CSA Cooking: Smoky, Spicy, Skillet Tomato Jam

August 15, 2015(updated on May 3, 2022)

This sweet and spicy skillet tomato jam is the perfect way to make good use of tomatoes that are ripening more quickly than you can manage. Instead of putting them in the compost, transform them!

half pint tomato jam

Skillet jams really are the best way I know to deal with a couple pounds of rapidly ripening fruit. Today’s batch was a slimmed down, extra spicy and smoky version of my classic tomato jam.

I had just two pounds of mismatched tomatoes from last week’s Philly Foodworks share and with a vacation looming, I’ve been trying to make useful things out of everything that could possibly go bad around here.

2 pounds macerated tomatoes

I chopped up the tomatoes, combined them with 1 1/4 cup of granulated sugar, and let them macerate over night (I do so love breaking up the work of even the smallest batches of preserves into easily manageable pieces).

skillet tomato jam

Then today, I poured the juicy sugared tomatoes into my trusty 12 inch skillet and added 4 tablespoons of bottled lemon juice, 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger, 2 teaspoons of crushed red pepper flakes, 1 generous teaspoon of smoked paprika, another teaspoon of salt, and 1/4 teaspoon cayenne.

skillet tomato jam in a measuring cup

The tomatoes cooked down over hight heat for just around 20 minutes, until it was glossy, thick, and didn’t look at all watery. Into a trio of half pint jars and processed for 15 minutes, this little batch took less than an hour total of active time.

Like all tomato jams, this one is good with cheese and crackers, slathered on a burger, eaten with sweet potato fries, or dolloped alongside scrambled eggs.

three half pints tomato jam

Frequently Asked Questions About Skillet Tomato Jam

What kind of tomatoes are best for this jam? You can use any tomatoes you have, but know that the juicier the tomatoes, the lower the yield. A meaty tomato like a roma, paste, or even grape tomato will give you a higher yield, whereas a juicy heirloom slicer with produce a lower yield.

Can I reduce the amount of sugar? I don’t recommend reducing the sugar in this preserve. In this recipe, which does not employ added pectin, the sugar is playing a vital role in creating the set. If you reduce it, the cooking time will increase, the yield will decrease, and you may not be happy with the finished preserve. Read more about sugar’s role in canning.

I can swap in a non-sugar sweetener? This recipe will not work as written with artificial sweeteners. To read more about why the swap won’t work, click here.

Do I have to can this small batch of tomato jam? No, you don’t have to can it. You can simply funnel the finished product into a clean jar and refrigerate it. It will keep about a month in the fridge.

Can I can this jam in different sized jars? Yes. As long as the jar is 16 ounces or smaller, the processing time remains the same.

Can I double this recipe? Yes. Just know that the cooking time will be longer if you increase the volume in the pan. If you do double, make sure to use the lowest, widest pot you have. I don’t recommend cooking this jam in a stock pot, as it depends on evaporate to achieve set, and they are designed to prevent evaporation. I don’t recommend doing a batch larger than double the recipe in one pot, as it will be very hard to cook down.

4.89 from 9 votes

Smoky, Spicy, Skillet Tomato Jam

A small batch of spicy, savory tomato jam
Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time20 minutes
Processing Time15 minutes
Total Time50 minutes
Servings: 3 half pints


  • 2 pounds tomatoes
  • 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 4 tablespoons bottled lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
  • 2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper


