Sweet Smokey Zucchini Salsa

Sweet Smokey Zucchini Salsa is a delicious treat to can in the summertime, and then to give away your harvest in pint-size jars for the holidays! This recipe today yielded about 26 pints of salsa!

My goal this year has been to not let any of our garden go to waste. So when my son Elliot asked to learn how to can, I was on it!

Garden + Canning + Help = Mommy Love! :)

You may remember, here, where we planted 24 tomato plants.

Well, they are coming on like crazy right now! Zucchini, too!

And what perfect timing, as my son’s now home from U of O after a busy summer schedule.

When he wanted to help me can salsa, that was music to my ears … to get any help in the kitchen, without me asking for it, brings this Mama joy! :)

Together we gathered all the veggies and made a delicious salsa, inspired by my friend Cindy, who had our family over for a Mexican meal on a cold winter’s night for a delicious meal and ping pong tournament.

We pulled out our pint-size canning jars, but to be honest, this year I had to buy 3 new boxes of jars.

When you can a lot, and give the food items away, you don’t always get the jars back. But that’s okay. :)

When I heard the word “zucchini” in the salsa, I immediately thought about this time of year and our abundance of zucchini, because I’m always figuring a way to use it all.

We pulled out our KitchenAid food processor, which makes canning much easier and faster than when hand chopping or shredding!

This recipe is a 2-day process. The first day we “shredded” the zucchini and the onions and the peppers and brined it overnight.

No chopping, just shredding. Brilliant! Mission accomplished.

The next day we chopped and mixed and cooked and canned.

Together we “put up” 24 pints of delicious sweet smokey salsa.

I love that term, “put up,” don’t you? It sounds so … old-fashioned and lovely!

I know my Mom and Grandma talked about canning that way. :)

Our salsa canning tips:
-If using Roma tomatoes, you may get away with using less tomato paste.
-You can substitute parsley for the cilantro if needed.
-Always use kitchen gloves when cooking with jalapeno peppers.

It’s funny, everyone seems to have a “secret ingredient” when canning salsa. So we added in Liquid Smoke to get a “smokey” flavor.

To die for!

I loved it when my son said, Mom, this is better than writing a college lab! :)

Do you can salsa? If so, what’s your secret ingredient?



Recipe: Sweet Smokey Zucchini Salsa {ReluctantEntertainer.com}

Summary: A delicious treat to can in the summertime and give the gift of your harvest away in pint-size jars for the holidays! YIELDS about 26 pints of salsa.


  • 30 cups peeled shredded zucchini
  • 12 small onions, shredded (6 large)
  • 6 green peppers, chopped or shredded
  • 6 red peppers, chopped or shredded
  • 3/4 cup pickling salt
  • 3 Tablespoons dry mustard
  • 3 Tablespoons garlic powder
  • 3 Tablespoons cumin
  • 2 Tablespoons red chili powder
  • 3 Tablespoons Liquid Smoke
  • 6 cups white vinegar
  • 2 1/4 cups brown sugar
  • 2 cups cilantro, chopped
  • 10-15 jalapeno peppers, chopped
  • 3 tsp. ground pepper
  • 15-20 cups chopped ripe tomatoes (leave skins on)
  • 3-4 Tablespoons cornstarch
  • 3 12 oz. cans tomato paste


  1. Day ONE: Combine the first 5 ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Mix well and let stand overnight in the refrigerator.
  2. Day TWO: Rinse and drain the zucchini and onion mixture well.
  3. Put into a large pot with all other ingredients.
  4. Bring to a boil; simmer for 15 minutes.
  5. Pour mixture into hot jars and process 15 minutes in a boiling water bath canner.

Preparation time: Brine overnight(s)

Cooking time: 30 minute(s)


There’s lots of debate regarding whether you need to pressure can or just use water bath for canning salsa. Because this recipe has vinegar and canning salt, it adds enough preservative and brings up the acidity level to the point where pressure processing is not necessary. My recommendation for any canning is that you need to research yourself what is best for each recipe and the ingredients involved though!

36 comments on “Sweet Smokey Zucchini Salsa”

  1. I’m making my (ex) MIL’s chow today to try and use up some of the hundreds/thousands of tomatoes we have on hand right now. I use a water bath method and haven’t had any problems. Wish my son was here to help too. That must have been fun to pass on a tradition like this.

