ketchup, two ways

I’m a novice at ketchup-making, but all experts have to start somewhere, right?

This year I made three kinds. One was good but a little too vinegary. (Plus, my husband didn’t turn off the crockpot like I asked him to and it got very dark. I canned it to use in cooking. The other day I added some to my sloppy joe recipe and it enhanced the joes tremendously. So, yay!) Another wasn’t really a ketchup at all, since I put curry powder in it, but still, I call it a ketchup. And the last one was straight-up simple, about as close to Heinz as you can get.

First, the curry ketchup.

This ketchup is like something you might find at a high-end restaurant, the kind of place that messes with the basics in a pleasantly surprising way. I don’t want my basics messed with all the time, mind you, but a bit of different now and again is a good thing, I believe.

The original recipe hails from Germany and is called currywurst sauce. It’s supposed to be eaten a-top sausages. I’m sure that would be most scrumptious, but we have yet to try it that way.

So far we’ve eaten this ketchup with oven fries, zucchini fries, and spooned over green tomato curry like a chutney. I figured that would be a stellar combo since tomatoes and curry are star ingredients in each recipe, and I was right. (Also, I suspect this curry ketchup would go well with the golden curry, but I haven’t gotten around to trying it yet.)

Curry Ketchup
Adapted from

The recipe called for hot paprika. I didn’t have any, so I used smoked paprika and a couple pinches of chipotle powder instead.

2 tablespoons canola oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 tablespoons curry powder
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
1/8 teaspoon chipotle or cayenne powder
2 cups canned tomatoes, including the juice
½ cup sugar
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
salt to taste

Saute the onion in the oil until soft. Add the curry powder, smoked paprika, and chipotle powder and saute for another minute. Add the tomatoes, sugar, and vinegar. Cook over medium-low heat until reduced a bit, about 30 minutes. Blend until smooth, season with salt, and cook until it’s the desired consistency—thick, like ketchup.

Yield: about 1½ cups. Store in a jar in the refrigerator.


The problem with many homemade ketchups, so I’ve read, is that they taste great but aren’t anything like Heinz. While I might be thrilled with a creative homemade ketchup, I was
pretty sure my children wouldn’t settle for anything less than something that tasted just like the store-bought variety. So I set about scouring the web for a homemade ketchup that tasted like mass-produced stuff.

I finally found a recipe with reviews that claimed you could hardly tell the difference between the homemade and the storebought. The only problem was that the recipe called for corn syrup.

Now I don’t know about you, but I’ve been programmed to believe that corn syrup is from the devil. It’s poison in a jar. It will give you cancer and make your butt big and absolutely ruin your reputation as an authentic, thoughtful cook. Corn syrup is for losers. Period.

But! I wanted ketchup that tasted like Heinz even if it meant I was a fraud, so I pushed my biases aside and made the stuff.

Wouldn’t you know, it was delicious! It had the same shiny, smooth consistency as Heinz, and it tasted wonderfully sweet and tart. It was the real deal!

So then, of course, I had to research corn syrup. I (lightly) read some articles on the web (here’s one, and here’s another) and discussed it with my biologist Dad, and you know what? Corn syrup isn’t as demonic as I thought! It’s just a syrup from corn—bad for you like sugar, but that’s all.

And get this: high-fructose corn syrup isn’t even all that evil—it’s just intensified corn syrup! The problem with the high-fructose stuff is that it’s double the sweet which equals double the trouble. So, you know, watch out. (Or maybe I am off my rocker? Maybe corn syrup is sticky poison? Am I missing something?) (Also, if you know of a non-corn syrup ketchup that tastes just like Heinz, do tell.)

In any case, I’ve concluded that homemade ketchup-that-tastes-like-Heinz needs to have corn syrup. It’s necessary for the trademark satiny glow and velvety texture.

I’m even willing to put my culinary reputation on the line for the stuff.

Just-Like-Heinz Ketchup
Adapted from

I used my own canned roasted tomato sauce instead of the called-for tomato paste, so my ketchup had a bit more texture—random seeds and such—and the kids took issue. I ignored them, because they were being ridiculous, but then I relented and let them mix the homemade with the store-bought, half and half. I have high hopes that they’ll soon acclimate.