  • If you plan on canning the finished jam, prepare a boiling water bath canner and three half pint jars. Wash three rings and lids with warm, soapy water and set them aside.
  • Chop the tomatoes. Place them in a roomy bowl and add sugar. Stir to combine. Let sit for at least ten minutes, until juicy. If you prefer, you can cover the tomatoes and refrigerate them for up to 24 hours before proceeding with the jam.
  • When you're ready to cook, pour the sugared tomatoes into a low, wide, nonreactive pan, like a large stainless steel skillet and place it on the stove. The large amount of surface area allows the tomatoes to cook down quickly. If you use a narrower cooking vessel, the cooking time will increase.
  • Add the lemon juice (if you plan on canning the finished product, please make sure to use bottled lemon juice, as that ensures that the finished product contains enough acid to ensure safety), ginger, red pepper flakes, smoked paprika, salt, and cayenne. Stir to combine.
  • Turn the burner to high heat and bring the tomatoes to a rapid boil. Reduce the heat to medium high and cook, stirring often, for 15-20 minutes. You want to cook until the tomatoes no longer look watery and have taken on a thick, glossy finish. My favorite way to judge whether a skillet jam like this one is done is by watching how it behaves as I stir. When it is nearly done, you'll be able to clear a spot in the jam with your spoon and it will stay open for a moment or two, before the fruit rushes back in to fill it up. I like to say that it's nearly sculptable when it's done.
  • When you judge that the jam is done, remove the pan from the stove. Funnel the finished jam into the prepared jars. Wipe the rims, apply lids and rings, and process in a boiling water bath canner for 15 minutes.
  • When the time is up, turn off the heat and remove the lid. Let the jars rest in the cooling water for 5 minutes. When that time has elapsed, remove the jars and set them on a folded kitchen towel to cool. When the jars have cooled enough that you can comfortably handle them, check the seals. Sealed jars can be stored at room temperature for up to a year. Any unsealed jars should be refrigerated and used promptly.

Sharing is caring!

Leave a comment & rate this recipe

If you enjoy this recipe, please do give it a star rating when you post a comment. Star ratings help people discover my recipes. Thank you!

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating

121 thoughts on "CSA Cooking: Smoky, Spicy, Skillet Tomato Jam"

  • Marisa- Tomatoes are also in season here in Vanutau so last weekend I made a batch of charred salsa, following a recipe that acidified it with cider vinegar. However I processed the jars for about 10 minutes. After reading your recipe around digging around on your site I looked at recipe again and noticed it . called for a considerably longer process time, classic me not reading the whole recipe. Now a liitle concerned, should I be worried?

    Thanks, Heather

      1. Thanks.

        4 small jars and lots of tomatoes about, thought I might eat them now and try again to be sure, tropics and all. H

  • Thank you for the new recipe: Smoky, Spicy, Skillet Tomato Jam. This grandma needed this recipe what-with all the extra tomatoes and fresh hot peppers in my garden. {smile) The older generation still adhere to the thought “waste not ~ want not”. Food in Jars is one of my absolute favorite online newsletters. You’re doing a great job.

  • Man, that skillet jam looks and smells great! Yes, I can smell it! Thanks for the recipe. I’m definitely going to use it.

  • Nice spice profile – with 6 tomato plants all of different types, colours, and sizes this year I’m always looking for small recipes that can use up a couple of pounds at a time. I adore your basic tomato jam – I think I’ll have to give this a try (but with less chile – I’m a total wuss when it comes to heat).

    I’ve done a couple of batches of your pizza sauce so far with different mixes of tomatoes, will be fun to crack those open in the dead of winter. 🙂

      1. I made this last night, using 2.25# tomatoes and I used 1C brown sugar (not tightly packed). Seems sweeter than I would like – can the sugar be decreased safely in this recipe? Like the nice, spicy flavor, though.

        1. My previous post got garbled, somehow. I am wondering if the sugar can safely be decreased here…but I like the nice spicy flavor.

  • Yum! This is one of my favorite jams…I made it from your cookbook last year to use up some of the small pear shaped cherry tomatoes that I grew on a whim. This year I planted 2 of those pear tomato plants just for this jam. At first I had to freeze the few ripe ones until I had enough for a batch of jam. Now the plants are ripening much faster, so I can harvest a batch worth each week. I have probably eaten it just about every way you mentioned — my favorite way is to slather it on a warm tortilla and top it with scrambled eggs and shredded cheese. Thanks for this great recipe!

  • I made my take on this today and it is fabulous!
    Thank you for all of the teaching and inspiration in what has been the first summer of food preservation for me. I’m sure it is the start of a lifetime love and you must surely take a lot of the credit!

  • I had the hardest time getting my tomato jam to cook down recently – I’m guessing too much moisture in the tomatoes had something to do with it, but I also realize I may have not had the heat up high enough on the stove. I ended up making it in the crock pot, which took longer, but definitely made for an easier time of it.

  • My housemates are so happy that this is cooking on my stove right now. We can’t get enough of tomato jam, and we’re so glad tomato season is here & in full swing!

