Chow Chow Relish

5 from 2 votes

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Chow Chow relish is a classic condiment that is sweet, tangy, and loaded with fresh garden vegetables. A gift from the American Southeast, this tasty relish is perfect for adding a major dose of flavor to any of your favorite dishes.

overhead closeup: Chow Chow relish in a small white bowl

This Chow Chow relish recipe is simple to make, ridiculously flavorful, and a brilliant way to harness the bounty of harvest season. Let’s be honest — as awesome as a massive tomato (or other veggie) harvest is, it can get overwhelming fast. Like my cucumbers this year, the garden was out of control!

Fortunately, we don’t have to eat it all at once. That’s exactly why recipes like this Chow Chow relish exist. 

Chop it, brine it, can it, and enjoy your garden’s bounty for the next year — at your leisure. From fried chicken to hot dogs and black-eyed peas, this tantalizingly relish can add flavor to just about anything you can dream up.

side view: several jars of Chow Chow relish

For more pickled treats, check out my Corn Relish, Pickled Vegetables, and these Pickled Red Onions.

overhead: ingredients needed for this Chow Chow recipe

Ingredient Notes and Substitutions

  • Vegetables – Green tomatoes, onions, bell peppers, and cabbage give the relish a variety of fresh flavor and dynamic texture. 
  • Kosher Salt – I like kosher salt the best, but you can also use another coarsely ground variety like pickling salt. Avoid table salt and finely ground options for this recipe. 
  • Vinegar – Plain white vinegar works like a charm, but you can sub in apple cider vinegar if desired. 
  • Sugar – Offers just the right amount of sweetness to bring all the other flavors together. 
  • Seasonings – Mustard seeds, peppercorns, celery seed, and turmeric infuse the brine with layers of pungent, peppery, and aromatic flavors. For a spicier version, feel free to toss in a bit of cayenne pepper or red pepper flakes.
overhead: filling several jars with cooked Chow Chow relish before placing the lid on top

Did You Know…

Where did Chow Chow come from?

It is argued that Chow Chow originated with the French-speaking Acadians from Canada who settled in Louisiana. The word “chow” probably stems from the French word “chou” for cabbage, while others believe it could be traced to piquant sauces brought over by Chinese railroad workers in the 19th century. French or Chinese, this is a Southern food staple!

side view: several jars full of Chow Chow relish recipe

How to Make Chow Chow Relish

  1. Chop the Vegetables. Finely chop the vegetables using a food processor. Work in batches and be sure not to puree. Transfer the veggies to a ceramic or other non-reactive bowl. Sprinkle the mixture with salt and mix everything together with your hands. Cover the bowl and place it in the fridge to chill for at least 4 hours or overnight. 
  2. Prepare the Brine. Combine the vinegar, sugar, mustard seeds, peppercorns, and celery seed in a large pot. Place the pot over high heat and bring to a boil. Stir to dissolve the sugar, reduce the heat to low, and cover the pot. Simmer on low for 10 minutes. 
  3. Add the Veggies. Use a colander to drain the veggies and press down to extract any excess liquid. Slowly and carefully add the vegetable mix to the pot with the brine. Bring it back to a boil, stirring often, and cook for an additional 10 minutes. 
  4. Prepare the Jars. Start by cleaning your jars and lids with hot, soapy water. Then, fill a large stock pot with enough water to cover the jars by an inch or two. Place a rack/trivet in the bottom of the pot, then place the pot on the stove over medium heat. Gently place the jars in the water to stay warm while you prepare to fill them. 
  5. Fill the Jars. Carefully remove the jars from the water and shake off any extra liquid. Transfer the hot Chow Chow relish into the hot jars. You want to leave about ½ inch of clearance at the top. Remove any trapped air bubbles and clean the rims with a damp paper towel. Add a lid to each jar, followed by a ring screwed on finger tight. 
  6. Boil the Jars. Keep the water boiling and use jar tongs to add the jars to the pot. Make sure they are covered by at least an inch of water and let them stay in the boiling water for about 10 minutes. You may need to adjust this time, depending on your altitude. 
  7. Remove & Cool. Use a jar lifter to extract the jars from the pot and transfer them to a towel or cooling wrack. Let them come to room temperature and check to make sure they are sealed. A center indentation is a sure sign, or you might also hear an audible popping noise as they cool. You can also tap the lid with a metal spoon to check. In that case, a high-pitched ringing noise means a good seal.
side view closeup: a bowl with Chow Chow relish and a jar with more showing

