Canning Spaghetti Sauce with Meat

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Canning spaghetti sauce with meat: Beat the price and nutrition of store bought, and keep the convenience. Here is a recipe along with pressure canning instructions for how to make spaghetti sauce with meat.

Some things to know:

Yep, I just repeated myself 3 times. 🙂 It is that important. You must process this in a pressure canner. Do NOT try to do this in a water bath canner.

Go here for a recipe for spaghetti sauce with no meat. The basic recipe is the same, but processing times are different.

This recipe makes approximately 9 pints. For my family, I will double this and do quarts.

A jar of home canned spaghetti sauce.

This Page Includes:

Canning Spaghetti Sauce with Meat: Extended, Step-By-Step Directions

Gather your canning supplies:

Gather your ingredients:

  • 30 pounds tomatoes
  • 2 1/2 pounds ground meat (elk, venison, beef)
  • 1 cup chopped onions
  • 5 cloves garlic (mince garlic or use a garlic press)
  • 1 cup chopped celery or green peppers
  • 4 1/2 tsp. canning salt
  • 2 Tbsp. oregano
  • 2 Tbsp. minced parsley
  • 2 Tbsp. basil
  • 2 bay leaves (remove before filling jars)
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup brown sugar

Prepare Your Tomato Sauce

The first thing you need to do when home canning spaghetti sauce is to prepare your tomato sauce.

Weighing tomatoes using a postage scale.
I use a simple postage scale to weigh my produce.
Simmering tomatoes down in a pot.
Canning spaghetti sauce.

Click here to go to a page that explains how to make and can tomato sauce.

Make a tomato sauce like the directions, but don’t process it! Come back here to add your meat, vegetables, and spices to complete your spaghetti sauce.

How to Make Thick Homemade Spaghetti Sauce

Here is my favorite time-saving tip. Click through and see if it is something that you can do too!

Canning Tomatoes Tip

If you want thicker sauce, simmer your tomatoes uncovered in a large saucepan, until thick enough for serving. This might a take 20 minutes to a couple hours. Stir frequently to avoid burning. The amount of sauce may be reduced by nearly one-half.

  • An easy way to do this is to place sauce in a slow cooker and leave the lid off. Let it cook until thickened.
  • Or bake uncovered in the oven at 350. You will still need to stir often.

TIP: Optionally, you can just process your sauce as it is now. You don’t have to thicken it. Skip the cook down time and add your vegetables and other ingredients. Put it in jars and process in a pressure canner.

This will simply give you a thinner sauce. Add a can of tomato paste to thicken the sauce when you prepare your meal. I have done this when I did not want to spend the time to cook down. But it is much nicer if you cook it down now.

Home Canning Spaghetti Sauce

Green bell peppers sitting on a cutting board.

Chop the vegetables and brown your meat while you simmer the tomatoes.

Add chopped onion and chopped bell pepper (or celery) and minced garlic to meat. Cook until veggies are tender.

Add meat and vegetables to sauce. Stir in salt, spices and sugar.

I’ve been asked about adding extra meat. I don’t recommend adding meat. The recipe is tested and safe as written. If you like more meat in your sauce What I’d suggest is canning a few pints of ground meat. Then when you are going to serve spaghetti just open a jar of sauce and add a pint of meat to it.

Heat all this to a simmer. It does not need to be fully cooked, but it should be hot going in the jars.

Fill hot jars with your hot spaghetti sauce. Leave a 1-inch headspace. Take out the bay leaves at this point. You don’t want them going in one jar. The flavor for that jar would be very strong!

Remember to wipe your rims clean before you place on your canning lids. If food is left on the rim of the jar, it may interfere with the seal. Add on your screw bands finger tight (snug, but not cranked down)!

Spooning spaghetti sauce into a canning jar.

What about water bath canning spaghetti sauce? Remember, spaghetti sauce has vegetables in it, so it MUST be pressure canned. (There. I said it again.)

For more specific details on how to use your pressure canner, follow these pressure canning instructions. Then process the jars.

Seven jars of spaghetti sauce in a pressure canner.

Processing Info

Pints – process for 60 minutes.

