August Can Jam: Tomato Butter

August 21, 2010(updated on August 30, 2021)

blanched tomatoes

Once again, I’m right up against the deadline for this month’s Can Jam. I didn’t intend for it to work out this way. In fact, I made a batch of Tomato Jam last week, based on my friend Amy’s recipe, thinking that it could be my contribution to the month’s challenge. It’s a delicious recipe and I may end up posting it at some point down the line.

However, I had this other idea tickled the back of my brain. Remember when I announced that it was my summer of butters? Well, it’s been awhile since I made one. And I had this idea that tomatoes might make a nice butter.

peeled tomatoes

I started with a little over five pounds of Lancaster County tomatoes. Blanched, cored and peeled, I fed them into my Vitamix so that I had a chunky raw puree (if you don’t have a Vitamix, you could either pulse them in the food processor or take a potato masher to them).

tomato pulp

Using my beloved slow cooker, I let the 10 cups of pulp cook down without any spices or sugar overnight and for an entire workday. It wound up being approximately 18 hours of cooking. Look closely at the next picture, you can see the rings from the cooking down process.

cooking down lines

When I got home from work today, I had a bit less than four cups of cooked tomato, a far cry from the 10+ cups I started out with. Using an immersion blender, I whirred in some honey, brown sugar, lemon juice and zest and an array of my typical jam/fruit butter spices – cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves. In the hopes of giving this butter a little zip, I also included 1/8 teaspoon of cayenne. Not so much to make it unpleasant, just to give it a little extra interest.

tomato butter

When all was done, I had a spread that was a bit sweet, but not cloying, with a nice spice profile. Consistency-wise, it’s quite similar to ketchup, but without the familiar vinegar-y zing. I’m looking forward to pairing this butter with a dab of goat cheese and seeing how it works on flatbread with caramelized onions. How would you use it?

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Tomato Butter

Servings: 2 Pints


  • 5 pounds tomatoes peeled and pureed (approxiately 10 cups)
  • 1 1/3 cups honey
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon cloves
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 lemon zested
  • 2 tablespoons bottled lemon juice


  • Put the tomato puree in a slow cooker. Cook on low, with the lid propped on a chopstick or wooden spoon laid across the rim of the cooker, for 12-18 hours, until the tomato puree has reduced by more than half.
  • When most the liquid has cooked off and the tomato puree is quite thick, add the honey, brown sugar, spices and lemon juice and zest. Using an immersion blender, puree the butter into a smooth spread (if you don’t have an immersion blender, carefully transfer the butter into a blender or bowl of a food processor and carefully puree).
  • Fill jars, wipe rims, apply lids and rings and process in a boiling water canner for 10 minutes (start time when water has returned to a boil).
  • When time is up, remove jars from canner and let cool on a towel-lined counter. When jars are cool, remove rings and test seals. Store in a cool, dark place for up to one year.

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85 thoughts on "August Can Jam: Tomato Butter"

  • That sounds delicious! I always thought that ketchup needed the vinegar to be safe for water bath canning; is adding the juice of a lemon enough? (I am not fond of vinegar, and would love to try something less tart)

  • I am loving the butters! You are right…goat cheese or caramelized onions would be delicious! I must get to the butters. I had a glut of peaches from a visit to warmer central washington that I froze and will hopefully be good for peach butter. And if I ever get enough tomatoes I making this! Yum!

  • I have lately been taking the shortcut of making sauce by halving the tomatoes, cooking them until soft, and then running everything through the food mill to get out the seeds and peel. Is there an advantage to peeling them first? (I know this isn’t directly related to your post, but I’m hoping you might know. Most people peel and then cook, and this seems like so much more trouble I figure there must be a good reason!) Thanks!

  • this looks great marisa, but i too am wondering about the acidity level. have you checked a source that verifies that the lemon juice with zest is enough? or have you tested the acidity?

  • There isn’t enough acid in your recipe to be safely preserved…you need to use bottled lemon juice and more of it!Home testing of the acidity isn’t reliable either..once processed the acidity of the food can change making it unsafe. Check out for safe recipes to can tomatoes. Tomatoes are in the gray area for low-acidity…all tomato products need to be acidified correctly. Be safe and put those jars in the fridge.

