Canning Spaghetti Sauce with Meatballs (Grocery Store Version)

(Psst: The FTC wants me to remind you that this website contains affiliate links. That means if you make a purchase from a link you click on, I might receive a small commission. This does not increase the price you'll pay for that item nor does it decrease the awesomeness of the item. ~ Daisy)

Want to turn $10   into 7  entrees?

It’s easy – just can some spaghetti sauce with meatballs!  Canning your own meals gives you the benefits of great taste, knowing what  you’re eating, and quality ingredients with no preservatives.  Learn more about the benefits of making your own “fast food” HERE.

The following recipe will result in 7 quarts of sauce with meatballs.  Serving size is dependent on your appetites, but each jar will feed 2-3 people.

Since this is the grocery store version of the spaghetti sauce, anyone with a pressure canner can make it!   You don’t have to process bushels of tomatoes because it is already done for you.

Directions will come this fall on making your own sauce from your garden tomatoes – it’s even better!

Step 1

Gather your ingredients:

  • 1 28-ounce can of crushed tomatoes
  • 1 28-ounce can of diced tomatoes
  • 1 28-ounce can of tomato paste or sauce
  • 2 pounds of ground meat, any combination
  • 1 cup of  finely crushed crackers or bread crumbs
  • 1/8 cup of olive oil
  • 1 cup of carrots
  • 1 large onion
  • 1 head of garlic
  • 1 large bell pepper

to taste

  • sea salt
  • oregano
  • basil
  • garlic powder
  • onion powder


Step 2

Use your food processor to finely mince carrots, onions, peppers, and garlic…

minced veggies

Step 3

Add seasonings, cans of tomato product, minced veggies, and olive oil to a stockpot and bring it to a simmer.

tomato sauce


Step 4

Meanwhile, add crumbs, garlic powder, and onion powder to the meat mixture and combine well with your hands.

crumbs and meat

Step 5

Form the meat mixture into meatballs that fit easily into your jars.

This is a “raw pack” recipe so you don’t need to cook the meatballs first – they will cook thoroughly during the pressure canning process.

Place 6 meatballs in each sanitized jar.


Step 6

Ladle the spaghetti sauce over the meatballs, leaving about 2 inches of headspace.

Use a chopstick or a table knife to run around the inside of the jar to remove air pockets.

fill jars

Step 7

Top up each jar with water until you have one inch of headspace left.

Wipe the lip of the jar well, then place the lids and rings on, finger-tightening the rings.

lid jars

Step 8

Process the jars in a pressure canner for 90 minutes at 10 PSI.  Be sure to adjust for altitude.

pressure can

Step 9

Allow your jars of sauce to sit overnight.

If any of the jars did not seal properly, put them into the refrigerator and use within a week.

spaghetti sauce with meatballs


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), 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

  • That is a very tall canner you have there Daisy!
    My borrowed one is the jiggler type not the pressure gauge. I haven’t ever used this type,not sure what to think about it yet…
    However, your idea of using store bought tomato products for turning into sauce is a great one! Another thing that I can do to ‘clean up’ my misc pantry items from last year along with the leftover burger in the freezer, yeah!

    • Hi HalfKin!

      I have the big 23 quart Presto canner. I like it because I can actually do two layers of canned goods at a time, making the capacity 14 quart jars. There wasn’t much of a price difference between this and the smaller one, so I decided to “go big or go home” 🙂

      ~ Daisy

  • Daisy,
    A couple of questions
    1. I am assuming I can use fresh oregano and basil out of the garden?
    2. I am also assuming I can use gluten free bread crumbs for the meat balls. Usually it’s rice bread crumbs we use. I can’t believe it makes seven quarts.

    Thanks, you ave a great blog. Especially the post about your living in that cabin with your daughter.

    • Hi Big Dog. 🙂

      You can definitely use other types of bread crumbs. They are just there to stretch the meat. I find that when canning meatballs they do way better if they are on the dry side – so don’t add egg or anything like that to make them moist.

      It would be even yummier with fresh herbs! I just didn’t have any on hand when I made this batch.

      Please let me know how you sauce turns out, and thank you so much for the kind words.

      ~ Daisy

    • Is there a canning recipe with sauce AND pasta all in one that you can just open, heat and eat? (Like store bought mini-raviolies)

      • Hi Daniel!

        I have had terrible luck when I have canned pasta in the past. It turns into absolute mush even when you put it in uncooked. When you are canning this it’s cooking at a higher temperature than the boiling point for an hour and a half.

        Best wishes ~


        • Bounced here from your most recent post via Woodpile, and thought to say I’ve read a measure of success from a canner. She used homemade and somewhat thicker noodles. Brushed them with olive oil before sticking them in the jar. The finished texture wasn’t quite what people have come to expect, but it wasn’t absolute mush. Worth a try.

  • Yep this works. thanks for the idea, now to pull off a big batch for winter. got plenty pasta on hand, tomatoes are just about ready, basil, and other herbs are ready. potatoes are just about ready for digging, they can nicely, just peel em and add water 1 in below rim salt optional and water bath or pressure can.

  • Hi Daisy! I thought this recipe would get some meat out of the freezer & make room for some veggies we are harvesting. I don’t know what I did wrong…probably simmered the sauce too long but I didn’t have enough sauce. No problem went to my pantry & took out a couple lg. cans of prepared sauce & added some to each jar. I thought 2 jars had not sealed but a 5 hrs. later everything was sealed so don’t panic if something looks not sealed.