  2. OH Sandy – this looks fabulous!!! I have to say I have never “canned” anything – so I guess this is my virgin experiment – we will be off to the local u-pick farm to gather up zucchini, since our garden is not producing the amount we need for this yummy recipe. I can’t wait to do this with my kids – what a great reminder while we eat it all year long – plus – maybe I will make some for X-mas gifts – this would certainly be an original gift wrapped with some yummy tortilla chips!

  3. I suppose the yield will vary, for many reasons, but could you give a hint? I have no jars (but I do have the Ball canning set!) so would have to purchase some for this recipe. It looks like it would fill 100 jars! How many jars will I need?

  4. Wow, that’s just amazing and so beautiful, Sandy!!!

  5. I’ve never had zucchini in salsa before, but this sounds great! I love the sweet smokey combination!

  6. YUMMY! Sounds soo good. I think the addition of zucchini would make it really interesting. Maybe I’ll try it next year.

  7. This is the best, Sandy! I adore homemade salsas and I love the zucchini here. This sounds so good!

  8. What a great way to spend time with your family! No, we don’t can salsa, we make, or “put up”, other tomato and pepper, and onion, etc food though… Or maybe it is European variation of salsa… :)

  9. This is so sweet and super cool! I love that your son asked you how to can, I can see how amazing that made you feel. I cannot believe how many cans you made, and what an amazing usage of zucchini. I would never have thought of that, brilliant. and a little bit healthier than regular salsa. So going to be amazing mid winter when we are craving fresh salsa!

  10. “putting up” sounds so fun and old-fashioned…and i LOVE that this recipe has zucchini in it! so delicious and such a fun and flavorful way to enjoy zucchini year-round!

  11. I have never “canned” anything, but I pickled a jar of jalepenos this weekend. I didn’t “can” them, so I have to eat them within one month. They are delicious, so I know eating them up in one month won’t be a problem! Your salsa looks delicious!

  12. Haven’t tried the zucchini salsa yet but that is on my list next. My garden is about an acre and I’m always busy canning this time of the year. I make a lot of zucchini jam and my family loves it. Thank you for the recipe. Can’t wait to try it.

  13. This is the best, I adore homemade salsas and I love the zucchini here. I always wanted to make at home but never know the recipes , thank you for recipe and i defiantly try at home .This sounds so good! :-) I write about gift baskets ideas , if you need any ideas for gift you can visit my site any time.Thank you again for the information.

  14. I would kill to spend a day canning in the kitchen with you Sandy!! I love love love the sound of this salsa. So fun seeing your son helping you!! Great memory!

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  19. I’m so glad I’ve found You. This recipe is amazing. At the moment I’m eating, what couldn’t fit in the jars, over some pasta and sprinkle of Parmesan. It’s so easy to make and super delicious. I didn’t have liquid smoke so I used chipotle powder instead and it taste really wonderful, tangy, smokey, refreshing. I can finally use my extra zucchinis :)

  20. Can this recipe be safely cut in half?

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  22. This is the best salsa I’ve made. I gave it as Xmas gifts last year and everyone is already asking to be put on the list for this year. I’m making my 1st batch of the season this weekend.

  23. Pingback: sweet smokey zucchini salsa recipe | Gardengal Bevy

  24. Omg! This is wonderful! Been working on it for two days and ready to put in jars and process. The smokey flavor is so different with the cilantro really a hit. Thanks for sharing. Always looking for something different.

  25. This is absolutely delicious! ! I have been canning salsa for years but was excited to try something new. Quick question : why do you leave the skins on the tomatoes?

  26. This is absolutely delicious! I substituted poblano peppers for the jalapenos for a milder flavor & got great reviews even from my friends who usually like the jalapeno varieties. We are making another batch tonight, the first batch we had cut into 1/3 of the recipe just to try it.

  27. What’s the minimum amount of time to marinate the zucchini if you can’t do it overnight?

  28. Sounds delicious Just one question Do you have to bribe overnight or could you just let sit for a few hours while you are getting everything else prepared 

  29. my husband smoked the tomatoes and spicy peppers (we used thai dragon and jalapenos on the trader smoker and skipped adding the smoke flavoring…. WOW such a great variation! This is our 3rd year making this recipe. It is a must- do for our summer garden and canning!

  30. I have to leave comment even though I know this post is a few years old. I came upon your recipe in my attempt to use up the plethora of zucchini I had in my garden last year.  I have made salsa for YEARS, but your recipe was the first my family requested I make again!  It is delicious!  A perfect blend of flavors and texture. So, I am canning another batch this year and hoping it will last long enoughuntil my zucchini come in next year.   Thanks for sharing.  

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