Make your own home canned pizza sauce from fresh tomatoes OR tomatoes that were frozen during the gardening season for convenience and reduced cooking time.
Together with my favorite salsa, roasted tomato sauce, and addictive tomato chutney, this easy, wonderfully seasoned home canned pizza sauce forms the MVP's of my canning recipes. Meaning, during the tomato harvest, I make enough of these four staples to see us through the year and only if I have any tomatoes left do I make other things like bruschetta topping or rotel.
However, for a number of reasons (time issues, weird tomato season, other commitments), I couldn't find the time to make all our tomato recipes last fall when the tomatoes were coming in fast and furious. We were almost out of the other canned goods, but I had a few cans of pizza sauce left, so I concentrated on the other tomato recipes and just froze enough bags of paste tomatoes (with a few heirlooms thrown in for great flavor) to be able to make the sauce later.
In January when things are typically more quiet, I pulled out the frozen tomatoes and decided to show you how I make the pizza sauce from frozen tomatoes. You can actually make this sauce from fresh tomatoes, too, but frozen is my preferred way now since it makes the cooking down part go so much quicker. Read on for all the details!
How to Make Home Canned Pizza Sauce (using frozen or fresh tomatoes)
A few years ago I learned from my friend online Gina that freezing tomatoes before making sauce is a quicker way to a thick sauce. Since then I've frozen our paste tomatoes at least a day or two before making sauce, even during canning season because less time cooking is a good thing! (Of course this is optional and you can make this sauce from fresh tomatoes as well.)
To Make from Frozen (affiliate links included)
- Thaw tomatoes (overnight is good) in a bowl or the sink (in case the bags leak).
- Drain the accumulated clear juices- open one corner of the baggie and pour off the juice.
- Run through a food mill to remove the seeds and skins. Pictured above on the left is a Victorio Food Strainer and Sauce Maker. It's like the little girl with the curl: when it's good, it's very very good and when it's bad...well, you know. Even though Gina mention (in the post I linked to above) that she didn't heat her frozen tomatoes, this food mill just didn't want to work with them until I heated them a bit. I ended up reverting back to my vintage metal tripod food press (which you can still buy new here - guess some designs have staying power!) for some of the cold pulp, but it takes more elbow grease, that's for sure, and doesn't result in as much usable pulp as the Victorio (I did use the Victorio for applesauce for the first time this year and it worked wonderfully for that!).
To Make from Fresh Tomatoes
- Wash, core, and halve tomatoes.
- Bring to a boil in a large stock pot.
- Strain skin and seeds through a food mill.
July 2016 Update - this may be the easiest way to get tomato sauce ever:
I used the electric FreshTech Harvest Pro Sauce Maker with both the fresh tomatoes shown in the video as well as 12 bags of frozen tomatoes later and it worked fabulous with them both. I had sauce in no time without needing to bother with heating in any form. I truly do love this machine - it really makes this easy!
For convenience, can the pizza sauce in half-pint or 12-oz jars which is a good size for medium-to-large sized pizzas. The 12-oz. jars are actually the perfect size (whole pints are too much, which causes the dough to not cook fully in the center) but they're harder to find, so use what you have.
If you're new to canning this tutorial will take you through each step.You can also watch all the easy steps to water-bath canning in this video:
We make our homemade pizza a couple times each month, though sometimes we make it with pesto instead of tomato sauce, and so I aim to have 20-24 jars on our shelves in varying sizes.
Oh, and this sauce is also good in any Italian recipe, so it finds its way into things other than pizza - a lot.
Home Canned Pizza Sauce from Fresh or Frozen Tomatoes
- 22 pounds tomatoes fresh or whole frozen
- 3 cups chopped onions
- 6 cloves garlic minced
- 1/4 cups olive oil
- 2 tablespoons dried basil
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- 1 tablespoon dried thyme
- 1/2-1 tablespoon black pepper, or to taste if you're not as much a pepper fan as we are
- 1 tablespoon sugar or honey or to taste
- 2 tablespoons salt
- 1-2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes, or to taste - use less if you're unsure
- Bottled lemon juice or citric acid: 1 tablespoon lemon juice OR 1/4 teaspoon citric acid for EACH pint and 12-oz jars; 1/2 tablespoon lemon juice OR 1/8 teaspoon citric acid for EACH half-pint jars I usually use citric acid, as it doesn't add more liquid to our sauce
- To prepare tomato puree from frozen tomatoes: (assuming they were cleaned and cored before freezing) leave to thaw 24 hours; drain accumulated juices and put through a strainer to remove seeds and peels.
- To prepare tomato puree from fresh tomatoes: wash, core and halve tomatoes; heat to boiling (I use a 12-quart stockpot and a 6-quart soup pot for 22 pounds); put through a strainer to remove seeds and peels.
- Make the pizza sauce: in a 12-quart or larger stockpot cook onions and garlic in the olive oil over medium heat until the onion softens, 5-10 minutes. Add tomato puree and all the seasonings (basil through pepper flakes), bring to a boil, reduce heat and cook for about 30 minutes, uncovered. Process with an immersion blender to make a smoother sauce (or carefully blend in batches).
