Addictive Tomato Chutney: Updated to Use Less Sugar

tomato chutney

I’m so excited to be able to share this update to one of my favorite recipes here at AOC – Addictive Tomato Chutney. It’s an old recipe that I’ve used for years and old canning recipes seem to have a lot of sugar. When I adapted the original recipe all those years ago, I actually did cut down on the sugar along with the other changes I made in seasonings and flavors.

By the way, it’s perfectly safe to cut sugar (or substitute dry seasonings, etc.) from a canning recipe that also calls for vinegar as the sugar is used for flavor.

But last year, as we were eating a more healthy, whole foods lifestyle, I started to feel bad about all the sugar I added when making the tomato chutney.

But just a little.

I still made it – and enjoyed it all year long (you all know I believe moderation and balance are two keys to health and optimum weight, after all).

This year my goal was to see if I could cut the sugar and still have our favorite condiment. And it would have to still taste the same, or I was gonna keep the sugar. A girl has to draw a line somewhere.

After a couple of so-so batches (still OK, but not the same), I hit upon a ratio that not only cuts the sugar in half, but also uses a combination of honey and brown sugar or sucanat – and tastes just as good!

Do I hear a cheer?

Tomato Chutney in Bowl

No? Maybe that’s because you haven’t tried this recipe yet. If so – then I urge you to get some tomatoes and make a batch. It’s the only way to know that I’ve named this appropriately – it truly is addictive.

Some have asked what we use it on. I usually counter with, “what don’t we use it on?” Eggs, frittatas, fries, burgers, meats, Indian curries…the list goes on. It’s an “adult ketchup” and anything you’d use ketchup on is a million times better with this chutney.

Yep, a million.


And now there’s even more incentive to make enough to use all winter long. As if I needed any more.

Here’s the updated recipe, which also includes the new, easier and faster way I’ve been making this – and my favorite salsa – for the last few years: using a food processor to chop the tomatoes, peels and all.

Oh, man, the news just keeps getting better and better!

*Please refer to the original Tomato Chutney posting for all the steps which include photos of how the chutney should look and how to can it.*


Addictive Tomato Chutney {Updated With Less Sugar}

  • 4 lbs. tomatoes
  • 1 c. chopped onions
  • 1/4 c. minced garlic (about a medium sized head)
  • 1/2 c. raisins, chopped in a food processor (I usually do this when chopping the garlic)
  • 1/2 c. brown sugar or sucanat
  • 1/4 c. honey
  • 1-1/2 c. cider vinegar
  • 1 TB. pickling salt
  • 1 lime, zested and juiced
  • 1 TB dry, ground ginger
  • 1 tsp. hot pepper flakes (or to taste- I actually use a whole tablespoon, ’cause we like it spicy)
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  1. Core and quarter the tomatoes and add them – unpeeled – in batches to a food processor, whirring until evenly chopped (fairly fine). You should have 7 cups of chopped puree. If you don’t have a food processor, core, peel and chop the tomatoes by hand.
  2. Combine all the ingredients in a heavy nonreactive 4-6 quart pot. Bring to a boil over high heat, then lower heat and cook at a low simmer for 1-1/2 to 2 hours until thickened. Stir often as it thickens to prevent scorching.
  3. Prepare canner, lids and jars (see general canning steps here)
  4. Ladle the chutney into 1/2 pint canning jars leaving 1/4″ headspace and attach the two-piece canning lids.
  5. Boil in a boiling-water canner for 10 minutes.
  6. Remove and cool before storing in a dark, cool place.

Makes five 1/2-pint jars



  1. Amy says

    I just bought most of the ingredients to make your original tomato chutney, which I love, love, love – but may try your new recipe instead. I’m always keen on less sugar.

    One thing I can’t remember… do you use plum tomatoes or regular tomatoes? I bought organic plum tomatoes at the farmer’s market, but they’re not as tasty as the organic beefsteaks. If you think beefsteaks would be better for the chutney, I can always use the plum tomatoes for sauce.

    Your insight and opinion, please. Thanks so much!

    • Jami says

      I use whatever tomatoes I’ve harvested from the garden an need to be used, so it’s a mixture of all types – some plum, some heirloom and some hybrids like early girl and beefsteak. Go with whatever you’d like. :)

  2. Krista says

    I made this the other day and Wow! is it ever delicious! Thank you for the recipe and for tweaking it just right with less sugar.

    • Jami says

      So glad to hear! It’s on my list to make another couple of batches tomorrow – that’s one thing we don’t want to run out of. :)

  3. Amy says

    I just finished making the less sugar recipe, and think it’s a winner. Delicious! Now that I’ve comparison tasted it with last year’s old recipe, I agree that the old recipe is too sweet. Definitely like the less sugar version better.

    The only mistake I made was to increase the hot pepper flakes to 1 1/2 tsp. Wow, is it ever spicy! But it will be killer on a hot dog. Think I should have stayed with 1 tsp.

