I’m going to go out on a limb here and proclaim that this is the best homemade salsa recipe for canning. It’s the recipe I’ve used for canning salsa for years. This salsa recipe is full of fresh summertime flavor and is great for stocking the pantry. Use it as a dip with chips, or as an addition to recipes like chili or soup.
I don’t peel my tomatoes for this salsa, but if you prefer yours peeled, here’s how to peel tomatoes easily.
Salsa is one of our favorite home canned goods; we use it not only as a snack, but it’s also a staple ingredient that I use in chili recipes and other spicy dishes in lieu of canned tomatoes. Canning salsa is a great way for me to preserve not only the tomatoes, but peppers and onions from the garden, too.
I’ve tried a lot of recipes over the years; this is our favorite homemade salsa recipe for canning. Note that this recipe for salsa for canning is substantially different from my garden fresh salsa recipe.
I learned the basics of canning from my mom, but I don’t ever recall her making salsa. It delights me a little bit that these days when she cans salsa, she uses my recipe. No more store bought salsa for her!
Canning salsa at home
This recipes uses tomatoes fresh from the garden. I use an assortment of tomatoes, both red and yellow. Roma tomatoes, beefsteak, even cherry tomatoes if I have an abundance. The tomatoes are combined with onions, garlic, fresh hot peppers, lemon juice, and an assortment of spices, then cooked for about 30 minutes.
Note: The recipe calls for two cups of lemon juice. I’ve been questioned about this a lot. No, it will not make your salsa taste overly sour. Yes, you really do need to add it, as the acidity from the lemon juice helps to make this recipe safe for water bath canning.
The tomato salsa is then ladled into canning jars and lids are screwed on (more about specialized canning equipment here). The canning process is described in a bit more detail below, but know that it’s not difficult!
Hot tip: This home canned salsa recipe calls for lots of chopped vegetables. My easy, cheat-y way to do this is with a food processor using the metal blade. I simply core and quarter the washed tomatoes (I do NOT peel them; who’s got time for that?) and pulse them in the food processor until they’re the consistency I like in a salsa. Once they’re chopped, I measure them directly into the stock pot. I do the same with the peppers, onion, and garlic.
If you don’t have a food processor, use a knife and aim for a quarter-inch dice on the tomatoes and onions and an even finer dice for the peppers.
Prepare the canning pot
Fill a large canner with water. Just how much takes a little bit of guesswork. You’ll want the water level to sit about an inch above the full jars 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.
Preserving your homemade salsa
Once the ingredients are chopped and cooked, you’ll ladle the salsa into pint jars. Fill seven jars; that’s how many will fit in a standard canning pot. I have a canning funnel for this purpose, that makes it easier to transfer the salsa into the jars without a lot of mess. If you have more salsa, keep it warm until you’re ready to process a second batch of salsa.
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 firmly tight (but not too 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 about 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 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.
This homemade salsa for canning is a good beginner recipe for novice home canners. (Find more easy canning recipes here.) Canning salsa at home is not hard. It’s basically a lot of chopping.
★ Did you make this canned salsa recipe? Don’t forget to give it a star rating below! ★
The Very Best Salsa Recipe for Canning
This salsa recipe for canning is a great way for me to preserve not only the tomatoes, but peppers and onions from the garden, too.
- 14 cups fresh tomatoes chopped
- 3 large onions chopped
- 6 jalapeno peppers diced and seeds removed (avoid touching the seeds if possible, and for goodness sake, keep your hands out of your eyes!)
- 4 long green chiles diced and seeds removed (I use banana peppers)
- 4 cloves garlic chopped
- 2 cups lemon juice yes, really
- 1 tablespoon sea salt
- 1 tablespoon granulated organic cane sugar
- 1 teaspoon pepper
- Optional: add 1-2 12-oz cans of tomato paste for a thicker salsa
Combine all ingredients in a large stock pot. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 30 minutes. Stir occasionally.
While salsa is cooking, fill a canning pot with water, set the lid in place, and heat on high heat until just boiling.
Ladle hot salsa into pint size jars, leaving about 1/2" head space. A canning funnel makes this easy.
Wipe jar rims to remove any salsa that may have spilled. A clean rim is essential to a good seal.
Set jar lids in place. Screw bands on finger tight.
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.
Process for 15 minutes, 0-1,000 feet altitude; 20 minutes, 1,001-6,000 feet altitude; 25 minutes, above 6,000 feet.
Makes 7-9 pints
Note: If your tomatoes are really juicy ones, squeeze out some of the juice before processing to avoid a thin salsa. The texture of the salsa when it first goes in the pot is essentially what the texture will be in the jar. If you're not happy with it, strain some of the juice off until you are. This recipe for salsa for canning is adapted from one that I found years ago on NMSU's College of Agriculture & Home Economics site, that as far as I can tell is no longer available online.
If you have an abundance of garden fresh tomatoes, hot peppers, and onions, but don't want to delve into home canning, be sure to try my easy five-ingredient fresh salsa recipe! (And if you have green tomatoes aplenty, this chow chow recipe is a great way to utilize those!)
Using your homemade salsa
Of course, you’ll serve this up as a snack with your favorite tortilla chips, but if you’ve got a pantry full of this tasty tomato salsa, how can you use it in the kitchen?
- Combine equal parts salsa and homemade sour cream for a creamy dip.
- Or stir some salsa into refried beans to make a hearty bean dip.
- Add a dollop to an omelette or fried red potatoes
- Use it in homemade chili recipes instead of stewed tomatoes.
- Top scrambled eggs or omelettes with it.
- Spoon onto tacos, tostadas, and refried beans.
Originally published in August 2011; this post has been updated.