Sweet Cherry Ketchup

August 3, 2017(updated on September 10, 2021)

Last month, the folks from the Northwest Cherry Growers sent me 18 pounds of sweet cherries (it’s my 8th year participating in their Sweet Preservation Canbassador program). After eating a couple pounds in a single sitting, I got down to the work of preserving. I made some whole fruit preserves, cherry and Meyer lemon marmalade, a batch of cherry and black raspberry jam, some cherry ketchup, and used up the rest in a mixed fruit jam.

I managed to share the recipe for the Spiced Cherry Preserves and then totally lost my blogging mojo. So this week, I’m going to try and make up for lost time while fresh cherries can still be had. I’ll link up this post as I get the recipes published. Here’s the first one.

A few notes. The recipe calls for pitted cherries, but you can also use the technique described here if you want an easier route to getting those pits out. If you’re not sure what you would do with cherry ketchup, know that it’s delicious on burgers and with roasted sweet potatoes. And if you’ve got them, feel free to use fancy sauce bottles, as described in this post.

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Sweet Cherry Ketchup

A traditionally flavored ketchup, using cherries rather than tomatoes as the base fruit
Prep Time1 hour
Cook Time1 hour 30 minutes
Servings: 6 half pints


  • 8 cups pitted cherries approximately 5 pounds cherries, to start
  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1 lemon zested


  • Prepare a boiling water bath canner and 6 half pint jars.
  • Combine the cherries, vinegar, honey and brown sugar in a large pot and stir to combine. Place over high heat and bring to a vigorous boil.
  • Once it is bubbling madly, reduce the heat to a medium and cook at a low boil for approximately 30 minutes, until the fruit is quite soft.
  • Remove the pot from the heat and puree the fruit mixture. An immersion blender is the easiest way, but you can also transfer it to a blender. Take care not to splash yourself with hot liquid during this process.
  • Return the blended fruit to the pot and add the ground cinnamon, ginger, salt, cloves, garlic, cayenne, and lemon zest.
  • Cook, stirring regularly, for an additional 30-45 minutes, until the fruit seems quite thick (remembering that it will thicken more as it cools). Taste and adjust seasoning, if necessary. If the ketchup is making a splashy mess, set a splatter screen across the top of the pot.
  • Funnel the finished ketchup into the prepared jars.
  • Wipe the rims, apply the lids and rings, and process in a boiling water bath canner for 15 minutes.
  • When the time is up, 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.

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12 thoughts on "Sweet Cherry Ketchup"

  • Thank you for posting this! I went to bed last night thinking “what will I do with all these cherries?” and woke up to your post so I made some ketchup tonight. After the hour of cooking, I had about 3 cups of sauce from the original 8 cups of cherries so I would say prepping 8 half pints is a bit too many.

      1. This sounds so good! What can you use it on?
        I know it’s a stupid question LOL.
        Thank you.
        Have a blessed day!
        Hugs, Teresa

        1. Try it anywhere that you’d normally use ketchup. On burgers, with roasted vegetables, as a glaze on top of meatloaf, etc.

  • Can cherries be safely switched with other acidic fruit? I’m really wanting to can a peach ketchup and can’t find a good recipe (that is clearly canning safe). I’m thinking it must be (so much acid), but am never clear on how thickness/heat penetration plays a role in safety. (I did crowdsource this on your FB group, but not much response).

    1. Typically, yellow peaches have a lower pH (have more acid content) than cherries, so that would be a perfectly safe swap to make.

  • Hi Marissa, love your recipes!

    In this recipe for the cinnamon, in the ingredients list it says 1 Tbl of cinnamon. In the directions it says to add a cinnamon stick. Which is correct?


  • Also, could I safely switch out 1 tsp of ginger powder for the 1 tablespoon of fresh, and change the cloves to a 1/4 tsp?