How to Can Marinara Sauce

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Here is the step by step for how to can marinara sauce.  It’s easy, healthy, and delicious, and a great way to make use of a bounty of tomatoes.

Homemade marinara sauce is a world 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.

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 less tomatoes than that, a general rule of thumb is that approximately 1 pound of tomatoes makes 1 quart jar of sauce.

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.


1 tbsp – sugar – 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 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.

You can also can meatballs right in your marinara sauce.  Find the recipe HERE.

Mangia bene!
(Eat well!)

Here are the products used to make this item:

Recipe: The Prepper’s Canning Guide

Pressure canner

Ninja food processor

Picture of 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

  • Your sauce looks lovely! Here on the east coast, in *that* state (that everyone loves to hate..and for much of it, good reason), we had *a lot* of rain. Compared to your photo of tomatoes, ours had craters on top! We basically lost the top half of the tomato. We did process as much as we could, but we lost a lot of product! I also purchased paste tomatoes and processed them. Alas, only ours were organic.

    Our first frost does not permit tomatoes this time of year. You have made a good move. Alas, moving is out of the question for us. 🙁

    I purchased a Victorio strainer (I set aside for this over one year in advance) this year. What a blessing! Not only did we make maranara sauce, but also (wild on property) raspberry jelly. No need to remove skins on the tomatoes. The skins and seeds went to the chickens.

    • Had an overflow of romas with my 14 plants. This recipe is so awesome as I had to taste after an hour on the stove. Added some canned tomato paste that I made last year and it thickened up nicely, also added 1 cup of red wine to it. Thanks for posting this recipe

  • Your recipe looks delicious! I’m completely new to canning. After looking around online, I noticed that other recipes seem to omit (for the most part) the bell pepper, onion, and garlic. Or call for lemon juice to be placed in the jar before processing. I saw a lot of conversation about pH/acidity and preventing botulism. I assume that you have canned this recipe without incident? I’d rather not add any lemon juice to the jars, as I don’t want it to affect the flavor too much once canned. Is there any reason why I would need to pressure can this marinara sauce over water bath canning?

    • Hi Haely! I think you’ll really like it. I prefer to use a pressure canner for this recipe because of the risks involved with canning garlic and olive oil. I realize that there are some people who water bath can marinara, but I beleive that the inclusions in this sauce make the pH too risky for waterbath canning. Another option would be to allow the sauce to cool, then fill large ziplock bags, lay them flat, and freeze them.

      I hope you enjoy the sauce~


        • Hi, Whitney. I’m actually not sure about freezing in mason jars. I guess you could, as long as you left room for expansion.

          • Thanks for getting back to me! I freeze lots of stuff in mason jars, and it works well. Never had a problem, but never tried anything like this. I don’t have a PC, so canning is out 🙁

      • I have safely water-bath canned marinara using a tsp of bottle lemon juice per quart jar. but only use bottled lemon juice. the pH of fresh is too varied to be safe. And no need to mix it. I prep my sanitized jars by just plopping a tsp of lemon juice in the bottom of each and then filling with sauce. Also, no-one has ever detected the juice in the finished product, so no worries about altering the taste of the sauce. Hope this helps.

  • I LOVE this recipe! I do have a question though I have a pressure canner, it doesn’t give me the option of doing 7 lbs it gives me 5,10 and 15 which one would you do? TIA!

    • Hi Ashley! If you have a pressure canner that only uses the increments of 5, always go for the higher pressure to be safe. So in this case, use 10 lbs of pressure. 🙂

      I hope you enjoy the marinara as much as we do!

    • I like Romas the best, but last year I ended up with a mixture of 4 different types of tomatoes to make the sauce from. 🙂

  • Can I use fresh herbs with this recipe? Also, did you add lemon juice to this recipe? I canned tomatoes many years ago and never really used lemon juice. At 10 lbs. what time table is used for quart jars in a pressure cooker? Thanks.

    • I didn’t use lemon juice – just what is listed. That is added in water bath canning to assure that your acidity level is high enough. It is not a concern in pressure canning, because the temperature is elevated much higher.