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Frequently Asked Questions

How long does canned Chow Chow relish last?

Unopened jars will stay good for up to a year when stored in a cool, dry area. 

After the jars of Chow Chow relish have been opened, store them in the refrigerator and enjoy within 4 months. 

What is the difference between Chow Chow relish and piccalilli?

Both are both bright, tangy, pickled condiments made from chopped veggies. While they are often mentioned interchangeably, they definitely have a few distinct differences. 

Mostly tied to the Southern United States, a traditional Chow Chow relish recipe contains a combination of green tomatoes, cabbage, onions, and bell peppers. Nestled in a bath of vinegar, sugar, and spices, the overall flavor of this relish is tangy and sweet. 

Piccalilli, on the other hand, is a British invention. It is marinated in a mustard-based sauce and, in addition to the same Chow Chow veggies, it might also include cauliflower, zucchini, or more. Compared to this Chow Chow relish recipe, piccalilli tends to have a far more pungent, spicy, and robust flavor profile.

How do I adjust for altitude?

The directions and times for canning this Chow Chow relish recipe are designed for kitchens that are somewhere between sea level and 1000 feet above sea level. Once you get higher than that, changes in the air affect the boiling point of water. 

For this reason, it is important to adjust for altitude when doing any kind of pressure canning. Follow these simple guidelines:

– 1,001 – 3,000 feet above sea level: Add 5 minutes
– 3,001 – 6,000 feet above sea level: Add 10 minutes
– 6,001 – 8,000 feet above sea level: Add 15 minutes
– 8,001 – 10,000 feet above sea level: Add 20 minutes

overhead extreme closeup: Chow Chow relish in a bowl with a spoon
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chow chow relish in glass jar

Chow Chow Relish

5 from 2 votes
This easy-to-make recipe for Chow Chow relish makes a sweet, tangy, and totally versatile relish. Try your hand at this Southern classic!
Servings: 24
Prep: 40 minutes
Cook: 40 minutes
Chill Time: 4 hours
Total: 5 hours 20 minutes


  • 4-6 pint canning jars + lids number depends on vegetable sizes


  • 2 lbs large green tomatoes quartered
  • 2 medium yellow onions peeled and quartered
  • 2 medium red yellow or orange bell peppers, seeded and quartered
  • 2 large green bell pepper seeded and quartered
  • 4 cups green cabbage 1/2 cored and quartered
  • 1/4 cup kosher salt
  • 4 cups white vinegar
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tbsp yellow mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp pink peppercorns
  • 1 teaspoon celery seed
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric optional


