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Canning Salsa 101

This post is brought to you by Wholefully partner Ball® Canning.
Recipe At-A-Glance
Canning1 hour, 30 min
Turn your windfall of tomatoes into salsa! We'll teach you everything about canning salsa, plus share our family favorite zesty salsa recipe for canning.
Two pint-sized Ball jars filled with canning salsa sit on a wooden cutting board with fresh cilantro, jalapeño, and tomatoes around them.

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We go through a lot of salsa in our house. We mix it into mashed avocado for quick guacamole, we spoon it into tacos, we use it in chili, and, of course, we make chips and salsa a regular snack, too!

With how much salsa we plow through in a year, it’s a good thing that canning salsa is stupendously easy to do. Before the end of summer, I like to have at least three dozen pints of my go-to salsa stashed away in our pantry. Canning salsa is a wonderful beginner canning project, and we’re going to show you everything you need to know to have your own stockpile of salsa.

Close-up of two pint-sized mason jars filled with zesty salsa for canning.

What’s the best salsa recipe for canning?

We’ve tried multiple different salsa recipes over the years, and we keep coming back to the standard Ball® Canning salsa recipe—Zesty Salsa. It’s easy to make, the flavor is spot on, and you can customize the spice level by changing the chile peppers you use. It’s the recipe we’ll use in this post!

Wholefully Protip

Tomatoes need to have the correct amount of acid added to be safe for water bath canning, so make sure to follow a tested recipe whenever canning salsa (or anytime!).

Overhead of a platter of tortilla chips with a bowl of zesty salsa nestled among the chips.

Tell me about canning salsa!

The process for canning salsa is similar to canning jam or canning pickles—just with a bit more chopping:

  1. Prepare your canner, jars, and lids, as we talk about in our intro to canning post.
  2. Blanch and peel your tomatoes. We cover how to do this extensively in our post on canning diced tomatoes.
  3. Dice the peeled tomatoes, peppers, onions, and garlic.
  4. Combine tomatoes, peppers, onions, garlic, vinegar, cilantro, and salt in a soup pot or Dutch oven.
  5. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and cook, stirring frequently for about 10 minutes, or until thickened slightly.
  6. Ladle into prepared jars, remove air bubbles, wipe the rims of the jars, and then fit with lids and rings.
  7. Process in a boiling water bath canner for 15 minutes (adjusting time for altitude). Turn off the canner, remove the lid, and let the jars sit in the canner for 5 minutes.
  8. Transfer the jars to a spot to cool and seal. Check seals after 12-24 hours.

Canning salsa in progress: A ladle full of salsa hovers over a mason jar with a canning funnel in it.

Do you have to cook salsa before canning?

We highly recommend it! Cooking tomato salsa before canning helps improve the quality of the final product in a few ways:

  • It melds the flavors of tomatoes, peppers, onions, garlic, and other aromatics together to create a more refined flavor.
  • It helps to reduce and thicken the salsa, making for a more intensified flavor and less liquidy texture.
  • It helps break down the structure of the tomatoes so you get less separation between the juice and solids during canning.

Wholefully Protip

Cooking salsa before canning helps intensify the flavor and thicken the texture.

Overhead of a large pot filled with homemade salsa and a ladle in it, with fresh ingredients and empty canning jars around it.

Does salsa need to be pressure canned?

Tomatoes are right on the border between high-acid foods (which can be safely water bath canned) and low-acid foods (which need to be pressure canned for safety). Because of this, it is vitally important to follow only tested salsa recipes when you want to water bath can—and follow them closely. The recipe we have listed out below is a tested recipe courtesy of Ball® Canning for water bath canning.

Wholefully Protip

By acidifying the tomatoes with vinegar, you can safely can this salsa recipe in a water bath canner.

Jar lifter holding a mason jar.

Do you have to put vinegar in canned salsa?

Vinegar works as an acidifier and it adds a wonderful tang to your salsa. Without vinegar, your salsa would not be acidic enough to safely water bath can.

Can I use lime juice instead of vinegar?

Because vinegar and lime juice do not have the same pH (acid) levels, they are not interchangeable in equal amounts in this recipe.

Wholefully Protip

To make hotter salsa, use spicier chile peppers like habanero; for a more mild salsa, stick with jalapeños.

