A Guide to Making and Canning Homemade Spaghetti Sauce Like an Italian Grandma

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Author of Be Ready for Anything and Bloom Where You’re Planted online course

Do you have tomatoes running out of your ears? Get more. Once you taste genuine homemade spaghetti sauce you will definitely want enough that you never have to resort to store-bought again. When you share it with others, they’ll think that you have an Italian grandma you never told them about.

Here is the step by step for making and canning your own Italian homemade spaghetti sauce taken right from the pages of my book, The Prepper’s Canning Guide. It’s easy, healthy, delicious, and a great way to make use of a bounty of tomatoes. Homemade spaghetti sauce is a galaxy away from the stuff you buy in the grocery store. It’s loaded with vitamins and nutrients, and not tainted by BPA, additives, and high fructose corn syrup. Don’t be put off by the hands-on time needed to make this. Consider that if you made 14 from-scratch spaghetti dinners, it would take you far more time than the six hours that these two batches of sauce took.

If you are planning for a year’s worth of sauce, two marathon canning sessions making 28 quarts will provide you with sauce just over twice a month.

To speed up the process, use a high-quality blender or food processor. I’ve done this with both my Vitamix and my Ninja food processor with excellent results. (Check out this guide to tomato prep to make your life easier.)

The following instructions are for a canner load full of sauce or 7 quarts. If you have more or fewer tomatoes than that, a general rule of thumb is that approximately 1 pound of tomatoes makes 1 quart jar of sauce.

Why I pressure can this recipe

Any time you take liberties with a basic recipe, it is essential to make certain that you are still using the safest practices possible for your family. With the addition of low-acid ingredients like garlic cloves and olive oil, this recipe should be pressure canned to prevent the possibility of botulism. While your grandma may have canned sauce in a water bath canner for 70 years with no ill effects, I strongly recommend using a pressure canner based on research undertaken by The National Center for Home Food Preservation.

Prep the tomatoes

  • First, unless you are using a food mill, you have to peel your tomatoes. My tomatoes are organic, so I didn’t have to worry about any nasty pesticide residue. The easiest way to peel tomatoes is to take them from boiling water to an ice bath and then squeeze the guts out of them, as follows:
  • First, put water on to boil in a large non-reactive stock pot. (I prefer this stainless steel pot.) You don’t need to wash or cut the tomatoes before blanching them. In batches, place the tomatoes into the boiling water for about 3 minutes. (This time is not engraved in stone – don’t panic if you go over the time by a little bit.)
  • After you scoop the tomatoes out of the boiling water, place them directly into an ice bath and leave them there for at least 3 minutes. I like to use long tongs for this because you transfer less of the hot water into your ice bath.
  • Once the tomatoes are cool enough to easily handle, use your fingers to dig the stem end out of the tomato and discard it. Then, squeeze the tomato over your blender – the skin should slide right off and leave you with a blender full of pulp. You don’t need to remove the seeds. Pulse in the blender for about 30 seconds, resulting in a nice slightly chunky puree.
  • Meanwhile, using either a food processor or your blender, puree 2 bell peppers (any color), 2 large onions, and 1 or 2 heads of garlic.
  • Add the tomatoes and veggies to a large stockpot. Then add the following seasonings – the first amount is per pound of tomatoes, and the second amount is for a 7 quart batch of sauce.

Homemade Spaghetti Sauce Recipe

Seasonings: the first amount is per pound of tomatoes, and the second amount is for a 7 quart batch of sauce

1 tbsp – sugar or honey – 1/3 cup
1 tsp – sea salt – 2 and 1/2 tbsp
1 tsp – thyme – 2 and 1/2 tbsp
1 tbsp – oregano – 1/3 cup
1 tbsp – basil – 1/3 cup
1 pinch – powdered clove (trust me!) – 1 tbsp
black pepper to taste
1 pinch – paprika (smoked Hungarian if you can find it) – 1 tbsp
2 tbsp – extra virgin olive oil – 2/3 cup


  • With the lid on, bring the sauce to a simmer for about an hour, stirring occasionally. Then, remove the lid, drop the heat and simmer gently for 3 more hours. The lid being off will allow the liquid to evaporate so that the sauce can cook down and thicken.
  • When it’s time to can the sauce, don’t worry if the consistency is still a little bit watery. Over its time on the shelf, it will thicken somewhat. If at serving time it is still runnier than you prefer, simply stir in a small tin of tomato paste to thicken it.
  • Fill sanitized quart jars with sauce, allowing 1 inch of headspace.
  • Wipe the lip of your jars with a cloth dipped in white vinegar and then place the lids on.
  • Process the sauce in your pressure canner (here’s how to use a pressure canner) for 25 minutes at 7 pounds of pressure, adjusting for altitude.
  • Allow the jars to cool undisturbed for at least 12 hours or until cooled. Test the seals before putting them away.

Now you have many quarts of delicious, authentic Italian marinara sauce to serve at many meals to come. You can use this to make spaghetti and meatballs, chicken Parmesan, as the base of an Italian vegetable soup, or you can thicken it to use as a pizza sauce.

Mangia bene!
(Eat well!)

Here are the products used to make this item:

Recipe: The Prepper’s Canning Guide

Pressure canner

Ninja food processor

What do you think?

Do you make homemade tomato sauce? What do you put in yours? Please share your ideas in the comments.

