Is Tomato Sauce and Ketchup the Same Thing? Today, there is really no difference between tomato sauce and the tomato ketchup. They are two different names for the same thing. Two names are still used interchangeably in different parts of the world for what is essentially the same sauce, albeit that there are minor differences in the specific ingredients used by different manufacturers in different regions.
In the US, ketchup is prepared with tomatoes, sugar, vinegar / acetic acid and spices. It is used as a dressing or table condiment. Ketchup is cold and is never heated as a rule. Tomato sauce, on the other hand, is made from tomatoes, oil, meat or vegetable stock and spices. Vinegar is not usually used. Sauces are generally served hot. Most manufacturers insist that ketchup is made with spices while sauce is generally made without spices.
So where did the name “ketchup” come from? In the 17th century, the Chinese had a sauce made using anchovies and spices called ke-chiap. By the 18th century, the Brittish were introduced to the sauce in the new Brittish colonies in the Malay states (present day Malaysia and Singapore). The Malaysian-Malay word for the sauce was kicap or kecap (pronounced “kay-chap”). That word evolved into the English word “ketchup”. The Brittish took the recipe for the sauce back to Britain. Eventually, the sauce was introduced by the British to the new American colonies, where it was also known as ketchup or sometime catchup.
Many variations of ketchup were created, including a mushroom version, but the tomato-based version did not appear until about a century later after other types, when tomatoes became commonplace. Early versions of tomato catchup or ketchup still contained anchovies. By the mid 1850’s the anchovies had been dropped from most recipes, which were simplified to typically contain just tomatoes, salt, sugar, vinegar and spices.
The tomato version of the sauce was also known in many parts of the world as just “tomato sauce”, particularly in Britain and other British colonies like Australia. It was the same sauce, just a different name.
Content for this question contributed by Annmarie Colucci, resident of Roselle, Union County, New Jersey, USA