WF2 Recipe: Kickass Ketchup

As a kid, I never liked ketchup, an opinion that wasn’t helped by the fact that my brother ate a ketchup-and-peanut-butter sandwich once to gross me out. As an adult, I learned I loved it on fried things — french fries, onion rings, fried pickles — but never, ever, ever on meat. Then I started eating paleo and battered-and-fried things went away. Ketchup was forgotten… until I started thinking about the delicious sauces and dressings that include ketchup as an ingredient. Then I got busy and developed this recipe for Well Fed 2.

Did you know that more than 650 million bottles of Heinz Ketchup are sold around the world each year. But not to you and me, my friends, because most big-name ketchup brands include the always-suspect “natural flavoring,” along with xantham gum, corn syrup, and high fructose corn syrup. A whopping 25 percent of ketchup is sugar – unless you make it yourself with this recipe. It really couldn’t be easier, and it tastes even better than the bottled stuff on burgers, sweet potato fries, your favorite paleo meatloaf, sauces made with Olive Oil Mayo, and more.



Kickass Ketchup from Well Fed 2

Makes 1 1/2 cups | Prep 10 min | Cook 10 min | Whole30 approved

  • 1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste

  • 1/3 cup boiling water

  • 2 tablespoons cider vinegar

  • 2 dried figs (or dates), coarsely chopped

  • 1/2 tablespoon coconut oil

  • 1/4 teaspoon dry mustard powder

  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

  • pinch ground cloves

  • pinch ground allspice

  • 1/2 cup water


Place tomato paste, 1/3 cup boiling water, vinegar, and figs in a blender or food processor. Let the mixture sit for 10-15 minutes to soften the figs, then purée until smooth, scraping down the sides a few times to make sure the figs are incorporated. Set aside.


Heat a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Add coconut oil and allow it to melt, about 2 minutes. Add dry mustard, cinnamon, cloves, and allspice to pan and stir until fragrant, about 30 seconds.


Remove from heat, then add tomato purée to the pan and stir until combined. Return to heat and cook 2-3 minutes, then add remaining 1/2 cup water, stirring to combine. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer gently, uncovered, for 5 minutes. (The ketchup will thicken as it cools, but if you like it thicker, allow it to cook slightly longer. Want it thinner? Add a bit of water.)


Cool the ketchup to room temperature before you eat it. Transfer to a container with a lid and store in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 weeks.

Print this recipe
Herb Parsnip Fries

Before I joined the Sunrise Farm CSA here in Vermont last summer, I'd never tried parsnips. That seems so shocking now, as I type the...

Read More
Crispy, Oven-Baked Sweet Potato Fries

There are good reasons for me to eat sweet potatoes – like these science-y ones in this blog post about women's health and carbohydrates, or...

Read More


  • June Junie says:

    Bought the book and have made the ketchup twice now. I can personally vouch that this recipe is indeed kickass. Thank you Melissa!

    • Mel says:

      You’re so nice! Thank you for the endorsement!

    • Robin says:

      why does this need the figs or dates? does regular ketchup have some fruit in it besides tomatoes? I’m new to Whole30 so please be kind lol – don’t mean to sound dumb: is it to thicken it? is it to add flavor? is it just the way we have to cook things?

      • You’re not dumb at all — it’s a valid question 🙂

        Commercial ketchup includes a shit-ton of sugar, usually in the form of high-fructose corn syrup. The figs/dates (you could also use raisins) are to add sweetness. The dried fruit offers fiber and other nutrients along with the sugars, so it’s a healthier choice than white sugar. If you leave the dried fruit out, I think you’ll be disappointed in the taste — and the sugar added is pretty minimal. This recipe is officially approved by Melissa and Dallas Hartwig, the founders of the Whole30. All of the recipes in my cookbooks were reviewed by them to ensure they meet the Whole30 guidelines. Happy Whole30-ing!