Daisy Luther

Daisy Luther

Daisy Luther is a coffee-swigging, globe-trotting blogger. She is the founder and publisher of three websites.  1) The Organic Prepper, which is about current events, preparedness, self-reliance, and the pursuit of liberty on her website, 2)  The Frugalite, a website with thrifty tips and solutions to help people get a handle on their personal finances without feeling deprived, and 3) PreppersDailyNews.com, an aggregate site where you can find links to all the most important news for those who wish to be prepared. She is widely republished across alternative media and  Daisy is the best-selling author of 5 traditionally published books and runs a small digital publishing company with PDF guides, printables, and courses. You can find her on FacebookPinterest, Gab, MeWe, Parler, Instagram, and Twitter.

Leave a Reply

  • In east Texas we call it “slippin’ the skins”. I always enjoyed that part for some reason. I just like canning …..ya’ll keep preppin!

  • Looks like a great recipe–I just live canning!

    I’m a Master Food Preserver certified by the Cornell Cooperative Extension. According to the National Center for Home Food Preservation, if you are boiling water bath canning for more than 10 minutes, or pressure canning, you don’t need to sanitize it sterilize your jars, they just need to be clean. The canning process itself will sterilize everything if done correctly. So that can save everyone a few more minutes in the process 🙂

    • The first measurement is by pound of tomatoes that you’re canning. The second measurement is a 7 quart batch of sauce. 🙂

  • Good info. For years we have been making spaghetti sauce with meat and only canned it with a water bath. Never had a problem. This year we got a pressure canner and it’s certainly better to be on the safe side. On a side note – I enjoy your political perspective but this was refreshing.

  • Ms. Daisy I have a bit of a conundrum. I have a USDA guide to canning spaghetti sauce that says we need 30lbs of tomatoes to make 9 pints. Your recipe says 1pd of tomatoes per quart of sauce. Can you give me any insight on the discrepancy? I want to can your recipe for sure, it sounds amazing. I know canning is an experience science but if you can suggest some clarity on this I. would truly appreciate it.
    Yours in Prepping,

    • Hi Shake!

      That is always a tough one. There are so many variables. Type of tomato you’re canning, how thick you want your sauce to be, how long you cook it down, etc. I use Amish Paste or San Marzano tomatoes for my sauce (they’re dense and not as watery). I also puree instead of cooking down, and I leave the sauce a little more watery and just plan to add tomato paste at serving time. So this, I suppose, has to be a ballpark kind of thing. I wish I could be more helpful. :/


  • Yes Mam, thanks so much. Your using heavy flesh sauce maters. Got it. I’m a flat lander and grow a universal variety that tolerates unbearable heat and humidity conditions. I will go with your recipe and do tomatoes x4. I’ll get it dialed in from there. Thank you so much for a great read, an awesome recipe, and an amazingly fast response to my ignorance!
    Yours in Prepping,

  • You say to pressure can at 7 lb. of pressure; however, I have weighted canners that build pressure to 5, 10 or 15 lbs. Should I can your recipe at 5 lb. or 10 lb.?

    • We really, really, really like garlic, so it says head. If you aren’t a fan, you could dial it back. 😀

  • Drats! Love that you gave both the single size & canning size versions of the recipe. I am picky about too-sweet spaghetti sauce and always want to try a recipe before I can a bunch, but it’s usually too hard to scale down accurately. So I went to try this one. Unfortunately, I did the head-and-a-half of garlic, 2 peppers and 2 onions with 1 lb. of tomatoes – didn’t think about that being too much until I saw them mixed together, and it was more green than red :/ Now I’m not sure what to do with the mixture, as I don’t have enough ripe tomatoes to scale it up. Oh well, I’ll try it again another time!

    • You can reduce the sugar if you want – I always recommend taste-testing throughout the process 🙂 The other thing to remember is that different varieties of tomatoes have different amounts of natural sweetness, so you will definitely want to do some sampling 🙂

  • here’s another little time saver: as tomatoes come in this summer, just wash and core them. stick them in ziplock freezer bags and toss in the deep freeze. along about november, when summer heat is just a memory, thaw them. the skins will now slip right off! pop them into a big pot and make your tomato sauce, spagetti sauce, katsup, etc. the warmth and humidity in the kitchen will now be a blessing…and you can skip that blanching and icebath stuff. 🙂

  • I used 7lbs of Romas. It made barely 6 PINTS. However, it was very flavorful. Just curious, why doesn’t it use lemon juice? The other recipes I see do, is it because they are water baths? Thanks for the great recipe!

    • It’s really hard to be accurate with yields because food varies so much. You can even have two batches made from the same type of tomato turn out differently because one is juicier and the other is fleshier. I always hesitate to put yields at all because of the different variables. I’m glad you liked the flavor!

      You are right about why they add lemon juice. You want food that is water bath canned to be highly acidic 🙂

  • Daisey, I LOVE your books! I have 2 of them, and they are what got me into semi-prepping for my husband and I! Thank you so much for putting your info into easy to read, easy to follow book form 🙂 I began canning a year ago, and I haven’t quit yet! lol I have stocked shelves, and a full freezer and I don’t have to worry about every going hungry again! 🙂

  • Thank you for this article!!! I do not like having to add the addition of an acid when water bath canning. Sorry, but lemon juice or vinegar in tomato sauce? That is crazy to me. I had contacted the Ball company to see if you can process tomatoes under pressure (instead of water bath)without the added acid, and they never answered me. You are a lifesaver, truly. Thank you.

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