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Making Homemade Pizza Sauce from Fresh Tomatoes

This pizza sauce recipe from fresh tomatoes utilizes your garden crop. Flavored with herbs and spices, it will make your homemade pizza just that much better. 

Be sure to try our favorite pizza dough recipe

jars of home canned pizza sauce

Making pizza sauce from scratch

This pizza sauce recipe starts with tomato puree that’s cooked down to the texture and thickness that you like in a pizza sauce. Let’s talk first about how to make the puree.

If (like me) you are starting with a juicier slicing tomato, you’ll need to cook the mixture down until it reaches the appropriate consistency for topping pizza. My most recent batch required reducing the original amount of tomatoes by about half


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Ingredients

Tomatoes — You can use any variety of tomato, but if you choose a very juicy variety, you’ll need to cook the sauce down longer to thicken itRoma tomatoes are a great option since they’re so meaty.

Bell pepper — Adding finely chopped red bell pepper to this pizza sauce adds flavor and a bit of sweetness.

Onion This recipe calls for red onion. I prefer its sweetness, but you can use any kind of bulb onion you have on hand — white, yellow, or red.

Seasonings — The various herbs and spices included in this recipe are what give it the classic pizza flavor. In addition to salt and black pepper, use dried basil, oregano, savory, and red pepper flakes for a bit of heat.

Sweetener — Granulated sugar (I prefer organic) helps tone down the acidity. If you’d prefer, you can use honey. 

Citric acid — This is one of those ingredients that you may not have on hand. I’ve used this rather than lemon juice to generate the necessary pH for safe canning, to avoid adding more liquid to the recipe. You can order citric acid here or substitute one tablespoon of bottled lemon juice in each jar.

Preparing the fresh tomatoes

There are a couple of ways to do this. The first thing to consider is if you are bothered by seeds or tomato skins in your sauce or not. 

If the answer is no, there’s no need to peel them. You can simply puree the fruit in a food processor or blender. If you remove some of the seedy pulp before you do, you’ll eliminate a fair amount of liquid. This means it will take less time to cook down. 

food mill with tomato seeds and skin

If you’d prefer not to have seeds in the sauce, run the pureed tomatoes through a food mill, tomato strainer, or chinois. This will remove the seeds and skin. 

Once the tomato purée is prepared, you’ll bring the mixture to a boil in a large pot. If necessary, cook the mixture down until it’s a good consistency. Depending on how much liquid was in your fresh tomatoes, this can take a couple of hours. 

tomato sauce in a stock pot

Since I like my pizza sauce recipe to result in a thick sauce, I cook the fresh tomatoes down until the sauce begins to bubble and splatter a bit. 

Adding herbs and spices

When the sauce is the right consistency, add the red bell pepper, onion, garlic, herbs, and spices and cook for another ten minutes or so. Note that the “right consistency” is a little subjective. Some people like a thinner sauce, some like it thicker. You do you! 

thickened and seasoned pizza sauce in a stock pot

If you’d like the sauce to be especially smooth, you can use an immersion blender to puree the veggies even more finely.

At this point, you have successfully made your own homemade pizza sauce recipe! Use it immediately, refrigerate it for up to a week, or take it a step further to make a home canned pizza sauce.

You can freeze the sauce in freezer containers or mason jars as well, though you may note some separation upon thawing. To remedy this, reheat the pizza sauce and cook to eliminate excess liquid. 

Canning Safety

Canning is an excellent way to preserve food for the pantry, but there are some important safety considerations to keep in mind. 

  • Know the difference between water bath canning and pressure canning. Low acid items must be pressure canned for safety. 
  • Altering ingredients may change the recipe’s pH, posing a safety issue. I highly recommend investing in pH paper to test your products for acidity level when canning. Note: The Hawaii Master Food Preservers suggest a pH of 4.2 or lower in the tropics. In other regions, the recommended pH is 4.6 or lower.
  • Use the proper jars and lids. Never reuse lids, with the exception of the Tattler lids that are intended for such a purpose.
  • For more on canning equipment, please go here
  • The recipes on this site have been made following safe canning procedures by a certified Master Food Preserver.
pizza sauce in canning jars

How to make pizza sauce shelf stable

Canning pizza sauce in a water bath canner makes it a shelf stable product that can last a year in the pantry. Be sure to read this guide to canning tomatoes before you start.

Prepare the canning pot

Fill a large canner with water. Just how much takes a little bit of guesswork. You’ll want the full jars to be covered by an inch of water during processing. Adding the full jars to the water will cause the water level to rise; how much depends on how many jars you’re processing at once. Most canners will hold seven jars at a time, but you can process fewer than that if you don’t have a full load.