      You can use fresh herbs – you’ll need more fresh than you would dry, and be sure to chop them very finely. I’d still process this for 25 minutes, even if you use a higher pressure.

      ~ D

  • Do these products need to be refrigerated? I’m new to canning but was hoping to share my marinara with family for Christmas!
    Thank you!

  • Hi – your sauce looks great! I am wondering if you can answer a question regarding marinara and canning. I love my marinara sauce but always freeze it. It calls for wine and I am wondering if I do can it – will that wine flavor intensify and take over the sauce, and second – would I need to add the 2TB of lemon juice to it. . Thanks for your help!

    • Hi Deborah!

      Because you’re pressure canning, you will be fine to add alcohol instead of lemon juice. It should be delicious with the red wine – I don’t think you’ll have any issues with it intensifying to an unpleasant degree.

      Happy canning!


  • Hi, I am wanting to try this recipe but am questioning the amount of tomatoes used for 7 quarts and also is the garlic amount correct at 2 heads or did you mean 2 cloves of garlic? The other sauce recipes call for approx 30 – 35 lbs to make 7 quarts.
    Thanks very much

    • Hi Christina – 1-2 heads of garlic is correct. In fact, you’ve just caught me making sauce right now. 🙂

      The amount of tomatoes you need is dependent upon the desired thickness of your sauce. I don’t make mine super thick, so I don’t cook it down as much. If you want a very thick sauce, like the cans at the grocery store, you would need double the amount of tomatoes I’ve used here. As well, different varieties of tomatoes are more or less dense. There’s honestly no way to give you an exact amount on this because of all of the variables.


  • This looks like a good recipe. Don’t think I have 7 quarts. The recipe states ingredients for each pound of tomatoes? Should the amounts be per quart? How much of the peppers and onions would be needed per quart?

  • Hi Daisy,
    Last year I started using citric acid in my sauce ( very similar to yours). I did not like the taste. So I am intregued by your use of white vinegar on the jar lip. Why just the lip and not in the sauce? I think this would solve my issue if I can be assured it acts in the same way.

    • The vinegar is to remove any residual fat from the lip of the jar, because this can prevent it from sealing. If you are pressure canning instead of water bath canning, you don’t need to add acid to your sauce. I like to add several low acid ingredients to my sauce, so I always pressure can it. 🙂

  • Is the pressure canner necessary? I don’t have one, so I would love to know if there is a way to make the sauce without it!

    • Kayla – some people DO make marinara using a waterbath canner. I myself am not comfortable with it, becasue of the questionable acidity level, particularly when you add otehr vegetables like peppers, onions, and garlic. I don’t recommend waterbath canning my recipe, but this one was devised for waterbath canning. Extra lemon juice is added to this recipe to increase the acidity.

      Happy canning!


  • Saying goes “a pints a pound the world around”. How can a pound of tomatoes make a quart or seven pounds make seven quarts?
    After skinning, coring and cooking, a pound of raw tomatoes will make less than a pint. Following you recipe to the “t” but something is wrong. Can you explain, please?

    • Wow, I’ve never heard that saying before. 🙂 I can only tell you that when I’ve made this and added in all of the ingredients, this is approximately what I end up with.

      Sometimes I hesitate to give the yield because there are many variables. Some folks cook things down more than others. Some people use Amish paste tomatoes, which are very dense, while other people use Beefsteak, which have a lot of liquid. I’m sorry I can’t provide an accurate yield for this. I’ll be curious to know what you end up with at the end of the recipe.

    • I made this EXACTLY according to this recipe and it made 2-1/2 quarts. I know everyone’s preferences are different, but GOSH was I frustrated to sweat it out in the kitchen for 2 measley quarts in my massive canner(and the half in the fridge to use soon).

      • Oh no! I’m so sorry, Meg. It’s really difficult to estimate how much sauce you’ll get when you make this because different types of tomatoes have such different consistencies. I hope at the very least you find the sauce delicious.

    • About a pound of tomatoes per jar of sauce. This will vary based on the type of tomatoes you’re using. (Some are juicier than others.) So I’d range between 1-2 pounds of tomatoes per quart.

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