How to Can Diced Tomatoes (a step-by-step tutorial)

A step-by-step photo tutorial on how to can diced tomatoes.  It’s super easy, plus if you grow your own tomatoes, it’s a big money saver too!

This easy step-by-step photo tutorial will have you saving money and canning your own diced tomatoes in no time! Who knew it could be so simple?

So many of you have asked for tutorials on how to can and freeze stuff and so I’m going to do my best over the next couple of weeks to give you some.  To all you regular readers, I hope you don’t feel like the blog is being taken over by canning posts!  And if you do, just know that it will be short lived.  :) 

I started canning diced tomatoes several years ago after having an “aha moment” one evening while preparing dinner.  As I was opening a can of diced tomatoes that I needed for the recipe I was making, I suddenly wondered why in the world I never tried canning them myself.  I mean how hard could it be?  I grew up helping my mom can tomato juice and tomato chunks.  And every year since we’ve been married, I’ve canned tomato juice as well as things like salsa and marinara sauce, so I was quite familiar with the process of canning tomatoes.

I decided to give it a try and it worked like a charm!  It was not only super simple, it has also saved me from needing to buy diced tomatoes from the store.

Want to try it too?  I’ll be happy to walk you through the process!

* Tomatoes, salt and lemon juice
* Dishpan or containers to put the tomatoes in
Knife (love this one- it’s absolutely perfect for tomatoes!)
* Cutting board (The groove on this one is awesome because it catches the juice, creating less mess.)
* Vidalia Chop Wizard (Not a necessity, but you can dice the tomatoes in about half the time if you use it.)
– This gadget is also awesome for dicing tomatoes, onions and peppers for salsa.
* Wide Funnel
* Damp rag to wipe tops of jars
* Canner
* Canning jars with lids and bands
* Jar lifter
* Old towels or rags to set the hot jars on

(If you are new to canning and need to buy both the jar lifter and a funnel, it’s cheaper to get this Ball Canning Utensil Set.)

How to Can Diced Tomatoes- a step-by-step tutorial

How to Can Diced Tomatoes (washing)

1.  Wash tomatoes thoroughly.  Cut out stem and any defects or blemishes.  Some people also peel the tomatoes, but I never do and we honestly have not noticed the peelings at all- and I’m even funny about textures like that in food.  I figure why bother with the extra step- plus it’s a bit healthier too!

How to Can Diced Tomatoes (slicing)

2.  Slice tomatoes about ½ inch, then dice them into whatever size you want.  I love using my Vidalia Chop Wizard for this!

How to Can Diced Tomatoes (in jar)

3.  Place tomatoes into a clean canning jar- a funnel makes this super easy.  Gently shake jar to settle tomatoes so that you can fill it completely.  The jar should be full to the base of the neck.

How to Can Diced Tomatoes (salted)

4.  Add salt- ½ tsp. per pint and 1 tsp. per quart.  Wipe rim of each jar with a damp cloth to remove any tomato residue that may be there.  (If there is even a slight bit of tomato juice on it, it may not allow it to seal properly.)

Update: Several readers commented and said that to be safe, you really should add lemon juice as well.  After researching a bit, I found that it is recommended that you add 1 Tbsp. bottled lemon juice per pint and 2 Tbsp. per quart.  

How to Can Diced Tomatoes (lids)

5.  Once you have 7 jars filled, place 7 metal canning lids in a small pan.  Cover with water; bring to a boil.  Once water boils, use a fork to lift the jar lids out of the water- be careful not to burn yourself!- and place them on the jars.  Secure each lid with a jar band/ring.  (The reason for heating the lids is to soften the rubber, allowing for a better seal.)

How to Can Diced Tomatoes (in canner)

6.  Place 7 jars in canner.  Fill with enough hot water to almost cover the jars.  Turn burner on medium high heat.  Once water starts to boil, reduce heat slightly and process for 40 minutes, making sure the water is boiling gently and steadily the whole time.  (You may need to adjust heat to keep the boil going nicely, but really, as long as it is boiling, you are fine.)

How to Can Diced Tomatoes (jars)

7.  After processing for 40 minutes, turn burner off.  Remove jars using jar lifter- you may want to have a dishrag in your other hand to catch any hot water that drips from the jars as you remove them- and place on an old towel, blanket or other padded surface.  (The reason for doing this is to protect your counter top from the super hot jars.)  Allow at least a little bit of air space around each jar, making sure not to have jars close enough to touch.  Do not move until jars are completely cool.

