If it has never occurred to you to make homemade ketchup, having an excess of cranberries on hand around the holidays might inspire you to try your hand at this cranberry ketchup recipe.
Ketchup is very easy to make, and this tangy cranberry version is deeply flavored and very similar in flavor and consistency to Heinz ketchup, even though there’s not a tomato in sight.
If you’re on Whole 30, you may like my Smoky Whole 30 Ketchup recipe. Or for a similar spicy, fruity spread, try my plum chutney.
For ease of browsing, here are all of my condiment and jam recipes in one place. Thanks for stopping by!
What Is Ketchup?
Even though we Americans use a ton of it, ketchup is not an American condiment.
Ketchup has its origins in China, and the original was most likely a kind of fish sauce based on fermented fish. Sort of like the Roman “garum,” which was a precursor of Worcestershire sauce.
The thing that makes ketchup so very delicious is its balance of sweet, savory, and tangy.
And It also brings the umami.
That glutamate flavor described as savory or meaty. Mouthwatering. Gimme more-y.
Apparently, back in the day, the original “kê-tsiap” was a watery, un-umami affair, but when Mr. Heinz learned how to concentrate tomatoes, he also concentrated all that umami goodness in said tomatoes, and all of a sudden, folks just Could Not get enough.
What we need in a good ketchup then, aside from fruit, is some sweet, some umami, some savory, and some tangy components.
Is All Ketchup Made with Tomatoes?
It is often written as tomato ketchup on bottles at the store.
Sure, we shorten it to ketchup or “catsup” if you’re not me: “Hey, pass the ketchup,” “Oh poo, I got ketchup on my tie.” See?
The fact remains that the word tomato usually lives before the word ketchup, and that can only mean one of two things:
- Tomato is Ketchup’s first name.
- Tomato is an adjective describing the type of condiment in the bottle.
Since I think tomato is a pretty silly first name, I’m going with meaning #2.
I decided that if tomato is just a descriptor, there’s no law that says it has to be made from tomatoes. After all, I understand that banana ketchup is pretty popular in the Philippines.
And since I had a bunch of cranberries in the freezer, I decided that a cranberry version had to happen.
What’s Great About This Recipe
This ketchup is super easy to make, and because of that, you can focus on tweaking it to your taste.
Here’s what I think you’ll like about it:
- easy procedure: literally dump everything into a pot. Seriously.
- Don’t like an ingredient? Cut back on it.
- Really like an ingredient? Add more.
Yes, it’s really that easy.
Here’s what you’ll need to make it:
- cranberries: fresh or frozen. You can probably even start with canned cranberry sauce, but you’ll have to cut back on the sugar and play a bit with amounts of other ingredients
- brown sugar: you can use white granulated sugar as well. When I first wrote this recipe, I called for 4 oz by weight. That gives you a pretty tangy ketchup. If you’d like it a bit sweeter, feel free to increase the sugar by 1, 2, or even 3 additional ounces (again, by weight)
- water: gets everything going, but lots of it cooks out
- onion: I call for 1/2 a large-ish onion, which is kind of a lot. But it’s what I like. If you don’t like things quite so oniony, you can cut back to half a small onion or a quarter of a large one. Whatever sounds good to you.
- apple cider vinegar: along with the cranberries, this provides the tartness and zing. You can use plain white vinegar or a flavored vinegar if you prefer or if it’s what you have on hand. No need to use an unfiltered kind with the mother in it since you’ll be boiling it
- fish sauce: provides deep, lip-smacking umami flavor. Don’t leave it out. You won’t be able to taste fish, I promise. It just deepens the flavor. Do purchase a good quality fish sauce. It makes a difference. I like the Red Boat brand.
- Worcestershire sauce: adds more umami goodness. If you really don’t want to buy fish sauce, you can make up the difference by using a double dose of Worcestershire
- kosher salt: you don’t need tons, but the salt brings out all the flavors and balances the tang nicely
- mustard powder: for a touch of heat. You can use whole seeds or powder. If all you have is prepared mustard, use the hottest one you have. You’ll probably want about a tablespoon of prepared mustard
- cinnamon: brings a warmth to the ketchup without scremaing “CINNAMON!”
