A truly thick, meaty tomato sauce for home canning.
You can use this as a pasta sauce, or in casseroles, etc. Good with baked pasta dishes such as manicotti, lasagna, etc.
This appears both in the Ball Blue Book and in the Bernardin Guide.
It calls for canned tomatoes, so you can make this at any time of year. If you prefer a recipe that uses fresh tomatoes, see here: Spaghetti sauce with meat.
Jar size choices: Either half-litre (1 US pint) OR 1 litre (1 US quart)
Processing method: Pressure canning only
Yield: 3 x 1 litre (US quart) jars
Headspace: 3 cm (1 inch)
Processing pressure: 10 lbs (69 kPa) weighted gauge, 11 lbs (76 kpa) dial gauge (adjust pressure for your altitude when over 300 metres / 1000 feet)
Processing time: Half-litres (pints) 60 minutes; litres (quarts) 75 minutes
- 2.5 kg ground beef (extra lean. Or lean ground pork. 5 lbs)
- 300 g onion (chopped. 2 cups / 10 oz. Measurements after prep. 2 medium.)
- 150 g green bell pepper (chopped. 1 cup / 5 oz. Measured after prep. 1 large.)
- 2.5 litres diced tomatoes (canned, with juice. about 10 cups / 85 oz.)
- 650 ml tomato paste (2 ⅔ cups / 22 oz.)
- 10 g parsley (chopped fresh. 4 tablespoons / about 2 sprigs)
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 4 teaspoons salt (or non-bitter, non-clouding salt sub
- 1 tablespoon herbs (dried. Your choice)
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- ½ teaspoon ground ginger
- ½ teaspoon ground allspice
- 2 tablespoons vinegar
- Brown the ground meat in batches in a frying pan. Drain excess fat off each batch, and add to a large pot about 8 litres (quarts) in size.
- Wash, peel, and coarsely chop the onion. Add to pot.
- Wash, stem, seed, and coarsely chop the green pepper. Add to pot.
- Cook stirring frequently until the veg soften a bit.
- Add tomatoes including juice.
- Add all remaining ingredients.
- Stir, bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer.
- Let simmer until mixture thickens a bit.
- Ladle hot sauce into heated jars, either half-litre (pint) OR litre (quart).
- Leave 3 cm (1 inch) headspace.
- Debubble; adjust headspace.
- Wipe jar rims.
- Put lids on.
- Processing pressure: 10 lbs (69 kPa) weighted gauge, 11 lbs (76 kpa) dial gauge (adjust pressure for your altitude when over 300 metres / 1000 feet.)
- Processing time: half-litre (US pint) jars for 60 minutes OR 1 litre (US quart) jars for 75 minutes.
How to pressure can.
When pressure canning, you must adjust the pressure for your altitude.
What is the shelf life of home canned goods?
See also: other pasta sauce recipes.
- You could brown the ground meat by baking it on rimmed baking trays in the oven. (Side rims prevent grease from running off into the oven.) Lining the trays with tin foil will make cleanup easier.
- The canned tomatoes can be purchased, or home-canned. Many manufacturers interpret diced in many different ways; some may be more liquidy than others, so interpret final yield as a rough guide. Bernardin even says just “canned tomatoes” (it’s Ball that specifies diced) so you could use whole, or crushed — again, your final yield may be greater based on your cans of tomatoes. Some manufacturers make crushed tomatoes that are watery; some interpret crushed tomatoes to be a semi-thick sauce. You may even wish to add extra tomatoes — that’s fine. It’s always fine to lower the density in pressure canning recipes.
- Instead of fresh parsley, you can use 4 teaspoons of dried.
- For the 1 tablespoon of dried herbs, you can use all of one herb, or, a mixture of dried herbs such as basil, thyme, oregano, etc. Or, a tablespoon of Italian seasoning.
- The ginger and all-spice might seem odd, and you can leave them out if you wish, but they really do work well in this recipe.
- The vinegar is just here for flavouring to waken the taste of the sauce up a bit, so you can use any vinegar you wish, such as white vinegar, red wine vinegar, sherry vinegar, etc. You could also use 2 tablespoons lemon juice if you wished.
- People have asked: would it be safe to cut the tomato paste in half and the ground beef in half: yes, it would. You are reducing the density. In pressure canning, the big concern is the opposite: increasing the density. So don’t add more tomato paste or meat, or any mushrooms etc. (combine with a jar of your home-canned mushrooms upon opening, if desired.)
Ball Blue Book. Muncie, Indiana: Healthmark LLC / Jarden Home Brands. Edition 37. 2014. Page 106.
Bernardin Guide to Home Preserving. Toronto, Canada: Bernardin Ltd. 2013. Page 98.
Ball says ground beef; Bernardin says ground beef or pork.
- Used extra-lean ground beef instead of just lean to reduce calorie count;
- Added option of salt sub.
