The most awesome chilli jam recipe

Guest post by Katherine Deane
By: Elin BCC BY 2.0

I make this every year for cheap-but-wonderful Christmas presents for family and friends. And I always make sure that there is enough made so that I can keep at least six jars for myself.

This is brilliant on cheese sandwiches, in a chili, or to pep up some chicken wings. Glass jars of all sizes are kept over the year and cleaned and sterilized to store this. I usually cook double or even triple the amounts given — but make sure you have a big enough pan.

This recipe makes about 1 litre, and is ready in 1 hour 20 minutes…


  • 1kg ripe tomatoes, washed (the most flavourful you can get — homegrown are wonderful)
  • 8 whole long red chillies, (or any sort you can get a hold of — adjust heat to taste, because this version is pretty hot, but won’t blow your head off)
  • 6 garlic cloves
  • 2 lemon grass sticks OR the zest and juice from 1 lemon
  • 2 thumb-sized pieces of fresh ginger, peeled
  • 200ml red wine vinegar
  • 600g golden caster sugar (you can use ordinary white granulated sugar, but this is better)
  • 6 star anise


  1. Roughly chop the tomatoes, put into a pan, and blend to a smooth puree.
  2. Peel the ginger using a teaspoon (honestly the easiest and quickest way to do this).
  3. Roughly chop the chillies, garlic, ginger, and the lemon grass, then add to the blender. Pour over vinegar (and lemon juice and zest) and whizz until blended and smooth. Tip into a large wide pan. Add any remaining vinegar, sugar and star anise.
  4. Cook over a medium heat, stirring, to dissolve the sugar.
  5. Increase the heat and bring to the boil, and then reduce the heat. Simmer for about 1 hour, until it has reduced and thickened.
  6. To test if it’s set, pop a saucer into the freezer for a couple of minutes. Spoon a little chili jam onto it, cool, then run your finger through it — the surface will wrinkle if the jam is at setting point. Continue simmering the jam if it doesn’t set, and repeat the saucer test. Divide the hot jam among sterilized jars, seal, and set aside to cool.

This jam can be stored in a cool place for up to one year. Keep covered in the fridge for up to six months after opening. Oh, and it’s worth warning people that there are whole star anise in the jam which should be removed before eating.

Comments on The most awesome chilli jam recipe

  1. I just made a fresh batch of this over the weekend – and was reminded that when you are testing if the jam is set – you need to look at the spoonful on the plate – if its a bit weepy and watery around the central lump of chilli jam, then you need to gently cook it some more until it has both set AND doesn’t weep any more. This way you get the best results.

  2. This looks tasty! Question – what’s the name of the chilies you use? Are they big like jalapenos or small like birdseyes? I might have to substitute and want to try to find something similar.

    • Definitely the big jalapeno type. However one year I had a conservatory and we grew a variety of chillies in it – some of which were smaller and more potent, so we just used less of them – its a pretty forgiving recipe. The recipe has a lot of sugar in it which dulls the fire a bit, but I like “hot but still can taste flavour” level of heat in my jam. Good luck.

    • I suspect they may be similar – it may be a UK vs US language thing. I’m UK and we tend to use the term peppers for sweet no heat large peppers and chillis for the small hot peppers – but they are all from the same botanical family.

      • Same terminology where I live in the US. I’ve just never heard of Chilli Jam before (but I know pepper jelly is delicious!)

        Before clicking the link I was thinking of the beef-and-beans-goes-well-with-cornbread kind of chilli, so I was confused!

  3. “Peel the ginger using a teaspoon (honestly the easiest and quickest way to do this).”

    I had never thought of peeling ginger that way. Could you go into more detail on how that works? I’ve always used a vegetable peeler, but due to the uneven shape of ginger that can get quite difficult and annoying. I’d like to try this method, it sounds like it could be much easier.

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