  • When I made ketchup this week I was thinking it was just a savory tomato butter and I almost finished it in the crockpot. Then I decided I did not need another dirty dish and just reduced it in the pot. I should have just started it in the crockpot to begin with.

  • My favorite spread ever is the Sungold Tomato Preserves I used to get when I lived in Wisconsin. SO good on a grilled cheese with sourdough and some sharp white cheddar!

  • For those of you concerned about the acid level in my recipe. A typical lemon yields between 2-3 tablespoons of juice. When you acidify tomatoes for canning, you add 1 tablespoon per pint. My recipe has a yield of 2 pints, which makes the amount of acid I added sufficient for safety. I’ve changed the recipe above to call for bottled lemon juice instead of fresh, just to ensure that people understand that there is enough acid.

  • I think her product should be fine, the natural acidity in the tomatoes has been concentrated, she’s got 2 tbsp’s of lemon juice to 2 pints (plenty), and I’m fairly sure that honey is slightly acidic, also upping the acid factor (checked wiki, it is).

    Maybe toss it with hot pasta, olive oil, and some bitter greens, the texture and flavour contrasts would be nice I think. Maybe with some shavings of a nice sharp, hard cheese.

  • As for using this butter (which sounds AWESOME, might I add) I’m thinking it would be super delicious if you covered a wheel of brie in this butter and baked it, serve with crackers? Just a thought.

  • I just picked 20 pounds of tomatoes from the garden and was wondering if I could make a butter from them. My crock pots are certainly getting a good work out, as I have a peach butter going in one right now. I’m going to load the other one up with tomatoes.

  • I made small batches of tomato-chili jam throughout the summer (bonus, no pectin needed) — post yours so that we can compare!

  • This looks delicious! I can see it with ricotta as the base of a savory tart. Or on corn muffins or cornbread. Or grilled cheese, or……. basically on a spoon. I got 25 pounds of tomatoes in a CSA special order, and I will DEFINITELY be putting some of them to use in this! πŸ™‚ Thanks for the recipe!

  • Tomatoes are one of the most common vegetables all over the world. They are quickly growing plants and are favorite among most amateur gardeners so as me.
    I will start to grow tomatoes in my farm and now learning watever i can about them, thanks for information. I also
    found another good site about tomatoes and so many other methods of agriculturing, i recommend you to take a look.

  • Brilliant! I have some tomatoes sitting on the counter that need to be used, and the slow cooker I forgot to put away after I washed it a few days ago. I didn’t connect the two until I read this post!

  • Hi Marissa. Just a quick question.

    I thought preserves, including butters, were to be brought to boiling before ladling into jars for processing. But it seems you just ladle from the crock pot. Should processing time be adjusted to compensate for that?

  • Just to clarify the acid thing….bottled lemon juice has a consistent acid level…fresh lemons do not. That is why you should always use bottled. As far as the honey increasing the acidity…nope. Still not acidic enough to help. Concentrating the tomatoes by cooking doesn’t increase their acidity either.

  • Daisy Mae, when I ladle butters into jars from the crock pot, I don’t turn the pot off until the moment I’m filling jars. At that moment it’s doing a very slow, lazy bubble, which to me is plenty hot. When I can preserves, I always let them sit off the heat for three or four minutes, so it’s a bit off the boil. So I don’t think it requires additional heat. But if it makes you feel better, feel free to heat it up further before canning.

    Shelley, as you can see, I’ve altered the recipe to use bottled lemon juice. I’m aware of the requirements.

  • Marisa, this looks great. I like the idea of using this butter on grilled sandwiches; I think it would offer a better flavor profile than ketchup in most instances. But what, pray tell, is that bright green substance in the quilted jars in the last picture?

    1. Anduin, those are pickled jalapeno peppers. I pack the jars with halved jalapenos and then pour a very basic brine – half water, half white wine vinegar and a couple tablespoons of pickling salt – over top. Process for ten minutes. Great for salsas throughout the year.

  • Just found your site and have become addicted. I mean this in the nicest way: I am totally, overwhelming, completely jealous of your Le Creuset collection.

