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Easy Basic Salsa Recipe for Canning

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4.84 from 12 votes
Use this easy home canning recipe for Basic Salsa with fresh tomatoes, onions, and peppers to keep fresh summer flavors in your pantry all year round.
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 45 minutes
Jars of finished basic salsa lined up on a kitchen towel.

Use this easy home canning recipe for Basic Salsa with fresh tomatoes, onions, and peppers to keep fresh summer flavors in your pantry all year round. You can make it as mild or spicy as you like and add it to all your southwest recipes!

Jars of finished basic salsa lined up on a kitchen towel.

I’m on a canning kick around here. How can I not be with all the great produce that’s available this time of year?

Today I’m sharing my basic canning recipe for salsa. The tomatoes are still coming in and peppers are ready, too, so it was time to go ahead and put up a few jars of this deliciousness to keep on hand for the winter.

It’s so nice to open a jar of homemade salsa when it’s cold out and be able to taste those fresh summer tomatoes once more. Mmmmm. A jar of this in my Salsa Chicken recipe in the middle of winter…well, I have to say it’s just fabulous.

This recipe makes five pints. That’s just about right for our household. If you want to make more, you can double or triple the recipe. Just make sure that you keep the same proportions to guarantee that it’s safe for canning.

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Be sure to can enough to use in all your favorite southwest recipes! Of course, it’s great as a dip with tortilla chips, but it’s also fantastic added to tacos and burrito bowls, or even in chili.


  • Fresh tasting, homemade salsa any time of year.
  • Great way to use up garden tomatoes.
  • The sense of accomplishment you get from making and canning your own!

Ingredient Notes

  • Tomatoes (I prefer Roma (or paste) tomatoes for salsa, but you can use any variety that you grow or purchase)
  • Onions, green bell pepper, jalapeno peppers, garlic (typical salsa ingredients)
  • Tomato sauce (enriches the tomato flavor)
  • White vinegar (I prefer white vinegar because it has a more neutral flavor; it’s posible to use apple cider or other vinegars but the acidity MUST be at least 5%)
  • Sugar (to help mellow and off-set the vinegar flavor)
  • Pickling salt (used for clarity in the finished product – table salts can cause cloudiness)
  • Parsley and cilantro (you can use all parsley or all cilantro)

You’ll find detailed measurements for all ingredients in the printable version of the recipe at the bottom of this post.

How to Can Basic Salsa

Before you start, get everything you need together. All your jars, lids, kitchen towels, produce, knives, canner, funnel. Everything. It’s so much easier than having to run around looking for something while you’re in the middle of a canning session.

Let’s Go Step-by-Step

I always like to show you the photos and step-by-step instructions for my recipes to help you picture how to make them in your own kitchen. If you just want to print out a copy, you can skip to the bottom of the post where you’ll find the recipe card.

Prepare the Jars and Lids

Prepare the jars, lids, and rings as usual. You can review how I manage this part of the process in my Favorite Kosher Dills post. Fill the canner about 2/3 to 3/4 with water, bring it to the boil and hold it there until ready to fill the jars. Add your empty clean jars into the canner and let them sterilize while you prepare the salsa.

There is a good bit of prep work involved in this recipe. It’s not difficult at all, just peeling and chopping. And you begin by preparing your tomatoes.

Prep the Tomatoes

Photo collage of tomatoes on a cutting board, in boiling water, and being cooled with ice and water.

I prefer Roma tomatoes for salsa but I also had a few yellow tomatoes on hand, so I included them as well. You can use any combination and type of tomatoes you like.

To make peeling the tomatoes easy, simply drop them into boiling water for one minute. Then drain them and put them into cold water for a few minutes.

Tomatoes being peeled.

The skins will slip right off. It makes the peeling so simple!

Prep the Remaining Ingredients

I debated about whether to include all the chopping and mincing photos here for illustration purposes. After thinking it over, I decided that if you cook at all you certainly know how to dice peppers and onions, so I’m sparing you having to scroll past 15 photos of chopped vegetables!

Chop the tomatoes, onions, green pepper, and jalapenos. I used three medium sized jalapenos for this amount of salsa because we like ours fairly mild. You can add up to nine jalapenos if you like it hotter. You could also substitute a hotter pepper such as serrano if you like, but don’t add more than the equivalent of about nine medium size jalapenos so you don’t upset the pH balance of the recipe and make it unsafe for canning!

Finely mince the garlic. Combine all the ingredients in a stainless steel or enamel saucepan.

Cook the Salsa

Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat and boil gently, uncovered, for 25 minutes or until desired consistency, stirring frequently. Your house will smell like the most delicious Mexican eatery by the time this finishes cooking!