Jars should seal as they cool and you will typically hear a snap or pinging sound as the vacuum seal is formed.  Lids will be slightly concaved when sealed.  To test the seal, lightly tap the center of the cooled jar lid.  If it is firm and does not move, it should be sealed.  If it pushes in, it didn’t seal properly.  You can still use unsealed jars, just put them in the refrigerator and use them as soon as possible.

After jars are completely cool, you can remove the rings.  Jars should be wiped clean before storing.


HELPFUL TIP: 1 pint of canned diced tomatoes is equivalent to 1 (15 oz.) canned diced tomatoes


How to Make and Can Tomato JuiceHow to Freeze Green Beans Collage

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  1. says

    Learning how to make my own diced tomatoes and can them was on my goal list this year, and I completely forgot about it! I just happened to come across your post on the Inspire Me Monday linky party. Thanks!

    • ThriftyFrugalMom says

      Oh, that’s awesome, Jessica! Hope you are still able to do it. It’s not hard, especially once you get the tomatoes diced.

  2. says

    It’s been many years since I’ve done any canning but your tutorial pictures are reminding me of the good old days and are almost putting me in the mood to do some canning again! Your recipe looks pretty easy to do and looks tasty too. Visiting from the Good Tips Tuesday linkup. :)

  3. says

    I’m always impressed with articles and ideas like this one! Thanks for sharing these suggestions. Your pictures are great, and I love the idea of dicing my own tomatoes~

    Came over on SHINE.

    Hope you have a blessed day today~

    • ThriftyFrugalMom says

      Thanks, Melanie! There’s something about preserving my own food that just makes me feel good. And when it’s as easy as this, it makes it even more fun!

  4. Robyn says

    I found a really handy magnetic lid lifter at walmart for under a dollar. It works great for getting the lids out of the water! I will be canning tomatoes today!

    • ThriftyFrugalMom says

      I’ve heard that there is such a thing, Robyn. I grew up helping my mom can and we always used a fork to get the lids out so to me it’s just easier that way. But the magnetic thing would probably be handy, especially if you are concerned about burning yourself with the water!

      • ThriftyFrugalMom says

        I’ve heard lots of people say they love the lid lifter too, Ella Ruth! I guess I should try one to see what the fuss is about. :)

  5. Kay says

    Have you used this recipe/method before? I loved how easy it was and have made a few batches now following this method. You had me at “no peeling”;)! I have had two family members now question me about the safety of the method (or really, question me about canning tomatoes in general- especially without pressure canning). I even added a tablespoon of vinegar to each pint jar to make it more acidic to reduce concerns of botulism. I just wanted to follow up to see if this is a tried or tested method or get any input on canning safety.

    • ThriftyFrugalMom says

      I know! When I discovered that you didn’t notice the peel when you do the little dices like this, I was more than happy not to need to worry about it!

      I’ve canned diced tomatoes for 3 years and my mom has canned larger chunks using this method for 47 years! :) We’ve been totally fine- but at the same time, I don’t claim to be an expert and realize that everyone has different views on the whole subject of canning.

      I looked at the Ball’s site and this is what they said:

      Tomatoes have a pH (acid) level that is just above the line dividing high-acid foods and low-acid foods. It is important for the safety and quality of tomato recipes that the proper acid level is maintained. Since many factors can decrease the natural acidity in tomatoes, the addition of bottled lemon juice or citric acid helps ensure the correct acidification. Bottled lemon juice must be used because its acid level is consistent, unlike fresh lemons.

      Recipes that include an adequate amount of vinegar (5% acidity) do not require additional acidification, such as salsa, tomato chutney, and pickled tomatoes.

      Hope that helps!

  6. Connie says

    I’m trying my hand at canning right now! so easy! Wondering, what is the shelf life for tomatoes? I’m sure they won’t sit too long on my shelf but would like to know for my own knowledge!

    • ThriftyFrugalMom says

      That’s great, Connie! And I love that you’ve found it to be easy because I think often people get scared away from canning because it seems complicated, when overall, it’s really not that way. I don’t know the official answer too your question about how long tomatoes are “good”, but I can tell you that I recently discovered a couple of jars that were 2 years old (yes, I apparently didn’t do a good job of rotating my jars!) and they were just fine when I used them. Hope that helps and happy canning!

    • ThriftyFrugalMom says

      You mean kind of like Rotel? I wouldn’t know why not. The only thing I can think of is that the peppers might get mushy. You could also google Homemade Rotel or something like that too and see what you can find!

