Homemade Tomato Sauce for Canning (Spaghetti Sauce)

By Alexandra Caspero on May 26, 2022
A taste of summer all year long!
Makes 9 pints

Transform fresh tomatoes into a healthy, canned tomato sauce that’s better than any jarred spaghetti sauce. Healthier and cheaper than buying jarred sauce! 

It’s no secret that we eat a lot of pasta in my house. With a last name like Caspero, Italian food is the food that I know my way around more than any other cuisine and pasta is what I make whenever I’m not sure what I want to have for dinner. No wonder I have over 70 different pasta recipes on my website! 

Growing up, my mom made linguine with homemade canned tomato sauce at least once a week and the recipe that I now make almost weekly for my kids as well. While canned tomatoes and store-bought jar sauce are fine, there is nothing like homemade spaghetti sauce. 

While I have a tomato sauces on my website already, like my simple fresh tomato sauce, this tomato sauce recipe is specifically for canning. Save this when you have plenty of tomatoes to enjoy canned spaghetti sauce all year long. 

Canned Spaghetti Sauce with Pasta

Difference Between Canning Tomato Sauce And Canning Spaghetti Sauce

Tomato sauce and spaghetti sauce are often used interchangeably, but they are not the same thing. Tomato sauce is usually just pureed tomatoes, a thin sauce compared to spaghetti sauce. Marinara sauce can also be made with garlic and herbs. My simple marinara sauce recipe includes only olive oil, onion, garlic, salt and fresh tomatoes. 

Spaghetti sauce is a thick sauce that’s often made with tomatoes, tomato paste along with other vegetables like onion, bell pepper, garlic and sometimes meat. Obviously my recipe is completely vegan! 

Traditional spaghetti sauce is almost always used only for pasta, but tomato sauce is more versatile and can be used in tomato soup and chili recipes (or even my enchilada sauce recipe).

If you are looking to can fresh tomatoes to use for chili and other types of recipes, check out my how to can tomatoes post for step-by-step directions. 

Peeled tomatoes before canning

Ingredients for Canned Spaghetti Sauce

Here’s what you’ll need to make canned spaghetti sauce: 

  • 30 pounds of fresh tomatoes, peeled, and cored (full directions below) 
  • 1/4 cup olive oil 
  • 1 cup chopped white onions 
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced 
  • 1 cup chopped green bell peppers 
  • 4 teaspoons salt 
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar 
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional) 

Preparing the Tomatoes for Canned Tomato Sauce 

Before you make your spaghetti sauce for canning, you’ll need to start by preparing the tomatoes for canned sauce. 

how to peel tomatoees

How to Peel Tomatoes for Canning Spaghetti Sauce

You’ll need to first peel and core the tomatoes before making this spaghetti sauce for canning. As the skin can contain bacteria, it needs to be removed before making the sauce. 

I have a step-by-step blog post showing how to peel tomatoes here, but it’s fairly easy one you learn how to do it. 

Start by washing the tomatoes, then making an X at the bottom of the tomatoes and place in a large pot of boiling water (in batches) for 60 seconds then promptly remove and place in a large bowl filled with ice water. 

Let the tomatoes cool, then the peels should slip right off. 

Core the tomatoes (full tutorial on how to core tomatoes here) and quarter them. Place in a large saucepan and boil for 20 minutes uncovered. 

Tomatoes for Canning

Use a food mill or sieve to puree the tomatoes

For a silky, perfectly textured tomato sauce for canning, you’ll need to use a food mill or sieve to transform the boiled tomatoes into a velvety tomato pulp. 

Scoop tomatoes into your mill, then start twisting. Reverse direction to scrape out the rest of the tomatoes then continue with the rest of the tomatoes. Place the tomato sauce in a bowl or large pot and set aside. 

If you don’t have a food mill, you can use a blender to blend the tomatoes in batches, and then use a sieve to filter out any tomato bits for the smoothest sauce texture. 

tomatoes in a food mill

Make the Spaghetti Sauce for Canning 

Start by heating the olive oil in a separate large pot over medium heat. Add the onions, garlic and bell peppers and cook until tender, about 10 minutes taking care to make sure the garlic doesn’t brown. 

Add in the salt, spices and sugar along with the tomato puree and bring to a boil. 

