Difference Between Ketchup and Catsup

Edited by Diffzy | Updated on: May 11, 2023


Difference Between Ketchup and Catsup

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The terms Ketchup and Catsup refer to the same thing – a table condiment (tomato ketchup is the most popular version). Tomato ketchup consists of tomatoes, sugar, vinegar, cinnamon, and salt along with other spices. The flavor varies according to the types and ratio of spices used, but they are typically sweet and tangy (occasionally spicy). Cloves, coriander, allspice, garlic, ginger, and so on are the preferred spices. Ketchup or catsup is served with hot and greasy foods (French fries, hot dogs, meat pies, etc.), and people add the table condiment to the food according to their taste.

Ketchup and Catsup are derivations of the Chinese word ke-tsiap, which refers to a pickled fish sauce. These words appeared in the English language in the 17th and 16th centuries respectively. The word catsup appeared in ‘A New Dictionary of the Terms Ancient and Modern of the Canting Crew’ in 1690; the dictionary referred to it as an East India sauce. It was also referred to in Macmillan’s Magazine in 1862. Charles Dickens used the word Ketchup in his novel Barnaby Rudge in 1840; however, the term had already been adopted in 1711.

Store-bought tomato ketchup/catsups are thick and sticky making it challenging to get the ketchup out of the bottles. When people apply force the thickness of the ketchup decreases causing it to flow more freely from the bottle. Most people invert the bottle and shake it, squeeze it, or hit the bottom of the bottle to make the catsup flow.

Ketchup Vs. Catsup

In the past, Americans preferred the term catsup, whereas the British used the term ketchup. However, ketchup is the dominantly used term in the world. Catsup is still popular only in Latin America, Mexico, and some southern states of the US.

Difference Between Ketchup And Catsup In Tabular Form

Parameters Of ComparisonKetchupCatsup
Predominantly used inThe word ketchup is used throughout the world.The word catsup is used only in certain parts of America.
Entered the English language inThe term ketchup appeared in the English language in the 16th century.The term catsup appeared in the English language in the 17th century.
Additional ingredientsThe additional ingredients in ketchup are garlic, ginger, onions, etc.The additional ingredients in catsups are celery seed, cayenne, white vinegar, and so on.
Popular BrandsHeinz is the most popular brand of tomato ketchup followed by French and Del Monte.Snider and Hunt were the most popular brand of catsups. At present, no brand uses the term catsup; they all adopted the word ketchup.

What Is Ketchup?

Ketchup is a table condiment that some people prefer to add to their food to elevate and complement its taste. Tomato ketchup’s popularity soared as centuries passed. Even, the now most popular, Heinz Tomato Ketchup targeted its customers with a slogan emphasizing the lengthy process of making tomato ketchup at home.

Most people saw the practicality of using a store-bought one and the rest is history. However, ketchup was originally sold by local farmers. The taste of each bottle of ketchup differs at least slightly, as it depends on the quality of tomatoes used. Therefore, the quality of ingredients is as essential as what ingredient is used.

Ketchup is available in bottles, sachets, or small dipping tubs. Ketchup bottles are perfect for household use. Ketchup packets are popular because of the ease with which the ketchup can be squeezed out after tearing/ripping the side or the top of the packets. On the other hand, plastic tubs were handier for dipping food in.

Heinz came up with the Dip and Squeeze package that combined the elements of both packets and tubs. Consumers can either tear off the top near the laser-scored tip and squeeze out the ketchup or rip off the plastic seal to dip their food in the ketchup. However, environment and cost-conscious food outlets provide ketchup in paper cups (hand pumps are used to fill the cups with ketchup).

Varying Theories On The Etymology Of Ketchup

The majority of people believe that the word Ketchup was derived from the Chinese word ke-tsiap. However, some other theories are also prevalent.

Amoy Theory

According to this theory, the word ketchup came from the Cantonese word ‘keh jup’ meaning tomato sauce. Others theorize that the word is derived from the Hokkien word kôe-chiap or kê-chiap, which means shellfish or brine of pickled fish. However, whether they were derived from the Quanzhou, Amoy, or Zhangzhou dialects is unclear.