  • Ian says:

    Awesome! I’m a ketchup (catsup?) lover. Fries, of any sort, are simply a vehicle for eating ketchup. 😉 At least at home I do buy the stuff made with ‘sugar’, instead of HCFS. Not that there’s other unknown tidbits in it, but it is better than most.

    However… this looks like a good one.

  • Kim says:

    I have all of these ingredients in my kitchen currently! Huzzah! Make this weekend. Thanks! (So. many. exclamations. Must. counter. with. periods.)

  • Lori says:

    I don’t have figs or dates on hand, but I have prunes and raisins. I might try this with one of those as a substitute.

  • melanie says:

    I’ve never liked ketchup, but I’ll give this one a whirl. It sounds much more appetizing than it’s corn syrupy companion!

  • Jordan5 says:

    Where can I find a container like the one shown that is BPA free? Looking forward to trying this recipe!

  • Diannah Robertson says:

    LOVE this recipe. Actually already have it on my list for this week. I actually do 2 weeks of meal planning at a time. Of the 12 meals planned for the next two weeks, 9 of them are from WF or WF2. Your food has taken over my life!! And I couldn’t be happier! (In fact, hubby just got back from scuba diving in the Bahamas for 5 days. He enjoyed it, but said the food was no where near the level I’m currently cooking! Thanks, Mel!)

    • Mel says:

      It’s so good to know you like this recipe. YAY!

      Love that you do two weeks of planning at once — that’s so smart! And I’m so happy Well Fed and Well Fed 2 are playing a big role there 🙂

  • Padraig says:

    Just would like to know if you have ever tryed smoked mackerel Scottish eggs, I would like to see your version of this dish sometime. Thanks Padraig.

  • Trisia says:

    What can I use instead of coconut oil?

  • Lynn says:

    Would it be OK to use date sugar? It’s nothing but dried dates, wondering how much to use?

    • Mel says:

      Date sugar isn’t Whole30 approved, but if you’re not concerned with that, date sugar will work just fine. One date has 4.5 grams sugar, so you want to use the equivalent in date sugar. I don’t know the nutrition info for date sugar — perhaps it’s on the package?

  • Crystal says:

    I love everything I have made from this book, love burger ideas! Esp the strawberries on top. Also love all the broccoli , egg ideas.i have also made the mayo and tahini dressing and I love it. Made whole 30 fun!

  • Genie says:

    This would make a kickass cocktail sauce with fresh grated horseradish! Dying to try it.

    • Marnie says:

      Thanks for the idea! I already make a paleo ketchup that is a cross between several recipes that I’ve made! Incredible! Savory… and makes the best “pink sauce” ever with my HM Paleo Mayo!I would add fresh lemon juice with the grated Horse Radish….

    • Marilyn says:

      No kidding! What a great idea! Thank you.

  • Elana says:

    Thanks – I’ve been been missing ketchup and finally have found a recipe that looks amazing! So happy there is no sugar in it.

  • Jenn says:

    This looks fantastic! Does anyone know how long it “keeps”? I’m a fan of making huge batches of paleo food and freezing… Was wondering if this freezes well? Anyone have any experience with either? Thanks!

    • It keeps for 2-3 weeks in the fridge and it doesn’t go bad — after too long it might get some mold on the top… but you can keep eating it until that happens 😉 I’ve never tried freezing it. If you want to test it, freeze about 2 tablespoons, then defrost it and see what happens. It might be too watery after defrosting, but it might work.

  • Jannie Turczyn says:

    In the directions you mention tomato purée, but in the ingredients it is not listed. How much purée do you use in this ketchup recipe. It sounds wonderful and I have missed ketchup since doing the whole 30.

    • The recipe calls for tomato paste, and you use it in the first item in the instructions… “Place tomato paste, 1/3 cup boiling water, vinegar, and figs in a blender or food processor.” Hope you enjoy it!

  • Anastasia Beaverhausen says:

    didn’t have cloves
    made it anyway
    love it.
    You’re my favorite foodie.