Quarts – process for 70 minutes.

Make sure you adjust for altitude using the chart below. To learn more about why this is important, check out the altitude adjustments page.

Canning spaghetti sauce with this recipe is a great way to have a stock of sauce ready for a quick meal.

Adjusting Ingredients While Canning Spaghetti Sauce

  • Dried seasonings can be adjusted to taste. We are not big oregano fans, but we love basil. I’ve been known to just leave oregano out at times. (For canning, use dried herbs and spices unless your recipe specifies otherwise.)
  • We like a bit of sweetness to our sauce, so I go with the 1/2 cup sugar. You can also just leave the sugar out.
  • You can also add up to 1 pound of fresh, sliced mushrooms.
  • You can use either peppers or celery or a combination of both. Just keep it to 1 cup total, NOT 1 cup each.

Caution! Do not increase the portions of onions, peppers, or mushrooms.

Recipe Card

Canning Spaghetti Sauce

Canning spaghetti sauce: Beat the price and nutrition of store-bought canned spaghetti sauce, and keep the convenience.
Print Recipe
A jar of home canned spaghetti sauce.
Prep Time:2 hours 30 minutes
Processing Quarts (adjust for altitude):1 hour 10 minutes
Total Time:3 hours 40 minutes


  • 30 pounds Tomatoes 
  • 2 ½ pounds Ground Beef optional
  • 1 cup Onion(s) chopped
  • 5 cloves Garlic minced or pressed
  • 1 cup Celery or green peppers, chopped
  • 4 ½ teaspoons Canning Salt
  • 2 Tablespoons Oregano 
  • 2 Tablespoons Parsley minced
  • 2 Tablespoons Basil 
  • 2 Dried Bay Leaves remove before filling jars
  • 1/4-1/2 cup Sugar  brown
  • 1-2 teaspoons Vegetable Oil or some spray oil


  • Start by preparing jars and getting water in the canner heating. You want the canner hot, but not boiling, when the jars are ready to be processed.
    If you are new to using a pressure canner, see this article for full pressure canning instructions. This includes more detailed information and step-by-step instructions on how a pressure canner works.

Hot Pack only

  • Make tomato sauce.
  • Simmer tomato sauce until thickened (20 minutes to 1 hour), stirring often.  
  • Brown meat with chopped onion and vegetables and minced garlic (meat optional). 
  • If meat is not desired, sauté onion and vegetables in oil until tender.  
  • Add cooked meat and vegetables to sauce. 
  • Stir in seasonings. Bring back to a boil.  
  • Fill hot jar with spaghetti sauce (remove bay leaves), leaving 1” headspace.  
  • Remove bubbles. Wipe the rim clean and place seal and ring. Place the jar in the warm canner. Proceed to fill all jars. Process according to the directions below. 


Processing with a Pressure Canner
Place the jars in the warm canner. Proceed to fill all jars placing them in the prepared hot canner. 
Put the lid on the canner leaving the weights off.  Bring to a boil. Watch for the steam to start coming out the vent pipe in the lid.
Allow the steam to ‘vent’ for 10 minutes then put the weights on. Use the proper weight for your altitude (check the chart below) This is when pressure will start to build.  
When the pressure reaches the pressure required for your altitude (check the chart below) that is when you’ll start your time.  Process for the full time indicated, adjusting the heat as needed to maintain the correct pressure for the entire time.
When processing time is completed turn off the heat. Do not remove weights yet. Let the canner sit undisturbed until pressure comes back to zero. Do not try to speed up the cooling process.
Remove the weight and wait 5 minutes.
Open the lid to allow steam to escape. (carefully don’t let it hit your face or arms!) Leave the lid setting on top of the canner slightly ajar and wait 5 minutes.
Take the lid off the canner and remove your jars. (optionally you can wait another 5 minutes if the contents appear to be bubbling so hard it is coming out of the jars)
Put the jars a few inches apart on a thick towel and allow them to cool to room temperature undisturbed. 12 hours is suggested.
When the jars are cool, remove the metal bands, check the seals, and store the jars in a cool dark place.
Processing Instructions for Pressure Canner (Hot Pack)  
Process sauce with meat for 60 minutes (pints) or 70 minutes (quarts), adjusting for altitude.  
Process sauce without meat for 20 minutes (pints) or 25 minutes (quarts), adjusting for altitude.  
Adjustments for Pressure Canner  
Altitude – Weighted Gauge  
0-1,000 ft – 10 pounds
1,001-8,000 ft – 15 pounds
Altitude – Dial Gauge
0-2,000 ft – 11 pounds
2,001-4,000 ft – 12 pounds
4,001-6,000 ft – 13 pounds
6,001-8,000 ft – 14 pounds
Adapted from: The National Center for Home Food Preservation, Colorado Extension
Servings: 9 pints

