Stock up on the good stuff.
When people ask about the staples I store in my pantry, I always mention canned tomatoes first. I love that I can pop open a can and easily create a delicious soup, sauce, stew, marinade, or even salad dressing. Their versatility and shelf stability make them a food-prep hero in my kitchen. I’ve been a devoted fan for a while, but I’ve never had a favorite brand, until now. After testing several brands of both whole and diced tomatoes, I’ve chosen my go-to’s. Here’s how I chose and why.
How I Tested
I chose canned tomatoes from brands I knew were available nationwide. I kept to conventional options, skipping any organic brands. I also left out any brands that used San Marzano tomatoes, just to be fair (because if you’ve had these types of tomatoes, you know how good they are!).
Each can of tomatoes was tested at room temperature. They were sampled plain, right off a spoon. If there was liquid, that was sampled as well. The brands had their labels completely covered to prevent any bias.
Each contestant went through the following judging criteria:
Texture: Whether whole or diced, canned tomatoes should have a bit of texture. They shouldn’t be so soft that they disintegrate when you try to scoop them up, but they also shouldn’t be so firm that you have to chew them more than you would a raw tomato.
Taste: They should taste like tomatoes, not the can or anything else. Because of how they’re processed, I wasn’t expecting big tomato flavor, but I did want to be able to detect it.
Appearance: There should be mostly tomatoes in the can, not liquid. Those tomatoes should look red and robust, not green, and definitely no brown spots.
Canned Diced Tomatoes Taste Test
5th Place: Hunts
I was optimistic when I opened this can because the amount of liquids and solids seemed right. More tomatoes and less juice is always what I’m after. I sampled the juice and lost all of that optimism. The liquid had a strong metallic flavor and was incredibly unpleasant. The tomatoes didn’t impress me either, the pieces were there, but they weren’t distinctive or consistent in size, same for the texture. Their flavor, not surprisingly, was also metallic. I would not buy these again.
4th Place: Contadina
Unlike Hunts, this can from Contadina had a lot of juice inside. I was still willing to give it a chance though. The juice seemed okay, it didn’t taste metallic, but it was weirdly sweet. The tomatoes had good texture and were firm, but a few still had the peel attached. I’m not sure why, but that always bugs me. As for the flavor, it wasn’t there. Really. I couldn’t taste anything. It was a disappointing few bites.
3rd Place: Cento
I looked long and hard, but could only find a can of petite diced tomatoes from this brand, regardless I wanted to give them a try. The liquid was sweet but didn’t provide much tomato flavor. The tomatoes were “ho-hum” too, which is why they landed in the right in the middle (#average) on this list.
2nd Place: Red Gold
Oh boy, this can was loaded with juice, you know how I feel about that. I tried not to let that bother me as I explored my other judging criteria. Overall, the tomatoes looked good, like tomatoes, and they held their shape. The juice tasted decent and even better, the tomatoes were pretty good too. This can is my choice for runner-up.
1st Place Winner: Del Monte
The winner! There seemed to be an average amount of juice in this can, but it didn’t have much flavor. Out of all of the diced tomatoes, these looked the best, dare I say, even pretty, plus they looked and tasted like actual tomatoes! No metallic aftertaste and enough tomato flavor to make them the standout.
Canned Whole Tomatoes Taste Test
5th Place: Hunts
It wasn’t a good day for Hunts. Just like I didn’t enjoy the diced version, I didn’t like their whole tomatoes either. The juice level seemed appropriate, but quality control seemed to be lacking. There were plenty of random bits and pieces in there, taking up space where whole tomatoes should’ve been. As you’ve probably already guessed, the liquid tasted metallic just like the diced, and yes, the tomatoes tasted metallic too.
4th Place: Contadina
I know that things slip through the cracks on the production line, but I’m not a fan of peels and smashed tomatoes. If I’m buying whole tomatoes, I want them to be intact and ready to go. Unfortunately, with this brand, they weren’t. The liquid was decently tomato-flavored, but the tomatoes were soft, didn’t have much texture, and came with an off-putting metallic taste.
3rd Place: Red Gold
The juice in this can tastes like tomato juice. While I don’t always need the juice, having a little extra around when making a sauce is nice. The tomatoes looked great too, they were intact, firm, and looked good overall. Luckily the tomatoes tasted like tomatoes too, yay!
2nd Place: Cento
I was happy when I opened the can and saw these good-looking tomatoes. They were nestled in a decent (not overwhelming) amount of juice, and the juice was tasty. The tomatoes were good, but the flavor was very mild and the texture was a little softer than I would’ve liked. Overall, I liked them and I would definitely buy them again.
1st Place Winner: Dei Fratelli
“Gorgeous tomatoes!” That was the first thing I said when I opened this can. They were beautiful - vibrantly red and robust in size. The amount of juice seemed right and it tasted great too. As for the tomatoes, they were fantastic! They had great flavor, especially for canned tomatoes, and they were just firm enough to be held, but soft enough to easily break into pieces. These are the tomatoes I’ll be reaching for from now on—and I’ve got the perfect place in my pantry for them!
Read the original article on All Recipes.