Chow Chow

published Jun 17, 2024
Chow Chow Recipe

Tart, sweet, crunchy, and spicy, this classic Southern condiment is simply irresistible.

Makesabout 4 cups

Prep20 minutes to 30 minutes

Cook25 minutes

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overhead shot of chow chow in a small white bowl, on a white and blue striped plate, with fried catfish
Credit: Photo: Vicky Wasik; Food Styling: Olushola Wadley

If you’ve never heard about chow chow relish before, you’re in for a treat! This is a classic Southern condiment that people often call “end-of-season relish.” If your grandma made this, she would likely get all the leftover vegetables from her garden (think: green tomatoes, under-developed bell peppers, onions, and cabbage) and make a big batch of chow chow. It made sure nothing was ever wasted, which was so important back in those days. 

When I was growing up, my aunt would gather the family for what is known as a fish fry, where we’d take a variety of different fish, fry ‘em, and serve them up with a plethora of accompaniments. It was a great way to rally a group of people together to laugh, converse, and stuff our faces with a pile of fish. I particularly enjoyed the combo of catfish with a ton of chow chow because the crunchy texture mixed with tangy, sweet, and spicy flavors was the perfect combination.

This is such an easy chow chow relish recipe to follow and I know you’re going to love it! A spoonful instantly transforms any meal. Pair it with Southern accompaniments like fried okra or, my personal favorite, fried catfish.

Credit: Photo: Vicky Wasik; Food Styling: Olushola Wadley

Why You’ll Love It

  • You’ll love how tasty it is! It’s tart, sweet, crunchy, and spicy and the combination of flavors is irresistible. 
  • It’s easy to make. All you have to do is finely chop up your vegetables, let them soak in salt overnight, and then bring the remaining ingredients to a boil the following day. Let cool before enjoying. 

This is part of Family Legends, celebrating Juneteenth favorites that are sure to leave a lasting impression.

Chow Chow Recipe

Tart, sweet, crunchy, and spicy, this classic Southern condiment is simply irresistible.

Prep time 20 minutes to 30 minutes

Cook time 25 minutes

Makes about 4 cups

Nutritional Info


  • 3/4

    medium yellow onion

  • 8 ounces

    green-fleshed tomatoes (not unripe tomatoes) or 4 ounces carrots

  • 2

    medium red bell peppers

  • 1

    medium green bell pepper

  • 1/4

    medium head green cabbage (about 10 ounces)

  • 1

    scotch bonnet pepper

  • 1/4 cup

    kosher salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    allspice berries

  • 5 sprigs

    fresh thyme

  • 1 cup

    granulated sugar

  • 1/2 cup


  • 1/3 cup

    distilled white vinegar

  • 2 teaspoon

    yellow mustard seeds

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    celery seeds

  • 1/4 teaspoon

    ground turmeric


  1. Trim and cut the following vegetables into pieces that will fit in the feed tube of a food processor: 3/4 medium yellow onion, 8 ounces green-fleshed tomatoes or peeled carrots, 2 medium red bell peppers, and 1 medium green bell pepper.

  2. Fit the shredding disc on the food processor and shred all the vegetables. If the tomatoes are too soft to shred, grate on the large holes of a box grater, or cut into small dice.

  3. Transfer the shredded vegetables to a large bowl. Core and cut 1/4 medium head green cabbage into fine shreds (about 4 1/2 cups) and add to the bowl. Pierce the tip of a knife into 1 scotch bonnet pepper and add to the bowl. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup kosher salt and toss to combine. Cover and refrigerate for at least 8 hours or up to overnight.

  4. Transfer the mixture to a colander. Remove and discard the scotch bonnet. Rinse the vegetables well under cold running water, then let drain thoroughly. (If you are canning the chow chow, sterilize 1 quart or 2 pint canning jars and lids; keep warm until ready to fill. Prepare a water bath canner so the water is boiling and ready to process.)

  5. Transfer the vegetables to a large saucepan. Coarsely crush 1/2 teaspoon whole allspice berries with the bottom of a small pan or with the flat part of a chef’s knife. Add the allspice, 5 fresh thyme sprigs, 1 cup granulated sugar, 1/2 cup water, 1/3 cup distilled white vinegar, 2 teaspoons yellow mustard seeds, 1/2 teaspoon celery seeds, and 1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric to the saucepan.

  6. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Boil for 4 minutes. Turn off the heat, then remove and discard the thyme stems. Transfer to clean glass jars or containers and let cool. Seal the jars and refrigerate for up to 1 month.

  7. If canning, ladle the hot chow chow into the jar(s), leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Remove any air bubbles. Wipe the jar rims with a clean, damp paper towel. Apply the lids and bands. Process the jars in the water bath canner for 10 minutes. (Start the timer after the water has returned to a boil.) Remove from the water bath canner and let cool for 12 to 24 hours. Check the seals. Store in a cool, dry, dark place for up to 4 months. Any jars that did not seal or opened jars should be refrigerated and used within 1 month.

Recipe Notes

Food processor substitute: If you don’t have a food processor, you can grate the vegetables on the large holes of a box grater, or small dice any vegetables that don’t grate well.