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Canning Salsa 101: Our Favorite 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.
This post is brought to you by Wholefully partner Ball® Canning.
Recipe At-A-Glance
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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.

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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.

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.

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.

Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

  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

29 Responses
  1. Alaina

    So I have a weird question… I have made this recipe with ripe tomatoes (LOVE IT), but just shut down my summer garden this past weekend and pulled a ton of green tomatoes before our first heavy frost and freezing temps. I’ve loved having an extended season, but now am looking for things to do with my green tomatoes. So many green tomatoes. Do you think this recipe could be used with green tomatoes instead of the ripe ones, or does their ripeness/color effect their acidity too much? Or maybe the vinegar still keeps the acid levels in check? Thoughts?

    1. Danielle @Wholefully

      Hi, Alaina! Unfortunately, this recipe has not been tested with green tomatoes. They do have a different pH than ripe tomatoes, so we cannot recommend using them for this particular recipe. If you’d like to safely can your green tomatoes, you would need to seek out a recipe specifically tested for that. I hope this helps!

    1. Danielle @Wholefully

      Hi, Sheryl! In step 4, we ask you to remove the lid (singular), and we’re referring to the lid on the water bath canner or pot. You need to remove the lid on your canner/pot and let the jars stand in the water for an additional 5 minutes. After that you can remove the jars and allow them to cool for 12-24 hours before checking the seals. I hope this clarifies that step for you! Please let me know if you have any additional questions =)

    1. Danielle @Wholefully

      Hi, Linda! That depends on the size, really. We would use the same amount that you see in the recipe card—10 cups of chopped, cored, and peeled tomatoes—regardless of what kind of tomatoes they are. Hope this helps!

    1. Danielle @Wholefully

      Hi, Amanda! Yes, if you leave out the onions and garlic the salsa will still be safe for canning. The flavor will be very different, though!

    1. Danielle @Wholefully

      Hi, Haley! As long as the vinegar you’re using is 5% acidity, you can swap it in safely for the cider vinegar. Hope this helps! Enjoy your salsa!

  2. Nicole

    I’m definitely planning on giving this salsa a try! Can I exclude the cilantro without messing things up for food safety? I’m one of those people who thinks it tastes like soap 🙂

    1. Danielle @Wholefully

      Hi, Nicole! Yes, you can leave out the cilantro and still be fine from a food safety standpoint. Let us know how it turns out for you!

    2. Alaina

      I used parsley in mine, as my grocery store must have had a run on people making salsa, as they were completely out of cilantro! The parsley worked out just fine.

  3. Alaina

    YES! This is so good. And a great way to use a ton of veggies from an overrun garden!

    Made a batch of this tonight and ended up with 7 pints and some leftover. The leftovers became a side dish with dinner and it was amazing! I used jalapeños for the 2.5 cups of spicy peppers and a mix of green/red bell peppers and poblanos for the 5 cups. My jalapeños are very angry (hot) this year, so it ended up being maybe a medium to hot spicy mix. But so tasty.

    I did plop my immersion blender in the batch once it was cooked down, before they went into jars. A few blasts from that made it into the smaller chunks that my husband and I prefer. Sealed up nicely! Can’t wait to eat these throughout the fall and winter – if I can keep them around that long! My brother and brother-in-law both requested jars already…

    Thank you for sharing this recipe and explaining all the steps so nicely – that really makes a difference to someone new to canning! So many canning recipes out there assume you’ve been canning for years and know all the things, or are ones that aren’t actually ‘canned’ and not meant for long term storage. So glad I have Wholefully as a resource!! 🙂

        1. Danielle @Wholefully

          Hi, Gabby! As long as the vinegar you’re using is 5% acidity, you can swap it in safely for the cider vinegar. Hope this helps! Enjoy your salsa!

  4. Chris

    We made this and found that the vinegar flavor was still quite prominent after boiling and thickening, do you have any suggestions to drop the acidity which won’t interfere with the canning process?

    1. Danielle @Wholefully

      Hi, Chris! Sorry, we can’t tweak the recipe to reduce the acidity and still keep it safe for canning. You can always pressure can or freeze salsa if you’d like a less acidic product.

  5. Colleen

    I have an enormous amount of grape tomatoes from my garden and some regular sized ones also. If planning on housing the grape, so I still have to peel them? I have no idea how I’d do that without destroying them and I’d be there forever!! This is my first time so any input is greatly appreciated! 😊

    1. Danielle @Wholefully

      Hi, Colleen! Cherry and grape tomatoes tend to have thinner skins which usually work out fine when canned. But we can’t guarantee there won’t be any tough skins! You’ll have a much better chance of having no tough skins with the smaller tomatoes than you would with bigger ones like romas, though. So you can leave them unpeeled and risk a few tough skins, or if you want to peel them we recommend checking out our guide to freezing tomatoes. You’ll have to core the little ones, which is still a bit tedious, but once they’re frozen the skins will slip right off after a quick rinse in water! I hope this helps! If you have any other questions, feel free to ask away =)

  6. Debbie

    Hello!
    I do not care for green peppers.
    Can I leave out the green peppers without messing up this canned recipe?
    Is canning salt the type of salt to use?
    Thank you ❣️

    1. Danielle @Wholefully

      Hi, Debbie! You can replace the green pepper with a different kind of pepper, as long as you use the same amount. The salt you use can be canning salt, but fine kosher or sea salt is okay, too. Happy canning!

  7. Tanya

    I prefer my salsa pureed over chunky, when would you suggest pureeing in the process?
    I also LOVE cilantro (yes, I’m on of “those people”) so will put a LOT more than 2 tablespoons in when I make this later this summer. Thanks for sharing the recipe.
    BTW, your bread a butter pickles are a big hit with me and the people I’ve been gifting them to. Glad I made a couple batches!

    1. Danielle @Wholefully

      Hi, Tanya! We’re so glad you love this recipe (and the pickles, too). Thanks so much for taking the time to come back and tell us. We really appreciate it! If you’d like to puree your salsa, the best time to do it is right before you add it to the jars for processing. Enjoy!

Meet Cassie
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Hello. My name is Cassie, and I’m a healthy home cooking expert.

I'm a Certified Holistic Nutritionist, and I've been developing healthy recipes professionally for over 15 years. Food is my love language, and my kitchen tips and nourishing recipes are my love letter to you!

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