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.
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I’m searching for a recipe my grandma made years ago. She layered chunks of cabbage, green tomatoes, onions, and peppers in a stone jar. She weighted a plate down on it and covered it with a pillowcase and let ferment then we ready packed in qt. jars. Anyone heard of this. Our family is Pennsylviana dutch.
Thank you! Thank you! Just finished making your chow chow, and I was immediately transported back in time to my grandmother’s table! She always had a bowl of this deliciousness on the table – whether it was a humble meal of pinto beans and cornbread or a full-on Thanksgiving spread. Your recipe tastes just like I remember. Thanks you so much!
I am so glad it is as you remember!! I hope you enjoy it for meals to come as well as a walk down memory lane!!
Made this last year it was a hit with everyone, this year I plan on canning a lot more because I ran out last year. It is also excellent with fish. I’m so glad to have found this recipe!
I am so glad you like it!! Have fun canning!!!
Just made this chow chow. Let me say its amazing!!!!!!!!!We live in North Carolina and alot of the chow chow is hot (spicy) but we had a sweet one from SC and loved it .Thank you so much for sharing your grandmother’s chow chow recipe it will be come a family favorite here
It is a wonderful recipe, I am so glad you liked it too!!!
Can I divide this in two. I don’t need this much. Sounds amazing, would love to make it this weekend.
You sure can!
Help I did this but, it says 12. Onions (4 cups) well I only used about 6 onions. Green tomatoes it called for 10 but I only used about 5 to get 4 cups?
I used all 18 peppers but I made 15 pints. What did I do wrong
Jack, I don’t think you did anything wrong. I always end up with more chow-chow than the recipes says because I use more cabbage than called for. It really depends on how big your peppers and onions are. The bigger they are, the more chopped veggies you’re going to be using. I made this recipe yesterday and ended up with about 6 quarts and 4 pints of chow-chow. Lucky me. Your chow-chow will still taste great.
Are the tomatoes chopped and soaked with the other veggies that are soaked overnight?
Can I freeze the chow-Chow? Please!
Hi Jean, to be really honest, I don’t know. We have always canned ours. In theory, it should work but you are going to be flying solo here. I would LOVE to hear how it turns out if you try it though!
No I would not freeze the Chow Chow. The vegetables will break down and become a soppy mess. You can however CAN it. Many people do. It also has a good shelf life in the refrigerator.