Small Batch Tomato Jalapeño Jam

March 25, 2017(updated on November 20, 2023)

Prevent food waste with a tiny batch of tomato jalapeño jam. It needs just two clamshell boxes of grape tomatoes and less than an hour of cooking.

24 ounce jar of tomato jalapeño jam

I have half a dozen or so buckets of activity that I’m trying to move forward at the moment and I spend most of my time ricochetting between them. A book proposal. The podcast. My teaching schedule. Taxes. This blog. My email inbox (good lord, that inbox). And around 4:30 this afternoon, I was just done.

grape tomatoes for tomato jalapeño jam

I wandered to the fridge and started looking for things that needed to be used up. Even if I couldn’t move my work world any further at that moment, perhaps I could be productive in other ways.

slivered tomatoes for tomato jalapeño jam

I found two squat containers of grape tomatoes and a tiny jar containing three tablespoons of diced jalapeños (leftover from a recipe testing project that I did for a friend a couple weeks back). Ah yes. Tiny batch tomato jalapeño jam.

all ingredients for tomato jalapeño jam

From there, it was a matter of a few minutes of chopping, a quick bit of measuring, and 45 minutes of low simmer. I could have cooked it down more quickly over higher heat, but wanted to be able to do a sink full of dishes and some other prep, and so opted for a lazy bubble rather than a frenzied one.

cooked tomato jalapeño jam

And then, it was done. Tomatoes and jalapeños repurposed rather than wasted and a sense of purpose regained. Now, I’ll confess that finished batch doesn’t forge any particularly new territory in the world of tomato jams. But the heat and brightness of flavor made it delicious enough to merit a quick blog post. And so here we are.

Now, tell me. How do you handle it when you hit a work wall?

5 from 9 votes

Small Batch Tomato Jalapeño Jam

Servings: 3 half pints


  • 2 pounds small tomatoes halved or quartered
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons diced jalapeños
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 lemon zested and juiced


  • Prepare a boiling water bath canner and three half pint jars.
  • Combine the tomatoes, sugar, vinegar, jalapeños, salt, and lemon zest and juice in a low, wide, non-reactive pan.
  • Bring to a boil over high heat and then reduce the heat to medium. Simmer until thick (30-45 minutes, depending on the height of the heat and the width of your pan).
  • Use an immersion blender to puree the jam a bit, if you want a smoother texture (this also helps integrate the jalapeños, making for a more uniformly spicy preserve).
  • Funnel 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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61 thoughts on "Small Batch Tomato Jalapeño Jam"

  • Marisa,

    I had the same kind of week, deadlines/engine repairs/appointments, and found myself craving a little galley time as well. Somehow spending a few hours working with your hands and having a tangible, and delicious, result afterwards is just the balm needed to counterpoint a whole lot of other balls in the air/works in progress. Also, I recently decided that it is important to take a day off – you know one where you don’t think about work/check emails/post online or even pick up a device? OK, if not a day then at least a few hours. Sometimes “doing nothing” is doing more than your realize. Have a great weekend and thanks!


  • Marisa, I’m with Heather. Working productively with my hands, whether it’s prepping a family meal, getting the week’s granola baked, or (my favourite) some time with my knitting needles or spinning wheel helps centre me, and makes it easier to go back to other tasks. Last week, I had a week off for March break, with a fairly long to-do list. One of the gifts of being married to my spouse is time at my in-laws, with no wifi. I had to organize my work list so the online tasks were done before we headed up to their house and starting this year’s maple syrup process. Being forced to build in a digital break is a really good thing for me.

    Also for me, getting outside for a walk or bike ride is a quick refocus strategy.

  • So I have a food safety question…I made a batch of your smoky, spicy tomato jam back in October or November, and I have a couple of jars in the fridge. What I can’t remember is if the ones in the fridge are the ones that didn’t seal properly and I popped them in the fridge immediately, or if they are the ones that have the leftover jam that wasn’t quite enough to fill a jar. Are they safe to eat (assuming they aren’t fuzzy – I haven’t peeked in them for a while) or should I toss them? I do have other, sealed jars, so if the verdict is to toss them, I’ll be sad but it won’t be a complete loss. Thanks in advance for your input!

