. Remove from the heat. Then use a spatula to press the mixture through a fine mesh sieve or strainer into a clean container or measuring cup, which this helps the texture to become glossy. It takes a few minutes, but you can stop when most of the liquid portion has been forced through. There will be a large amount of thick leftover paste, which you can discard. 
  3. Return the ketchup to the saucepan. In a small bowl, mix the cornstarch with 2 teaspoons water and pour it into the pan. Stir in the smoked paprika and simmer again for 10 minutes until the mixture is thickened. 
  4. Optional final step: To make the ketchup perfectly glossy, press it through the sieve one more time (it will be easier this time and only take a minute or two). Refrigerate and store for up to 3 weeks. 


*Agave syrup or coconut sugar also work, if those are your preferred sweeteners. 

  • Category: Condiment
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: American
  • Diet: Vegan

Keywords: Homemade ketchup, ketchup recipe, homemade ketchup recipe, How to make ketchup

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Hi, we’re Alex and Sonja Overhiser, married cookbook authors, food bloggers, and recipe developers. We founded A Couple Cooks to share fresh, seasonal recipes for memorable kitchen moments! Our recipes are made by two real people and work every time.

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  1. Does it really store for only three weeks? If I wanted to make a larger batch and can it, how long would you boil cup sized jars? Can this be frozen to preserve?

    Thanks in advance

  2. I find using only tomato paste works best for ketchup making, thinned to your liking with water or more vinegar. No starch no need to strain. Super easy. Nice recipe

    1. We don’t! You could probably simmer a pound of tomatoes until thickened into tomato sauce, and strain before continuing this recipe. We haven’t tried it!

  3. I have a question/idea more so than result. I love Heinz products abd fresh vine grown tomatoes when available. However, I hate, no I despise ketchup of any brand. Gourmet, chef hand made, a dozen different spices from lime to limons to peppers. I say to hell with all that. I ask for, bring my own on the road for fast foods of HEINZ-57! Meatloafs, burgers, venison and other slow cooker meats. Check out the ingredients for HEINZ-57. Besides everything you mention and a ton of secret incredients. Makes the absolute best Mamma’s Meatloaf. But for fries, tater tots I use French’s Mustard.

  4. Hi there! I am excited to try your recipe, but noticed paprika (not smoked) was mentioned in your blog as well as in the written instructions. However it is not listed in the ingredients. Should it be 1 teaspoon of paprika and 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika? Thank you in advance! I look forward to tasting this delicious recipe!

    1. Good catch! It should be 1/2 teaspoon of each variety. We’ve updated the recipe accordingly. Thank you!

  5. I use ketchup in my meatloaf recipe. We don’t use it for anything else. The ‘natural’ ketchups sold in stores is pricey and I want to make our own. Do you how well this recipe keeps when frozen?

    Thank you.

  6. Hubby loves it … Will make again. It looks and taste like ketchup should. I made it with stevia instead of sugar.