Transform any meal with a spoonful of this chow chow recipe, a classic Southern relish that’s a flavorful combination of tart, sweet, crunchy, and spicy.
If you have never heard about chow chow relish before, you’re in for a treat! This is a classic Southern condiment that people often called the end-of-season relish. Did your granny make this? If yes she would likely get all the leftover vegetables from her garden, like green tomatoes, under-developed bell peppers, onions, and cabbage, and make a big batch of chow chow relish. It made sure nothing was ever wasted, which was so important back in those days.
Using four main veggies: onions, cabbage, green tomatoes, and green and red bell peppers. But just like they did back then, you can use whatever veggies you want that you don’t want to waste. Our veggies are pickled in a tart, sweet, and flavorful combination of white vinegar, sugar, salt, mustard seed, celery seed, and turmeric.
The instructions are thankfully pretty simple. All we have to do is finely chop up our vegetables, let them soak in salt overnight, and then bring the remaining ingredients to a boil the following day. Then it’s just a matter of canning the relish. This is such an easy chow chow relish recipe to follow and I just know you’re gonna love how tasty it is! The combination of flavors is irresistible.
Now let’s get to this recipe so I can enjoy a big bowl of red beans with chow chow and cornbread.
- Green tomatoes
- Red and green bell pepper
- Coarse salt
- Granulated sugar
- Mustard seed
- Celery seed
- White vinegar
How to Make Chow Chow Relish
Chop vegetables finely using a food processor or grinder.
Place the chopped vegetables in a porcelain or glass container and sprinkle with the salt.
Cover and let them stand overnight.
Place the vegetables in a large colander and rinse very well under cold running water. Divide into smaller batches if necessary.
Drain thoroughly and place in a large stockpot.
Combine the remaining ingredients…
Then pour over chopped vegetables. Heat to boiling and then boil for 4 minutes.
Ladle into clean pint jars that have been sterilized in boiling water.
Seal with sterilized lids according to manufacturer instructions.
Process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes. Here’s my canning tutorial for more info.
Now enjoy your homemade chow chow relish with some beans and cornbread. YUM!
When canned properly and stored in a cool, dry place, the green tomato chow chow will last up to one year.
- If you like, substitute the white vinegar for apple cider vinegar.
- For extra heat, add a sliced cayenne pepper or jalapeno pepper to the veggies (remember to wash your hands thoroughly afterward).
- Other pickling spices you might like to add to this recipe for chow chow relish (a teaspoon each) include ground ginger, ground cinnamon, ground cloves, ground allspice, a pinch of crushed red pepper flakes, and dry mustard (or yellow mustard powder).
- If you don’t have access to green tomatoes, normal tomatoes will work in a pinch.
- You want to use pickling salt or kosher salt, not iodized table salt.
What is chow chow?
Chow chow is a pickled relish condiment made from a variety of vegetables. Its origins are traced back to the South as a way to use up ingredients in the pantry. There’s no traditional chow chow recipe and it can vary from region to region, but the main ingredient is typically green cabbage. You can eat it by itself or add it as a main dish topping for extra flavor.
Chow chow is also a common recipe in the Pennslyvania Dutch area and in Britain where they call it Piccalilli. Amish chow chow recipe ingredients are very similar, but they often use different vegetables like green beans, lima beans, cauliflower, and corn kernels.
What does chow chow taste like?
Chow Chow tastes like a pickled relish, so it’s both sweet and sour thanks to the combination of sugar and vinegar.
How do you serve chow chow?
Southern chow chow goes well with so many Southern dishes. Here are some serving suggestions:
- Serve it as a Southern side dish with cornbread and a main dish like Southern fried catfish or Southern fried chicken.
- As I mentioned, it’s so good with red beans and cornbread or pinto beans and ham.
- Add it as a topping to sandwiches like pulled pork sandwiches, burgers, and hot dogs.
- Pour it over cream cheese and serve alongside crackers.