  • Ouissi says:

    I am trying to wean my picky 6 year old off the junk, especially as I feeling amazing on whole30 and I’d like him to be at least mainly (if not totally) paleo. He declared it better than his usual (Heinz) and now thinks I am a kitchen wizard. Tomorrow I try paleo chicken nuggets to go with it so fingers crossed! Thank you xx

  • MrsStrydom says:

    Made this last night (used olive oil in place of coconut oil) and it was a major hit. I never ate “regular” tomato sauce when we ate “regular”, but this I LOVE!

  • Tina says:

    I love Ketchup! I haven’t had it since I started Whole30, but I think now is the time! I have everything that I need to make that except the figs, so I will be adding those to my shopping list for the week!

  • Viki Breeland says:

    I cannot believe I completed my first Whole30 without reading ISWF or knowing about your website!!! I purchased ISWF after I completed my Whole30 and discovered you through the book – I have received notice from Amazon that both your cookbooks should be delivered by Monday – Yippee! Today I made your caramelized coconut chips, ranch dressing (I keep your olive oil mayo on hand) and just finished your kickass ketchup! I am in awe of your talents!!!

    • I’m glad you found me! Your Whole30 would have been much more fun with my recipes 😉 I hope you love the new pile of recipes and that they help you keep on eating Whole30 style. Happy cooking to you!

  • Cee says:

    Hi, I am currently on a no-fruit diet. Figs, dates, raisins, all out :/ I was hoping to maybe just try it without the dates, do you think that would change the texture too much? I am not worried about it not being sweet.

    • The only thing that will be affected by omitting the fig/date is the sweetness — the texture should be just fine. Enjoy!

    • Kristine in Santa Barbara says:

      Years ago in my refined-sugar-free baking days, I used to use frozen apple juice concentrate for the little bit of sweet action in things like salad dressing and barbecue sauce. I think one tablespoon of concentrate would give it the sweet/sour ketchup thing without tasting like apple juice.

  • Jennifer Ortiz says:

    Help, All I can taste is tomato paste. I know my boys (6, 12 and 15) will know the difference. What could I add?

  • June Geisler says:

    Today is a Day 1 of my Whole 30. I made this today and it’s fabulous! I need to work on my “pinches”, I put a little too much. But, it is so delicious! Thanks for sharing!

  • Shannon says:

    Could you freeze this recipe to extend its life? We don’t use much ketchup but I would like to have better options for when we do. Maybe in ice cube trays for easy portions?

  • Catherine Vaiasicca says:

    Making it now.

  • Shannon says:

    made this! Added magic mushroom powder and fish sauce because I compulsively add fish sauce to everything. It is very good! Ketchup is a food group in my world, seriously, my sister and I are addicted. So for my first whole30 doing without was very hard. This will make my burgers so much more enjoyable. This stuff is delicious.

  • Adrianna says:

    Tried this and I think I need to rethink what a pinch is lol. I also used apple cider vinegar not just cider vinegar is that ok? Trying round 2 today!

  • Jelina says:

    I recently tried to make a similar recipe and added half of the required cider vinegar. It still overpowered the “ketchup” flavor and it was absolutely disgusting.

    Any suggestions?

  • Julia says:

    You’re mayo recipe was the first successful one I’ve made! Thanks!!! Will try the ketchup next. In reference to your agave comment… Why do you believe it to be terrible. Are you speaking of all organic and minimally heated as well? I can find no evidence that quality type of agave are bad in moderation.

    • My opinion about agave is based on this info from Mark’s Daily Apple:
      “Agave Nectar: The last few year have marked agave nectar’s time in the sun, so to speak. The sweetener has enjoyed growing popularity for some time, but experts are beginning to question whether agave nectar lives up to its reputation. Agave nectar is often heralded as low on the glycemic index (15), however, processing techniques result in a 75% or more fructose content. Given the increasing strikes against fructose, it’s harder to justify use of a higher fructose sweetener without significant nutritional benefit.”