Canning Spaghetti Sauce with Meat Tips & FAQs

How long does canned spaghetti sauce last?

The official recommendation for home-canned foods is 12 months, which is really more of a quality issue than anything, since the quality of the food reduces over time. To learn more about the shelf-life of home canned foods, visit this page.

Related Pages

Canning Tomatoes

Tips for Home Canning Tomatoes

It’s tomato season, and you’ve got a counter full of tomatoes beckoning you. Before you start canning, here are 3 things you should know about home canning tomatoes.

Freezing Tomatoes

Freezing Tomatoes

Freezing tomatoes can be as straightforward or as complicated as you want it to be. With or without skin, cut or whole, covers it all with a ‘how to’ video included.

Dehydrating Tomatoes

Dehydrating Tomatoes in a Food Dehydrator

How to dry tomatoes in a food dehydrator.

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Canning Spaghetti Sauce with Meat

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A jar of homemade tomato sauce linking to the member lesson.

Source: The National Center for Home Food Preservation, the Colorado State Extension

Page last updated: 7/9/2021

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5 months ago

Very well spelled out. I did a batch with meat but hadnt seen your article and onl cooked it for 35 mins. Is it still safe?

4 months ago

Threw it all out and will try again next season. Thank you

6 months ago

Can I decrease the amount of onion?

Robin Martin
Robin Martin
9 months ago

If I make sauce with meat, but take the meat out after it’s cooked, can I then use the water bath canning?

1 year ago

I’m looking for a safe spaghetti sauce recipe that doesn’t have peppers or celery in it…so that my family will actually eat it. This is the only recipe I’m finding anywhere though. Do you have any suggestions?

1 year ago

Can you prepare the spaghetti sauce and then process the next day? If I bring the sauce back to a hot temp before putting in jars?

1 year ago

Can I use prepared mccormick’s spaghetti sauce mix?

Kathleen Hallford
Kathleen Hallford
1 year ago

In my favorite sauce, I use half ground beef and half Italian ground sausage. If I stay with your total amount of meat, will this be alright to can? Also, I would be canning in pints. Thank you

1 year ago

5 stars
I have a recipe for spaghetti sauce with meat that my whole family loves. I would like to can it. I use store-bought tomato sauce, though. Can I use that instead of making it with this recipe, and add my spices, water and meat?
my recipe is 1 lb ground beef, 1/4 onion, 1/2 tsp minced garlic, 1 tsp oregano, 1 tsp thyme leaves, 2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper, 15 oz can tomato sauce, 1 can water, and 6 oz tomato paste.

2 years ago

Since this recipe is pressure canned, I can make some small changes? I usually react to fresh garlic. Could I use garlic powder instead?

Delene Havens
Delene Havens
3 years ago

Thank you, thank you! I’m so glad to find your spaghetti sauce recipe. I’m ready to try it tomorrow. One question – the recipe uses 30 lbs of tomatoes. Could you estimate how much tomato sauce you yield from this? My tomato sauce is already canned – from last year – and I want to use that first. 😇

Rachel Abernathy
Rachel Abernathy
3 years ago
Reply to  Delene Havens

This is a great question, Delene! Thanks for asking it. 🙂 It looks like regular tomato sauce requires around 35 pounds of tomatoes to produce 7 quart jars, so that would be 6 quarts of tomato sauce.

-Rachel (Sharon’s assistant)