    Do you think it will mellow some, Jami, and not be so hot once it ages a little? I used medium hot pepper flakes from Penzey’s spices, and they definitely pack a punch. Moreso than grocery store pepper flakes, I’ve found.

    I’m going to make another batch of this recipe and next time will only use 1 tsp of the hot pepper flakes. I like spicy food, but I don’t know how you can eat it with a whole tablespoon in it! You’re a stronger woman than me, that’s for sure!

    You’ve done a great job reducing the sugar in this and making it even more interesting and flavorful with the honey. Well done!

    • Jami says

      So glad you agree, Amy! We do like things spicy, but I don’t think we’re crazy-hot lovers. :) Maybe the regular store flakes are that much different from the Penzey flakes? I actually upped the last batch to 1 -1/2 TB! And I’ve found it always seems spicier when I’m cooking it than when we open a jar – I’ve found the same with salsa, too. Maybe it does mellow?

  4. Jennifer says

    I suggest trying dried currants instead of raisins. They’re smaller and tarter – I love them! Thanks for the less sugar version. I prefer everything to be less sweet than today’s American standards.

  5. says

    Hello! Just wanted to say I made this yesterday and I have to say this is the best stuff I have ever tasted! I quadrupled the recipe and I am so glad I did! I did leave off 2 of the 4 limes to be added. It had a nice taste and I didn’t want it too limey, and it seemed to have been ok.My husband is going to love it. Thanks for posting it! Now I am off to make the granola….. and I am looking forward to making several of your recipes. (I might even be brave, and throw some green beans in the freezer without blanching :))

  6. says

    I’m not much of a ketchup-eater :/. (I spent wayyy to many years seated next to a sister that doused everything with it). Anyway, today as I was making ketchup for my hubby, I was browsing recipes for Tomato Jam. This recipe sounds very similar and I just might be tempted – I have tomatoes sleeping on the windowsill for just such an event. Hmmm, maybe this will make a convert out of me. Now if I can just find my 1/2 pint jars……. :) I’ll let ya know!

  7. Meloney says

    Just made this with the following changes – no sugar – all honey; no onions – all peppers (a mix of mild and hot -fresh from the garden); and chopped plums instead of raisins (have a plum tree in my yard). Only regret is that I didn’t double or triple the batch.

  8. Carol Hebert says

    I would like to try this recipe but want to know if cider can be substituted with apple cider and hot pepper flakes with chilli peppers, I could not find them in the store.

    • says

      I’m not exactly sure what you’re asking to substitute for the cider vinegar, Carol – do you mean apple cider/juice? You can substitute regular white vinegar for the apple cider vinegar – they can always be interchanged as far as canning safety is concerned. Apple cider vinegar is just a bit more mild than white vinegar, so I prefer it. As far as the hot pepper flakes – they cannot be substituted for fresh chilies, as that would introduce a low acid ingredient for a dried ingredient and mess up the safety ratios. You could sub another dried product – maybe cayenne – for the pepper flakes to create the spice in the end product. Start with a small amount and taste before canning to get the right spiciness for you. Hope that answers your questions!

  9. LindaO says

    Was just wondering if it was necessary to can after cooking? I don’t have a canner.
    Could it just be bottled?
    Thanks Linda

    • says

      Yes, you can keep this in the fridge, Linda. I’m sure it would last a few months at least since it has vinegar in it – probably longer.

  10. Katie says

    Your chutney recipe looked so good I decided to try my first canning project! I’m hooked now, can’t wait to try pasta sauce.
    I read somewhere that one pound of fresh tomatoes equals one 14 oz can. But when I made your recipe with canned tomatoes, I ended up with 5 PINTS instead of half pints. Am I just way way off, or did you mean 5 and a half pints?

  11. Ajay says

    In this recipe, what is the unit of measure c. ?
    for example : 1 c. chopped onions
    How many grams does this convert to ?

  12. Ananda says

    Hi, is there a reason why we should leave the skin on the tomatoes as I usually peel them but I have never made this before? Looking forward to giving it a try.

    • says

      It’s just easier and skips the whole step of skinning, Ananda. :) I used to skin, too, until I realized I could chop the whole tomato since after cooking down the skins aren’t noticeable. Feel free to do it either way!

  13. says

    Hi Jami,
    I made this last night using a mixture of our own tomatoes (Sungold – the sweetest tomato I have ever tasted and Gardener’s Delight – a red cherry tomato). Our own onion and garlic and our own honey. I didn’t have quite enough cider vinegar so topped it up with red wine vinegar! I also didn’t have a lime so used a lemon. Lee (husband) and I both tasted the little left in the pan after making 6 x 8 oz jars and agree – it is officially delicious! I only put a teaspoon of chilli flakes in. Thank you for the recipe! I have also now made numerous batches of the roast tomato sauce freezing it into about 25 x 2 person servings in plastic trays which I transfer to a freezer bag once it is frozen. Thank you for that. I am having a fabulous tomato crop this year, so happy to have these recipes to preserve it. I still have lots to go! Liz

