Who doesn’t like the delicious smoky goodness of fire-roasted tomatoes? They work so well with lots of different dishes and most recipes for soups, pasta, or pizzas.
The best substitutes for Fire Roasted Tomatoes are freshly diced tomatoes, canned tomatoes, sun-dried tomatoes, tomato puree, and tomato paste.
Substitutes for Fire Roasted Tomatoes
Let’s discuss these substitutes and see how they work. We will also provide some recommended dishes for these options.
1. Freshly Diced Tomatoes
This option is the best substitute, since it’s simple and straightforward. The difference between fire-roasted tomatoes and diced tomatoes is that no cooking is needed.
Simply take some fresh tomatoes and chop them evenly. It’s just an honest piece of tomato with no distinct taste, unlike fire-roasted tomatoes which have a smoky taste and smell. Freshly chopped tomatoes have a fresher and simpler texture.
Since there’s no cooking involved, the tomatoes are also healthier. They will retain most of their nutrients, like lycopene (which is beneficial for fighting cancer). It’s a good idea to have a tomato plant in your house – that way you don’t have to make constant visits to the grocery store!
Diced tomatoes are perfect for any recipe. You can use them as a topping for any hearty soup, just to add that chunky fresh taste. Mexican treats wouldn’t be complete without freshly chopped tomatoes. Just imagine our all-time favorite pico de gallo and nacho salsa without fresh tomatoes. You can also add diced tomatoes to your salads for that healthy appetizer meal.
The only downside is that uncooked diced tomatoes retain their water content. Your dishes may get a bit soggy or watery if not eaten soon after serving. Storing diced tomatoes can be tricky as well, especially if not done properly. They are really only suitable when eaten fresh or eaten on the same day.
2. Canned Tomatoes
Living in the city gives us limited access to farms that offer fresh and organic produce. The price of other consumables and necessities is also going up, which forces us to compromise the quality of food that we buy. Hence, we turn to the cheap canned good alternative.
Canned tomatoes are not a bad option, and even I am guilty of using them. This isn’t a problem or anything to worry about – as they are not the worst alternative. And the results aren’t really that different.
Though these tomatoes are canned, their nutrients are still present. Make sure to pick a reliable brand and always check the label. Pick the ones that contain a higher lycopene percentage, along with other vitamins and minerals.
The good thing about canned tomatoes is they have a really long shelf life (particularly when compared with fresh tomatoes). You can always keep them in your pantry and save them for later. As long as they are within their expiry date, you’re good.
The uses for canned tomatoes are endless. You may use them for easy soup dishes, pizza sauce toppings, etc. – they are very simple and easy. When making pasta, there is no need to chop some tomatoes, instead just pour in your canned tomatoes. You may also use them for sauces or salsa and even for meat marinades.
The only downside is that they are not the healthiest option. However, in an emergency this alternative definitely works.
3. Sun-dried Tomatoes
I personally like sun-dried tomatoes. If you really like your fire-roasted tomatoes, dried tomatoes provide a really excellent alternative.
Dried tomatoes are simply ripe tomatoes that have gone through a food preservation process, via drying under the sun. They are marinated in sulfur dioxide or salt to maintain their freshness and nutrients. During the process, they lose their water content, which explains their wrinkly and shrunken appearance. Our ancestors have been using this practice since ancient times to preserve meat and vegetables.
Dried tomatoes have a very similar taste to fire-roasted tomatoes. They are salty, savory, and crunchy in texture. The only difference between the two is that sun-dried tomatoes don’t smell or taste smoky. They don’t have that charred taste. They are more like raisins or other sun-dried fruits, except that they are more salty.
They also have a better shelf life or storage period. Since they have been through a food preservation process, sun-dried tomatoes last for a long time. Unopened bags could last up to 24 months. Opened bags must be consumed within 6 months.