Fill and Process the Jars

Working with one jar at a time, carefully remove a jar from the canner and ladle in the hot salsa to within 1/2 inch of the rim (headspace). Wipe the jar rim with a moist paper towel and apply a lid and ring (just finger tight).

Jars of salsa going into the canner.
Note: These jars have been filled and are now being lowered into the canner. They will be completely covered with boiling water for processing.

Return the filled jars to the canner and lower them into the boiling water. Begin timing when the water returns to a boil. Process 20 minutes for both half-pint and pint jars.

Cool Completely

Finished jars of homemade canned salsa

Remove the hot, processed jars of gorgeous salsa from the canner and set them on a kitchen towel or something similar to give them a little cushion. Let them sit until completely cool – at least 8 hours, preferably overnight. Test to make sure you have complete seals and then store the jars in a cool, dry place until ready to use.

Allow the salsa to sit for four weeks before using. This will allow the flavors to mellow. Use within one year of canning.

Tips

  • After cooking the salsa and before ladling it into the jars, give it a taste. If you think it could use a little more sugar to neutralize the taste of the vinegar, you can add up to one additional tablespoon.
  • If you want to add additional vegetables such as black beans or corn to the salsa, add those after you open the jars for use. Do not add additional items to the recipe. This can alter the pH balance and make your salsa unsafe for canning.

FAQs

Do I have to peel the tomatoes?

Lots of people have asked for a salsa recipe for canning without peeling tomatoes. I will say that you don’t have to peel the tomatoes when making salsa. However, some varieties of tomatoes have skins that become tough and bitter during cooking. Also, many times the peel will separate from the tomatoes while cooking causing you end up with a salsa full of floating tomato skins. So, my advice is to always take the time to peel the tomatoes.

Can I use lime juice instead of vinegar?

Most fresh tomato salsa recipes contain lime juice. However, lime juice does not have adequate acidity to make salsa safe canning. That’s why vinegar is used.

Can I just freeze the salsa instead of canning it?

You could. Just be aware that once thawed, your tomatoes will not have the same texture. However, you can give them a quick blitz with a stick blender or in the food processor and turn the mixture into a smooth salsa.

Jars of finished canned salsa sitting on a kitchen towel.

Have you tried this recipe? I’d love for you to give it a star ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ rating in the recipe card and/or in the comments section further down. You can always stay in touch on social media by following me on FacebookInstagram, or Pinterest and Sign Up to Get my Newsletter, too!

Jars of finished basic salsa lined up on a kitchen towel.

Easy Basic Salsa Canning Recipe

Use this easy home canning recipe for Basic Salsa with fresh tomatoes, onions, and peppers to keep fresh summer flavors in your pantry all year round.
4.84 from 12 votes
Print It Rate It Text It
Course: Canning and Preserving
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 1 hour
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 45 minutes
Servings: 160 servings
Calories: 4kcal
Author: Lana Stuart

Ingredients

  • 3 pounds tomatoes peeled and chopped
  • 3 medium onions finely chopped
  • 1 ½ green bell peppers chopped
  • 3 medium sized jalapeno peppers halved, seeded and chopped (may use up to 9 medium sized jalapenos)
  • 9 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 ½ cups tomato sauce
  • 1 ½ cups white distilled vinegar 5% acidity
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar (may use up to 2 tablespoons total)
  • 1 ½ teaspoons pickling salt
  • 1 ½ teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 ounce Italian parsley chopped (about 1/2 bunch)
  • 1 ounce cilantro chopped (about 1/2 bunch)

Instructions

Prep Work:

  • Before you start, get everything you need together. All your jars, lids, kitchen towels, produce, knives, canner, funnel.
  • Prepare the jars, lids, and rings.
  • Fill the canner about ⅔ to ¾ with water, bring it to the boil and hold it there until ready to fill the jars. Add your empty clean jars into the canner and let them sterilize while you prepare the salsa.

Cook the Salsa:

  • Chop the tomatoes, onions, green pepper, and jalapenos. Finely mince the garlic. Combine all the ingredients in a stainless steel or enamel saucepan.
  • Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat and boil gently, uncovered, for 25 minutes or until desired consistency, stirring frequently.