    Glad to hear you are moved into your new place & are able to start your preps again. I know I’d be nervous if I didn’t have a few things set by. I’m very interested in watching how you will be setting by a supply in 3 mo. Starting from scratch can be a daunting activity but I’m confident that if anyone can do it you can. Good luck.

  • Daisy, thanks for posting this. It was the jumpstart I needed to expand my canning efforts into the direction of slow “fast foods”.
    I made a batch of this sauce & meatballs to can up and another batch for Sunday Supper & Game Night. It was a hit! But, for the canned batch I do have a question…
    I filled my jars with the meatballs and sauce leaving 2 inches headspace, topping with hot water to 1inch headspace. I pressure-canned 90 minutes at 10-12 lbs pressure then turned off the heat and waited until pressure dropped to 0 . When I removed the canner lid there were obvious signs of seepage from the jars during processing. All my quart jars sealed, but all the water had disappeared during processing.
    Now I have 7 quarts of meatballs & sauce with a 2 inch gap of “airspace” above the sauce.
    Is this normal? Acceptable? Ok to use?

    • It is okay to use as long as the jars are sealed properly.

      I find that often with pressure canning I have seepage too. Quite frequently the water in the canner has some of the liquid from the jars in it. As well, this sauce thickens up during the p-canning process so some of the water would have incorporated itself into the sauce too. 🙂


  • Thank you for making this look so easy. Do you really need to simmer the tomato and seasonings or will it all cook together in the canning process?

    • T ~

      Welcome! I simmer the sauce for a little while to allow the seasonings to blend before ladling the sauce into the jars. 🙂

      ~ Daisy

  • First I have to say I am so happy I found this site – I was originally looking for a recipe for Cottage Cheese… A question on canning these high acid sauces though, Pressure Cookers scare the hell out of me, is there another method? been looking online with lots of different results…..

    • If you leave out the meat, many spaghetti sauce recipes can be preserved using a water bath canner. However, if you are including meat in the recipe, the risk of NOT using a pressure canner is far higher than the risk of using one. I was terrified the first time I used mine, but I use it 3 times a week several months out of the year now. I have NEVER had a negative incident.

      You can learn more about pressure canners and perhaps set your mind at ease here:

      Best wishes!


    • The difference is the meat. There’s no meat in the sauce of the website you refer to. I’m new to this myself, but everything I’ve read says canning any meat at all, even soup with a small amount of meat, needs the higher temp of the pressure canner.

  • Hi Daisy,
    My son loves canned spaghetti O’s with meatballs and I’ve been thinking of figuring out how to make and can my own. Do you have any suggestions on how to add pasta to your recipe? Would I add it fully cooked? Half-way cooked? Would this even work?

    • Gio – Hi – thank you for writing. I have had no luck at all with canning pasta. I always make the sauce and then add the pasta at the time of consumption. It always turns into absolute mush in the pressure canner, unfortunately.

      Happy canning!


  • Found this website over the weekend and couldn’t wait to try this recipe. Loved the end result, but I had to make more sauce. Although I left a 2 inch clearance, then add one inch of water, I only had enough sauce for 4 1/2 quarts jars.

    Hubby loves the meatballs, very tasty. Thank you!

  • THANK YOU! Your step-by-step process is a God-send. I’m new at canning and have looked everywhere for left over recipes. It’s just hubby and me and cooking for two is a waste of time. With winter here and your great info I can spend cold days cooking up a storm and stocking up at the same time.

    Storage question – I do not have a cellar and must store in a closet with temps around 70. Will that affect shelf life?

  • I was wondering how long would you p-can this if the sauce and meatballs were already cooked? I make huge batches of my grandmothers sauce with meatballs and always have about a gallon left after we all eat and would love to start canning it for storage…

    • Hi Kacie – it still has to be pressure canned for 90 minutes. This is what is required to kill off the possibility of botulism any time you can meat, whether it is pre-cooked or not. 🙂

      Happy canning!


  • I just got a pressure canner as a gift and I am totally hyped to find your site! I have a Paleo food site and I will surely share your information with my readers, of course following your recommendations on proper credit. Thanks so much!

    • Hi Stephanie! Thank you so much – I really appreciate it. Our family diet is mostly Primal, so I’ll be popping over to get some grain-free recipes 🙂

  • Hi Daisy! I love your site! Where do you find a double rack for canning pints? I have the same presto you have and usually can find my way around Amazon but can’t seem to find a part designated as a rack for a double layer…. do you just top the pints with a duplicate of the rack that goes on the bottom? Thanks for your time!!

  • I added 1 inch slices of pepperoni to the spaghetti and meatballs. The pepperoni tasted burnt is there any way around this? My mother used to canned sauce with sausage links meatballs and slices of pepperoni which were the fat ones about a half inch round and it was delicious. However I was not at home when she started making it and canning it and now she has Alzheimer’s and I don’t have the recipe and how she did it. So sad.

    • I would probably add the pepperoni at serving time. Since it’s cured already before you pressure can it, it likely became overcooked. You could sautee it up while your pasta water is coming to a boil, and then add in your sauce to heat when you put the noodles in the water.

  • Hello,
    I plan on cooking my sauce with meatballs and sausage like I normally would and instead of putting them in Tupperware and freezer, I want to can it. Will that work ? Would the process take less time since already cooked? How long will it last in air sealed jar? Thank you!

    • You still have to pressure can it for the same amount of time to prevent the possibility of botulism, whether it’s precooked or not. The official recommendation for home-canned food is 6-12 months, although opinions vary.

      Happy canning!

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