  • Using a food processor and working in batches as not to puree, chop the vegetables into fine pieces. Place in a non-reactive glass, ceramic or enamel bowl. Sprinkle the salt on top and work in using your hands to distribute thoroughly. Cover and chill 4 hours minimum or overnight.
  • In a large pot add the vinegar, sugar, mustard seeds, peppercorns and celery seed. Bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve sugar. Turn heat to low, cover and cook for 10 minutes.
  • Drain vegetables in a colander and drain, pressing to extra juices. Do not rinse under water. Carefully add to the pot of brine and bring to a boil again. Cook for another 10 minutes, stirring often.
  • Clean 4-6 pint canning jars and lids with hot soapy water. Fill a large stockpot with enough water to cover your jars by 1-2 inches. Place your rack on the bottom of the pot and transfer to stovetop. Turn heat to medium and place your jars in the pot to keep them hot until ready to fill.
  • Carefully remove jars from hot water, shaking off excess water. Pour hot chow chow into hot jars, leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Remove any air bubbles. Wipe rims of jars with a damp paper towel to remove any spill residue. Place a lid on the jar and screw a ring on until finger-tight.
  • Using the jar tongs, put the jars in the canner and keep them covered with at least 1 inch of water, keeping the water boiling. Process the jars in boiling water for 10 minutes, adjusting for altitudes (see below).
  • Remove the jars with the jar lifter and set the jars on a towel or cooling rack to cool. After coming to room temperature, make sure they are sealed by checking the center indentation is there (or you hear dit pop while cooling), or there is a high-pitched ringing sound when the lid is tapped with a metal spoon.
  • Store unopened jars in a cool, dark place for up to 1 year or keep opened jars in the refrigerator for up to 4 months.


Processing Altitude Times
The processing times are for high acid foods based on canning at sea level to 1000 feet. When processing at higher altitudes, adjust the processing time according to the below times.
Altitude in Feet >> Increase Processing Time
1,001-3,000 ft above sea level = 5 min
3,001 – 6,000 ft above sea level = 10 min
6,001 – 8,000 ft above sea level = 15 min
8,001 – 10,000 ft above sea level = 20 min
Remove jars from water bath and allow to cool completely and lids pop, letting you know they are sealed.


Calories: 63kcal | Carbohydrates: 13g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 0.4g | Saturated Fat: 0.04g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 0.1g | Sodium: 1188mg | Potassium: 158mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 11g | Vitamin A: 603IU | Vitamin C: 35mg | Calcium: 20mg | Iron: 0.5mg

The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.

Course: condiments
Cuisine: Southern
Have You Made This Recipe? Let Me Know on InstagramTag @keviniscooking or tag me #keviniscooking!
titled image (and shown): Southern chow chow relish in canning jar


Whether in the kitchen or on the grill, you’ll find me cooking American favorites with a love for BBQ, Mexican and Tex Mex. I’m passionate about making tasty food because life’s too short to be bland!

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  1. Hi, Kevin. I can’t wait to try this recipe. Growing up in the south, we always had this relish on the table. My mother canned batches of it every year. Her recipes, though, included WAY too much sugar for my liking so I’m excited to try yours which seems much more balanced. I don’t think I saw in the recipe how much this makes, i.e., 4 pints, 8 half-pints. I hate to get ready to can and realize I didn’t sterilize enough jars, which is usually what I do! If you could share an estimate of how much this makes, I would greatly appreciate it.

    1. Great question Rob. That would be 4-6 pint jars depending on the size of the veg, but typically 4 should do it. I hate getting ready to fill jars and realize you need 1 or 2 more as well. Enjoy!

  2. Hi. I’ve been to many weddings when they serve authentic chunks of pork covered with a spicy red sauce. It was awesome I’m unsure the name in order to look it up. Thank you.

    1. It could be any number of dishes if its Mexican. My thoughts off the top of my head are Al Pastor, Chili Colorado, or maybe Carne Adovada. All are recipes here on the site. Just search by name Peggy!

  3. Hi. I’m interested if you have your own recipe for: potatoe chizo enchiladas/Burritos, Camaronas Al Ajio. And multiple marinades for skirt steak. Thank you

    1. Hi Peggy. You can type in whatever you woul dlike in the search bar and if it’s on the site, the recipe will come up.

      1. Hi Kevin 👋! Can jalapeños or Serranos be added to this? If so, what adjustments would have to be made to the other ingredients and the canning time? Thank you!

      2. I would simply toss in one or two and chop with other vegetables and follow recipe as written Christina.

  4. 5 stars
    This is something I thought I’d never encounter again — and now I have the liberty to make it on my own time.

    Thanks, Sir, sincerely.