  7. says

    Hi there! I’m stopping by from women with intentions link-up. Thank you for sharing about how to can diced tomatoes. Looks like fun and I loved the images that corresponded! :-)

  8. Chrism says

    There are a few more steps you really should be taking here. You NEED to add 2Tablespoons of lemon juice to each quart jar or 1Tablespoon to each pint. (you won’t taste it). But this will prevent botulism from developing. Tomatoes are less acidic than fruits so if you do not add the lemon juice, you should be pressure canning them. (You can also use citric acid by Ball)

    Also, use a rubber spatula to go up and down around the jar to remove air-bubbles. This will prevent too much air in your jars and lid failures.

    You do not need to boil the lids. Boiling can actually cause the sealant to come off and cause seal failures. Wash them and put them in WARM water to soften the seals. Ball is actually saying now that you don’t even need to heat them at all now. (they will sterilize in the water bath just like the contents of the jar)

    Your jars should be hot before canning. This will prevent jar breakage in the canner. I put my canning jars in the dishwasher and run a cycle and take them out to use during the dry cycle.

    Please take canning safety seriously. If you have any seal failures, put the food in the fridge and use it up. If you have any seal failures after storage, throw it out. Anything off, throw it out.

    For proper canning step-by-step, check out a copy of The Ball Blue Book, or any state cooperative extension service website.

      • Leandra MacDonald says

        Just another safety note: jars should be covered by an inch or more of water while in the water bath canner.

  9. says

    This was a great post considering I just canned 12 jars over the weekend. I know now that I need a new canner because mine only fits jars safely…it took awhile to get them all canned properly. Thanks I will try for a new canner next year!

    • ThriftyFrugalMom says

      Thankfully, canners are pretty cheap. Actually, sometimes you can find them used too for almost nothing. Maybe you’ll get lucky! 😉

    • ThriftyFrugalMom says

      No, they should create their own juice, so you don’t need to add water. The jars shouldn’t have been floating. Did they seal okay? Do you have a rack in your canner? And did you only put enough water in the canner to just come to the neck of the jars or just barely to the top? Those are the only things that I can think.

    • ella ruth says

      If your jars were floating, did you have a full canner? If not put a empty jar in so that it takes up space. Fill it with water.

  10. Cara says

    Great tip about not peeling – I’m definitely going to try that next time. I just had to respond to the comment asking about adding peppers and onions. If you add anything extra to tomatoes they HAVE to be pressure canned for safety. Tomatoes are the only vegetable (actually they’re a fruit, but anyway…) acidic enough for water bath canning – and adding other ingredients changes the pH making it more alkaline and therefore more hospitable to the really nasty bacteria. So pressure can or don’t add extras. It’s just not worth it! Happy Canning

    • ThriftyFrugalMom says

      Thanks for that info, Cara! I was thinking that it wouldn’t be any different than salsa, but duh, with salsa you add other ingredients too. Appreciate the input.

  11. Coensy says

    I just finished following your directions to the letter and included the lemon juice. I feel like I must have missed a step. When I pulled the jars out of the canner. I noticed that the jars look a little over half full now and it seems like there is too much air? Any suggestions as to what I may have done wrong or how to fix?

    • ThriftyFrugalMom says

      I’m so sorry, Coensy! I know how frustrating it is to do something like this and feel like you followed the directions, but still didn’t have it work like you thought it should.

      Did you shake the jar to settle the contents like I mention in step #3? Or maybe you did that and just didn’t settle it enough? I usually put a rag or washcloth on the counter and then gently, but still somewhat firmly, tap the jar on the rag/washcloth to settle the contents. It will often give me close to 3/4 – 1 inch of space. Sometimes I’ll even do this twice with tomatoes because they are so soft and can squish together more.

      Because of all the juices, tomatoes also do reduce some when canned, especially if they were pretty ripe. The jars that I showed in the picture were made with greenhouse tomato seconds that I can buy from a local produce farm for cheap. They aren’t quite as juicy as the tomatoes I grow. When I did some later with a few of my own home-grown very ripe tomatoes, the contents “shrank” significantly more.

      The only other thing I can think of is that you may not have filled it quite as full? I usually fill it right up to the base of the neck, allowing about 3/4 to 1 inch headspace.

      I think as long as they sealed okay for you, that they will be fine. Here’s what the National Center for Home Food Preservation says about too much headspace:

      If too much headspace is allowed, the food at the top is likely to discolor. Also, the jar may not seal properly because there will not be enough processing time to drive all the air out of the jar.