- Bring back to a boil; reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, until sauce reaches desired consistency (reduced by 1/4 to 1/3), usually an hour or two, depending on if you started with fresh or frozen tomatoes. Make sure to stir occasionally to prevent sticking (if you have a thin-bottomed stock-pot, stir more often to prevent scorching).
- To can: add the lemon juice or citric acid to each clean, warm jar, fill jar with sauce leaving 1/2-inch headspace and attach lids and rings until fingertip-tight. Place in canner rack and repeat with remaining jars to fill canner (keep sauce and jars warm, as you will need to do a couple canner loads when using half-pints).
- Process both pints and half-pints for 35 minutes in a boiling-water canner (find more details in our Canning 101 steps found in the recipe index).
- Remove to a towel-lined surface and let sit undisturbed for 24 hours before checking seals, labeling and storing in a cool, dark place.
Other canned tomato recipes you may like:
Water-Bath Safe Canned Roasted Tomato Sauce
Nice and Thick Salsa for Canning
Disclosure: this post contains links to Amazon that are affiliate links, when you order through them, I get a small percentage at no additional cost to you. You can read more about this on our Disclosure page.
I have two gallon ziploc bags of chopped, seeded tomatoes from the garden in the freezer, but I don’t know how many pounds there were to start. Do you know about how many cups of chopped tomatoes 22 pounds is?
Well, I've read there are about 2-1/2 cups per pound of tomatoes, BUT the measurements for the rest of the recipe that's safe for canning wouldn't be right because it's for the tomatoes before they've been cored and cut. To be honest, it's probably not going to matter as much for this recipe, but I will go on record as saying you'd be safest to freeze the sauce if you make it since your measurements won't be the same.:)
Question regarding the oil in the recipe. I can't find any recipe that safely allows the addition of oil when canning. Can you provide the original recipe you adapted this from?
This recipe is basically a half recipe of Ball Blue Book's Seasoned Tomato Sauce, just with different dry spices to make it a pizza sauce. I'm not sure if it's online, but it's in the Blue Book.
Also, lots of water-bath sauces use oil to cook vegetables first, not just the recipe I used. Here's one that is online: https://www.ballmasonjars.com/blog?cid=basil-garlic-tomato-sauce
It's usually a little oil, though, in comparison to the amount of acid tomatoes.
Thanks for the recipe! I made it but with frozen tomatoes I defrosted. I drained them but I think maybe too much? It tastes wonderful. But my sauce turned out more like paste. Very thick. Anyway I split the recipe and have more frozen tomatoes to try. Perhaps I’ll try without draining them at all.
Wow, that hasn't happened before to me! I would add the water you need to create a pourable sauce and then can that (the canning times are for sauce not paste - thicker products need more time).
Made your pizza sauce this fall and we love it! I’ve never canned pizza sauce before and I’m so glad I found your recipe! I didn’t have any romas so I used some early girl and Black Crim tomatoes. I squeezed the seeds and extra juice out then measured. It took quite a while to simmer it down to the right thickness but it was well worth it. I make homemade pizza once a week but we don’t care for store bought pizza sauce. This is perfect. I made a pizza last week and we loved the sauce. Will make it again and again! I have also used your salsa recipe for several years. Everyone loves it! Love your recipes!
Oh, I'm so glad Trish! The same thing has happened to me when I didn't have enough paste tomatoes - I takes hours, but the smell is great, lol.
irene pietila says
This recipe seems really good, smells and looks great except I put the 1 Tablespoon of pepper AND the pepper flakes...OMG TOO much just to warn others I will have to add MORE tomato sauce to this when using. Kind of thinking the 1 Tablespoon should have been 1 teaspoon.
Lol, thanks for your take on it - I did make sure to say "to taste" but I did update with a range of measurements to help clarify.
Oh, and I definitely use a whole tablespoon of black pepper and the 2 teaspoons of red pepper flakes, but we like things spicy. 🙂
Yvonne Shorb says
This is the best.....the method and the recipe!!! I am so excited to have my own pizza sauce. Because of Covid we could not find jar lids in our area last summer and fall. Go figure!! So I came across this recipe and froze some tomatoes. And yes, I just today got around to making the sauce. It is so thick and beautiful. I have a Squeezo. I don't know if it's because we drained a ton of juice, but the pulp came out very thick. I basically cooked it to get the flavors to meld together but did not need to cook it to get it to thicken.
Sounds like serendipity, Yvonne, because you had to freeze your tomatoes and discovered the secret to making sauce in less time. 🙂
Yes, it is because of the juice drained - isn't it wonderful to have such a great sauce on hand?
Enjoy your pizzas!
This recipe is nice. I followed it exactly. I was looking for something more paste like for pizza sauce. As is, I'd say this is more like pasta sauce. I reduced my sauce down by 1/3.
Good, Katherine - you can definitely keep cooking until it's the consistency you want.