Per 1 cup / 250 ml / 8 oz:
- 491 calories, 933 mg sodium
- Weight Watchers PointsPlus®: 12 points
- Weight Watchers SmartPoints®: 14 points
Sodium goes down to 175 mg per cup without the added salt.
* Nutrition info provided by MyFitnessPal
* PointsPlus™ and SmartPoints™ calculated by healthycanning.com. Not endorsed by Weight Watchers® International, Inc, which is the owner of the PointsPlus® and SmartPoints® registered trademarks.
Is it necessary to add lemon juice or citric acid in each jar? It doesn’t appear so.
Can this recipe be made with ground chicken?
What is the shelf life of the Meat Sauce for Pasta???? Also, Can this receipt be done in a water bath canning method??? I have my Grandmother’s supplies.
Pressure canning is indicated as the only processing method for this recipe because it is the only method that is safe for it. If you don’t have a pressure canner, you can freeze the sauce in jars leaving appropriate headspace.
Wonderful recipe. I substituted venison for beef and ripe pimentos for the green pepper. Herbs were equal parts oregano, marjoram and thyme. Used only one can of paste and added 2 cups venison stock and I used a combination of crushed and diced tomatoes. I used red wine vinegar and the sweet/savory/acid balance was perfect. A double batch made 10 quarts.I am an experienced canner.
Mark C. Vrabel
Your Meat Sauce sounds very tasty. The idea of canning scars me. Would it be ok to make this sauce and freeze it? Thank You
Freezing it is absolutely fine.
Could I reduce the salt in this recipe? My father is on a low sodium diet and I am doing some meal prep for him.
You can omit the salt entirely, or use a non-bitter, non-clouding salt sub such as Herbamare
I made this recipe, followed the instruction exactly , it was very thick. My big concern is that I ended up with about 10 pints not 6 therefore I am reluctant to eat any of it as I’m concerned that there is a problem.
Please advise. I weighed the meat twice, used 9 cups of crushed tomatoes.
It is, as described, meant to be a very thick meaty sauce.
I’ve made this aswell. I agree, it produces 10 pints. I think the yields are incorrect. The ingredients call for 2.5 litres of crushed tomatoes – that’s 5 pints already before you add any other ingredients. Having said that, it’s a great recipe and as long as you followed the processing times correctly is good to eat.
Hi, I made a meat sauce last year and cooked the meat in the sauce like this recipe then pressure canned it. It tasted burned. I’m wondering if anyone had that issue with this recipe?
Maybe it was the different recipe you used. This meat for us has never tasted burnt in this lab-tested recipe.
I experienced the same. IT WAS NOT THIS RECIPE. I’m just saying I had the same experience when I attempted pressure canning tomato meat sauce.
Jane Diane Ricciardi
Wondering if you could use ground turkey breast? That would cut the Weight Watchers SmartPoints to 0.
Jane, I hear you about the freestyle smart points! Contact Bernardin directly and see if they would recommend that as an acceptable swap. Generally, home canning ground poultry as a pack by itself is not supported. There is another research-tested spaghetti sauce recipe that does support ground turkey. See here: https://www.healthycanning.com/spaghetti-sauce-with-meat
Margie L Johnson
Can you add tomato sauce to the recipe so it isn’t quite so thick? I know it will increase the amount of the recipe, but can you just fill an extra jar (4 quart jars instead of the 3 that the recipe makes) and add it to the canner while processing?
Yes, it would be safe to thin it by adding some tomato sauce, as you are reducing the density, not increasing it.
Loved the idea of canning my sauces until I learned only lab tested recipes were safe. So I suppose adding a bunch of fresh basil, some more garlic and letting some wine simmer away in there wouldn’t be ok. What a bummer. Guess I’m back to freezing it.
It would be the work of seconds to add those things upon opening the jar!
I was given several large #10 cans of marinara sauce. Can I use that for my sauce and add the ground beef and onion to it. And then can it. What would be the the ratio of ground beef to sauce.knowing that density can be a problem. I probably wouldn’t add the veggies just oinion
We’d recommend just following the recipe as written, and enjoy your already commercially canned marinara sauce for what it is (you can freeze leftovers from those opened large cans.)
can this be made without the onion?
Yes. The onion is just there for flavouring.
Hello, I’m trying to figure out if I should can the 1L or 500ml jars. It’s hubby and I and our 4yo and 2yo. I usually count on the 2 kids eating a adults portion. Can you please give a guide as to how many serves per jar? Thank you kindly.
The 500 ml size jar will make enough sauce to cover pasta for two people. For family size, go for a litre size jar. Of course, it all depends on how generous or thrifty one is with the spaghetti sauce….
Can I substitute liquid stevia for the brown sugar?
Can this be made and canned using half the amount of beef? (2.5 lbs)
Absolutely Brian, it is fine to leave out half the ground beef. Reducing the density is always fine in pressure canning.