    Next weekend I am canning sixty pounds of organic Roma tomatoes from California’s Full Belly Farm. This year’s goal (I only started canning last year) is 200 pounds of tomatoes, which isn’t much when family and friends are factored in. Everyone wants tomatoes! My husband thinks I am insane, but he won’t think that in March.

    This butter looks divine. One more thing to try!

    Love the site!


  • I have never tried anything like this before. Very interesting, now I’m dying to know what its like on some crusty bread! πŸ˜‰

  • Thanks Marisa. I don’t think my crock pot gets as hot as your then.

    FWIW – the Ball Blue Book has a yellow tomato butter. They have no added acid in their recipe. So I think you are fine with your bit of lemon.

  • Never would I have thought of tomato butter. I’d love to hear how you like it. One never knows. I tried jalapeno jam for the first time this summer and loved it.

    I’m new to your blog; but, it’s going in my sidebar so I can read your writings often.



  • This reminds me that once I made “date” bars out of green tomatoes. The ingredients in the filling were nearly identical to your butter, except the tomatoes were left chunky. The mixture was cooked for a long time, and became thick and sweet and wonderful, and looked and tasted just like dates.

    This makes me think an interesting variation on the tomato butter would be to start with green tomatoes instead.

  • It is great with any kind of cheese. In Portugal (where I am originally from) it is used a lot. For me my favorite is with goat cheese and a good farmhouse bread!

  • We just made my great grandmother’s recipe for ‘Boston Tomato’ from a 1926 cookbook, and this sounds a lot like it. My great Aunt gave me a cookbook with the recipe and suggested we serve it with roast beef. My dad also liked it a lot over pot roast. We only did a half batch because it was a pretty vague recipe, but next year I’m looking forward to doing the whole batch and canning it. (c:

  • It sounds incredible. I love the color. I’m wondering how it would taste slathered on pizza dough with manchego…

  • I loved the pictures of the tomatoes you started with. I could have just sliced them up, salted, and gnoshed. The butter is an honorable result for them, though. What about the question someone raised above about skinning them? Why do you skin them first and are there any short cuts to avoiding that step?

  • eggs. tis sounds like it would be great on eggs. you know if you were one of those people like my husband who feels the need to slather ketchup on your eggs…i can also see it as a nice substitute for any sort of roasted red pepper spread, or bruschetta type meal

  • How would I use it? I think I might eat it straight out of the jar!!! Thanks for the terrific post.

    Hope you didn’t get one of the infamous Philadelphia blog-dunning letters!!

  • Wow, this looks amazing! I think it would be great with cheese and bread…or just licking the spoon! Also, great on a burger!

  • This looks very interesting. It might make a good appetizer as a dollop atop a cracker spread with cream cheese. I may have to try a batch after I finish my canning and pickling.
    Thanks for sharing such an interesting recipe!

  • Hi– this tomato butter sounds super!! I had just a few questions, is there an email that I can email you at with the questions? Or should I just place the questions here? My email is if you would like to email me your address? Thank you so much for any help you can give me. πŸ™‚

  • I made this last night/this morning and it was amazingly delicious.
    I might point out that if you put it in the fridge you wont have to can it. I put mine into a few smaller jars and will give as gifts, too. (noting that it has to be frigerated)

    so delicious! hope there is still some to give away after today…

  • i must admit, that i am officially sick of canning whole and crushed tomatoes! i’ve got 19 quart jars of them….it wouldn’t be too bad if i had help, or their process time wasn’t 85 minutes! however, i’m thankful for this recipe post. i am currently in the process of cooking down a batch in the crock pot. this recipe makes life simple! just peel, puree, and let sit! woo hoo!
    19 jars isn’t a whole lot, but this is my first run at canning….so worthwhile, but def work. I cannot wait until this time tomorrow to add all the spices and sugar and taste this. i’m thinking it’ll go great on a piece of crusty bread spread with goat cheese and topped with this. i’ve also made sure to pass this recipe along on facebook…i know a few others who have a surplus of tomatoes but want to run screaming from the kitchen if they do another jar of plain old tomaters!