Sun-dried tomatoes are also diverse. They can be ground into a powder form and used as a seasoning or topping. They provide a distinct taste when added to your pasta and pizzas. You can also make your own tomato pesto for your Italian dishes. Or of course you can eat them on their own – they have a tangy, salty flavor.
The only thing you can’t do with them is make smooth sauces. Since they have lost most of their juices from drying, the results will most likely be crumbly and flaky.
4. Tomato Puree
Tomato puree is a thick sauce or liquid which results from cooking and straining fresh tomatoes. Unlike fire-roasting or sun-drying, the process involves boiling the tomatoes and mashing them until the desired thickness is achieved.
If your oven is not working and you can’t roast your tomatoes, you can always boil them and make a puree instead. You may also purchase pureed tomatoes in a can. However, we strongly suggest that it’s better to make the puree yourself if you have enough time to do so. Pureed tomatoes taste better when homemade and freshly made.
Tomato puree is also nutritious, because it’s made fresh and has retained most of its nutrients. You can also adjust its taste by adding a little salt and pepper or even chilies for a little kick. The taste is just like the regular tomato sauce that you can get from the grocery store.
You may store tomato puree in the freezer for up to six months for long term use. Perfect for budget-friendly and healthy meal prepping, I usually batch it up into separate containers and put a label on for easy monitoring.
As with the other substitutes, tomato puree can be used for different dishes. It works particularly well when making tomato soups and sauces. It’s also good for pasta and pizzas. I personally like to add it to my beef or chicken stews with carrots and potatoes.
Since tomato puree is in liquid form, it usually lacks texture. However, this is not something to worry about. You can always add tomato chunks to add some texture if necessary.
5. Tomato Paste
Tomato paste has a thick and concentrated texture, a result of long hours of cooking the tomatoes. It looks like toothpaste but it’s red in color. The seeds and skins have been strained out to achieve a smooth texture. Unlike other tomato sauces, tomato pastes are not watery or soggy since the water content has been reduced by long hours of cooking.
To use tomato paste, you need to dissolve it in warm water or add it while cooking. Since it’s concentrated, you might have to measure it before adding it to your dish. The flavor might be too strong for your liking.
If properly incorporated in the dish, you shouldn’t be able to taste a difference – and it still has that tomato-ey goodness and savory taste. It also adds color to the dish, making it brighter and even more appetizing.
Tomato pastes can usually be purchased in any grocery store. They’re very common and easy to find, just like canned tomatoes. This is a cheaper alternative compared to the other substitutes mentioned. It’s also very easy to store and convenient to use.
Tomato paste is perfect for dishes like stews and saucy meats. If I’m trying to cut down calories, I sauté some vegetables and add a bit of tomato paste to add color and flavor to it. This is also a good addition to your “too pale” tomato sauce, as it brings that bright red tomato color.
Note that the texture of tomato paste is not the same as tomato sauce. It won’t thicken the sauce, if that’s what you’re after. Tomato paste only adds flavor and color to the dish.
“How to Make Fire-Roasted Tomatoes at Home”
If you really can’t give up your favorite fire-roasted tomatoes, here’s a quick recipe that you can easily make at home to achieve that perfect smoky goodness.
- 500g fresh tomatoes
- Olive Oil
- Salt (optional)
- Wash the tomatoes thoroughly and cut lengthwise.
- Preheat your oven to 200 degrees Celsius.
- Arrange your tomatoes on a baking sheet, drizzle over a little olive oil and add salt to taste.
- Broil in the oven for 20 minutes or until tomatoes achieve a nicely charred appearance.
- Rotate the tomatoes halfway through the cooking time, for even cooking.
- Once cooked, let them cool. Chop the tomatoes and get rid of the dark charred bits.
- Use them for any dish or store them in a freezer bag for up to 6 months.
Is there a diy flavoring (like smoke + sugar) that would sub for roasted tomatoes in salsa where I use canned tomatoes?
Emma Wartzman of Bon Appétit recommends a pinch of smoked paprika.