    • says

      Glad it turned out well with your changes, Liz! I’m so glad you have found some recipes to use your tomatoes – they all taste even better in the dead of winter. 😉

      • Liz says

        By the way, I just put chutney (and jam) straight into sterilised jars with vinegar proof lids which seal. Canning seems a bit unwieldy – having to put heavy full jars in and out of pans of boiling water. I did read a bit about it as I have inherited loads of kilner jars but I tried it once, to preserve a cherry glut, but it was a bit hard work so I have not done it since. The vinegar proof lids I use just vacuum seal as the jars cool down and they last in the cupboard for over a year. From looking at websites, canning (boiling the jars in pans after you have filled them), seems to be an American thing. I wonder why?

        • says

          I understand, Liz, and there are still people who do that here, though not as many any more. The National Center for Home Food Preservation here in the US has stated for years (starting back in the 70s or 80s I think) that this “open kettle” canning method is not as safe and you run a higher risk developing mold or other bacteria in your preserves. So we can them to be sure. My take on it is I’d rather take one simple step to ensure that all my work isn’t lost, or worse that I cause someone to be sick.

          Oh, and the little 1/2-pint jars I use for chutney are not hard to take in and out of the canner at all, nor are the pints. Quart sizes may be a little more, but I don’t can much in that size for our family.

          • says

            That’s interesting, and makes sense. If you sterilise it after it is closed there is no opportunity for bacteria to sneak in. Maybe I will have another go at it. I did buy some Kilner tongs for getting the jars in and out of the pan, but I didn’t get a special canning pan which I suspect is different to a normal big saucepan – presumably has some kind of rack at the bottom for the jars to sit on? It’s probably one of those things that once you are in the routine of it – it is no big deal, but the first time you do it, it seems like a bit of a performance. Thank you for your response and information – one further question, do you still sterilise the jars before you fill them or is this not necessary as you are effectively sterilising them when you do the canning? Do you just give them a good scrub out before you fill them?! Oh, and PS, is there a way of adding an image to my comments like you have your photo appear?!

          • says

            Oh, yes, Liz, I always use a rack in the bottom, though it can be any cooling rack that fits in the bottom of your largest pot (to hold at least 2-inches of water above the top of the jars when immersed). The special pots for canning have handles that lift the jars easily, it’s true. And no, I don’t sterilize when boiling-water canning for 10 minutes or more – just a good wash (though you’ll read recipes that say to sterilize all the time, I’ve never had a problem after reading in a canning book that I only needed to sterilize jars that were boiled for less than 10 min).

            Oh, and to get your picture to show when commenting places, follow these directions:

  14. Jeanne R says

    I made this yesterday and it is FANTASTIC! I did add an additional tablespoon or so of the brown sugar. I was just trying to use up some of my bumper crop of tomatoes, but now have found another canning recipe to use year after year. We ate it on bratwurst and oven sweet potato fries. Yum!

    • says

      Oh my, Jennifer – it’s almost what DON’T we use it with, ha! Let me list just a few: roasted or oven-fried potatoes, burgers, hotdogs and sausages, chicken, or any grill meat, grilled vegetables, egg dishes like frittatas… basically like ketchup, but it’s waaay better. :)

  15. chrissy says

    Wow….this stuff is very yummy! I can’t wait to share (some) of the jars I made with my friends and family! This recipe is a keeper!

  16. Melinda says

    Help! I’m out of Addictive Tomato Chutney . Have you tried to make this with good canned tomatoes ?
    Thx and I really enjoy your blog ?


    • says

      Ha! I feel your pain, Melinda. :) I haven’t tried it with canned tomatoes, though I don’t see why it wouldn’t work. Maybe try a small batch first to see. Oh, and let me know if it’s good – I may have an ’emergency’ one day too. 😉

  17. says

    I grew a ton of “Legend” tomatoes last year. Biggest and best harvest ever! Works really well for the short growing season south of Seattle.

    Since I had ton of extra tomatoes, I made a ton of Addictive Tomato Chutney.

    I used a submersion blender one of my final batches of chutney. – I know, whizzing it up until its smooth goes against all conventional wisdom, but I had too. Next, I added a bunch of Liquid smoke, which turns it into Addictive BBQ Sauce!

    I canned it up and threw it in the pantry and didn’t think much about the jars until I gave them away during the holidays.

    Now that the weather has been exceptionally nice in the Pacific Northwest, my friends have been cranking up the barbeque and slathering on the sauce. I have had so many people tell me, “This BBQ Sauce is so awesome!”

    Thank you Jami for posting such an awesome chutney recipe! I couldn’t have made my BBQ sauce without your Addictive Tomato Chutney recipe.

  18. Trish says

    Thanks Jami! I am looking forward to trying this. I made some tomato jam a few years ago, hoping it would be similar to some chutney I had at a restaurant, but it wasn’t quite the same. Always happy to try recipes with less sugar. :)

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