  • My family has an old, mid-1800’s recipe for Tomato Butter which is similar to your recipe… I don’t recall the lemon, honey, or cayenne in it… We used it as a meat sauce for venison and other game meats which is simply wonderful. I was horrified when my friends wanted to put it on crackers or breads like a jam, simply was not done in my family. But having it brushed on some bread with goat cheese does indeed sound good.

  • I think I will have to try this? It might be good in a spaghetti sauce or taco meat. Either way it sounds good!

  • All I can say is yum! I’m going to have to give this one a try. I’ve been searching for some recipes that are more on the savory side and this sure fits the bill. I’ve got more sweet jam done this summer than seems reasonable for a family of 2! πŸ™‚ Thanks!

  • I love tomato butter! I grew up eating it on pot roast, roast beef even on bread with cheese! Yummo! I can’t find it anywhere! I would make it but the smell of the cooking tomatoes to me is to strong. Glad to see the recipe up!

  • Love this. If you want to get fancy, I make small toast points, add a small spread of tomato butter, then some shreaded duck confit, topped with a small bit of peppery greens (arugula is best).

    Knock the socks off your guests!

  • I made both tomato butter and cultured butter this weekend and ate them together on a baked potato. Bliss! Next up will be tomato butter with some spiced lamb burgers and a thickened garlicky yogurt sauce.

  • OOOhhh I am so excited for it to be done! I used our garden’s yellow tomatoes. I love the idea of using it on eggs – mmmm Janice Cole’s baked egg recipe just got better. I am going to use it as part of a pork tenderloin marinade/rub. I hope I make more than one can – must spread the wealth!

  • The yummy way to eat tomato butter jam is on toasted English Muffin with peanut
    butter and tomato butter spread. Really tasty.

  • The slow cooker is brilliant! I used it to cook down tomatoes into a beautiful tomato sauce. Ingredients: tomatoes. That’s it. Amazing! So here is my question – if I wanted to can just this sauce made of tomatoes, with no other ingredients (no sugar, nutmeg, cloves, etc), what do I need to do to ensure it is canned safely? Can I just add the 2 tablespoons of lemon juice, or is there something else needed?

    1. You could certainly skip all the spices and sugar and just add a tablespoon of lemon juice to each pint to ensure safety.

  • Do you think using unpeeled cherry tomatoes would work? That’s about all I’ve got ripening here in the Pacific Northwest.

    1. The point of a butter is in part its smoothness, so you wouldn’t want to use unpeeled tomatoes. Cherry tomatoes would work, but not without peeled or running them through a food mill.

  • I made this last summer. Gave out all but one jar. Well, I had a dinner dilemma I had some beef that needed to be cooked. Well, I browned it and then threw my tomato butter in with beef broth and wine and some veggies. Let’s just say, was on the hunt again for this recipe!! This time I will print it out. Thanks Melissa for all your expiraments!!

  • Use in baked beans! My grandmother’s recipe, which I have misplaced and am looking for a duplicate, uses some vinegar, no honey, and lots of the spices you mentioned plus the sugar. It makes the best baked bean dish ever! Mix in the tomato butter before putting the beans in the oven.

  • Made this last weekend, and my coworkers love it! I just wish mine was thicker; I ended up cooking it in the slow-cooker for *26 hours* (yikes!) and it was still a bit runny. Did I do something wrong?

    1. I don’t think you did anything wrong! There’s a lot of variety in the water content of tomatoes, and so it may be that your tomatoes were just really watery. You can always cook it longer to make it thicker.

  • Just added pureed tomatoes from our local CSA (Michigan State University Student Organic Farm) to the Crock-Pot, and pressed START! Thanks for what sounds like a delicious tomato butter!

  • Marisa…. I’m wondering what is the headspace for this recipe? I googled another tomato butter in hopes it was right! My jars did seal! I love the flavor! I never had anything like this… I ground my nutmeg and cloves to have stronger flavor… thanks!

  • I have this on my todo list with the last of my homegrown tomatoes. I am wondering if this would work in the instant pot to pressure cook as a time saver? Then add spices and simmer for a bit before canning?

  • Sounds amazing, A friend gave me some tomato butter a few years ago as a gift. I use it like I do apple butter. Kids had no idea they were eating tomatoes!
    Thanks for recipe..