  • I’ve got a bunch of little tomatoes from my garden that I’ve been unsure what to do with (not enough for sauce, and I’ve dried a bunch already). This looks perfect. Thanks!

  • This is an amazing recipe! It tastes a little like barbecue sauce…sweetly spicy. I’ve never had tomato jam before, but I’m a convert now. I used three pounds of assorted tomatoes (mostly chadwick cherries) from our garden and scaled the other ingredients up appropriately…I ended up with three half-pints of jam. This recipe is good enough reason to continue picking the last tomatoes from our plants (the freezer is already at capacity with sauce)! Thank you!

  • Okay now it’s getting weird how on point you are with my life. Realized I’ve been buying tomatoes and given tomatoes (5 sources total) and wanted to try a random tomato jam. Went straight to your site for the second time today and scrolled down…. Starting the macerating!

  • I noticed in the instructions you say to add “another tsp of salt” but I didn’t see where any had been added previously. Did I miss something?

    1. That was my fancy way of saying that I was using another teaspoon because the previous ingredient had also been a teaspoon of something.

  • This looks delicious and I’d like to try it with mismatched tomatoes from my garden. I’d like to make it a little less-spicy though. OK if I leave out the cayenne?

  • This was my first foray into “savory” jams and it was amazing!!! Got such a good response from my taste testers! I never knew I would even like something like this! Was awesome slathered in between a croissant 🙂

  • OMG this is delicious! Made a batch this morning and followed Marisa’s recipe with one slight change: substituted cider vinegar for the lemon juice. Wow it’s to die for! Got three half-pint hats plus 2 tablespoons of extre (the cook’s treat!).

  • This will be a perfect use of the little garden tomatoes I’ve got on hand.

    No reason I can’t use bottled lime juice instead of lemon, right?

  • Just had a chance to make this… delicious, thank you! The depth of flavor is beautiful with the three types of pepper!

  • This is AMAZING!!!! I’ve never even had tomato jam before, but love smoked paprika, and any sweet/savory combo. I used fresh sungolds, along with some tomatoes from the freezer. Followed recipe exactly. Only yielded (2) 1/2 pts..couldv’e been because I couldn’t quit tasting it!! Thawing more tomatoes to add to more fresh sungolds for another batch later this week!!

  • First tomato jam ever and it’s delicious! I made a double-batch the second time around but didn’t have any half-pint jars so I used pint-sized jelly jars and processed an extra 5 minutes. Do you think this is food-safe or should I refrigerate them?

  • Figuring out what to do with 22 pounds of organic tomatoes before they go bad is always part of the fun of cooking and enjoying the awesome flavors of summer through the winter.

  • I’ve made this twice in the past two weeks… The first batch was an experiment, but the second was a necessity because my family LOVES it! We haven’t put ketchup on a burger or hot dog since this was published, just spicy tomato jam. 🙂

    Both times I’ve gotten 4-4oz jars and a fifth jar that was almost full… Using a mixture of tomatoes, including cherry and some heritage black tomatoes that I’ve been growing. Delicious! Had to comment to say thank you for what is one of our new favorite recipes!

    1. Ideally you macerate the tomatoes in the fridge. However, if you have no available fridge space, room temperature will do! That said, if it’s really hot in your home, leaving them out overnight could lead to a bit of fermentation, which is not ideal.

      1. Thanks for the quick reply. I made your tomato jam last fall and gave it to extended family as stocking stuffers for Christmas. It was such a hit, requests for repeat gifts have been rolling in for the past 8 months.

  • I’ve got a bunch of little tomatoes from my garden that I’ve been unsure what to do with (not enough for sauce, and I’ve dried a bunch already). This looks perfect. Thanks!

  • Curious about using bottled lemon juice. Is that just for convenience or does it make a difference in the preservation process? Or, is fresh-squeezed okay? Looking forward to making this on the weekend…

  • I’m new to this blog and have to say I’m really enjoying all the tips & tricks … Thank you, Marisa, for taking the time !

    After the quarts of spaghetti sauce, tomato sauce, & tomato soup I’ve put up in the recent weeks, I had a small pile of toms ripening on my window sill that I couldn’t bear to waste after putting the garden to bed for the season. It was just the right amnt of fruit for this recipe. I maserated the the fruit in the morning before I went to work, and finished it up when I came home in the evening. This recipe gave me 4-1/2 pt jars from 2.5# of fruit. I’m looking forward to trying it on some burgers we will be having this weekend, & hubby says he’s going to try it on hashbrowns, too.

