The Sunday Recipe: Old-fashioned Chili Sauce

Old-fashioned Chili Sauce

This is an old recipe that my mother got from my paternal grandmother. I’ve made it quite a few times over the years and it has evolved a tiny bit. (Recipes tend to do that around here based on what is available.) It’s a lovely, savory relish that my father and aunt were known to eat from a saucer with a slice of bread.

I like it on burgers and I’ve cooked venison in the slow cooker with it for a great main dish. I’ve even used it as a dip with crackers. I have canned it before, but I have also frozen it and that is what I did this time. It makes a great gift for people who don’t need anything, or when you simply don’t know what to buy.

The most onerous part of making this relish is chopping the onions, but it’s worth it. I highly recommend you refrigerate the onions before chopping. (It helps a LOT.) You can use a food processor, a chopper, or make sure there’s a vent fan going while you chop.

Now, I don’t normally use brown sugar, I substitute maple syrup, but I wanted to keep this recipe true to the original flavor because I was mainly making it for family, so I used the brown sugar.


  • 12 large, ripe tomatoes
  • 6 large onions, chopped
  • 2 bell peppers (green or red, or a combination)
  • 4 celery stalks, chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon sea salt
  • 1 cup cider vinegar
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon each ground allspice, ground cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon, mustard seed, and celery seed.
  • 1 or 2 bay leaves


  1. Mix everything in a large pot
  2. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring every few minutes.
  3. Reduce to a simmer and allow to cook down for about 2 hours, until well thickened.
  4. Can, freeze, or use.