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This is the PERFECT marinara sauce for using garden fresh tomatoes! Sweet, simple, with a high yield, and a flavor that tastes fresh! Let the slow cooker do all the work!

Honestly, I don’t even know what to call this tomato sauce. There are so many wonderful things about it, I can’t decide which to highlight! Let’s just say, it’s everything I’ve been looking for and want in a fresh tomato sauce.

But first, let me tell you what I HATE about using tomatoes fresh from the garden for sauce-making.

Every year, I gather pounds upon pounds, bushels upon bushels even of tomatoes I’m hoping to preserve for our use for the 9 months out of the year when there aren’t fresh tomatoes to be had. And every year when I’m done, it never fails to drop my jaw at how very few pints of sauce can come from tens of pounds of tomatoes. I want to think that last time I had froze something like 70 pounds of tomatoes and ended up with 6 pints of sauce! It was something ridiculously crazy like that. And how do you even get to that point? Why by baby sitting a pot of tomatoes as they simmer the water away for hours and hours on end!

This is the BEST Garden Fresh Tomato Sauce (It's SO easy, makes a ton, and it has canning instructions!) ‘Twas a hopeless task I dreaded. With our growing family, it seems virtually impossible to grow enough tomatoes to even consider putting up enough for the year. So much so, that I gave up.

And I’m no quitter!

I think we had homemade spaghetti sauce 3 or 4 times last year, if that. And by homemade I mean I busted out the Hunts sauce, puree, and paste, a little sautéed onion, some herbs and spices, a bit of sweetener, maybe a pound of ground beef. Point being, I scaled by my expectations and the New Plan was to make the majority of the pizza sauce for a weekly pizza night. Forget pasta sauce. Now I look at those little 6 ounce cans of tomato paste that are sold for less that a buck and marvel at how they can afford to do it. There’s gotta be, what, 30 pounds of tomatoes in that bitty can?

Like with so many things, I didn’t know the true value of what went into a product until I produced it myself!


This is the BEST Garden Fresh Tomato Sauce (It's SO easy, makes a ton, and it has canning instructions!)

So that’s what I don’t like about traditional tomato or spaghetti sauce. Now let’s get back to the sauce at hand and the fact that I have discovered the most quick and simple way to make a garden fresh marinara sauce…. and it even tastes good!

It’s an ingenious method that uses carrots, yes carrots, to thicken the sauce AND naturally sweeten it as well. I wish I could take credit for it, but I can’t. I adapted the recipe from The Italian Slow Cooker. (Which is a pretty amazing cookbook. Love it! Get it. You’ll love it too.)

Let me break this down for you.

Step One: Chuck a bunch of ingredients in a crockpot. (5 minutes)
Step Two: Turn it on. High for 6 hours. Low for 10 hours. (.5 seconds)
Step Three: Add some herbs & olive oil. (1 minute)
Step Four: Puree it. Yes, seeds, skins, and all.  (3 minutes)

Less than 10 minutes invested into the finished product!!

AND… oh wait for it…

No. A bit longer….It’s so good, it’ll be worth the wait…

It makes 3 QUARTS of sauce!!! Yes- 6 pounds of tomatoes yields 3 QUARTS of sauce.

It blows my mind!!!

I want to dance and sing and shout for joy with every batch I make- and that’s averaging about 2 a day. (Half of which I make while I’m sleeping!)

Recommended Canning Tools & Resources



Can I Can This Sauce?

Now, I know what you’re thinking. That’s all well & good Quinn, but can you can it?

Well, since it’s not an official, scientifically tested, government certified and inspected recipe, I can’t recommend that you do. For safety’s sake, of course.

(But I am.) And I plan on even eating it at some point in the future. I just make sure I test the pH first so I know if I should add in some citric acid (or bottled lemon juice)  if I want to water bath can it. (Buy pH strips HERE and citric acid HERE.)


Is it Watery?

Are you wondering if it’s watery? I was too. I always find that the fresh marinara sauces are a more watery than their Cooked-Down-All-Day-And-Then-Some counterparts. The answer is, a tiny bit, but it’s not too bad! Since I’m canning it, I wouldn’t want it to be any thicker for safety reasons since the heat won’t be able to as fully penetrate the sauce. If it’s too much for your preference, don’t despair. You have options.

1.) Cook it down some more just before you’re ready to eat it. A low simmer for an hour or so really oughta take care of it.

2.) Add in some tomato paste or tomato powder. This option is quick, but it might mess with the flavor.

3.) Attainable Sustainable has found this trick using a strainer and a turkey baster. Clever! I’ll be trying this!

4.) Use tomato powder to thicken it up.

The last time I made this sauce, I actually forgot the carrots. Don’t ask me how, there’s like 5 ingredients to remember, but I did. The sauce? Like water. The carrots are the secret ingredient that makes this sauce thicken up so nicely!

This is the BEST Garden Fresh Tomato Sauce (It's SO easy, makes a ton, and it has canning instructions!)

How Do I Get Rid of the Tomato Seeds & Skins?