Can I add tomato paste to the recipe to thicken it up without messing up the canning process? Thanks!
No, adding paste would mess with the consistency that's been tested for this amount of processing time.
You can make a note on the lid to add paste when you use it if you don't want to cook it down anymore.
Hi! This recipe looks great and I started it last night with fresh tomatoes. After bringing to a boil and straining however, I'm left with what looks like pure tomato juice. That doesn't seem right.....
Wheat did I do wrong, and do you have any ideas of what I can do with the juice I now have? Or even the tomato pulp and seeds I strained away?
It does look thin, especially if you started with fresh tomatoes - that's where the cooking down comes into play. You'll need to cook it at a simmer for the number of hours it takes to get to a thickness you like before canning.
As for the pulp/skin/seeds - some people dry this and blend into a tomato powder to add to recipes.
I accidentally used 2 TBSP of red pepper flakes. Is there anything I can do to counteract the spiciness? I am canning my sauce.
Yikes, not that I know of other than doubling the other ingredients. 🙁
This recipe was great!!! Until I forgot to add the lemon juice into the jars..DOH. what does this mean?!
Oh, shoot, Michelle! If it helps it happens a lot - including to me, lol.
For safety's sake, I would store the jars in the fridge.
made my first ever pizza sauce ever . It was amazing. i have just started making our own pizzas so i wanted to make this also. We have a flour mill in the next county over, we buy all our flour and meal there. They had a pizza dough mix which is really easy to make and good. I look forward to making more of your recipes in the future.
P.S I bought a food mill this year and has it ever saved me a lot of time with it. Used it for tomato juice, tomato salsa,
blackberry jam and will use it to make apple jelly in a few weeks.
Yay, Ginny! You will love having this ready. I have an electric mill that saves a lot of time, too, though I like the salsa chunky. 🙂
Is the amount of salt listed (2TBS) correct? I followed the recipe exactly and it was so salty it was inedible.
Yes, that's correct for 22 pounds of tomatoes and the other ingredients. It comes out to less than a teaspoon per pint. It's also the amount listed in the original Ball Blue Book recipe.
I've never had it be too salty and yours is the first comment for that. Wondering if you used the full 22 pounds or if any of your other ingredients contained salt you didn't know about?
That said, you can adjust the salt to your taste - it's not there for any safety reason.
Can I use fresh basil and more garlic? Thanks 🙂
Nope, those are both low acid ingredients and will throw off the ratios for safely canning and storing on a shelf.
You can do that and freeze the sauce, though.
Bill Boyer says
I ran my tomatoes threw a squeezo how many cups of the puree would get me to 22 pounds?
I always weigh the tomatoes before processing and then add them to the pot as I go, Bill, so I don't have a cup measurement. The Ball Blue Book recipe only calls for pounds and doesn't mention cups.
My new lazy way to start these recipes is to roast the tomatoes, its easier/faster than stovetop and goes through the processor easily. Simply wash, cut in half, cut the stem out and roast at 350 for around 20-40 minutes (depending on how many you're roasting). I've not frozen them, BUT with sporadic harvests that's a great tip! (Especially if you're waiting for a cooler day to can).
Thanks for the recipe.
Great tip - thanks! I do roast tomatoes for a tomato sauce I have on the site, but hadn't thought to do it for this recipe.
Christi Schmidt says
This recipe looks awesome! We are looking for ways to enjoy pizza but frozen and takeout are loaded with sodium. I found a wonderful crust recipe and was looking for a great sauce recipe. We have a freezer full of tomatoes. Here is my question: Is the weight of the tomatoes in the recipe a pre-drained weight or a post-drained weight? The tomatoes we froze aren't Romas and will have quite a bit of juice. I want to try the recipe with them anyway but want to be sure I have the right starting weight. Thank you!
They are pre-drained weight, Christi. It's the idea that you'd start with X pounds of fresh and then cook them down for hours and hours - we're just moving the cooking part along by draining them first. You should be okay with slicing tomatoes (I used about half), you just might have to cook yours down a bit more and so may end up with less finished half pints/pints.
Hope this works for you!
Stephanie st says
When doing the 1/2 pints for pizza sauce you said to keep them warm because a couple batches will need to be done. How do you normally keep them warm until the jars can be processed?
I just keep them in the sink full of hot water. I change out the water once while processing. It keeps them warm enough. (I show this in my How to Water Bath Can video, too.)
Your recipe looks great! I’m going to be making your pizza sauce tomorrow. We love pizza year round and I always make my own sauce but this year I’d like to can some but I want to pressure can it. I can’t seem to find out at what pressure to can this at or how many pounds of pressure. Would you be able to help me with this please? Thanks so much!
Hi Sandra - I would use this guideline from the national center for home preserving for tomato sauce. Go with the thick sauce guidelines (basically pizza sauce is just a bit thicker tomato sauce with spices) and which type of pressure canner you have. Hope that helps!
I ended up not being able to make it that night so this works out perfectly! Thanks so much for your help!
Awesome recipe, I’m going to try it.