Simmer uncovered, stirring frequently to prevent burning, until thick. The initial volume will be reduced by roughly one-half. 

Spaghetti Sauce for Canning

How to Can Tomato Sauce

If you are new to canning, you may want to check out my full post on how to can tomatoes for guidance on safely canning tomatoes. As this sauce doesn’t use additional acid, you’ll need to use a pressure canner for this recipe as a water-bath canning method isn’t safe. 

Tomatoes are considered to be a low-acid food and therefore need some type of acid for safely canning using a water bath. Because I don’t like the taste of adding vinegar or bottled lemon or lime juice to my spaghetti sauce, I am using a pressure canner tested recipe instead. 

If you are looking for a tomato sauce that’s safe for freezing, this simple tomato sauce recipe is best and doesn’t require any canning. 

Spaghetti Sauce for Canning

Prepare the Jars for Canning

You’ll need to sterilize the jars first before canning. I do this by boiling the jars in water for 10 minutes, then removing promptly from the water and discarding any water in the jars. 

From there, place the warm spaghetti sauce into the prepared jars, leaving 1-inch headspace. Remove any air bubbles using a sterilized chopstick or butter knife then adjust the headspace if needed. 

Wipe the rims of the jars with a dampened paper towel, then place the clean lids on top. If you are using jars that you’ve previously canned in, you will need new inner rings before placing a lid on top. 

You can use older lids, as long as they are tight fitting and not rusted. However, because the seals in older rings are used you’ll need to use new ones.

Canned Tomato Sauce

Process the Canned Spaghetti Sauce using a Pressure Canner

This recipe works in either a weighted-gauge or dial-gauge pressure canner. The processing time will vary depending on whether you are using pint jars or quart jars. As mentioned above, you’ll need a pressure canner for this recipe as a water bath canner isn’t able to safely can this recipe as it doesn’t have additional acidic ingredients like bottled lemon juice or citric acid. 

If you are looking for a tomato sauce recipe that’s safe to freeze without canning, try my simple tomato sauce recipe

For a dial-gauge pressure canner: 

Process pints at 11 pounds pressure (PSI) for 20 minutes; 25 minutes for quart jars. If you live above 2000 feet altitude, process at 12 pounds pressure for the same time, 13 pounds pressure if you live above 4000 feet altitude and 14 pounds if you live above 6000 feet altitude. 

For a weighed-gauge pressure canner: 

Process pints at 10 pounds pressure for 20 minutes; 10 pounds pressure for 25 minutes for quart jars. If you live above 1,000 feet altitude, process at 15 pounds for 20 minutes for pint jars and 25 minutes for quart jars. 

Canning Tips

I love canning and make batches of my simple tomato sauce for freezing and double batches of my best homemade salsa for canning recipe a few times a year. 

However, if you are new to canning there can be a small learning curve as you learn the ins and outs of sterilizing jars and using your pressure canner. 

If you think you will be canning often then I highly recommend using a funnel and jar lifter to place jar of sauce into the pressure canner and for easy removal. You can typically buy a pack of a funnel, jar lifter and magnet lid place for a couple of bucks at most hardware or kitchen stores, or online. 

How to Can Tomatoes

What tomatoes work best in canned spaghetti sauce?

Fleshy, plum tomatoes like roma or Early Girl tomatoes have less juice than other tomatoes and therefore will take less time to cook down and become thick. 

However, any tomato will work in this recipe and I often use whatever I can get in bulk from my local farm. I typically order ~100 pounds each year of tomatoes to make this sauce, regular canned tomatoes and of course my homemade canned tomato salsa

Safe Adjustments for this Canned Tomato Sauce Recipe

While it’s best to follow recipes like this exactly as written, it’s safe to adjust some ingredients that will not change the pH. The base of this recipe is from The USDA and is tested for safety. 

You cannot increase the amount of onions, peppers and garlic in this recipe but it is OK to use less of them. I add a small amount of brown sugar to offset the natural acidity of the tomatoes, but you can remove it all together or you can increase it if you like a sweeter sauce. 

Salt doesn’t affect pH level and OK to adjust more or less depending on taste. I don’t like most herbs in my sauce recipes, I find that too much oregano is overpowering and reminds me of pizza sauce– not spaghetti sauce. That said, that may be a personal preference and it’s OK to use dried herbs as desired to taste. 

