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
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.
  • Mixed Berry Agave Jam. This naturally-sweetened berry jam can be made using fresh or frozen berries.
  • Bread and Butter Pickles. Only four ingredients? Yup! This beginner pickle recipe is as simple as can be.
  • Strawberry Rhubarb Jam. This classic jam is a family favorite!
  • Corn Relish. You’ll be amazed at how versatile corn relish is. Pile it into salads, mix it into casseroles, or eat it by the spoonful!
  • Diced Tomatoes. Canning diced tomatoes is a regular part of late summer in our house. Learn how to make this pantry staple!
  • Salted Cantaloupe Jam. Cantaloupe jam? Yes! This interesting jam is packed full of the flavors of summer.
  • Apple Pie Filling. Having a stash of apple pie filling makes dessert easy. Use it to make a pie, crumble, or crisp, or our favorite, serve it on top of ice cream!
  • Preserving and Canning Recipes. Check out all of our food preservation tips and tricks!

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.

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