Introduction Sedentary behaviour is increasingly recognised as a health risk. While differences in this behaviour might help explain ethnic differences in disease profiles, studies on sedentary behaviour in ethnic minorities are scarce. The aim of this study was to compare the levels and the socio-demographic and lifestyle-related correlates of objectively measured sedentary time among five ethnic groups in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Methods Data were collected as part of the HELIUS study. The sample consisted of adults from a Dutch, Moroccan, African Surinamese, South-Asian Surinamese and Turkish ethnic origin. Data were collected by questionnaire, physical examination, and a combined heart rate and accelerometry monitor (Actiheart). Sedentary time was defined as waking time spent on activities of <1.5 metabolic equivalents. Ethnic differences in the levels of sedentary time were tested using ANOVA and ANCOVA analyses, while ethnic differences in the correlates of sedentary time were tested with interactions between ethnicity and potential correlates using general linear models. Associations between these correlates and sedentary time were explored using linear regression analyses stratified by ethnicity (pre-determined). All analyses were adjusted for gender and age. Results 447 participants were included in the analyses, ranging from 73 to 109 participants per ethnic group. Adjusted levels of sedentary time ranged from 569 minutes/day (9.5 hours/day) for participants with a Moroccan and Turkish origin to 621 minutes/day (10.3 hours/day) in African Surinamese participants. There were no statistically significant differences in the levels or correlates of sedentary time between the ethnic groups. Meeting the physical activity recommendations (150 minutes/week) was consistently inversely associated with sedentary time across all ethnic groups, while age was positively associated with sedentary time in most groups. Conclusions No statistically significant differences in the levels of objectively measured sedentary time or its socio-demographic and lifestyle-related correlates were observed among five ethnic groups in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.