If you do like dried herbs in your pasta sauce, then I’d recommend a tablespoon or two of dried oregano and 3-4 tablespoons of dried parsley, dried basil or a combination of the two. Fresh herbs will change the pH and aren’t recommended in this recipe. 

Lastly, you can use any neutral oil instead of olive oil.  

fresh canned tomato sauce with pasta

How many pints does this spaghetti sauce for canning recipe make?

This recipe will make roughly 9 pints. Depending on how long you let the tomato sauce simmer, you may get less than 9 pints or slightly more if you don’t allow the tomato sauce to reduce and thicken as long.  

If you try this recipe, make sure to come back, rate it and let me know. Your comments make my day and your feedback and questions help other readers. 

Spaghetti Sauce for Canning with Pasta

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Canned Tomato Sauce with Pasta

Homemade Tomato Sauce for Canning (Spaghetti Sauce)

  • Author: Alex Caspero
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour
  • Yield: ~9 pints
  • Category: canning, tomatoes, pressure canning
  • Method: pressure canning
  • Cuisine: American, Italian
  • Diet: Vegan

Description

Transform fresh tomatoes into a healthy, canned tomato sauce that’s better than any jarred spaghetti sauce. Healthier and cheaper than buying jarred sauce.


  • Author: Alex Caspero
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour
  • Yield: ~9 pints
  • Category: canning, tomatoes, pressure canning
  • Method: pressure canning
  • Cuisine: American, Italian
  • Diet: Vegan
  • Author: Alex Caspero
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour
  • Yield: ~9 pints
  • Category: canning, tomatoes, pressure canning
  • Method: pressure canning
  • Cuisine: American, Italian
  • Diet: Vegan
Scale

Ingredients

  • 30 pounds tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped white or yellow onion
  • 1 cup chopped green bell peppers
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 teaspoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)

Instructions

  1. Peel, core and quarter tomatoes. (Head here for how to peel tomatoes and how to core tomatoes)
  2. Place the tomatoes in a large saucepan and boil for 20 minutes uncovered. Scoop tomatoes into a food mill, then start twisting. Reverse direction to scrape out the rest of the tomatoes then continue with the rest of the tomatoes. If you don’t have a food mill, you can use a blender to blend the tomatoes in batches, and then use a sieve to filter out any tomato bits for the smoothest sauce texture.
  3. Heat the olive oil in a separate large pot over medium heat. Add the onions, garlic and bell peppers and cook until tender, about 10 minutes taking care to make sure the garlic doesn’t brown.
  4. Add in the salt, spices and sugar along with the tomato puree and bring to a boil. Simmer uncovered, stirring frequently to prevent burning, until thick. The initial volume will be reduced by roughly one-half. It should take about 1 hour.
  5. Fill hot, sterilized canning jars with sauce, leaving 1 inch headspace. Remove any air bubbles and adjust headspace if needed. Wipe rimes of jars with a dampened paper towel and add lids.
  6. Process using a pressure cannerFor a dial-gauge pressure canner:  Process pints at 11 pounds pressure (PSI) for 20 minutes; 25 minutes for quart jars. If you live above 2000 feet altitude, process at 12 pounds pressure for the same time, 13 pounds pressure if you live above 4000 feet altitude and 14 pounds if you live above 6000 feet altitude. For a weighed-gauge pressure canner: Process pints at 10 pounds pressure for 20 minutes; 10 pounds pressure for 25 minutes for quart jars. If you live above 1,000 feet altitude, process at 15 pounds for 20 minutes for pint jars and 25 minutes for quart jars.

Notes

This recipe must be processed with a pressure canner as it doesn’t contain added acid. If you are looking for a recipe that’s similar and don’t have a pressure canner, I recommend my simple tomato sauce that can be frozen.

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Meet Alex Caspero

Alex Caspero is a Registered Dietitian, Plant-Based Chef and Yoga Instructor. She aims to cut through the nutrition noise by providing real-life, nourishing tips for body and mind. Learn more about Alex.

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    1. Sandra
      June 3, 2022 AT 7:04 am

      Delicious tomato sauce! My meat-loving husband devoured it.