This recipe is very similar to my traditional meat sauce, however I created a puree by rehydrating dried California chile peppers, which gives this sauce its robust flavor and deep red color. Use this sauce to make your traditional Italian meals like Stuffed Shells and Baked Ziti or use overtop any shape pasta for a quick and delicious meal in minutes.

Zesty Spaghetti Sauce Canning Recipe

Makes approximately 8 quarts or 16 pints


  • 30 pounds Tomatoes (about a ½ bushel), 20 cups pureed tomatoes
  • 14 Dried California Chile Peppers
  • 2 1/2 pounds ground beef and/or Italian pork sausage (I prefer to mix half ground beef & half sausage in my sauce)
  • 5 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped onions
  • 1 cup green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • ½ pound mushrooms, sliced – optional
  • 6 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley, or 3 tablespoons dried
  • 4 tablespoons chopped fresh basil leaves, or 2 tablespoons dried
  • 2 tablespoons fresh oregano leaves, or 1 tablespoon dried
  • 1/4 cup lightly packed brown sugar
  • 4 teaspoons salt
  • 3 teaspoons black pepper

**I have learned that it takes approx. 10 average sized canning (Beefsteak) tomatoes to equal approximately 6-8 cups of pureed tomatoes. So approximately 30 averaged sized canning tomatoes will yield about 20 cups of pureed tomatoes.


  1. Tomato Prep with Food Processor: Blanch tomatoes to remove skins if using Beefsteak or other large tomato. If using Roma tomatoes, which have thinner skin, you may choose to leave the skin on and skip blanching altogether. Cut tomatoes into quarters and run through food processor. Drain some of the juices if you prefer a thicker sauce, otherwise you may leave as is and simply add a small can of tomato paste down the road when preparing a meal for your family. Set aside.
  2. Tomato Prep with Food Mill:  Core and quarter tomatoes, place a small amount of tomatoes in large stainless steel stock pot. Place on high heat and crush using a potato masher. Slowly add more tomatoes and crush each new addition until all tomatoes have been added. Work quickly to avoid scorching the tomatoes. When all have been added, reduce heat to simmer and boil gently for about 10 minutes, or until tomatoes are soft. Working in batches, press tomato mixture through your food mill. Discard and peels and seeds. Drain some of the juices if you prefer a thicker sauce, otherwise you may leave as is and simply add a small can of tomato paste down the road when preparing a meal for your family. Set aside.
  3. Chile Puree: Take 14 dried California Chile Peppers and remove the stem and any excess seeds. Place in a stainless steel bowl and cover with boiling water. Place a bowl on top of the chilies to keep them submerged. After 15 minutes, remove the rehydrated chilies and a 1/2 cup of the water. Place rehydrated chilies and 1/2 cup of water in a food processor. Blend on high to produce the puree. Set aside.
  4. In a large stock pot, brown hamburger and sausage if using, until cooked though, about 8 to 10minutes. Drain fat. Add onions, peppers, garlic, mushrooms if using, parsley, basil, oregano, salt and black pepper. Add a splash of water to aid in softening the onions/peppers. Cook on medium heat until onions are clear and peppers are soft, about 6 minutes. 
  5. Add the pureed tomatoes and Chile puree to the meat mixture. Stir in any remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes, or until heated through.  Be sure to stir your sauce and watch the heat to avoid scorching your sauce.
  6. Ladle hot sauce into jars leaving 1 inch of head space. Wipe rims with vinegar to thoroughly cut through grease and food residue. Add lids and ring and hand tighten.
  7. Pressure cook at 10 pounds of pressure, or according to your elevation. Process quarts for 70 minutes and pints for 60 minutes.

Happy Canning!
Diane, The Canning Diva®


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