Malay Theory

Another theory about the origin of the word ketchup is that it may be a derivation of the Malay word kicap, kecap, or ketjap, which means soy sauce. The Indonesians use kecap asin and kacap manis; the former is salty soy sauce, while the latter is a sweet mixture of soy sauce, ginger, brown sugar, garlic, anise, and so on.

European-Arabic Theory

Some believe that ketchup is connected to the French word escaveche, which means ‘food in sauce’. Others think it came from the Spanish or Portuguese word escabeche, which means a sauce for pickling.

Types Of Ketchup

The following are the popular or well-known types of ketchup:

Mushroom Ketchup

Originally, ketchup was prepared in Great Britain with mushrooms as the base/primary ingredient. Several brands of this condiment became popular enough to be exported to the United States. Mushrooms ketchup are available in North America since the 1770s; they are still a popular condiment.

To prepare mushroom ketchup, mushrooms are packed in containers with salt. People cook them in an oven after overnight marination (the water from the mushrooms seeps out and fills the containers). Spices such as black pepper and nutmeg are added, and the whole mixture is strained. Some versions use vinegar or red wine as an ingredient. Use of the same type of edible mushrooms is advisable, as some species are not to be mixed with others. Mushroom ketchup goes well with roasted meat or stew.

Tomato Ketchup

Tomato ketchup is made with ripe tomatoes, corn syrup, white vinegar, water, sugar, salt, onions, and garlic. Heinz tomato ketchup is the most preferred brand of tomato ketchup. However, some like to prepare ketchup at home (with varying recipes), as they view it as a healthier alternative.

Fruit Ketchup

Fruit Ketchup is prepared with a variety of fruits as the primary ingredient instead of tomatoes. Philippines’ banana ketchup is the most famous type of this ketchup. However, apples, peaches, pears, cranberries, plums, and so on are also some of the popular ingredients used. Tropical fruit ketchup is made with mangoes, pineapples (those whose friends think pineapples do not belong on pizza can always pour this ketchup in them. They can even add it to their friends’ share if they are feeling mischievous), papayas, etc.

Walnut Ketchup

Walnut ketchup is made using walnuts, salt, malt and cider vinegar, anchovies, onion, port or red wine, nutmeg, black pepper, cayenne, horseradish, and ginger. To make this ketchup the walnuts have to be ground (which may get messy). The ground walnuts are put in a glass jar, and vinegar is poured on top of it. After letting it sit for 8 days, the mixture is transferred to a cooking pan. Add the rest of the ingredients and cook for 45 minutes and strain. The sauce is ready for bottling or instant use once it cools down.

Lemon Ketchup

Lemons, white mustard seeds, turmeric, white pepper, cloves, mace, sugar, horseradish, shallot, salt, and cayenne are the ingredients used to make lemon ketchup. The ingredients are mixed and allowed to marinate for three hours before cooking them for thirty minutes. Later, it is poured into a pot and covered loosely. It must be kept in a cool environment and stirred every day for two weeks. After that, the ketchup is poured into airtight sterilized jars for use.

What Is Catsup?

Simply put, catsup is a table sauce/condiment. The early versions of Catsup were made up of egg whites, mushrooms, walnuts, and so on. The original version of Catsup was spicy compared to the present-day version, as it lacked tomatoes and sugar. Later on, tomatoes became the preferred base ingredient. The modern version of catsup or ketchup emerged in the 20th century, and its popularity has not shown a downward trend yet. The popular Heinz tomato ketchup was first marketed as catsups. Later, catsup was changed to ketchup after the company realized Americans preferred the term/spelling ketchup.

Types Of Catsup

Oyster Catsup

Oyster catsups may not be the most popular ketchup, but it tastes fantastic. It is prepared using oysters, cayenne, mace, white wine, black pepper, nutmeg, ginger, and salt. Brandy may be added to the mixture to preserve it. Oyster catsups are condiments that pair well with seafood. Those who can handle some heat in their sauce will not regret trying this ketchup.

