Helpful Tips

Canning Spaghetti Sauce with Meat Water Bath: Is it Safe?

Italian Meal

Typically, you can use the water bath method for some fruits and veggies because many are high acid foods. Because of the high acid content, botulism is unable to grow in that type of environment so those foods can easily and safely be processed by boiling jars for a determined period of time. The water temperatures in the water bath will kill off many different types of bacteria. But how do you go about canning spaghetti sauce with meat water bath?

Considering meat is a type of low-acid food it’s actually the perfect environment for botulism to grow. Because of this, low-acid foods should be processed in a pressure canner. Pressure canners work by raising the temperature of the jar in addition to the contents, well above the boiling point. This will kill off even botulism, making the charred food shelf-stable.

As you can see, processing spaghetti sauce with meat in a water bath is not safe and should not be processed the same way as a basic marinara sauce, since marinara has tomatoes and veggies only.  Now, let’s learn about the right way to can spaghetti sauce with meat.

Canning spaghetti sauce with meat using the water bath method is unsafe. Because meat is a low acid food, it can harbor bacteria. This bacteria is tough enough to survive the water bath canning method. Because of this, the only safe way to process spaghetti sauce that contains meat is with the use of a pressure canner. Never attempt to use the water bath method, which can lead to spoiled food and serious illness.

Pressure Canning Spaghetti and Meat Sauce

There’s nothing like homemade spaghetti sauce, especially once the weather turns cold. If you’ve read my guide on everything you need to know about pressure canning, you can now put your new skills to the test and try whipping up homemade spaghetti sauce that the whole family will love during the fall and winter months.

To start, you’ll need to use the best pressure canner and cooker, such as the Granite Ware Pressure Canner and Cooker.

For this recipe, you’ll need:

  • Ten pounds of tomatoes
  • Two and a half pounds of ground beef
  • One chopped onion
  • Five cloves of garlic minced
  • One cup of chopped green peppers
  • Three teaspoons of canning salt
  • One tablespoon of oregano
  • Two tablespoons of basil
  • Two tablespoons of parsley
  • One bay leaf
  • A quarter cup of brown sugar.

Feel free to add different veggies to the sauce, such as celery, peppers, or mushrooms.

Preparing the Sauce


When you’re home canning spaghetti sauce, the first thing you want to do is prepare the sauce. You will make tomato sauce, as usual, however, don’t process it. Later on, you’ll come back to the sauce and add the meat, spices, and vegetables to complete the sauce.

If you want a thicker sauce and you’ll need to simmer the tomatoes uncovered using a large saucepan until they reach the desired thickness. This will take 60 to 120 minutes. Make sure you stir frequently in order to avoid burning the sauce.

You can also place the sauce in your slow cooker, leaving the lid off and allowing it to cook until thickened. Another option is to bake it uncovered in the oven at 375 degrees. However, with this method, you’ll also need to stir frequently.

If the result is a sauce that’s too thin, simply add a can of tomato paste to thicken it up.

Prepping the Other Ingredients

Next, you’ll want to prepare the rest of the ingredients. Chop up the bell pepper and onions, while allowing the meat to brown as the tomato sauce simmers.

Then, you’ll add the chopped peppers, and onion, and minced garlic to the hamburger meat. Continue to cook the meat until the veggies are tender. Next, you can add the vegetables and meat to the tomato sauce. Finish by stirring in the sugar, spices, and canning salt. It should be heated to a nice simmer. It doesn’t need to be fully cooked, however, it should be nice and hot when you pour it into the jars.

Filling the Jars

Fill each canning jar up to the brim, making sure you leave at least one inch of headspace.

Use a damp rag to wipe down the rims of each of the jars before you place the canning lids on. Remember, if any food is left on the rim of the jar it can have a negative impact on the seal.

Processing Time

If you’re using pint jars, the spaghetti sauce should be processed for at least 60 minutes. With quart jars, you’ll want to leave the sauce in for 70 minutes.

Canning Safety: Pressure Canning

Remember, the only safe method to use to process jars that contain low acid foods, such as meat, is the pressure canning method. Never make the mistake of using the water bath process for low acid foods, otherwise, you can end up with spoiled food that contains botulism. To learn more about canning safety, click here to read my article on does pressure cooking kill bacteria.

Final Thoughts

And that’s it, you should have a nice supply of spaghetti sauce to tide you over for several months. Once you get the hang of using your new pressure canner, you can get a little creative and add new ingredients, spices, and meat to your next batch of spaghetti sauce. However, this simple recipe makes a great base, so you can tweak the recipe accordingly, based on personal preference.

Now that you know canning spaghetti sauce with meat water bath is not safe since meat must be processed at a higher temperature than what water boils at, use the recipe I’ve included here to safely process your next batch and enjoy homemade spaghetti sauce all winter long.

Originally posted 2019-11-16 15:31:45.