Canned Tomatoes 101: How to Choose the Right Type for Your Recipe

Canned Tomatoes
Photo by Vladislav Glukhotko on Unsplash

Canned tomatoes are a convenient pantry staple that can be used to add flavor to countless recipes even outside of tomato season. However, a quick walk through the canned goods aisle may end up leaving you feeling a bit confused. The wide array of options available can be overwhelming, and it’s not always clear which style of canned tomatoes will work best for which recipes. While, ultimately, using one kind over another probably won’t ruin a dish, there are subtle differences that can have an impact on things like texture and consistency. Read on to learn more about when to use some of the most common types:

Whole Peeled Tomatoes

Whole peeled tomatoes are your best bet whenever you’re looking for serious tomato flavor in a dish. Because they’re whole, they tend to hold their shape well during cooking and are excellent for recipes that benefit from a chunky texture or require a long cooking time. We love to use them in hearty dishes like stews and chili.

Diced Tomatoes

Diced tomatoes are pre-cut to a size that makes them perfect for quick recipes like simple sauces and salsa. The small, uniform pieces allow for an even distribution of tomato flavor, creating a well-balanced taste profile in any dish they’re added to. Some diced tomatoes are also packed in salt or citric acid, which helps the pieces to retain their shape when cooked.

Crushed Tomatoes

Crushed tomatoes are ideal for making smooth, velvety sauces and in recipes that require a bit of tang. Use them for pizza or in soups and tomato-based curries, where their fine texture will allow them to melt into the other ingredients and create a bold, yet cohesive flavor.