For the Easiest Fruit Jam, Skip the Stove—and the Sugar

July 23, 2018

There were a few months of my life when I drank chia water every day. I was training for my first marathon and my friend told me to read Born to Run and Born to Run told me to drink iskiate, a chia-based, Mexican-born energy drink that will help you run 18 miles without blinking an eye. Or something like that.

Ever since then, I’ve thought chia seeds were magical. Besides turning you into a super-athlete (this didn’t happen for me, by the way), they can turn milk—or coconut milk or almond mix or oat milk—into pudding. And, apparently, mashed up fruit into thick, spreadable, toast-worthy jam.

No granulated sugar. No cooking.

Raspberry, blackberry, and apricot! Photo by James Ransom

Not that I have anything against sugar or cooking. But sometimes you need a break. Maybe you want something sweet, just not too sweet. Maybe it’s 114 degrees outside (or feels like it, what’s the difference) and you refuse to turn on your oven and stove. We’ve all been there.

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Enter chia jam to the rescue. Here’s how:

  • 1 cup prepared fresh fruit. This could be fresh berries, from blackberries to blueberries to raspberries. Or chopped stone-fruit, like peaches, plums, or apricots.
  • 4-ish teaspoons chia seeds. Emphasis on the ish. This all depends on how juicy your fruit is and how thick you like your jam. Start with 4. Refrigerate for 30 or so minutes and see how things are going. If you want it looser, add more fruit. Thicker, add more seeds.
  • 1 tablespoon syrupy sweetener. I like honey or maple syrup best. Sorghum or agave syrup would be lovely, too. Add or subtract to taste.
  • 2 teaspoons citrus juice. Especially lemon, but also lime or even grapefruit. Vinegar works here, too. Maybe apple cider vinegar to keep the fruitiness going or balsamic, especially if the jam is strawberry-y.
  • 1 pinch salt. Salt in jam?! Sure thing. Salt everywhere. It will make the fruit taste fruitier.

Mix everyone together. Refrigerate for at least a half hour or until thick. In the meantime, tell your peanut butter to take a deep breath and get ready. Lunchtime is about to get crazy.


This article was originally published in June 2018. We're bringing it back because it's even hotter out now than it was then. Have you made chia jam before? What kind? Tell us in the comments.

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Emma was the food editor at Food52. She created the award-winning column, Big Little Recipes, and turned it into a cookbook in 2021. These days, she's a senior editor at Bon Appétit, leading digital cooking coverage. Say hello on Instagram at @emmalaperruque.


Gene W. May 19, 2021
If the chia seeds are ground to a powder, will they still have the same effect?
autumngirl July 13, 2020
I’m allergic to chia. Can something else be used in its place?
MBurch September 10, 2023
I used hulled hemp seed hearts, and it worked great!
Danielle F. July 7, 2020
Hi how are you what are the Chia seeds used for to thicken?
weshook February 23, 2019
I've made this a couple times now...once with blackberries and once with strawberries. Delicious! And the best thing is I can eat it straight from the jar since it is mostly berries and chia seeds...I do eat it on toast with nut butter occasionally. I also heat the berries with the sweetener in a jar in the microwave to help them get juicy.
Amy June 22, 2018
If making this with fresh strawberries, what does "prepared" mean - do you mash, chop, or puree them?
Emma L. June 22, 2018
Hi Amy, this is a very forgiving recipe so really any of the above would work. It depends how ripe the berries are and what texture you're going for (say, a chunky jam, or smooth one). I would finely chop them.
Amy June 22, 2018
Thank you!
jan June 10, 2018
I didn't mean low-fat vinegar - what I meant to say was no-sugar fruit flavored gelatine !!!
jan June 10, 2018
I've made jam with frozen blueberries, cider vinegar and low fat fruit-flavored vinegar and that is divine but I think the chia and lemon juice would make it even better. I'll try it next time.
Karen T. June 10, 2018
I was skeptical about chia jam (cos I do love sugar) but I bit the bullet and made some with frozen raspberries. OMG you guys, it was the best raspberry jam I'd ever tasted.
The texture is different to jam but the flavour more than makes up for it.
Rutger June 10, 2018
Did you cut the frozen raspberries up for or did you put them in as whole raspberries?
April Y. June 8, 2018
How long does it keep in the fridge?
Emma L. June 8, 2018
It depends on the fruit and its ripeness, but figure several days. I keep it in a tight container and give it a quick taste before using.
Rutger June 8, 2018
If you're using, for example, the frozen blueberries, do you need to chop them up first?
Ttrockwood June 7, 2018
I love chia jam! I like to make it with frozen berries in the winter- usually raspberries or black berries; both already have a lof of seeds so you don’t notice the chia seeds much. I just use my blender and make a bunch, one jar goes in the fridge and the rest in the freezer where it keeps fine til I’m ready for it.
Sarah O. June 6, 2018
I've successfully made chia jam with frozen fruit before. It's great for the off-season! The texture is definitely not your typical jelly, but I find that the plump little chia seeds make it more interesting.
Nikki June 6, 2018
Could you blend it with the chia seeds to break the, down like some chia puddings to minimize the tapioca texture?
Emma L. June 7, 2018
I haven't tried that myself but I don't see why not!
Deedledum June 6, 2018
But is it gooey-slimy?
Emma L. June 6, 2018
I wouldn't use those words :) But if you don't like the texture of chia seedy recipes—say, puddings—this is comparable to that.