    I have to add, tho, next time I’ll probably run it thru the food mill to get rid of the skins & the majority of seeds (most of the toms I used were late ripening heirlooms). It was nice to can a small amnt of produce w/o spending the entire day! ?

  • Could you make this (or your regular tomato jam recipe) with frozen OR previously canned tomatoes? I have several quart bags of frozen cherry tomatoes, and a few dozen quarts of roma’s canned, and thought it would be great to use some of those to try making jam while it’s still cold outside.

  • Best tomato jam, EVER! I didn’t have cayenne, so I used chipotle powder, and it came out so delicious that I made a double batch the very next day! I brought a jar to work, and three people asked for the recipe. Small batch jams are so much easier. Can’t wait to try some of your other recipes. I’m sure they’ll be yummy!

  • I just made this today! Oh heavens, yum! I like a milder spice, so I eliminated the cayenne, halved the red pepper flakes, and substituted hickory smoked salt for the salt. Delicious! Thanks Marissa!

  • I made this in October and refrigerated a couple of the jars that didn’t seal during processing, and haven’t opened them since. If there is no visible spoilage, are they still safe to eat? I’m relatively new to canning, and am unsure what the instructions “if the jars don’t seal properly, refrigerate and use immediately” mean. How immediate is immediately? Thanks!

  • Hi,

    New to canning! I have a huge cherry tomato plant taking over my garden, so hoping to can some.

    For this recipe, do you need to water bath can them or pressure can them?


  • This is cooking on my stove right now and it smells amazing! I used 1.25 tsp of hot smoked paprika and omitted the cayenne. Also added a little liquid smoke. Can’t wait to taste the finished product. Also used mostly yellow tomatoes.

  • OH WOW! YUMMY!!!! Made this recipe to the T, didn’t skip a beat. ALMOST added a little chopped Chipotle in adobo sauce instead of the smoked paprika BUT decided against it and stuck with the smoked paprika. WORTHY for sure!

    Served so far on Grilled Sweet potatoes and it was divine. Also served on, seasame entertainment cracker, Roasted Pine nut Hummus, Tomato Jam and a thin slice of Sopressa spicy salami. YUM!

    Waiting on another two lbs of tomatoes to become ripe so I can repeat this recipe!

  • Just made this today. My first foray into canning tomatoes. It is super spicy, but I think my husband is going to love it. Thanks for the recipe.

  • I am making the orange tomato original version from your cookbook right now (well, my grape tomatoes were more like, orange, red, and a few yellow) and it is lovely. I am dreaming of a slightly tweaked version using gochujaru in place of the cayenne… any thoughts on other tweaks to take it in that direction?

  • This recipe works well. I rather like garlic so I added about 5 plump cloves that I smashed, minced and added it to the tomato mix. I added about 4 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar as I liked it a bit more tart. I wanted to be sure the pH would be adequately low.

    I was hoping the grocery would have some more clearance tomatoes so I could make more as this will be handy for holiday gift giving. Or we will just keep it for ourselves.

    Really tasty. Thank you!

  • This is the best Tomato Jam! My friend brought it in for our Ladies bible study to taste-
    We had it with cream cheese on crackers.
    I can’t wait until my tomatoes come in- Yum!

  • How do you get 3 half pint jam jars to fit? I can only fit 2. I didn’t buy the Kuhn Rikon, but the one I did purchase has supposedly more capacity.

  • I’m ready to embark on my first tomato jam adventure. Timing doesn’t work out for me to macerate the tomatoes overnight. How many hours would do the trick? THX

  • I just made this and it is delicious. I was measuring my tomatoes on a scale and kept wondering why it looked like much more than your pictures when I realised my scale was on kgs instead of lbs. So I had to double the recipe but I’m glad of my mistake because now I have nine jars! Thank you for the recipe.

  • Best recipe ever; we make a ton of it to use all year long. In all the ways described, but also as a kind of condiment or chutney. Mix in with any grain, soup, stew, etc.

    I’ve put tomatoes in the fridge with the sugar to macerate, but realize because of logistics to crazy to explain, I have to leave them there for 4 days. Do you think this will be a problem?

