Tomato-based ingredients are a favorite for giving body and richness to recipes. And they’re also available in tons of varieties to fit specific culinary needs. Diced tomatoes are one of those types that are widely used in numerous cuisines. But what can you use in its place if you ever find your stock empty?
The best thing about tomato ingredients is they can be swapped for one another; they’re made of the same essential item. But the difference in flavor, thickness, and consistency apply when you make such switches. So, whether you’re looking for a diced tomato substitute for chili or want to try something new, bear these factors in mind. This tip will help you learn how to substitute diced tomatoes with their other counterparts; crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, tomato sauce, and many others.
What are Diced Tomatoes?
Diced tomatoes are tomatoes that have been cut into small chunks and stored in tomato juice or puree. They usually come in sealed jars or cans, depending on the brand. Diced tomatoes get their name from the symmetrical cutting of the tomatoes before they’re mixed with juice. The chunks may be large enough to stand as toppings or slightly smaller so you can incorporate them in creamy soups.
Plum tomatoes are picked to make this exciting ingredient. The tomatoes are first steamed so the skin can be easily peeled off. After this process, the tomatoes are diced either largely or in smaller chunks. The diced tomatoes may also be added with salt and citric acid for preservation, and most brands indicate such contents on their labels. These additives keep the chopped pieces firm and sometimes even enhance the flavor.
Diced Tomatoes in Recipes
Diced tomatoes usually come with the taste of slightly cooked tomatoes, especially if they’re sealed in tomato juice. But some brands offer you a blend of fresh and cooked flavors by storing the pieces in tomato puree instead. Whichever type you choose, diced tomatoes are primarily used in recipes where you want chunks of tomatoes to be visible. They’re also ideal for dishes that require long simmering to combine the flavors.
Diced tomatoes are a common addition to Italian and American dishes. And many examples of recipes that use diced tomatoes can be found around you, and some popular ones include;
- Slow-cooked Ground beef
- Baked beans
- Beans on toast
- Braised chicken
- Vegetable dishes
- Chicken cacciatore
- Tomato tortellini
- Tomato gravy
- Pork cassoulet
- Instant pot greens
- Tomato grilled cheese
- Baked fish
- Enchilada bakes
- Lamb chops
- Chicken bake
- Mac and cheese
Dice Tomatoes Substitutes
You may not have a can of diced tomatoes in your pantry at a time of need. Or perhaps you’re not keen on the added preservatives you noticed on the label. This reason is common in cases where brands of diced tomatoes include calcium chloride. This salt-like additive is used chiefly to keep the chopped pieces firm in the juice or puree.
Regardless, you can still make do with most tomato-based cooking ingredients, give or take a few adjustments.
If you prefer to keep your substitute closer to canned tomatoes’ flavor, whole peeled tomatoes are the next best thing. They’re prepared like diced tomatoes, except they’re stored whole in tomato juice. You’ll have to remove the core and seeds before you dice the tomatoes when using this option. And you must include the juice from the can so the consistency stays close to that of canned diced tomatoes. Use a quarter of diced whole peeled tomatoes as a substitute in every recipe.
If you have some fresh Roma or San Marzano tomatoes in your kitchen, you can chop them up for your recipe. Fresh tomatoes are a time-saver for when you’re in a pinch, plus you get the newest flavor of tomatoes in your recipe. Plus, the juice gathered as you dice the fresh tomatoes can replicate that found sealed brands. Use two cups of chopped fresh tomatoes to replace a cup of canned diced tomatoes in your cooking. And diced fresh tomatoes are a fantastic substitute in any recipe.
If you have a bottle or carton of tomato juice in your fridge, use it to substitute for diced tomatoes. Tomato juice is more fluid, though, so you’ll have to take note of the consistency difference. Also, it may not contain as large chunks as diced tomatoes, but it’ll still add flavor and body to the recipe. Also, some tomato juice brands include salt, while others may have additional spices like garlic or onion powder. So take note of this factor and adjust the seasoning accordingly. Tomato juice is your best substitute for braises and broths and helps to tenderize meat, fish, and poultry.
Tomato puree is an excellent diced tomato substitute in stews, sauces snd other slow-cooked recipes. The tomatoes are prepared for processing like peeled tomatoes; steamed so the skin can be removed. But the tomatoes are also cooked till the moisture is reduced and then strained to remove the seeds. Afterward, they’re pureed and stored in sealed jars or cans. Tomato puree offers an even more cooked flavor compared to diced tomatoes. They’re also a good option for pizza toppings, chili, and salsa.
Before using tomato puree, check the label for additives as some brands contain added salt and sugar. And if it does, adjust the seasoning in your recipe to balance the flavor. You’ll also have to put tomato puree earlier than the recipe requires for diced tomatoes. This change is because tomato puree needs to cook for a longer time.
This diced tomatoes substitute is convenient, readily available, and cheap. Tomato paste is one of the most commonly found tomato-based ingredients in every kitchen. Since you stand a high chance of having a can or tube in your pantry, it’s a huge time-saver. And it’s also a mixture of tomato paste and diced tomatoes, so you get a rich, concentrated taste.
Tomato paste goes well in recipes that use diced tomatoes as a thickening agent. As such, it’s an ideal addition to sauces and stews like bolognese and marinara. Also, tomato paste has a richer flavor, so use less of it.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Can I use tomato sauce instead of diced tomato in chili?
Yes, you can. Use the same quantity of tomato sauce as you would for tomato juice to replace diced tomatoes.
What’s the difference between crushed tomatoes and diced tomatoes?
Both crushed and diced tomatoes are chunks of tomatoes stored in juice. But diced tomatoes are larger chunks and, most times, are stored in tomato juice than puree. Crushed tomatoes, however, are smaller chunks of diced tomatoes stored almost exclusively in tomato puree or paste.
Can I puree diced tomatoes to make tomato sauce?
Yes, you can. This possible swap is also why tomato sauce can be a substitute for diced tomato chili and marinara. But when pureeing diced tomatoes to get tomato sauce, take care not to let it blend into a completely smooth consistency.
Most tomato-based ingredients will easily replace diced tomatoes in any recipe. And you can pick from any of these substitutes to make such a swap. While you may notice the difference in thickness with some options, you’ll still get an appealing consistency and flavor with them. Plus, these alternatives will also supply the rich tomato taste expected of recipes that include diced tomatoes.