Jarring the sauce

Once the sauce is ready, ladle it into pint or half-pint canning jars while it’s still hot. I have a canning funnel for this purpose, that makes it easier to transfer the sauce into the jars without a lot of mess. 

Use a damp cloth to wipe the rim of each jar; a little bit of food on the jar rim can prevent the lids from sealing properly. Set the lids in place and screw the bands on finger tight. Use a jar lifter to transfer jars into the gently boiling water. As stated above, the water in the pot should cover the jars by an inch. If necessary add more water to the canner.

Hot tip: Boil some extra water in a saucepan or electric kettle as you’re working. If you need to top off the water in the canner, you won’t cool down the water too much.

Process jars for the recommended time. (See below.) When time is up, use the jar lifter to transfer jars to a flat surface that’s padded with a kitchen towel. Allow jars to cool completely. As they cool, you’ll begin to hear a canner’s favorite sound: That lovely little tink! that indicates a successful seal.

Once jars of pizza sauce are thoroughly cooled, check the seal on all of the jars. The lid should be concave and solid. If it flexes at all, it’s not sealed. (Place any jars that didn’t seal in the refrigerator and use them first. They are not shelf stable.)

Remove bands from cooled jars and rinse the jars. Store jars without the bands.

6 jars of pizza sauce with lids off

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jars of home canned pizza sauce

Homemade Pizza Sauce from Fresh Tomatoes

Yield: 4 pint jars
Prep Time: 45 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Processing Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours 20 minutes

This recipe for pizza sauce starts with fresh tomatoes for a garden fresh topping! Make up a batch and can the sauce for the pantry or use it right away.

Ingredients

  • 9 cups tomato puree (see instructions)
  • 1/2 large red bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 1/2 medium red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon basil
  • 2 teaspoons oregano
  • 2-1/2 teaspoons savory
  • 1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 2-4 tablespoons sugar
  • citric acid (1/4 teaspoon per pint jar)

Instructions

Make the tomato puree:

  1. Wash and dry fresh tomatoes. Roma tomatoes are a good option, but any type of tomato can be used.
  2. Chop tomatoes and run through a food mill or chinois to remove seeds. Alternatively, use a food processor or blender to puree the fruit.
  3. Cook over medium high heat stirring frequently until the puree reaches desired consistency. This will depend on the level of moisture in the fresh tomatoes.

Make the pizza sauce

  1. Measure 9 cups of the prepared tomato puree, bell pepper, and onion into a large stock pot. Cook at a slow boil for 10 minutes.
  2. Add remaining ingredients and cook for another 10 minutes.
  3. If you plan to can this recipe, I recommend testing the pH of this pizza sauce, as tomatoes can vary quite a lot in their pH. This batch of sauce tested at a pH of 3.5.

Canning the pizza sauce

  1. While the pizza sauce is cooking, fill a canning pot with water, set the lid in place, and heat on high heat until boiling.
  2. Bring a small saucepan of water to a simmer, turn off heat, and place jar lids and rings in the water to sanitize them.
  3. Measure 1/4 teaspoon of citric acid into each pint sized jar.
  4. Ladle hot sauce into pint or half-pint jars, leaving 1/4" head space. A canning funnel makes this easy.
  5. Wipe jar rims to remove any salsa that may have spilled. A clean rim is essential to a good seal.
  6. Set jar lids in place. Screw bands on finger tight.
  7. Use a jar lifter to gently submerge jars into hot water in canning pot. Water should cover the top of the jars by an inch. The water will cool somewhat in reaction to the addition of the jars. Return the water to a simmer and set the timer.
  8. Process for 35 minutes 0-1,000 feet altitude; 40 minutes, 1,001-3,000 feet altitude; 45 minutes, 3,001-6,000 feet; 50 minutes over 6,000 feet.

Notes

I started with 8 pounds of slicing tomatoes, which netted about 15 cups of tomato puree. I cooked this down until it was desired consistency, resulting in 9 cups of thick puree suitable for making pizza sauce.

Note that the cook time indicated above will vary depending upon the juiciness of the tomatoes you use.

If you’d prefer to avoid adding the citric acid, you can test the pH of the pizza sauce using a pH tester or pH paper. If the sauce is a pH of 4.6 or lower (4.2 in the tropics) it is safe to can them without the addition of an acid. Do not do this without testing the pH! If you’re not able to test the pH, do NOT deviate from the instructions. 

I opted to use citric acid rather than lemon juice to avoid adding excess liquid. If you prefer, you can use 1 tablespoon of lemon juice in each pint sized jar.

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