My sweet mother-in-law loved chili sauce. But not any ol’ version. It had to be Homade Chili Sauce,  which for the longest time I thought was her personal spelling of “homemade.”  But she was right. Homade Chili Sauce it is.

She’d put it on almost everything, which surprised me. I’d always thought chili anything meant spicy hot. Her chili sauce was not that way at all. In fact, I’ve come to love it, too. It is slightly sweet, perfectly spiced and yummy delicious.

Photo Credit: Ravenousfig

Photo Credit: Ravenousfig

When Gwen couldn’t bring herself to buy as much Homade Chili Sauce as she wanted (by the case) because it could be pricey if not on sale, she set out to make it herself. After many attempts, she nailed it.

From then on it become properly spelled, “homemade” chili sauce,  and stored in the refrigerator in any size container available—even in a few of those cute chubby jars the real stuff comes in.

My mind flooded with memories of my mother-in-law one day recently when I heard from reader, Janie S., Florida. She was kind enough to send us her family’s favorite meatloaf recipe, which to my amazement lists “Grandma’s chili sauce” in the ingredients, along with a note that “homemade from Ball Blue Book Recipes using garden tomatoes also works.”

Given my personal fondness for a good meatloaf together with my love for my mother-in-law and her famous sauce, I am so happy to share Janie’s family recipe with all of my readers.

The Best Meatloaf Recipe

  • 2 pounds mixed ground beef (1 pound each 85% and 80% lean work very well for the best flavor)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup milk
  • 1 cup seasoned bread crumbs
  • 1 large onion diced (preferably red onions)
  • 1 jar Grandma’s chili sauce (divided 2/3 in the mixture and 1/3 reserved for top)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Mix all ingredients including 2/3 of the jar of chili sauce in a bowl. If too “juicy,” add more bread crumbs. If too solid, add a little more milk. Place all in a greased glass or metal loaf pan. Top with the other 1/3 jar of chili sauce.
  2. Bake for one hour for medium rare or 1 hour 20 mins, for medium well. Note from Janie: Serve with baked potatoes and a light salad for a wonderful dinner. Leftovers are great with eggs for breakfast or as a hardy sandwich at lunchtime.

As for Gwen’s recipe for chili sauce, it is not detailed. While not noted, I know that she would add chopped peaches if she had any and now and then, I could detect a sweet hint of pineapple.

Gwen’s Homemade Chili Sauce

  • 16 cups chopped ripe tomatoes (about 16 medium)
  • 6 large sweet onions, chopped fine
  • 2 green bell peppers, seeded and chopped fine
  • 2 red bell peppers, seeded and chopped fine
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon prepared horseradish (or to taste)
  • 1 tablespoon celery salt
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 2 cups apple cider vinegar

Mix all ingredients except for the vinegar in a large stockpot and cook for 2 hours over low heat, stirring often. Add vinegar and cook to desired thickness.