The Single Ingredient You Need To Spice Up Basic Ketchup

While ketchup is not the most popular condiment in the U.S. (that honor goes to mayonnaise), it remains a culinary staple for most Americans. In 2022, the condiment had a North American market value of $1.39 billion, according to Market Data Forecast, and approximately 97% of American homes currently have a bottle of ketchup somewhere in the refrigerator (via What It Means to Be American). Despite its apparent appeal, this condiment remains a hot-button issue for many people.

In addition to ketchup haters citing its displeasing sugar content, aroma, and texture, the condiment is also viewed as being sort of pedestrian. While other condiments like aioli and truffle oil exude an air of sophistication, ketchup is relegated to backyard barbecues and school lunches. As a result, it's common for people to spruce up their ketchup to make it a little more dynamic in the flavor department. This practice is pretty ubiquitous in trendy eateries, which want to provide patrons with their much-needed ketchup fix without just plopping a bottle of Heinz on the table and calling it a day. Fortunately, there's a fast and easy way to enhance the flavor of ketchup that you can easily do at home. 

The secret ingredient is chipotle peppers

Ketchup features a combination of tomatoes, vinegar, corn syrup, and seasonings, like salt and onion powder. While these ingredients make for a tasty concoction, they're noticeably absent of spiciness. That's where chipotle peppers come in, which are a type of smoked jalapenos. Chipotles are often packed in adobo sauce, which combines a vinegar base with assorted seasonings and onions. In order to make your own chipotle-infused ketchup, simply add one bottle of ketchup to a blender, along with two peppers and one tablespoon of adobo sauce. Blend until you achieve a smooth texture, then transfer to an airtight container for safekeeping.

In addition to adding a bit of spice, chipotles also enhance flavor complexity in recipes. They begin their life as vine-ripened jalapenos, which are allowed to remain on the vine until they achieve a deep, red hue. After harvesting, the peppers go through an extended smoking process to intensify their rich, earthy flavors. Of course, there are plenty of other flavor enhancers that can be added to ketchup depending on your taste preferences.

A few great ways to jazz up your ketchup

The key to boosting the flavor of ketchup is to find ingredients that mesh well with the condiment. In this case, horseradish is an excellent selection, as its spiciness is perfectly offset by the vinegar in ketchup. While still spicy, horseradish is unique in that its heat plays upon the sinus cavities, as opposed to the mouth like chili peppers (via ehow). To make your own concoction, just add a half cup of ketchup and a half teaspoon of prepared horseradish and you're good to go.

If you like your condiments to have a Mediterranean flair, olives make for a perfect accompaniment to ketchup. For this recipe, you'll need a half cup of ketchup and two tablespoons of kalamata olives, chopped fine and with pits removed. As for seasonings, chopped garlic, parsley, and onion powder are the perfect additions to kalamata olives, which are known for having a smoky, fruit-forward flavor. You're also free to experiment with other ketchup-enhancing ingredients to elevate this common condiment to the next level.