- five spice: a lovely addition that brings some licorice notes from the star anise. If you don’t have five spice, substitute with some ground cloves and fennel seed
- celery seed: because it’s my favorite. I love the earthiness celery seed brings to whatever I put it in
It really is as easy to make as I say it is. Here’s the rundown:
- Put all the ingredients in a medium saucepan.
- Bring to a boil and turn down heat a bit to keep at a low boil for 10 minutes.
- Puree with an immersion blender or in your counter top blender.
- Continue to cook, keeping the ketchup at a high simmer, for 10-20 minutes, depending on how thick you like yours
- Taste and adjust any seasonings (I added a touch more brown sugar to mine)
- Strain through a fine mesh strainer to get out the cranberry skins and seeds
- Cool and then chill
This stuff is seriously good.
It has a lovely balance, to my taste anyway, of savory/sweet/tangy.
And your house will smell delicious as your ketchup is cooking, too!
It’s unmistakeably cranberry-y with a lot of umami to make your mouth water and to wake up other foods, and enough spice in it to keep it interesting.
Note that it has a relative lot of onion in it, so if you’re not a super onion fan, you may cut back on the onion by as much as half.
Keep your stash in a covered container in the fridge for up to 3 weeks.
I have found information on canning tomato ketchup, so while I’m not a canner, it seems you can can it in a hot water bath for longer storage or for giving as a gift.
Here are the rules for canning tomato ketchup.
Since it honestly tastes enough like standard tomato ketchup that you can’t tell the difference, you can put it on fries or use it however you would
the “regular” kind.
This cranberry ketchup will really shine as a condiment for game, pork and poultry.
Glaze a Thanksgiving turkey meatloaf with it.
Consider making turkey meatballs and using this as a dipping sauce. Or dip your polenta fries in it.
Use this recipe as a sub for regular ketchup in red sauce, or as I like to call it, the best sauce to pour over a block of cream cheese!
Or roast some venison and use this in the sauce or as a glaze.
Spread it on turkey or chicken sammiches.
Mix it with honey and glaze some pork ribs.
Spoon some over my Thanksgiving Shepherd’s Pie. Yes.
The possibilities are many and mouthwatering.
Will Kids Eat This Ketchup?
Our neighbor’s son who pretty much only eats chicken nuggets and Reese’s cups tried it (his parents didn’t tell him it wasn’t their regular kind) on some fries and happily munched away, not realizing this was any different from Heinz!
So yes. The answer is yes.
Kids will eat cranberry ketchup and might not even be able to tell it apart from their favorite brand.
I really do hope you give this a try. It is really, really good.
And I see absolutely no reason why you can’t make this recipe with any kind of fruit you can think of.
It’s not really so much about the fruit you use as it is the balance of flavors to get that mouthwatering umami tang going on.
A Note About Measurements
Don't let its small price and small size fool you. The Escali Primo is an accurate and easy-to-use food scale that I have used for years. It's easy to store, easy to use, has a tare function, and easily switches between grams and ounces/pounds for accurate measurements.
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Thick and Tangy Cranberry Ketchup Recipe
NOTE: All ounce measurements are by weight and not by volume.
- 1 12 oz bag of fresh cranberries
- 1 ½ cups water
- ½ large yellow onion chopped
- 4 oz cider vinegar 1/2 cup
- 4-6 oz brown sugar 4 will yield a super tangy ketchup. 6oz will give you a tangy but sweeter version. The sweet spot for me is 5 oz
- 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon fish sauce
- 1 ½ teaspoons salt or to taste, of course
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- ¾ teaspoon five spice powder
- 1 ½ teaspoons yellow mustard seeds
- 1 teaspoon celery seed
- 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
- Bring to a boil, cook for ten minutes, then puree with an immersion blender.
- Turn heat to medium low to low, and simmer to reduce the ketchup until it’s as thick as you want, maybe an additional 15-30 minutes.
- Stir every few minutes to prevent sticking.
- Once you take it off the heat, you can strain the ketchup to remove all the little bits of cranberry skin and seeds. Or not, if you want it more rustic.
- Cranberries contain a fair amount of pectin, so your ketchup will thicken up even more as it cools.
Did You Make Any Changes?
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