      Hope that helps!

  12. Annette Woodbury says

    Thanks for your ‘do not peel first’ tip. I used it and saved lots of time. I would love to can my own Marin are sauce. Do you plan to share your method? I believe it has to be processed in a pressure canner, but I have been unable to find a recipe or method so far.

    • ThriftyFrugalMom says

      So glad that tip saved you time! It’s been a big lifesaver for me too. I didn’t need to make any Marinara Sauce this year since I had plenty left from last year, so I won’t be sharing my recipe until next year. And no, it doesn’t have to be pressure canned as long as you add bottled lemon juice to help the acidity. If you do a search on Pinterest or Google, you should be able to find some Marinara recipes. (I just did that and there were quite a few. I would link to a couple, but I wasn’t sure exactly what type of marinara you were looking for.) Hope that helps!

  13. Tina says

    I can not use home canned products for my daycare so I have frozen most of the produce we have grown as a group this year. Will t h ese freeze up ok? Or will they just be mush? Thanks

    • ThriftyFrugalMom says

      First of all, I think it’s just great that you grow produce with your daycare kids. What a great way to teach them practical things!

      In answer to your question…I’ve only ever frozen really small amount of canned tomatoes (you know, when I had just a tiny bit left that was going to spoil otherwise) and I have only used those in soups. But I think that freezing them diced like this would probably make them much too mushy to use in most recipes that call for canned diced tomatoes. They would probably work fine for something like Tomato Basil Parmesan Soup though, since there you kind of want them soft anyway. Hope that helps!

    • ThriftyFrugalMom says

      Hmm….I don’t think that should be a problem since it wouldn’t be any different than adding spices to homemade tomato/spaghetti sauce. Hope it goes fabulously for you!

  14. Jess says

    Thanks so much for sharing this tutorial! I really want to get into canning this summer and I’ll be using this post to walk me through the process! My husband will be so happy…he’s an enthusiastic gardener and his dream is to grow tons of tomatoes and can them! I’ll have him can with me!

    • ThriftyFrugalMom says

      Oh wow, then you should be good to go if you have a hubby that loves to garden! In my opinion, this is one of the easiest things to do with tomatoes….I love doing juice and salsa as well, but both of them take a bit more work than this, so if you are just getting started preserving, this is a great thing to try. Hope you have a bumper crop of tomatoes next summer! :)

  15. Cindy says

    Why do you suggest to remove the bands after boiling for 40 min? Is it really necessary? Unless I am misunderstanding what the bands are?

    • ThriftyFrugalMom says

      Cindy, there is just no reason to let the rings on. Once the lids have sealed, you can unscrew the ring part and then use them again for other canning projects. (It’s much cheaper to just buy the canning lids without the rings. While the lids are to only be used once, the rings can be used until they get rusty and break.) Does that make sense? Or are you still confused?

      Ps. The lid is the part that covers the jar opening, the ring/band is the part that screws onto the jar and holds down the lid which helps it seal while being canned.

  16. Katie says

    Some of the recipes I’ve seen for canning tomatoes say to core the tomatoes. Is this not necessary? I am all for omitting that step!

    • ThriftyFrugalMom says

      I’ve never cored tomatoes for anything, Katie, so my opinion is that you don’t need to. :) Honestly, I’m not sure why you’d need to cut anything out anyway, because it should all be edible, right? Obviously if there is a hard spot or something, you’ll want to remove that, but I think that probably goes without saying.

  17. Sabrina says

    Thank you so much for sharing. I had not tried canning tomatoes yet because I didn’t want to take the time to peel them. I did miss the update on adding lemon juice until after I had the jars in the canner. Are my tomatoes going to spoil because of this?

    • ThriftyFrugalMom says

      Yes, I love not needing to peel them too! So much less hassle. And sorry that you missed that little update about the lemon juice. It’s really your call as to whether you want to use them or not. I have never added it and my Mom never did either when she canned tomato chunks, but it is advised. Here’s what Ball’s site says:

      Tomatoes have a pH (acid) level that is just above the line dividing high-acid foods and low-acid foods. It is important for the safety and quality of tomato recipes that the proper acid level is maintained. Since many factors can decrease the natural acidity in tomatoes, the addition of bottled lemon juice or citric acid helps ensure the correct acidification. Bottled lemon juice must be used because its acid level is consistent, unlike fresh lemons.

      Recipes that include an adequate amount of vinegar (5% acidity) do not require additional acidification, such as salsa, tomato chutney, and pickled tomatoes.

