I want to experiment with various marinades the first time, and I've found great recipes but some of them require the use of ketchup.

While it sounds awesome, I find it unhealthy and prefer not to buy ketchup only for the sake or marinades. Can I achieve the same with natural tomato puree? If yes, what other spices should I consider for the same effect?

If the question is vague: I want to cook pork, mostly.

  • 1
    May I ask what recipes suggest marinating pork in ketchup? That sounds very unusual to me.
    – gnicko
    Commented Oct 15, 2021 at 0:11
  • Instead of making ketchup separately, you can also fold the ketchup ingredients into the marinade recipe because there might be overlap like honey, vinegar, garlic powder, etc.
    – cr3
    Commented Oct 15, 2021 at 1:12

1 Answer 1


Ketchup has a very different flavour profile to tomato puree. Ketchup contains tomatoes, but also (from memory and Greg Nickoloff's helpful comment) salt, sugar, vinegar, and flavours like celery, allspice, garlic, onion and tamarind. A recipe that asks for ketchup is likely drawing on all of these to some extent; for example I have seen ketchup in recipes that echo tamarind sauces for stir fries.

By all means experiment with ketchup replacements for your marinades; you could use the list above (or just the ingredients list on a ketchup bottle) as a starting point. 'Healthy' is off-topic here (and pretty meaningless anyway) but assuming that what you're worried about is sugar you may find that with less sugar the end product has less colour and shine as well as tasting different.

Happy marinating!

  • 6
    I concur. A large part of ketchup's flavor is vinegar. I'm not sure about tamarind, but allspice, garlic, onion are easily identifiable in general American ketchup.
    – gnicko
    Commented Oct 15, 2021 at 0:10
  • 2
    Yeah, but if you hate ketchup (raises hand), it being different might not be a bad thing. Commented Oct 15, 2021 at 15:48
  • @PoloHoleSet if you hate ketchup, then maybe start with a recipe that doesn't have any
    – Kat
    Commented Oct 16, 2021 at 0:58
  • 1
    @Kat or figure out what in the ketchup causes your dislike and make your own without that ingredient (and possibly use a substitute).
    – jwenting
    Commented Oct 19, 2021 at 11:55
  • @Kat - There are certain families of recipes that almost always start with it as a base, so then one would look for a less-ketchupy substitute. One that comes to mind would be a BBQ sauce. There's an example of where something vaguely similar, but different, might be a good option. Commented Oct 19, 2021 at 21:57

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