Chili sauce is a delicious rich tomato based sauce that is perfect as a dip or topping for all your favorite foods!
Chili sauce is easy to make and brings the most amazing flavor to your favorite easy recipes. Dip your oven fried chicken, or stir it into a batch of spiralized zucchini noodles – the possibilities are nearly endless!
I love making this recipe with my daughter Jo, who has definitely inherited my passion for cooking easy and yummy foods. Feeding people is totally our love language!
This post is sponsored by Newell Brands, makers of Ball® Home Canning products. All opinions belong to Mama Loves Food.
What is Chili Sauce
Chili sauce is a slightly sweet and tangy tomato and pepper based condiment. You can think of it almost like ketchup that went to college. It’s delicious when used as a dip, or on top of cooked meats, and even stirred into recipes for extra flavor.
What Does Chili Sauce Taste Like
Chili sauce tastes like ketchup’s big brother. It’s a rich tomato based sauce sweetened gently with brown sugar, made tangy with mustard seed and apple cider vinegar, and given a hint of heat with chili peppers, chili powder, and horseradish. The whole thing is rounded out with sweet bell peppers, onion, and garlic.
This recipe for chili sauce was provided by Ball® in celebration of their 135 year anniversary!
Celebrating 135 Years
The production of the first Ball® branded glass jar marks the beginning of a fascinating history! The Ball Brothers Glass Manufacturing Company began manufacturing fruit jars in 1884 in Buffalo, New York. Over a century later, their business has grown to be a world-wide Brand that many know and love.
Ball® is celebrating an amazing 135 years with their gorgeous new Ball® Aqua Vintage jars! Make sure to grab some on your next Target run (check iBotta and in store deals for savings!) to make this delicious chili sauce (or maybe some dill pickles, pickled jalapenos, or sweet picked onions!).
Then hop into the kitchen with your favorite cooking buddy, a glass of wine (did you know food canning got started in 1790 when a French confectioner used wine storage techniques on food!), and some great music!
Chili Sauce Ingredients
Tomatoes – Get good ripe tomatoes, this will be the flavor base of our recipe so it’s important to start with high quality.
Onions – I love a sweet yellow onion, Vidalia onion, or white onion in this recipe. I don’t typically use red onion as it will muddy up the color
Red bell peppers – We’re going with red bell peppers to keep that gorgeous bright red color going strong. Also because red peppers are sweeter and less bitter than green bell peppers.
Thai red or Anaheim chilies – The amount of chilies and chili powder called for in this recipe will not create a spicy sauce, just one full of flavor. If you want your sauce to be spicy, definitely add more!
Garlic cloves – Is it even a savory recipe if it doesn’t have garlic? Add more for a yummy chili garlic sauce.
Apple cider vinegar – Apple cider vinegar gives a great vinegar flavor without the sharpness of white vinegar.
Light brown sugar – This is not a sweet chili sauce recipe like you would find at an Asian restaurant, but it does have a touch of sweetness in the same way that ketchup is sweet.
Salt – Salt brightens everything up! I love a good kosher salt.
Mustard seed – If you leave the chili sauce chunky, your mustard seeds will stay whole and give a lovely texture (almost like the pop of caviar!). If you blend the sauce the mustard still adds a great tanginess!
Horseradish – Horseradish is optional, but it will carry the flavor of the sauce up into your nose when you eat it, giving a more well rounded flavor.
Chili powder – Chili powder is one of the components that gives chili sauce its characteristic flavor. Add more if you like it spicy!
Allspice – Allspice is made from the dried berries of a plant called Pimenta dioica. The flavor of allspice brings to mind cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and pepper.
How Do You Make Homemade Chili Sauce
First, place tomatoes, onions, red peppers, chilies, and garlic in the bowl of a food processor, working in batches. Pulse until evenly chopped but still chunky, or until smooth if you prefer. The process is similar to making our roasted salsa!
Then, combine all ingredients in a large stainless steel pot and bring to a boil over high heat, stirring frequently.
Next, lower heat and simmer until thickened, about 1 ½ – 2 hour, stirring occasionally to prevent scorching.
Finally, sauce is done when it’s thick enough to hold shape on a spoon.
How Do You Can Chili Sauce
First, prepare boiling water canner while chili sauce is cooking. Heat jars in simmering water until ready to use, do not boil. Wash lids in warm soapy water and set aside with bands.
Then, ladle hot chili sauce into a hot jar leaving ½ inch head-space. Remove air bubbles. Wipe jar rim, Center lid on jar and apply band, adjust to fingertip tight. Place jar in boiling water canner. Repeat until all jars are filled.
Next, process jars 20 minutes, adjusting for altitude. Turn off heat, remove lid, let jars stand 5 minutes. Remove jars and cool 12-24 hours.
Finally, check lids for seal, they should not flex when center is pressed.
Canning Safety Tips
Canning your homemade chili sauce is a wonderful way to preserve it, but make sure you’re taking all the necessary safety precautions when making your recipe. Here are some important safety tips from Ball® Canning.
