There’s no single choice for the best plum tomato substitutes. We have many options that we can use as replacements. Thus, you’ll have to decide which will work best for your recipe.
Which replacement you end up using mainly depends on a few things: whether you want to use fresh tomatoes or you want the canned type or you can use other products made from these fruits. You can also call them vegetables, I’m just in the habit of calling them fruits.
If you enjoy tomatoes in all their forms, check out my recipe for stewed tomatoes and its substitutes.
10 Best Plum Tomato Substitutes: Fresh/Canned Tomatoes, Passata, Tomato Puree/Paste/Sauce
Let’s quickly enumerate which are the best plum tomato substitutes so that you know what to expect and then we’ll talk about them in more depth.
Fresh Tomato Varieties: cherry, grape, beefsteak tomatoes
If you’re looking for fresh substitutes, you have two opposite directions in which you can go.
1. Cherry and grape tomatoes
You can choose to use smaller varieties like cherry and grape tomatoes.
These are the ones that I prefer to use out of season because they seem to still retain some tomato taste.
However, they can also be a bit pricey in the winter and spring.
2. Beefsteak tomatoes
Or you can choose as substitutes for plum tomatoes the much larger varieties like beefsteak tomatoes.
If you’re growing beefsteak in your own garden, definitely always pick these over plum tomatoes that you’d have to buy.
Beefsteak tomatoes are meaty, large, and with lots of juice.
In the summer, they’re perfect for raw recipes. Whether you’re making salads or ceviche, beefsteak tomatoes will work beautifully. They can also be used as a base for fresh sauces and dips.
If you’re buying your beefsteak from the market, I recommend choosing the more round types. From my experience, those have a sweeter flavor.
Canned tomatoes: whole peeled, diced, crushed
If you’re looking for canned tomatoes as the best plum tomato substitutes, then you can pick whatever canned tomatoes you can find in the stores near you or whatever option matches your budget.
3. Canned Roma tomatoes
You can get whole canned tomatoes or you can get diced or crushed tomatoes, whatever works for you.
4. Canned San Marzano tomatoes
Canned San Marzano tomatoes are also delicious but they tend to be more expensive. Also, I don’t think that they’re as easy to find as the other varieties.
I love canned San Marzano but I am selective in which recipes I use them due to their higher price.
For example, if I’m making a recipe with tons of other ingredients, I’ll most likely use a canned tomato that is on the cheaper side because the taste will be mixed with all the other ingredients and no one can tell which tomato variety was used.
However, if I’m making something like a pizza sauce with just canned tomatoes and salt mixed in a blender, then I’m totally going to use canned San Marzano. The taste of the tomato is at the forefront since only salt was used and that’s when the deliciousness of San Marzano tomatoes can truly shine. Then, for me, the higher price is totally worth it.
5. Canned diced tomatoes
These are the ones that are chopped prior to canning.
They’re also processed with calcium chloride and citric acid to help the pieces keep their shape. These two additions won’t alter the taste so they can be used in recipe without any problems.
The joy of canned diced tomatoes as the best plum tomato substitutes is that they’re usually quite affordable. They’re a bit cheaper that whole peeled canned tomatoes.
Moreover, they’re very easy to use. And delicious if you get the right kind. Frankly, canned diced tomatoes are a favorite of mine no matter what I’m cooking.
The exception is made when I make my pasta sauce and I use canned San Marzano. Or when I make certain pasta dishes.
Still, diced tomatoes are very easy to use and they’re an affordable way to add natural flavors and depth to our dishes.
Other tomato products: paste, puree, passata
The other category for the best plum tomato substitutes is that of other products made from these fruits. I’m referring to ingredients like tomato puree or paste or passata.
If you’re just trying to achieve a tomato taste but you don’t care as much for the tomato pulp, then using puree, paste or passata will work perfectly for your recipes.
These can be used in a whole range of recipes from soups to stews to sauces to casseroles, etc.
6. Tomato puree
If you don’t have tomato puree, you can obtain it in a simple way: make a mix of equal parts tomato paste and water.
7. Tomato paste
The difference between tomato puree and tomato paste is that the paste is the concentrated version of the puree.
The paste very thick and has a very concentrated flavor.
If you’re adding it to soups, you don’t have to dilute the paste with water.
However, for most recipes, you’ll have to make that mix of equal parts tomato paste and water.
Passata is an uncooked tomato puree that has been strained of seeds and skins. It is thinner than tomato paste and it doesn’t have the same intense flavor.