    Thank you for this website–it was what made me begin canning and now I can’t stop!! 🙂

    1. As long as it hasn’t started to get boozy, it should be fine to cook down, even after four days of maceration.

  • I made several jars of this over the summer, and now it’s a condiment I can’t live without.

    Last night, I heated some up in a saucepan with some Worcestershire sauce and lots of cracked pepper and created the best steak sauce ever!

    Thank you for this!

  • Great recipe. Made this last year and gave it to the in-laws at the holidays. It was a total hit. My FIL loved it on their cheese plates.

    I think I’ll be making more so he can try it on burgers and sandwiches next.

    The smoky paprika really works in this. I’ve substituted chipotle pepper for the cayenne with good success.


  • Is it safe to use all yellow tomatoes in this recipe? If so, would extra lemon juice be necessary or is everything the same?

  • Does it matter what type of skillet or pot you use when you cook the tomatoes? I see lots of canning recipes say not to use stainless steel.

  • Friends and I have been gifting each other food of and on since March – whatever specialties each family makes. Canning is a hobby of mine so little jars are what I’ve been passing on as my share of the community care during these Covid times.

    Folks love this jam, which I made on a whim. And they often check the label now of whatever I give them – and are so disappointed if it’s not Tomato Jam!

    I made two batches already this summer and am about to make my third and last tonight with the last of my garden tomatoes (ripening inside since October)

    Thank you for a simple pleasure… it’s well loved by many folks over here in Seattle and bringing lots of comfort in these strange times.

  • It’s bloody hot and humid here right now and my tomatoes are getting ripe! Would it be possible to prepare the maceration and then put it in the freezer and thaw completely before doing water-bath canning? It’s so hot I just can’t face canning right now. I would probably do it within the next few weeks though if you say it’s ok.

    Thank you! Love your recipes.

    1. I have just updated this post with a printable recipe. My apologies that it was missing before!

    1. That swap won’t work in this recipe. It needs true sugar in order to thicken. If you use artificial sweetener, it won’t cook down properly.

  • I love this recipe and make it many times each summer. Do you think it would work if you added the chopped tomatoes to the sugar, let them sit, and then froze that in a bag, to thaw and turn into jam later? Trying to use all my tomatoes but jamming and canning every other night with two young kids is a challenge. Thanks!

  • 5 stars
    This is one of my all time favorite recipes! I love it on egg & English muffin sandwiches. It’s also great on meatloaf, either straight from the jar or mixed with a little mustard and a pinch of nutmeg.

  • Do you really mean a full TWO TEASPOONS of red pepper flakes for two pounds of tomatoes? My mouth hurts just thinking of it

    1. Yes! It’s supposed to be spicy. However, you could always reduce it if you don’t like such spicy things.

    1. You want to use bottled lemon juice here because it has a consistent acidity that ensures the canning safety of the finished product. Fresh lemon juice has a wider pH range which isn’t as reliable.

  • 4 stars
    I made this recipe last night and today. I used Black Krim tomatoes, and followed the recipe to the letter. My yield was two half-pint jars.
    The recipe does not state a headspace measurement. I referred to my peach butter recipe and made it 1/4″.

  • 5 stars
    I made this today. I only got 2 half pints but I used the big Jersey tomatoes that are high in water. I had a little left and had a sample. Delicious. And I hear both jars pop. Ahhh. Thanks for the recipe!

  • 5 stars
    Excellent and easy! Make this! I processed my small jars in a water bath instead of a pressure cooker, making sure jars seal and have that “pop” during cooling. Can’t wait to use!

    1. I’m glad you liked it! But you wouldn’t need a pressure canner for this recipe. It’s designed for a water bath.

  • I love this recipe and have made it repeatedly. Somehow the ginger flavor comes through better when I use chopped crystallized ginger rather than grated fresh. I consistently get only one pint from this batch (or two from a doubled batch).

  • 5 stars
    I love, love, love this jam. In addition to the serving suggestions in the recipe, it makes a great topping to put over a turkey meatloaf when it goes into the oven.

  • Can I freeze the finished jam versus canning it? I just want to use it over the next month or two and was wondering if it freezes well?

    1. You can absolutely freeze it instead of canning it. Just make sure to leave a little more headspace to account for any expansion.