Tomatoes are key ingredients for a wide variety of recipes, thanks to their flavor and juiciness.
Many people find it handy to use diced tomatoes for recipes that call for the use of tomatoes because of the convenience.
But what if you have run out of diced tomatoes, and you need to prepare a meal that requires using a can or so?
The good news is that there are some easy substitutes for diced tomatoes, including fresh tomatoes, tomato puree, whole peeled tomatoes, tomato paste, and tomato juice, and crushed tomatoes.
Here are some tips on how to use dice tomatoes for delicious results and what the top alternatives for diced tomatoes are.
Why use diced tomatoes?
Diced tomatoes usually come in cans of symmetrically cut plum tomatoes with tomato puree or juice.
Canned diced tomatoes became popular in the 1990s and have been a favorite food product and ingredient for chefs and home cooks ever since.
These tomatoes are especially popular for preparing Italian and Italian American foods such as pasta, pizza, and more.
They are preferred to fresh tomatoes due to their convenience, easy storage, and ease of use.
All you need to do is open the can and add the precut tomatoes to the food you are preparing, without the need to wash, blanch, peel or dice the tomatoes yourself.
Of course, if you prefer, you can prepare your diced tomatoes at home, which is relatively easy as well.
Some of the most popular uses of diced tomatoes and ones in which the tomatoes are one of the main ingredients include:
For many types of sauces, such as homemade chili sauce, spaghetti sauce, and other tomato-based sauces.
For making homemade pizza sauce and using the diced tomatoes instead of other pizza sauces or ketchup.
For preparing salsa. You can easily make salsa using diced tomatoes by blending them with some red onion, cilantro, garlic, lime juice, and jalapenos in a blender or food processor.
When making mac and cheese, you can add some diced tomatoes to add to the deliciousness of the meal.
Diced tomatoes are very convenient for any stews, soups, and meals which call for the use of tomatoes.
The best substitutes for diced tomatoes
If you happen to run out of diced tomatoes, here are the most suitable alternatives which you can use instead
1. Fresh tomatoes
I think that we can all agree that using fresh tomatoes is always the best option when preparing food that has tomatoes in it. The main reason why people like used diced tomatoes is that they save time and effort during the food prep.
If you don’t have diced tomatoes, you can chop up several fresh tomatoes instead carefully so that you can keep their juices as well and use them for cooking instead of the diced ones.
The best tomato sorts to use for this purpose are San Marzano and Rome tomatoes, but you can use any sort of fresh tomato you have as well.
To use fresh tomatoes as a replacement for diced tomatoes, use the same quantity of tomatoes and juice that you would use for the original recipe.
2. Whole peeled tomatoes
Whole peeled tomatoes are another excellent alternative to using diced tomatoes for cooking and food prep.
Take the whole peeled tomatoes out of the can or container and cut them to remove the seeds and the cores before dicing them. Remember to keep the sauces from the cutting and dicing, for they are usually an important part of the recipe.
You can thicken the juices of the cut whole peeled tomatoes into a paste by simmering the tomatoes and the juice in a saucepan prior to adding them to your food.
Whole peeled tomatoes are great substitutes for diced tomatoes when you are making pasta sauce, marinara sauce, cooking meat, and other recipes that require diced tomatoes.
3. Tomato puree
If you decide to use tomato puree instead of diced tomatoes, remember to use the same amount of puree as you would dice tomatoes.
Also, keep in mind that the tomato puree can be cooked for longer, unlike diced tomatoes which can disintegrate and become soggy during prolonged cooking. So, you may want to add the tomato puree earlier on at the beginning of the cooking so that it adds a richer flavor and better texture to the meal.
If you are on a low sodium or weight loss diet, make sure that you check the label of the tomato puree because some brands contain quite a lot of salt and sugar, which can affect your diet and the taste of the food you are preparing as well.
Tomato puree is a suitable diced tomato substitute for stews, chili, soup, and other liquid-cooked foods. But it is not suitable as a substitute for diced tomatoes if you are preparing salsa.
4. Tomato paste
Tomato paste is usually a mixture of diced tomatoes that have been skinned and have their seeds removed and tomato puree.
The puree and cut tomatoes are then cooked until they reach a paste-like denser texture, making them a more concentrated version than either the tomato puree and the diced tomatoes.
If you are planning on using tomato paste as a substitute for diced tomatoes, then you may want to use water to make it more liquid or use tomato paste when you want to thicken your marinara, Bolognese, or other sauce.
5. Tomato juice
Tomato juice can be used instead of diced tomatoes for many recipes, especially for making meat, fish, or poultry, and using the juice instead of adding more water for stewing or braising it.
Thanks to its acidity, the tomato juice will help break down the enzymes of the meat and make it tenderer.
It is better to use homemade tomato juice, or if you are planning on using store-bought juice, check the label for the content of salt, sugar, or other ingredients which can affect the flavor of your food.
What is a good substitute for diced tomatoes when preparing chili?
Some chili recipes do not require the use of any tomatoes, and they consist of other ingredients such as black, pinto, and kidney beans or other veggies such as zucchini and corn.
But if your chili recipe includes diced tomatoes, you can use tomato paste as a replacement for it.
Can you eat the diced tomatoes from the can?
While in most cases it is probably safe to eat diced tomatoes out of the can, it is always a better idea to cook them so that you get rid of any unpleasant taste from the tin can or bitter tastes.
To make sure that you are using safe and healthy canned diced tomatoes, make sure that you check their labels for excess sugar, garlic, salt, or artificial preservatives different than citric acid or calcium chloride.
Will they cook down?
If you are preparing food that requires a longer cooking time, then it is better to use whole peeled tomatoes or tomato paste instead of diced tomatoes which will disintegrate when cooked for long.