White Catsup

The ingredients used in white catsup are white vinegar, sherry wine, lemon peels, nutmeg, anchovies, shallots, salt, white pepper, horseradish, and ginger. After the completion of the cooking part, the mixture should be kept in a warm place for ten days. It should be shaken each day (apparently, this helps make the catsup appear to be a slightly clear liquid) and later poured in a decanter for use. Brandy may be used as a preservative (looks like brandy was invaluable in past centuries).

Cucumber Catsup

The ingredients used in cucumber catsups are cucumbers, onion, mace, ginger, garlic, horseradish, black pepper, salt, nutmeg, and sherry vinegar. They are blended until the resulting puree is smooth and cooked for twenty minutes on high flame. Later, the mixture is strained and refrigerated.

Pudding Catsup

Pudding catsups are meant for sweet dishes. They are prepared using brandy, cloves, sherry, mace, and syrup flavored with orange flower water (a by-product obtained while extracting essential oil from oranges) or maidenhair fern. The ingredients are mixed in melted butter.

Tomato Catsup

In the early versions of tomato catsups, a gallon of ripe tomatoes is mashed with salt and left to rest/marinate for three days. After that, anchovies, shallots, and black pepper are added to the mixture. The mixture is boiled for half an hour and strained. Next, spices like mace, ginger, nutmeg, coriander seed, and cochineal are added and pounded together. The mixture is cooked on low flame for twenty minutes and strained. Later, the mixture is bottled after it cools. Of course, such early recipes were spicy rather than sweet due to a lack of sugar.

Main Difference Between Ketchup And Catsup In Points

  • The word catsup cropped up in the 1600s, whereas the word ketchup has been in use since the 1700s.
  • The primary ingredients of ketchup and catsups are the same (tomato, salt, sugar, vinegar, and cinnamon); however, the additional ingredients such as various spices, and their ratios differ.
  • From 1890 to 1960, catsup was the preferred spelling and was used more frequently than ketchup. However, in the early 1970s ketchup gained dominance and continues to be the preferred word/spelling since the 1980s.
  • Catsups (the original versions) were spicy and not sweet or tangy, as sugar was not used as an ingredient till centuries later. Ketchup is made with tomatoes as a base ingredient (the other types are not as popular as tomato ketchup) with sugar. Therefore, they are rarely spicy (spiciness depends on personal taste and the recipe followed).
  • Though, in modern times, most people refer to the condiment as ketchup, a few still call it catsup (if people google catsup, they end up with results regarding ketchup, as they mean the same).


It does not matter whether people prefer to call it ketchup or catsup; tomato ketchup is the most dominant table condiment at present. It is worth giving it a try (if some people have still not done so), as the favorable opinion of the majority of the world’s population cannot lead one astray, can it? People will not regret dipping their greasy food in or smothering it with ketchup or catsup. It is bound to be an interesting experience!


  • https://thekitchencommunity.org/catsup-vs-ketchup/
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ketchup
  • https://clickamericana.com/topics/food-drink/the-history-of-catsup-plus-check-out-these-vintage-catsup-ketchup-brands
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mushroom_ketchup
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fruit_ketchup
  • https://slicesofbluesky.com/ketchup-versus-catsup/
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dip_%26_Squeeze
  • https://www.food.com/recipe/lemon-ketchup-219860
  • https://honest-food.net/walnut-ketchup-recipe/
  • https://thetakeout.com/recipe-how-to-make-cucumber-ketchup-condiment-1847175377
  • https://www.pilotonline.com/food-drink/article_38af3404-27cf-5683-b1b4-8e09df35ee6b.html
  • https://topsecretrecipes.com/heinz-ketchup-copycat-recipe.html
  • https://slicesofbluesky.com/cooks-oracle-ketchup-recipes/


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"Difference Between Ketchup and Catsup." Diffzy.com, 2024. Sun. 19 May. 2024. <https://www.diffzy.com/article/difference-between-ketchup-and-catsup>.

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