Fill and Process Jars:

  • Working with one jar at a time, carefully remove a jar from the canner and ladle in the hot salsa to within ½ inch of the rim (headspace). Wipe the jar rim with a moist paper towel and apply a lid and ring (just finger tight).
  • Return the filled jars to the canner and lower them into the boiling water. Begin timing when the water returns to a boil. Process 20 minutes for both half-pint and pint jars.
  • Remove the hot, processed jars from the canner and set them on a kitchen towel. Let them sit until completely cool – at least 8 hours, preferably overnight. Test to make sure you have complete seals and then store the jars in a cool, dry place until ready to use.
  • Allow the salsa to sit for four weeks before using. This will allow the flavors to mellow. Use within one year of canning.

Notes

Makes 5 pints or 10 half-pints.
  • You may use any variety of tomatoes for this recipe. I prefer Roma (or paste) tomatoes.
  • I prefer white vinegar because it has a more neutral flavor; it’s possible to use apple cider or other vinegars but the acidity MUST be at least 5%.
  • The sugar  in the recipe helps to mellow and off-set the vinegar flavor – taste after cooking the salsa and add more if needed (up to 1 additional tablespoon).
  • Pickling salt is used for clarity in the finished product – table salts can cause cloudiness.
  • You can use all parsley or all cilantro.
  • If you want to add additional vegetables such as black beans or corn to the salsa, add those after you open the jars for use. Do not add additional items to the recipe. This can throw off the pH balance and make your salsa unsafe for canning.
You don’t have to peel the tomatoes when making salsa. However, some varieties of tomatoes have skins that become tough and bitter during cooking, so my advice is to take the time to peel.
Most fresh tomato salsa recipes contain lime juice. However, lime juice does not have adequate acidity to make salsa safe canning. That’s why vinegar is used.

Nutrition Information

Serving: 2tablespoons | Calories: 4kcal | Carbohydrates: 1g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 31mg | Potassium: 35mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 88IU | Vitamin C: 3mg | Calcium: 3mg | Iron: 1mg

Nutrition information is calculated by software based on the ingredients in each recipe. It is an estimate only and is provided for informational purposes. You should consult your health care provider or a registered dietitian if precise nutrition calculations are needed for health reasons.

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68 Comments

  1. I’m getting ready to make this salsa… do I need to drain the tomatoes after I peel and chop them or just leave the liquid?

  2. 5 stars
    This is going to be my salsa recipe! It’s gòt the perfect mix of heat, tang, and sweetness, and the tomato sauce gives it richness and body. I can’t wait to see how it is in four weeks.

  3. Lana,
    Do you blanche the tomatoes before peeling and chopping them up?
    Excited to make your recipe :)!

    Tresa

    1. It’s optional. I do blanch them to make them easier to peel. It’s the first step I show in the body of the post. If you don’t want to blanch, that’s fine, but they should be peeled.

    1. Do you mean cherry tomatoes? I haven’t used a processor for this recipe, but you could give it a try. Just be sure not to chop too finely or you’ll wind up with tomato sauce. A word of warning about about cherry tomatoes — they have lots of seeds.

      1. I have a salsa recipe that I make in small amounts that is usually consumed in a few days, but I would like to try canning it. However, due to my lack of experience in canning, I’m not sure how to accomplish it. My recipe has no pickling salt or vinegar, but it does have regular table salt and lime juice. If I can this recipe, how can I ensure that the proper Ph is maintained?

      2. Canning is very exact science. It requires a specific pH level in the food in order for it to be shelf-stable and free from botulism. To be honest, you’d need to have a food lab test the recipe to determine whether it is appropriate for canning. All the canning recipes I post are from USDA approved sources.

  4. I tried this recipe today for the first time. I had a small amount left over that wouldn’t fill a full jar so I tried it with some tortilla chips. It was delicious. It has a very nice flavor but the vinegar is very prominent. Does this mellow after being in cans for awhile?

    Sheryl

    1. The taste doesn’t change significantly during storage. Interesting, though, I’ve never noticed a predominant vinegar taste with this salsa.

  5. Hi! I have a question about the water bath photo. I always make sure the water is over the jars by at least 2 inches. Your photo looks like the top half of the jars are above the water and not completely submerged. Can you explain this to me? If that’s the method I should use for canning anything with tomatoes it would explain why I sometimes get water inside my sauce jars. Thanks!

    1. Hi Bernie – yes, I can see how that photo would be confusing. The jars are sitting in the rack which is hooked over the sides of the canner. They haven’t been lowered into the water yet. The standard is that the tops of the jars should covered by at least 1″ of water and they would be when lowered into the canner.

  6. For the amount of tomatoes…

    Is this 3 lbs before they are peeled and chopped, or is 3 lbs the quantity needed after they are peeled and chopped? Past experience peeling tomatoes for canning tells me you can lose a lot of “product” during that process.

      1. 5 stars
        First time making this recipe. Great recipe and the finished product is worth the process.