The end result of canning salsa: Close-up of a hand holding a tortilla chip dipped in salsa with a cilantro leaf garnish.

What are the best jars to can salsa in?

Salsa is pretty flexible on what jar it wants to live in! Here, we’re canning in Ball® Regular Mouth Pint Canning Jars. I find that the pint size is really good for salsa—it’s enough to have for a family snack or two without having so much that it gets lost in the back of the fridge. It’s also similar to the size of store-bought salsa jars, which make it easy to swap in for recipes.

I’ve also done salsa in the Ball® Collection Elite Pint in the past. Regular mouth, wide mouth, straight sided, jars with shoulders—they all work for salsa!

Close-up of a jar of salsa cupped into the palm of someone's hand.

What are the best varieties of tomatoes to use for canning salsa?

A lot of people will answer this question saying that Roma or paste tomatoes are your best bet because of their low amount of seeds and thick flesh, but we have a different philosophy—the best tomatoes to use for canning salsa are the tomatoes you have!

I’ve mixed cherry tomatoes, Romas, heirlooms, beefsteaks—everything—into salsa with great results! Canning salsa is a great way to use up a hodgepodge of tomatoes.

Wholefully Protip

Most people prefer Roma or paste tomatoes for making salsa because of the low amount of seeds and thick flesh.

Do you have to peel tomatoes before canning salsa?

You don’t have to, but we recommend it. Depending on the tomato variety, sometimes the skins can become very tough during the canning process. We figure, better safe than sorry, and recommend peeling tomatoes first. Our method for peeling tomatoes outlined in our canning diced tomatoes post makes quick work of it!

Close-up of canning salsa in mason jars on a cutting board.

Can you freeze homemade salsa in jars instead of canning?

Sure can! Although you will see slight reduction in the quality of texture. Make sure to use freezer-safe Ball® Jars though, and only freeze up to the line identified on the jar. We recommend Ball® Wide Mouth Pint Jars for freezing.

How long can you keep canned homemade salsa?

Properly canned and sealed salsa will easily store for 18 months in a cool and dark spot. After that time, you might see a slight degradation of quality (taste, color, or texture), but as long as it is sealed well, it’s still perfectly safe to eat.

Overhead of canning salsa served on a platter surrounded by tortilla chips.

Feel free to multiply or divide the recipe below—but I’ll warn you, no matter how much salsa you put up, you’ll wish you had put up more! It’s amazing how quickly these jars seem to disappear in our house. Happy canning!

Two pint-sized Ball jars filled with canning salsa sit on a wooden cutting board with fresh cilantro, jalapeño, and tomatoes around them.

Zesty Salsa Recipe for Canning

Yield: 6 pint jars
Prep Time: 50 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes

Turn your windfall of tomatoes into salsa! We'll teach you everything about canning salsa, plus share our family favorite zesty salsa recipe for canning.


  • 10 cups chopped cored peeled tomatoes (about 25 medium)
  • 5 cups chopped seeded green bell peppers (about 4 large)
  • 5 cups chopped onions (about 6 to 8 medium)
  • 2-1/2 cups chopped seeded chili peppers, such as hot banana, Hungarian wax, serrano or jalapeño (about 13 medium)
  • 1-1/4 cups cider vinegar
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 Tbsp finely chopped cilantro
  • 1 Tbsp salt
  • 1 tsp hot pepper sauce, optional


  1. Prepare boiling water canner. Heat jars in simmering water until ready for use. Do not boil. Wash lids in warm soapy water and set aside with bands
  2. Combine tomatoes, green peppers, onions, chili peppers, vinegar, garlic, cilantro, salt and hot pepper sauce, if using, in a large stainless steel saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly. Reduce heat and boil gently, stirring frequently, until slightly thickened, about 10 minutes.
  3. Ladle hot salsa into hot jars, leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Remove air bubbles. Wipe jar rim. Center lid on jar and apply band, adjust to fingertip tight. Place jar in boiling water canner. Repeat until all jars are filled.
  4. Process both pint and half pint jars for 15 minutes, adjusting for altitude. Turn off heat, remove lid, let jars stand 5 minutes. Remove jars and cool 12-24 hours. Check lids for seal, they should not flex when center is pressed.
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 96 Serving Size: 2 tablespoons
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 15Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 76mgCarbohydrates: 3gFiber: 1gSugar: 2gProtein: 0g

At Wholefully, we believe that good nutrition is about much more than just the numbers on the nutrition facts panel. Please use the above information as only a small part of what helps you decide what foods are nourishing for you.