      Hope that helps!

  18. Stephanie says

    This is a great post! I’m in my 30s and do a lot of other homesteading things but have been a bit frightened off by canning so far! I found a canning class (peaches) which I took the other day and am now officially obsessed. 😉

    I’m wondering how much money canning tomatoes will save me in the long-run? The canned tomatoes we currently buy are $1 or $2 for a can. I don’t like buying those because I can’t imagine they’re very healthy (and I hate that I have to throw out the tins), but when we’re on a budget they do the job. I’m not sure how much a flat of canning tomatoes cost but with 4-5 tomatoes needed for a single jar, it seems like this could end up costing us a lot. Any idea how much each jar works out to?

    Thanks! I’m really excited to buy all the equipment and get started! 😀

    • ThriftyFrugalMom says

      Oh, I love that you took a canning class. Way to go! And canning peaches is so fun. I’m hoping to get mine canned here in the next week. If I remember to, I’m going to take pictures to do a tutorial on that too. But, who knows how well I’ll do at remembering between taking care of my 4 kiddos and trying to can! :)

      I honestly have no idea how much each jar costs. If you don’t grow your own tomatoes or aren’t able to get them really inexpensively, then it likely isn’t much, if any, of a money saver. I’m able to get a 5 gallon bucket of second quality tomatoes for $3 from a local greenhouse. Obviously that makes it super worth it!

      Not sure if that helps you out or not, but that’s the best I can tell you. And kudos to overcoming your fear and getting started with canning. It’s rather addicting! 😉

    • ThriftyFrugalMom says

      Courtney, I’m sorry, but I don’t know. I always just use however many tomatoes I have that need to be used up or else I just buy a large amount and fill jars until I get the amount of jars I want. Obviously perhaps this year I should do a bit of calculating and update the post so that I can be a bit more helpful! :)

  19. Jennifer says

    I’m not sure if it’s been mentioned in the above comments but now they recommend not boiling the seals anymore, they say just place then in some hot water. Thanks for the recipe, we have a lot of over flow of tomatoes this year so instead of them going back I am going to jar them instead.

    • ThriftyFrugalMom says

      Jennifer, I heard that recently too, although I think maybe it varies on what brand of seals/lids you use? And hurray for and overabundance of tomatoes. That’s a fun “problem” to have. The great thing about these diced tomatoes is that they are super easy and quick to do, at least if you have the Vidalia Chop Wizard that I mention using in my post.

    • ThriftyFrugalMom says

      I always just do 40 minutes for quarts or pints. I’m guessing you could probably do the pints for just 30 or 35 minutes though since they typically don’t need quite as much time as quarts.

  20. Deb G says

    Thanks for the idea of dicing the tomatoes with the chopper. I’ve thought about getting one of those things for a while, so because of your article, I finally did. I’ve canned tomatoes without peeling before and it’s been good. Dicing them like this will make it even better.

    I pressure can my tomatoes so adding an acid isn’t necessary. I think it’s also easier.

    Actually, they will store for years and years (indefinitely). The problem is that they lose quality starting after the first year, but they don’t spoil if they were canned properly. I’m glad your 2-year-old tomatoes tasted good.

    The USDA has now approved steam canning. I much prefer it to water bath if I don’t use the pressure canner.

    • ThriftyFrugalMom says

      I think you will love your chopper, Deb! I’ve had so many people try it and love it. And yes, canned food definitely does lose a bit of quality after it sits for a long time. So far, peaches have been the thing that I’ve noticed it happening with the most. After a year, they tend to start getting a bit softer than they are initially. And steam canning? I’ve never heard of it. I’ll have to check it out!

  21. Cynthia says

    Thank you, this is a great easy way to put away the remainder of my tomatoes.
    I’m wondering if the water bath time is the same for quarts & pints. I did pints today & will do the 40 min this time to be on the safe side

    • ThriftyFrugalMom says

      Glad that this could help you find a way to use up the last of those tomatoes! And yes, I do the pints the same amount of time as I do the quarts. I think according to the “pros”, you’d only need to do them for 35 min. but I just always do the full 40 min. Happy canning!

  22. Judy Holub says

    I tried your recipe name Mexican dressing and it was great. I have been looking for homemade dressing without the added ingredients that I don’t know what they are. I use stevia for the sugar, cider vinegar, sea salt, combination of 3 oils, olive oil, avocado oil and walnut oil, and Walden Farms Amazin Mayo from Sprouts store which does not have soybean oil. Its a keeper, hummy for the tummy!


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