      1. Thanks! I wasn’t sure because I’m always a little iffy about tomatoes (the whole botulism thing…), and I couldn’t remember if I’d processed the jars that were low volume or not. I will do a better job of labeling them the next time!

  • When a wall looms large, I go to the kitchen, too. I can always feel productive there. Thanks for your post. I think I’ll give the recipe a try.

  • I try to find something that I can FINISH. So many of my projects take hours to finish, sometimes over the period of weeks or months (crocheting a bed spread for instance).

    For some reason, putting a stamp on a letter and mailing gives me a sense of accomplishment, so if I have some office work to do, I’ll do that. I don’t like to cook because of the clean up, but laundry is soothing in the “Well, that’s done,” category.

    So, that’s what I do when I hit a work wall.

  • Just made a half batch of this using lime (seeing as we are purging the fridge!) and it’s lovely. Thanks for sharing.

  • I love that this uses grape tomatoes. Sometime I’m buried in them if the CSA harvest is particularly good! Sooo looking forward to summer!

  • I keep a cleaned clamshell in my freezer and throw in any grape tomatoes that are wrinkled, getting a little too soft, or otherwise are not presentable in salad or on a veggie tray. I either throw a few of them into something that needs just a small bit of tomato (like pea soup) or I use them for tomato jam. My hubs makes a fantastic tomato shrub and I freeze the strained-out grape tomatoes and use that as the base for tomato jam.

  • Curious how you serve this jam. I had almost one pound of cherry tomatoes and a couple of small Marzano tomatoes from my garden. They weren’t going to be used, and I hate for anything from my garden to go to waste. So one pound made one perfectly cute 8 oz. jar. But now I need ideas for how to use it. Honestly, I want to try the jam first. Then as I make additional jars, I can also give them as gifts or in gift baskets.

  • Question for anyone who knows. If the jam does not thicken after everything and sealing in a hot bath, what can I do to salvage and make thicker?

  • Question- what is the heat level like? I am wondering, as I would like to try this as a spread for corn muffins. Can more jalapeño be used if I have it?

  • Delicious!! I’ve served it on flatbread with goat cheese and arugula and also just with salami, cheese, and crackers!! Thanks for helping me use up my tomatoes!

  • I have a lot of cherry tomatoes in my garden I’m trying to use up. I’m wondering if I can double this recipe? I’m thinking yes, but I don’t want to kill any family members. 🙂

    1. There’s no safety implications in doubling batches, just set implications. Cooking time will lengthen and there’s a higher chance of scorching.

  • This sounds like a perfect use for our plethora of sun gold tomatoes this autumn! They are so very sweet, I would like to not add the sugar, will this pose a safety issue? Should lemon juice or citric acid be added at the canning stage? Thank you!!

    1. If you don’t add sugar, it won’t pose a safety issue but this won’t behave like a jam. It will also have a reduced yield and shelf life. What you’re describing is tomato sauce. And the lemon juice or citric acid should be added directly to each jar prior to canning.

    1. This is a recipe in which you have to keep cooking it to achieve set. You continue to cook until you like the consistency. Because water content varies in tomatoes, cooking times will vary.

  • Just pulled my 3 jars out of the canner. Had my husband taste the laftovers and he said it it tasted like peaches! So I gave it a taste and sure enough it does! I used yellow pear and 4-5 very small celebrity tomatoes, 3.5 tablespoons of jalapenos with seeds and membranes finely chopped. Very little heat but wow it’s yummy!

  • I made this jam and it’s delicious although it did not set; it’s thick but not jam like (I ran out of patience!). I did can it as the recipe didn’t talk about getting to a jam set point so it’s more like a sauce. Do you think this is still okay?

  • I made this and it is delicious. It took an 1:15 minutes to reduce. I went slow and I am at almost 6000 feet altitude. But it did take a LOOOOOONG time to reduce.
    The taste is delicious and I did hit it with an immersion blender.
    I’ll make this again.

    1. Any vinegar with a 5% acidity is fine to use. That includes most commercial white and red wine vinegar.

  • Would it be ok to omit the lemon zest and lemon juice? I’m not a big fan of lemons but I wondered if it would be ok to leave it out or if it’s necessary to raise the acidity to make it safe for water bath canning.