Looking for more beginner canning recipes?

  • Canning 101. Learn how to can by checking out our full primer on everything you need to know about water bath canning.
  • Strawberry Jam. Put those sweet summer berries to good use with this classic strawberry jam.
  • Tomato SauceWhen it comes to putting up tomatoes, we never skip tomato sauce. It’s just so versatile!
  • Bread and Butter Pickles. Only four ingredients? Yup! This beginner pickle recipe is as simple as can be.
  • Diced Tomatoes. Canning diced tomatoes is a regular part of late summer in our house. Learn how to make this pantry staple!
  • Preserving and Canning Recipes. Check out all of our food preservation tips and tricks!

And check out these reader favorites!

  • Berry Smoothie. Learn how to make the perfect smoothie with any mix of berries in minutes.
  • Balsamic Vinaigrette. Everyone needs a good vinaigrette recipe in their back pocket. This is ours, and it goes well with nearly everything!
  • Blueberry Wine. Sweet-tart summer berries can be turned into blueberry wine to quench your thirst on a hot summer day.
  • How to Freeze ZucchiniIf you’re drowning in zucchini, why not freeze some for later? We’ll show you how to freeze zucchini as slices, shreds, and noodles.
  • Strawberry Cheesecake Overnight Oats. This is one of our favorite overnight oats flavors on hot summer mornings, and readers seem to love it, too!
  • Iced Mocha. Skip the coffee shop and make your own iced mocha at home.
  • Bell Pepper SaladThis avocado bell pepper salad is ridiculously easy, satisfying, and delicious.
  • Homemade Hot SauceMaking your own hot sauce is a fun kitchen experiment that results in an amazingly flavorful condiment.

This post is brought to you by Wholefully partner Ball® Canning.
The content and opinions expressed here are my own. Want to be a sponsor? Let’s work together!

Cassie is the founder and CEO of Wholefully. She's a home cook and wellness junkie with a love of all things healthy living. She lives on a small hobby farm in Southern Indiana with her husband, daughter, two dogs, two cats, and 15 chickens.

Leave a Reply

59 Responses
    1. Danielle @Wholefully

      Hi Kari! The salt you use can be canning salt, but fine kosher or sea salt is okay, too. We don’t generally recommend iodized table salt because it could give your salsa a bitter or metallic flavor. It will work in a pinch if that’s all you have, but we generally stick with the other options!

    1. Danielle @Wholefully

      Hi A.S.! Unfortunately, the only processing time we have that’s been tested for safety is in the pint jars. If you’d like to can your salsa in quart jars, you’ll need to find a recipe specifically developed and tested for quart jars.

  1. Shelly M Ferraiuolo

    When pressure cooking salsa can you use additions peppers and onions? 25 pints of salsa, 15 cups of peppers, 4.5 cups of onion. 1. tablespoons of lemon juice per pint. Do these ratios seem correct. First time canning and extremely nervous.
    Thank you!

    1. Danielle @Wholefully

      Hi Shelly! Our recipe is a tested formula for water bath canning. If you’d like to pressure can your salsa, we recommend you seek out a recipe developed specifically for that style of canning. The canning time in this recipe was tested for safety when water bath canning, but that may not be the time needed to safely can salsa in a pressure canner.

      Also, we don’t recommend making changes to the ratio of ingredients in any tested recipe because you won’t be able to guarantee the safety of the finished product if you do. We totally get being nervous when you first start canning! But as long as you find a tested recipe and you follow it closely, you have nothing to worry about! Good luck and happy canning! =)

  2. Nicole Curran

    I goofed I pickled al my bells yesterday and on middle of doing recipe now and unable to go to store can I double down on my serranos!! To make up for lack of bells? I don’t mind spice but just curious

    1. Danielle @Wholefully

      Hi Nicole! In terms of food safety, as long as the total amount of peppers is the same you’re good to go. That will significantly change your spice level, though! Good luck! Let us know how it turns out for you =)

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