- Always use the jar size indicated in the recipe.
- Hand wash closures.
- Clean jars prior to use.
- Make sure your canning pot is tall enough to cover jars by 1 – 2 inches of water.
- Use the appropriate canner for your stovetop.
- Use a canning rack, trivet, or bands to place the jars on top of/in the pot/canner.
- Prewarm your jars in the canner or in a dishwasher.
- Place hot jars on a towel or wooden cutting board to fill.
- Remove one jar, fill jar, then place jar into canner before filling next jar.
- Measure your headspace according to what is indicated in the recipe.
- Remove air bubbles with a plastic utensil.
- Wipe the rim of the jar with a damp cloth or paper towel to remove food particles.
- Use a two piece closure.
- Adjust the band to fingertip tight.
- Make sure to adjust the processing time for differences in altitude.
- Start the processing time when the water begins to boil or pressure is achieved.
- Allow jars to cool in canner for 5 minutes after processing before removing.
- Place preserved jars on a towel or wooden cutting board spaced 1 – 2 inches apart to cool.
- Allow jars to cool for 12 – 24 hours before checking the seal.
- Remove band, ensure lid is concave, and verify the lid is sealed before storing.
- Clean jar prior to storing.
- Store jars in a cool, dry, dark location between 50 – 70 degrees.
Can I Substitute Chili Sauce for Cocktail Sauce
While they have similar flavor profiles, the two recipes are going to have some noticeable differences. Both are tomato based, but the difference between chili sauce and cocktail sauce is that chili sauce has a chili component not found in cocktail sauce, it also contains peppers and onions.
Cocktail sauce is more horseradish forward and contains tomato but no other vegetables.
How Do You Make Chili Sauce Thicker
The best way to make chili sauce thicker is to simmer it until enough liquid steams off for you to reach your desired consistency. Make sure to stir occasionally to avoid scorching the bottom.
The vegetables in this recipe will release a lot of liquid when cooked – simmering for a long period of time will reduce the amount of liquid and thicken the chili sauce.
Is Hot Sauce the Same as Chili Sauce
Hot Sauce is not the same as chili sauce. Hot sauce is typically a thin liquidy hot pepper based sauce used to flavor dishes (like in our Hot Buffalo Chicken Dip), while chili sauce is a thick tomato based sauce used to top dishes. Try it on some baked chicken or grilled steak.
Can You Substitute Ketchup for Chili Sauce
While chili sauce is somewhat reminiscent of ketchup with its sweet tomato based flavor, the two are not interchangeable.
Ketchup is a much less complex flavor consisting primarily of tomato and sugar – your dish will be lacking if you try to use it as a substitute.
What to Serve with Your Chili Sauce Recipe
★ Add it as a dip option on your next cheese board.
★ Spoon it over an easy baked salmon.
★ Stir it into your tomato soup recipe.
★ Dunk your baked taquitos in it.
★ Smear some on your grilled cheese before cooking.
★ Or use it to make Grape Jelly Meatballs!
Ball® Canning Jars – This chili sauce recipe calls for 4 pint jars (16 ounces). You can grab them at Target, and make sure to get some of the Ball® Aqua Vintage jars (pictured in this post!).
Ball® Canning Starter Kit – Everything you need to start your canning journey – also available at your local Target!
Large Stock Pot – Remember to use a pot that is tall enough to cover jars by 1 – 2 inches of water.
How to Make Chili Sauce
- 7 pounds tomatoes peeled and roughly chopped (about 4 quarts)
- 5 onions chopped
- 3 red bell peppers seeded and chopped
- 6 Thai red or Anaheim chilis seeded and chopped
- 6 garlic cloves
- 2 cups apple cider vinegar
- 1 cup light brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1 tablespoon mustard seed
- 1 tablespoon grated horseradish optional
- 2 tablespoons chili powder
- 2 teaspoons allspice
- Place tomatoes, onions, red peppers, chilis, and garlic in the bowl of a food processor, working in batches. Pulse until evenly chopped but still chunky, or until smooth if you prefer.
- Combine all ingredients in a large stainless steel pot and bring to a boil over high heat, stirring frequently. Lower heat and simmer until thickened, about 1 ½ - 2 hour, stirring occasionally to prevent scorching. Sauce is done when it’s thick enough to hold shape on a spoon.
- If canning: Prepare boiling water canner while chili sauce is cooking. Heat jars in simmering water until ready to use, do not boil. Wash lids in warm soapy water and set aside with bands.
- Ladle hot chili sauce into a hot jar leaving ½ inch headspace. Remove air bubbles. Wipe jar rim, Center lid on jar and apply band, adjust to fingertip tight. Place jar in boiling water canner. Repeat until all jars are filled.
- Process jars 20 minutes, adjusting for altitude. Turn off heat, remove lid, let jars stand 5 minutes. Remove jars and cool 12-24 hours.
- Check lids for seal, they should not flex when center is pressed.
Pour some over your poached eggs too!