Canning Homemade Spaghetti Sauce

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I love being able to can from the garden. Every year I make homemade spaghetti sauce using fresh basil, oregano, onions, garlic, green peppers, and tomatoes!  I’m awful with recipes, but I tried to measure and ration what I was doing :)

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Get everything prepped first.  I broke the recipe down into 15# of tomatoes. Although, I have my Romas pictured, I also used my larger tomatoes in the mix for sauce as well. Cherry tomatoes are useless for the work involved.   I like a lot of flavor in my sauce, so I use quite a bit of the following ingredients. Feel free to scale back :)

You’ll need:

  • 3  green peppers diced
  • 3 large white onions diced
  • 3 bulbs of garlic peeled
  • 2 cups fresh basil stripped and chopped
  • 1 cup Italian parsley stripped and chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh oregano stripped
  • 2 Tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • 15# tomatoes
  • 2 Tablespoons of Sugar (may add extra later to taste)
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Lemon Juice if you’re canning

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Check out our HOW to BLANCH a TOMATO post!

Get a large pot of water filled half way boiling. Then wash up your tomatoes. I blanch my tomatoes to get rid of the skins. I know some don’t mind if skin is blended up in their sauce. I don’t care for it, so I remove all the skins. I don’t mind a few seeds though. It’s all your preference. I core the larger tomatoes only, not the Romas.  I have my sink close to my stove, so I just fill it with cold water (you can add ice to make a more prevalent peel).  If your sink is not close, have a pot of ice water next to the stove.  Throw them in the boiling water about 20 – 30 seconds. Then take them out and immediately put them in the cold water.  You’ll do this in batches. Not all 15# at one time.

With Roma tomatoes, I just squeeze them out of the skin into a large bowl like pictured. You’ll have to peel the larger tomatoes.  Then, I’m old school. I physically squeeze the tomatoes to rid excess seeds and juice. I like my sauce thicker, and homemade sauce usually runs on the thin side.  I’ve done the KitchenAid attachment in years past and just thought it was easier all around to squeeze them myself.

Next, I start my olive oil and green peppers, half of the onions and dice up one of the bulbs of garlic. I sauté these in a large stock pot.  I’ll be adding the rest of the sauce to it.

Next I strain the tomatoes and throw the pulp in the food processor.  I put the pureed sauce in the stockpot as it’s prepared. At some point, I also puree the rest of the onions and garlic. and throw that in the stockpot to cook as well. After you sauté the peppers, onions and garlic,  you want to turn it down to a low heat.

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Add in the rest of the ingredients and cook covered for 10 – 14 hours. Occasionally stirring. Add salt and pepper to tasted after it’s done cooking. I’ve also been know to add extra of something to make my palette happy (garlic salt, cracked pepper).  Sometimes I take some out and make a smaller batch of spicy spaghetti sauce for my husband and father. This year, that didn’t happen.  You can see that my 23-Quart Pressure Canner and Cooker is nearly full! I had another stockpot simmering too!

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I do not add meat to mine when I’m canning. If you add meat you have to use a pressure canner. I also do not add mushrooms. I prefer to add meat and/or mushrooms when preparing the meal at a later time.

Start your water. I have a small pot of boiling water and a pressure canner (don’t use the lid, just for the size) of boiling water going (you can use a stockpot). You’ll want the water 1 inch above the jars, so you’ll need to measure how much water that would be with the jars in the pot.

You’ll need to add 2 Tablespoons of bottle lemon juice to each jar, before filling with sauce. Fill with sauce. Get a canning funnel – it will make your life easier. Then you’ll need to go back through with a thin nonmetal spatula to get out any air bubbles and let the sauce settle by going up and down the sides. I have a small pot of boiling water and a canner pot of boiling water going (you can use a stockpot).

Wipe the threads of the jar clean. Next throw your lids (a few at a time) in the small pot of boiling water  for a few seconds and take out with kitchen tongs. Shake off excess water and center on the jars immediately. Tighten the bands around them (tight, but not overly tight). For canning, I choose to “bathe” mine for 35 minutes in boiling water. Take out with Canning Tongs.

 Then listen for the popping sound! Love that sound!  Out of the 26 quarts, I only had one not take this year. So that’s in the fridge for an upcoming meal!   A quick note, when serving – I always throw some butter in the sauce to help with the acidity. 

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There are SO many variations of spaghetti sauce! Feel free to share yours below!


  1. says

    Thanks for sharing your recipe. I am pinning this for later. Maybe SOMEDAY my garden will produce enough tomatoes to can. This year we have just gotten about 10 tomatoes. LOL

  2. says

    I’m very happy to see this recipe. There is a farm here that sells their culls for $3.00 for a 5 gallon bucket, so guess what I am going to do this summer?! I can’t wait!

  3. Amy says

    I’m nervous to can spaghetti sauce but we eat a lot & my tomatoes are not coming all at once so I’m glad your recipe calls for #15. I have a gas stove so instead of having it on my stove, do you think cooking low on crock pot would do the trick?

    • says

      I made mine on a gas stove – just make sure you stir regularly. You’ll love it. If your sauce turns out on the thin side, you can have some tomato paste on hand to thicken it up – I’ve had to do that some years. I just snag it from Aldi. It’s easy and DELICIOUS!

      • Howard says

        I do a lot of canning and tomato sauces invariably get charred where the gas flame hits the pot even at low heat sooooo …. I had 1/4 inch metal plates made to cover the burner so that the gas heat is more evenly distributed. It’s perfect for simmering sauces for a long time.

  4. Michele says

    I learned a trick a few years ago that makes peeling your tomatoes much easier. Put them in a freezer bag and throw them in the freezer. When you are ready to use them, thaw them out (in the sink is best, because they drip while they’re thawing) and the skins slip right off. Also, a lot of juice releases, lessening your cooking time. This also allows you to keep tomatoes in the freezer until you have enough for your recipe, or until you have time to make sauce..

  5. Kristi says

    Made this tonight, but only did 5lbs tomatoes, I bulb garlic (would have cut back on the garlic more) and did a third of everything else. Added meat and a little italian seasoning. Had it for dinner, now going to freeze the rest. I was so excited that it turned out so good. Thank you!

  6. Susie says

    I am just starting to learn to can. What is the purpose of the lemon juice? Can I leave it out? I ask because I am allergic to lemons (and most citrus) and won’t be able to use it in any recipes.

  7. Laurie says

    Why such a long cooking time on the stove…wouldn’t like 4-5 hours for reducing or reducing to half be better?…I’m new at this and just curious…Thank you…

    • Sherry Herry says

      I only simmer mine for 4-5 hours on the stove. It turns out fine, not runny. I have also discovered a quicker, much easier way to make sauce. I seed my tomatoes and do not peel them. I toss them in olive oil and spread them on baking sheets, sprinkle onion powder, garlic powder, salt, and Italian seasonings on them. Bake at 350* for about an hour. Put them all in a pot or bowl and use my immersion blender to make into sauce. Taste. I usually add some sugar and additional salt. Turns out great and takes much less time.

  8. Kortney says

    I’m new to canning and love sauce so I’m going to give this recipe a try. So, how many quarts does this recipe make?

  9. Linda Balas says

    Between myself, my sister and my niece we had a bumper crop of tomatoes this year. Since they were not all ripe at the same time we put them in the freezer!!! When we started to remove the skins, a quick dip in the hot water and the skin literally fell off. From now on we will definitely freeze our tomatoes. This really saved a lot of time and work. ..

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