1 pint roasted tomato sauce or 1 6-ounce can tomato paste
½ cup light corn syrup
½ cup white vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

Combine all ingredients and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring frequently. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until thick, unlidded, about 30 minutes. Cool to room temperature and pour into an empty Heinz ketchup bottle. Store in the fridge.

Yield: 1½ cups

This same time, years previous: hot chocolate


  • Carol J. Alexander

    I don't buy anything with corn syrup…except ketchup. :). Thanks for the recipes. Just picked my last bowl of tomatoes so will have to try this next year.

  • Becky

    I do use corn syrup for a few things here & there (last week's posted O'Henry bars, which also use peanut butter, healthy, yes?). But I don't buy anything with it.

    As for ketchup, I am still scared almost 40 years later by my mother's attempt to make her own, which came out brown and well, yucky. My daughter has shamed me into giving up my Heinz for some organic stuff minus the HFCS and these days is goading me into trying to make my own. I might try your recipe. Maybe. Still scarred by my mother's failed attempt….

  • katie

    Corn syrup is, at least, identifiable by it's name. If you are worried about dances with devils in this recipe, you might want to do some sleuthing into the origin of "white vinegar". …

  • Becky

    I tried once to make ketchup and it wasn't very good. I think I'll have to try again using your second recipe 🙂

    It's actually the higher then normal amount of fructose in HFCS that makes it so bad for our bodies. The imbalance causes all sorts of problems like weight gain, preventing the "full" signal from getting to our brains, and metabolic syndrome. It's not that it has calories like sugar… it's that it's chemically different in the types of sugars it has. I don't think corn syrup is as bad as HFCS because the amount of fructose is lower.
    I don't buy anything with HFCS in it from the store but I do occasionally use a little regular corn syrup when I make chocolate syrup or something like that.

  • Zoë

    I'm of the camp that still thinks corn syrup is worse than sugar. Been told our bodies don't metabolize it as well or something like that. But I have it in my kitchen. I just bought my third bottle in six years.

    Anywho, I just made ketchup for the first time last week and I'm in love. Mine is similar to your Heinz version but uses regular sugar instead of corn syrup and I start out with tomato juice from romas instead of sauce or paste. Also, I beat the tar out of it with my stick blender so it's just as smooth as the bought stuff. I'm with your kids: no chunks in my ketchup.

    The other thing is that I added some thermflo. In my experience, I don't get nice tomato products when I simmer them for too long. They always get bitter, very acidic I guess. So I didn't want to simmer my ketchup all day. I simmered maybe 2 or 3 hours and then thickened it. It's shiny and smooth, just like the good stuff.

    My only complaint is that it's a little too sweet. I lowered the sugar from the original recipe but next time I'll reduce it even more. But the flavor! Love it.

  • Anonymous

    Sorry mama, but corn syrup is the devil. And you should know because you were sucking up that ketchup with a straw. It's addictive and affects our brains in weird ways. Next thing you know, you will be trying to score some corn syrup in a back alley some where. 🙂

  • maggiemagillicuty

    I don't think it's corn syrup itself. It has it's place in making candy and frostings and the like at home. It's the fact that it is in EVERYTHING you buy, as far as processed foods. Juices, condiments, cookies, cereals, yogurts,. Things that don't even need it seem to contain it. So if you eat a lot of processed foods, like a lot of Americans, you're eating it all the time. And any kind of sugar is bad if you eat it all the time.

  • Margo

    This is fascinating. I have made and wrinkled my nose at homemade ketchup. I don't have a problem with corn syrup used as a little sweetener – I keep it and use it occasionally. I agree with you that it's a sugar and needs to be treated with appropriate moderation. That's how I treat juice, too.

    I am pinning your ketchups to keep in mind.

    By the way, curry ketchup was all over St. Petersburg, Russia, when I was there – it was the only ketchup we could get. I got some at a German store last year for my husband and it's good. It makes any hot dog or sausage into a "currywurst" as the German proprietor told me. But the street food I loved in Germany was a brat, a little roll, and a big dollop of strong mustard all next to each other on a plate.

  • Deb

    I am still laughing about the corn syrup being from the devil paragraph. Somehow I have that idea in my head too, but if it means you can make really good ketchup, it seems worth it to me.

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