If you want to make marinara sauce, passata is what you should use. Optionally, you can also add 1 tablespoon of tomato puree.
Passata can also be used as a pizza sauce just as it is. Just add a bit of salt and that’s it, you can use it directly on the pizza just like that. If you want to improve the flavor, you can also add a bit of sugar and pepper.
9. Tomato sauce
This is another product that you can use for many dishes. You can basically get a box or can of tomato sauce and use it straight from the box as pizza sauce. Maybe add some salt, if it needs more, and pepper.
It can also be used for stews, soups, and for making all kinds of pasta.
What is tomato sauce that makes it one of the best plum tomato substitutes?
The classic recipe involves chopped tomatoes sautéed in olive oil and simmered until they lose their raw flavor. They’re seasoned with salt, or other herbs or spices.
Some manufacturers will describe it as being simmered with salt, spices, and natural seasonings.
As you can see, it’s simply delicious.
10. Sun-dried tomatoes
Not many people love sun-dried tomatoes or are willing to spend the money to get sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil.
However, if you have a more generous budget and you want something a bit different, this one can certainly be picked as a plum tomato substitute.
Sun-dried can be used as a replacement for fresh and canned tomatoes. You can use them in raw recipes or cook with them. You can even make pizza sauce with sun-dried tomatoes or make a pesto from them for your favorite pasta dishes.
Best Plum Tomato Substitutes: My Favorite Products
We saw which are the best plum tomato substitutes in general. I covered fresh varieties and told you a bit about canned tomatoes, tomato puree, paste, passata, and sun-dried tomatoes.
However, now I want to introduce you to some of my favorite products as the best plum tomato substitutes.
1. Mutti Cherry Tomatoes
If you’re looking for a completely different substitute for canned plum tomatoes, you could try canned cherry tomatoes like these from Mutti.
They’re not cheap but they’re quite delicious. I love them especially for pasta.
However, what I don’t like is that they’re not peeled. Usually, canned cherry tomatoes are not peeled and if you hate peels in your dishes, you’re not going to be happy with these.
I peel them by hand because I hate those peels.
You can escape that if you blend them because the skin and the tomatoes are made into a homogenous paste.
They’re definitely something to consider trying at least once.
2. Contadina Petite Cut Canned Diced Roma Style Tomatoes
These are Roma tomatoes but the difference is that they’re diced. Since they’re actually made from a plum variety, I don’t know if we can include them among some of the best plum tomato substitutes but I still wanted to include them here because they’re pretty good.
Their price is affordable. If you don’t mind that they’re not organic, these are perfect for cooking everyday dishes. You can also use them to make pizza sauce or for pasta. They’re totally versatile.
The ingredients are: tomatoes, tomato juice, sea salt, citric acid, and calcium chloride. These are all natural ingredients.
Calcium chloride is a firming agent that makes the diced tomatoes retain their bite and shape during cooking.
3. Cento San Marzano Organic Peeled Tomatoes
If you decide to give canned San Marzano a chance, I totally recommend these from Cento. They’re some of the most popular, this manufacturer is well-known around the globe.
They’re not cheap but if you’re making a recipe where canned tomatoes is the main ingredient and their flavor is not going to be covered by a multitude of ingredients, I think that the Cento San Marzano Organic Peeled Tomatoes can be worth the price.
Plus, they’re organic. They’re grown and processed in Italy without the use of any pesticides or food additives.
I highly recommend them for pasta, pizza, lasagna and other dishes like that.
4. Mutti Tomato Puree Passata
Mutti is a well-known brand around the world. One of the reasons for that fame is their passata.
I absolutely love it. It’s so good that you can transform it into a pizza sauce by just adding some salt.
The ingredients are: tomato 99.5% and salt. That’s what we should be looking for when choosing a very good passata.
You can choose other brands. I’m sure that Mutti is not going to be the most affordable option for some. I just wanted to offer you a general idea about what you should be looking for.
With a single taste you’re going to fall in love with this one.
5. Muir Glen Organic Tomato Paste
Once again, I’m aware that this might not be the cheapest option when it comes to using tomato paste as one of the best plum tomato substitutes.
Nevertheless, it’s a very good option and one of my favorites for cooking. If you find cheaper paste in your supermarket you can definitely try a few and find a favorite.
The ingredients are just what we want to see: organic tomato paste and citric acid.
6. Hunt’s Tomato Puree
This one is described as having a texture between tomato paste and crushed tomatoes. It sounds awesome for soups, gravies, sauces, casseroles, and meatloaf.