Perhaps wateriness isn’t your concern. Maybe you’ve noticed and are wondering about why I’d leave the seeds & skins in there. Well, the original recipe said to do the whole dip the tomatoes in boiling water to slip off the skins trick. I hate doing that, so I didn’t. The seeds & skins surely have some nutritive value anyway, right? If you didn’t want them in there, you could always do the Boiling Dipping Trick or make quick work of it with a food strainer.


Can I Add in Other Ingredients?

I know you’re wondering too whether you can add in your own favorite ingredients. Sure. Of course you can. This sauce would be a wonderful way to hide a multitude of vegetables.  Fat, overgrown zucchini. Trick the picky mushroom haters with it.  But I must give you two warnings.

First, if it’s your first time making it and you make any additions or substitutions and don’t like it, I won’t vouch for it so don’t come back and tell me how awful it is. *wink*

Secondly, and seriously, please freeze your sauce instead of trying to can it if you add in any other extra vegetables. Better safe than sorry.

One other thing I’ve got to mention. There is a way to make this sauce more rich and delicious, even more nutritious. But it’s kind of strange if you’ve never done it before. If you have, you’ll never consider skipping it again. Chuck in a big ole’ hunk of beef bone. Whether it’s shin bones, ribs, or leftover scraps from a wonderful steak you had last month, the acidity in the tomatoes will draw out the goodness and flavor from the bones.

This is the BEST Garden Fresh Tomato Sauce (It's SO easy, makes a ton, and it has canning instructions!)


Garden Fresh Marinara Sauce
  • 6 pounds of tomatoes
  • 1 pound of carrots
  • 1 onion
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • ½ cup red wine
  • 1 Tablespoon sea salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • beef bones, optional
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 Tablespoon dried oregano (or ¼ cup fresh
  • 1 Tablespoon dried basil (or ¼ cup fresh)
  • **If water bath canning- 2 teaspoons of citric acid (I buy it here) or 6 Tablespoons bottled lemon juice
  1. Chunk up the tomatoes, carrots, and onions and toss them into a large slow cooker.
  2. Peel and halve the garlic.
  3. Add the garlic, wine, salt and pepper, and bones to the slow cooker.
  4. Cover and cook on high for 6 hours or on low for 10 hours.
  5. Remove the bones if you used them.
  6. Stir in the oregano, basil, and olive oil.
  7. Puree the vegetables with an blender, food stainer, foley mill, or stick blender.
  8. Taste adjust the seasonings.
  9. Serve immediately, freeze, or can.
  10. *To Can (which I can't recommend)*
  11. Pressure Canner
  12. Ladle into clean, hot jars.
  13. Remove the air bubbles with a plastic utensil.
  14. Clean the rims with a clean, wet rag.
  15. Screw on the ring/lids.
  16. Add to the pressure canner and continue according to manufacturers instructions.
  17. Can at 10 pounds of pressure for 25 minutes for quarts,
  18. Waterbath
  19. Test the pH level. (I buy them here)
  20. Add the citric acid or lemon juice if necessary to raise the acidity to 4.5 or higher. (Which means lower number)
  21. Thoroughly stir in the citric acid for a couple minutes and then retest.
  22. Ladle into clean, hot jars.
  23. Remove the air bubbles with a plastic utensil.
  24. Clean the rims with a clean, wet rag.
  25. Screw on the ring/lids.
  26. Lower into boiling water bath canner water.
  27. Resume the boil and then begin the timer for 40 minutes for quarts.
  28. Test the seal 24 hours after removing from the canner.


This is the BEST Garden Fresh Tomato Sauce (It's SO easy, makes a ton, and it has canning instructions!)


  • Hollie

    Oh Quinn! Thank you. I have had to ‘throw the towel in’ on canning tomato sauce because the amount of time it takes to make it just wasn’t conducive to the other needs of our family. But now – now!!! The perfect recipe. Thank you for sharing, I will be making this this weekend and serving it with our grassfed beef over a dish of fresh spaghetti squash. Lovely, thank you! Hollie

    • You’re welcome Hollie! I hope this is the solution you need for making tomato sauce for your family like it has been for me and that you guys really enjoy it!! Blessings 🙂

  • Johanna

    Thank you, Quinn! I can’t wait to try this!
    Sorry I haven’t been too talkative on your blog lately. Life gets in the way! But in a good way (most of the time :P)
    Oh, and I had wanted to purchase the bundle and almost forgot until 10:00 last night! I ordered it through your link up above. I can’t wait to start reading and learning!
    take care!
    Johanna from Lancaster County

  • I’ve made this sauce several time in the last couple months. I love how easy it is… Our freezer is now full of it! We love it. Thank you for the recipe!!!

    • You’re very welcome Karen! We’ve had a rough time with chickens (and oddly enough our cats) eating the tomatoes right off the vine. We had our first killing frost this morning and I couldn’t help but take a moment and be overwhelmed with gratitude because of this recipe. We still were able to put up 37 quarts of tomato sauce because the yield is so high. I’m so glad that you love it too!

  • S. R.

    Why the concern for pressure canning? Doesn’t pressure canning work specifically for low acid foods like meat and corn? I thought that is why you pressure can, but I am new to it, so I might be wrong.

  • Jeanne

    Quinn, is this recipe for frozen (and thawed) tomatoes, or only for fresh? I ask because quite a lot of extra liquid comes off frozen tomatoes after they thaw, so it would make a difference.