      “Agave nectar is a favorite whipping child of the Primal set, but we should substantiate our claims, don’t you think? We need to justify those welts, especially since a few of you guys were wondering (hoping?) about its place in the Primal Blueprint.

      Agave nectar is insanely high in fructose. Of the sugar present, up to 92% of it is pure, unadulterated fructose. That’s considerably more than table sugar, most honey, and even high-fructose corn syrup. If we want to avoid fructose, agave nectar must also be avoided.

      However, the recent honey post shows that not all sugar behaves the same. Honey – a “natural product” – contains a wide range of bee-based phenolic compounds that appear to render its sugar content less harmful than, say, a dose of HFCS with the same amount of fructose. Since agave nectar is also “natural” (it’s gotta be, with “nectar” and an exotic word like “agave” in the name), could it too be different than other sugars. No. A recent study found that while stuff like honey, molasses, and maple syrup all contain significant amounts of antioxidants that potentially mitigate the metabolic damage wrought by the sugar therein, agave nectar – along with refined sugar and corn syrup – has almost none. Even raw cane sugar beat agave nectar out in the antioxidant category.

      Verdict: Not Primal.

      Read more:

  • Jewls says:

    You nailed it! This is a game changer! Totally kicks ass! Thanks so much!!!

  • David Sarnowski says:

    You call floor figs in several We recipes. Which variety do you use?

  • BA says:

    I would love to try the ketchup and some of the author sauces.
    Is it possible to freeze the ketchup and others.
    Example 11/2 cups would do me soooooooooooooo long

  • Maria says:

    Hi! We can’t seem to get it right. I followed the instructions exactly but we used Apple cider vinegar and two tablespoons of raisins….it comes out tasting like tomato-y Apple sauce. Is there a difference between cider vinegar and apple cider vinegar? If so, then our problem is a no brainer, if not, then I got nothing.

    • Without being in the kitchen with you while you’re cooking, there’s no way for me to know what might the issue.

      Apple cider vinegar and cider vinegar are the same thing. The only thing I can think of that maybe you would like it if it cooked longer.

  • Laurie says:

    What kind of tomato paste do you use to make this – concerned on W30 that it is “processed” and cannot use?

  • Lauren says:

    How many figs does this call for, sorry I couldn’t seem to find it any where

  • Valerie says:

    I’ve been making a recipe with similar ingredients for a while now, but am so glad I gave your cooked version a try. It’s got a very rich, deep favor with that hallmark ketchup tangy sweetness. I didn’t have much luck pulverizing the dates in my cuisinart mini prep, but used the immersion blender after it cooked up. This is great as a glaze on paleo meatloaf too!

  • Amy says:

    My husband keeps asking for ketchup during our whole 30, all of the other recipes I’ve found have honey. I’m so excited to find yours!

  • Veronica says:

    How long is the shelf life after you wait the 2 weeks?

  • Shelly says:

    After looking at my bottle of H _ _ _ z, I added a pinch of salt and of onion powder…so, so close to my beloved condiment!

    • Harry says:

      First off, this… is… AMAZING!!!!!! I started my Whole30 four days ago and haven’t had too hard of a time. The only thing I really worried about was making the same food everyday. But your recipes gave me hope.

      As I browsed through your site, I came across this ketchup recipe and knew that I had to attempt it. I have to say… your blend of spices captures that quintessential ketchup-y taste. It very much reminds me of the McD ketchup (which I LOVE).

      I took the advice of the previous poster and added a pinch of salt and a teaspoon of onion powder and the flavor is out of this world. I’m not sure I will ever buy ketchup again as this version is so good.

      I had a question about coloring: How does yours come out so red? Mine is more of a BBQ-sauce color. It doesn’t taste like BBQ sauce but looks like it. Maybe it’s the lighting of your photo?

      In any event, this is a great recipe. I look forward to trying some more of them during my Whole30.