Home canned marinara sauce is easier than you think to make and it will give you fresh, preservative-free sauce to use all-year long!

Home Canned Marinara Sauce

Last summer was an epic year for our garden tomatoes. And I do mean EPIC.

We winter-sowed heirloom seeds in February and started planting itty bitty seedlings in late June.  Do you know what happens when you don’t plant itty bitty seedlings until late June and then have an unexpectedly long summer?

You’re picking garden tomatoes at Halloween…in Connecticut. It was both amazing and a bit tiring at the same time. I mean, by October 1st, I’m all pumpkin-all-the-things but when you come back from a chilly fall week in Maine on October 11th to your canning tomatoes that have only just fully ripened, it’s kind of a shock.

Home Canned Marinara Sauce

All in all, we harvested from 8 plants last year which we grew solely for canning tomatoes in addition to 10 Brandywine plants for “eating” tomatoes. We ended up taking the weekend after our vacation to can about 60 pounds of our Bonny Best variety tomatoes which yielded approximately 6 quarts of whole tomatoes, 2 quarts of crushed tomatoes, and 2 quarts + 5  12-oz jars of marinara sauce.

Home Canned Marinara Sauce

And since we’re still eating through our stash from last fall, we’re still reaping the benefits of that crazy October canning weekend. Thanks to a safe and effective canning method, this sauce is still just as fresh as the day we canned it. Gotta love canning!

This canned marinara sauce was super simple to make after you make it through the slightly annoying part of chopping, par-boiling, and skinning the tomatoes. If you can grab a few extra pairs of hands to help you through that process, it’s smooth sailing after that. Add a few glasses of wine to your canning party and you’re ALL SET!

Home Canned Marinara Sauce

  • Prep Time: 1hr 30min
  • Cook Time: 5hrs 15min
  • Yield: 4 quarts


The recipe you see below is only for home canned marinara. The process we used for canning whole or crushed tomatoes can be found on Food in Jars.


18 pounds paste or roma tomatoes
1 cup chopped onion
5 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 tablespoon salt
¼ cup finely chopped fresh basil
¼ cup finely chopped flat leaf parsley
¾ cup bottled lemon juice


  • 01

    Core and roughly chop the tomatoes.

    In a large pot heat the olive oil over medium heat and sauté the onion, garlic, and salt until transparent, about 10 minutes.  Add the chopped tomatoes. Bring to a boil and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes, until the tomatoes have broken down.

  • 02

    Position a food mill or sieve over a large bowl and begin to press the hot tomatoes, onions and garlic through it, stopping to clear out the skins and seeds as needed (discard or compost the skins and seeds).  Alternatively, you can run the vegetables through the food processor but this won’t remove the skins and seeds.

  • 03

    Return the pressed tomatoes to the pot and simmer the sauce until it is reduced by 1/3 to 1/2.  The time for this will vary based on how juicy your tomatoes are – it took 4 hours for our sauce to cook down properly because our tomatoes were very juicy.  About half an hour before you’re ready to can, stir in the basil and parsley.

  • 04

    At the same time that you add the herbs, prepare a water bath and submerge 4 quart jars in the water and boil for 10 minutes.  Place lids in a small saucepan over very low heat to gently simmer while you prepare the tomatoes.

  • 05

    Take your prepared jars from the boiling water (of course, dumping the water back into the canning pot before proceeding) and add 3 tablespoons of bottled lemon juice to the bottom of each jar.  Using a large ladle, transfer the hot tomato sauce into the jars, leaving 1/2 inch headspace between the top of the sauce and the rim of the jar.

  • 06

    Wipe the rims with a clean kitchen towel, add lids and rings, and process in a boiling water bath for 40 minutes.  For smaller jars, reduce the processing time by 5 minutes.

  • 07

    Transfer the processed jars to a clean towel and allow the jars to sit untouched at room temperature for 24 hours before checking the lids for a seal and storing for up to 1 year.  If any lids have not sealed, as evidenced by that characteristic “pop”, put the unsealed jars in the refrigerator immediately and use the sauce within 1 week.

adapted from Simple Bites

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  • Kayle (The Cooking Actress)
    August 21, 2014 at 9:42 PM

    whoa! that is a lot of tomatoes! amazing-such a great idea to use ’em to make marinara and then can it!

    • August 22, 2014 at 9:49 AM

      Oh yeah – it was like a never-ending supply!

  • September 11, 2014 at 9:44 AM

    It depends on what tools you have. I used a food mill to separate the tomato from the peel but if you don’t have this tool, yes, peel them first before cooking down.

  • Rebekah
    August 2, 2017 at 12:11 PM

    I love this recipe! I have made several batches this summer and last summer. Each one turns out perfectly! Thank you for sharing

    • Tara
      September 9, 2017 at 10:24 AM

      So awesome to hear! Thank you so much for coming back to let me know, Rebekah!!

  • Valeriane
    September 16, 2017 at 5:36 PM

    Hi Tara! I do not see lemon juice in your recipe. Was that left out? I would love to use your recipe but wanted to be sure it was correct for acidity/ avoiding botulism purposes.

    • Tara
      September 17, 2017 at 6:35 PM

      Hi Valeriane! I’m so sorry for this oversight! I just updated the recipe. You’ll need 3 tablespoons of bottled lemon juice for each quart jar you use. So the full recipe would need 3/4 cup bottled lemon juice. Thanks for bringing this up!!

  • Jessica
    August 6, 2018 at 7:17 PM

    My sauce came out a little thin in the end. What can I do to thicken it up for recipies?

    • Tara
      August 10, 2018 at 10:00 AM

      Yep, this sauce is a little thin. You can cook it down a little in a saute pan to allow some of the water to cook out when you need it for a recipe.

  • Nancy
    September 2, 2018 at 6:48 PM

    I don’t have that many roma tomatoes, can I use regular ones and let the sauce cook down?

    • Tara
      September 7, 2018 at 9:06 AM

      Tomatoes are a tricky thing. Some varieties are really juicy and others are a little “meatier.” Roma tomatoes are a little “meatier” which is why they are great for sauces. There are other varieties that work well in sauces too and I would advise against using regular tomatoes for this sauce. Even with the Roma tomatoes, this sauce turns out a little thin.

  • Kelly
    September 25, 2018 at 7:40 PM

    Great tasting sauce, exactly like the sauce I had in Italy. I did cook my sauce down about half way which was close to the Italian sauce that I had. Unfortunately I ended up with only 2 1/2 quarts. It took most of the day for those who are wondering. I will definitely have to make homemade pasta to go along with it.

    • Tara
      October 9, 2018 at 8:34 AM

      Glad you like the sauce so much, Kelly! And yes, it is a bit watery so cooking it down is necessary.

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