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Chef Thomas Keller’s Chow-Chow Recipe: How to Make Chow-Chow Relish Recipe

Written by MasterClass

Last updated: Nov 8, 2020 • 2 min read

In its simplest form, a vinaigrette is a mix of oil and vinegar—something to dip our bread in, or toss as dressing in our salads. But vinaigrettes are varied and versatile. They can be made with myriad ingredients, and put to nearly endless uses. Here, Chef Thomas Keller demonstrates a chow-chow recipe based on his pickled vegetables.



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What Is a Chow-Chow?

A chow-chow relish or chow-chow vinaigrette is a pickled condiment that doubles as a salad dressing. Chow-chows include variable ingredients, depending on the region of origin. For example, Northern chow-chows typically feature green tomatoes, beans, asparagus, cauliflower, sweet onion, peas, and red bell peppers or green bell peppers, while Southern chow-chows are primarily cabbage-based. Red pepper and jalapeno provide a spicy kick while apple cider vinegar or white vinegar can create a neutral base for pickles.

What Is the Best Oil-to-Vinegar Ratio for Vinaigrette?

Typically, a vinaigrette has a ratio of three-parts oil to one-part vinegar.

But Chef Keller says not to be confined by rules. He encourages you to balance and season your vinaigrettes to your taste, and to experiment with different oils and vinegars. If you’d rather use citrus as your acid instead—lemon or lime or grapefruit, to name just a few—go ahead.

Different Types of Vinaigrettes and Uses

Different culinary traditions have given rise to different vinaigrettes.

  • In Italy, a traditional vinaigrette is made with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
  • In France, the traditional combination is a neutral oil, such as grapeseed, with red wine vinegar.

Try marrying your vinaigrettes with different dishes. They’re delicious with meat, fish, poultry, vegetables, and eggs. And yes, they’re also great as salad dressings, or for dipping bread.

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Chef Thomas Keller’s Chow-Chow Vinaigrette Recipe


The chow-chow is made with Chef Keller’s pickled vegetables. Make the pickles first.

For the pickled vegetables:

  • 400 grams water
  • 200 grams white wine vinegar
  • 200 grams granulated sugar
  • Thyme sprigs
  • Mustard seeds
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and lightly crushed
  • 85 grams cauliflower florets
  • 5 red pearl onions, halved
  • 100 grams cucumbers, oblique cut
  • 75 grams radishes, quartered
  • 35 grams jingle bell peppers or other small variety

Note: The quantity of vegetables is proportional to the size of the pickling jar used; both can be varied according to your needs.

For the chow-chow:

  • Whole-grain mustard, to taste
  • 10 grams shallots, minced
  • 60 grams extra virgin olive oil
  • 35 grams pickling liquid from pickled vegetables
  • 1⁄2 lemon Kosher salt
  • Chives, minced


  • Cutting board
  • Paring knife
  • Chef’s knife
  • Mixing bowl
  • Spoons
  • Canning jar
  • 3-quart saucepot
  1. When preparing your vegetables, cut them to a size that is as uniform as possible for consistent pickling. Add the mixed vegetables to the canning jar. Combine water, vinegar, sugar, thyme, mustard seeds, and garlic in a saucepot and bring to a simmer.
  2. Pour the hot pickling liquid over vegetables to submerge them and seal the jar. Chill and store the jar in the refrigerator.
  3. Remove the pickled vegetables from the jar and coarsely chop.
  4. Place in a bowl with mustard, shallots, olive oil, and pickling liquid, and mix gently.
  5. Add a squeeze of lemon juice, season with salt, and stir.
  6. Garnish with chives.

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