  • How much bottled lemon juice should be substituted for the zest and juice of a fresh lemon? Yeah – I know it won’t taste quite as good but I’m not headed to town for a few days.

    Our cherry tomatoes are rather prolific this year – even though I emptied the counter earlier today I should have enough tomorrow to make a batch of this for my husband. When I made your smoky spicy tomato jam a few hours ago I forgot that my husband isn’t a fan of ginger – oops! But I’m in love and expect this will be just as wonderful – thanks!

  • 5 stars
    This is delicious! I made it with my pink bumblebee tomatoes, so it is sweet and spicy. Partially pureed it halfway through cooking.

  • My neighbor has so many small tomatoes in his garden, Before he plows it all down for the winter I picked yellows greens and red cherry tomatoes, and jalapeno peppers. No shallots though. Hope that I can use a garlic lobe and some white onion, Suprised this didn’t call for pectin. I am relatively new at canning but I am now living in the North West and there is fruit everywhere, so I will see how this goes. My mother came out of south Texas and made this really hot spicey tomato Jalapeno jelly. Hope to get close to that taste.
    Thanks for the recipe.

    1. This jam sets up via reduction rather than with the addition of pectin. I hope it turned out well for you.

  • 5 stars
    wow just made this recipe but used my own scotch bonnet chillies, and sieved it after blitzing to make jelly. It’s turned out great. Thanks so much for the trouble you took to post it

  • 5 stars
    Dear Marisa,
    The first time I made this jam was in 2019. Mine was more of a thick sauce than a jam, but we absolutely loved it , especially with ham. We are just finishing up the last jar. I know – canned goods should only be keep 18 months – but ours lasted. However – to be safe, I do give it a good simmer – and while I’m at it I add bacon – to make Bacon Tomato Jalapeno Jam. (It stays refrigerated after that)
    I just finished making the jam again – and I think this time it will be thicker. I also used lime zest and lime juice. It tastes amazing.
    Thank you for this wonderful recipe.

    1. Honestly, as long as the quality is holding and the seal remains strong, it’s okay to keep and use things past that 18 month window. It’s just that it may have the best quality during that time. I am so happy you have enjoyed this jam and that you have made another batch.

  • 5 stars
    What a scrumptious jam!!! Easy to make, beautiful to look at and tastes wonderful. I did not have any lemons on hand so I substituted about 1 teaspoon vitamin C crystals. Another of my ‘edits’ is I had half a small white onion on hand so I diced it and added it to the rest of the ingredients. Now I’m wishing I had more tomatoes on hand!

    1. Just so you know, you shouldn’t add low acid ingredients like onions to recipes that are going to be processed in a boiling water bath canner.

  • I’ve been making this for a couple summers now and LOVE it! It is a HUGE hit! I wanted to try it with honey, and see that you have a different honey recipe, but it calls for different ingredients. I prefer to use the fresh hot peppers we grow in our garden rather than those other spices. How can I safely combine these two recipes if I want to keep the fresh peppers but switch to honey? Would I just do the other recipe and omit the spices and sub hot peppers? Mainly worried about how the acid ingredients are different- the lemon juice vs the vinegar. Thank you!

    1. You could swap honey into this recipe in place of the sugar. I would just reduce the volume to about 1 1/2 cups, because honey is sweeter than sugar.

  • I mentioned in a previous post that I had added onion to the ingredients and you replied that doing so would not be safe since it altered the acid balance of the mixture. Is there any reason adding onion is a problem if the jam is going to be eaten right away? Also, if I did want to preserve some of it would adding more acid make adding onion safe?

  • 5 stars
    Love this! So easy and so delicious! I accidentally used an extra 1/4 cup sugar. I just had a bunch of tomatoes that I had to pick before the freeze – various types and various stages of green to ripe. I did squeeze out a lot of the seeds – let them sit in the sugar for about 23 hours. I didn’t have fresh ginger so used 1/4 tsp ground ginger. When it was done ‘cooking’, I used an immersion blender to give it more of a jam consistency instead of preserves. My husband wouldn’t wait for it to cool off – instantly stuck a spoon in the jar … he loved it! Coming up with all kinds of ideas for using it. Thanks for sharing!