- Add it to your next charcuterie board.
- Stir the chow chow into deviled eggs or potato salad.
Check out these other Southern specialties:
Hush Puppies Recipe, Southern-Style
Southern-Style Fried Okra Recipe
Southern Biscuit Recipe (3 Ingredients Only)
Oven-Baked Mac and Cheese (Southern Plate Favorite)
- 12 medium onions 4 cups
- 1 medium head cabbage 4 cups
- 10 green tomatoes 4 cups
- 12 green bell peppers
- 6 sweet red bell peppers
- ½ cup coarse salt
- 6 cups granulated sugar
- 2 tbsp mustard seed
- 1 tbsp celery seed
- 1 ½ tsp turmeric
- 4 cups white vinegar
- 2 cups water
- Chop vegetables finely using a food processor or grinder. Place the chopped vegetables in a porcelain or glass container and sprinkle with the salt. Cover and let them stand overnight.12 medium onions, 1 medium head cabbage, 10 green tomatoes, 12 green bell peppers, 6 sweet red bell peppers, ½ cup coarse salt
- Place the vegetables in a large colander and rinse very well under cold running water. Divide into smaller batches if necessary.
- Drain thoroughly and place in a large stockpot. Combine remaining ingredients and pour over chopped vegetables. Heat to boiling and then boil for 4 minutes.6 cups granulated sugar, 2 tbsp mustard seed, 1 tbsp celery seed, 1 ½ tsp turmeric, 4 cups white vinegar, 2 cups water
- Ladle into clean pint jars that have been sterilized in boiling water. Seal with sterilized lids according to manufacturer instructions. Process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.
Everything that is past is either a learning experience to grow on,
a beautiful memory to reflect on, or a motivating factor to act upon.
– Denis Waitley.
Submitted by Jenny. Submit your positive or motivational quote by clicking here.
Just like my Mama made, thanks!
Thank you so much for this recipe!
It tastes Just like Mama’s.
This was the one recipe I didn’t have when She passed.
So glad you found it Mitchell 🙂
Really appreciate your comment and rating the recipe ❤️
I have made this recipe exactly as posted and everyone I gave a jar, loved it. I even gave to Haitian friends some and they loved it. They put it on a baked potato, on scrambled eggs, on green beans and pinto soup beans. I’ve made 3 batches and it gets eaten quickly.
That is wonderful to hear! Really appreciate your feedback! Warms my heart 🙂
Thank you for this recipe. My grandma used to make it too and we called it “tail end of the garden “. And I loved it over pinto beans too. I’m just so happy you shared it.
You are so welcome Pam. Am so happy that it brought back some great memories. Hope you get a chance to make it over some pinto beans soon!
I’m confused. You said your granny died when you were only two. How at that age would you have thee wherewithal to haul
Out the jars (as if it were routine) clean them and carry them into the kitchen? Just wondering if I missed something.
This guest blogger’s paternal grandmother (from her dad’s side) died when she was 2 but she was saying her maternal grandmother was the only one that she knew.
Great chow chow. My aunt use to make it and I loved it. She is long gone along with her recipe but this is really close. So close that I put up 30 pints of it and now my friends and relatives have almost beat the door off the hinges to get to it. My aunt was also out of Kentucky. Love the chow chow and the story.
LOL, have to protect that chow chow. It can be a hot commodity 🙂
I love your recipe and it matches so closely to my own Granny’s recipe here in Alabama! I do throw in a yellow and orange bell pepper just for color. Making the chow chow is like making her fruitcakes at Christmas (only I do NOT like fruitcake), but it connects me with her since she has long ago passed and I miss her so much!
Anyway, my question is…and I know it’s ridiculous, do I NEED to refrigerate the chow chow overnight or will it sit nicely in the 68-69 degree house kitchen? I never seem to have the room for my huge glass bowl in the fridge! LOL
It can sit on the counter covered