It’s great for making lasagna and pizza sauces.
It’s not organic but it is 100% natural. That’s good enough for me.
What matters more is that the taste is delicious and Hunt’s Tomato Puree passes the test with flying colors.
The ingredients are: tomato puree (water, tomato paste). It also has less than 2% of salt and citric acid.
As you can see, it’s exactly how I said in the beginning of this article: tomato puree is actually tomato paste and water in equal quantities.
Main Plum Tomato Varieties
If we want to easily find the best plum tomato substitutes, no matter what recipe we’re making, you should be aware of what characterizes these varieties.
Let’s quickly review the 4 most popular plum tomatoes: San Marzano, Roma, Amish Paste, and Big Mama.
I believe that more and more people are becoming aware of just how good San Marzano tomatoes taste.
For me, this particular variety is the perfect balance between sweetness and acidity. I truly believe that people who don’t particularly care for the taste of tomatoes might change their mind when they taste San Marzano.
They’re certainly one of the most expensive canned options in a supermarket. The same is true for the fresh counterpart. Even when they’re in season, in many places around the world, San Marzano tomatoes are going to be just a bit pricier than the average.
That’s why I said that beefsteak, cherry or grape tomato varieties can be some of the best plum tomato substitutes. The same goes for other tomato products like puree, paste and passata.
Moreover, when I wrote my article on the best San Marzano substitutes, I pretty much recommended the same options as I did in this article. The exception was that I mentioned another plum tomato (Roma) as one of the best replacements, too.
Overall, all tomatoes can be replaced with whatever tomato variety you can easily find where you live or with tomato paste, puree or passata. Those are general substitutes that work for whatever variety your recipe calls for.
This variety is one of the most popular when it comes to shopping for canned tomatoes. A large majority are Roma, whether they’re whole peeled or they’re diced or crushed.
Roma is a wonderful tasting plum tomato. It’s one of my favorites because it’s sweet and less acidic. Nevertheless, if you taste a properly grown, properly ripe San Marzano, you’ll notice that San Marzano tomatoes might be some of the best tasting tomatoes on the planet. There’s a reason they’re so popular.
Still, all plum tomatoes are just absolutely some of the tastiest. Even so, the best plum tomato substitutes can be just as wonderful for whatever you’re cooking.
Unlike San Marzano and Roma, Amish Paste might not be a plum tomato variety that is easily recognized around the globe.
Nevertheless, that doesn’t mean that they’re not just as delicious. You might have a problem finding them in supermarkets where you live. The easiest way to eat them is to first grow them in your garden.
Amish Paste tomatoes are characterized by: 2-4 inches length, sweet and a bit tangy flavor, a rich flavor that doesn’t cook away.
They’re wonderful fresh with just some mozzarella and prosciutto or in vegetarian/vegan raw dishes. But they’re also wonderful if you want to make your own canned tomatoes. Or your own puree or paste.
This is another variety that is not as popular as the first two plum tomatoes. Just like it was with Amish Paste, if you want to see for yourself how Big Mama tastes, you’ll probably have to grow them yourself.
Big Mama tomatoes are characterized by: a larger sized plum tomato variety that grows 5 inches long and 3 inches in diameter, similar taste to Roma tomatoes.
If you’re looking to grow big plum tomatoes, just like the name suggests, Big Mama is the variety to try for the next growing season.
What I wanted to highlight with my article on the best plum tomato substitutes is that there are plenty of substitutes to choose from but that you can also choose to grow some of these plum tomatoes in your garden and forget all about finding replacements for them.
There aren’t many frequently asked questions about the best plum tomato substitutes but there are a couple that deserve a short answer.
1. Are Roma tomatoes and plum tomatoes the same?
Roma tomatoes belong to the plum tomato variety. Thus, we can say that they’re the same. Other plum tomatoes are San Marzano, Amish Paste, and Big Mama.
2. Are plum and chopped tomatoes the same?
Plum tomatoes are a variety that includes Roma, San Marzano, Amish Paste, and Big Mama. They can be used fresh, canned or to make tomato paste, puree or passata. When it comes to canned tomatoes, plum means that you’ll find peeled whole tomatoes in the can. Chopped tomatoes are canned tomatoes that can be made from different varieties but the most popular variety for canned tomatoes is Roma. Thus, plum and chopped tomatoes can share the variety but they have totally different shapes.
3. Can I use chopped tomatoes instead of plum?
Yes, you can. Actually, chopped tomatoes and plum tomatoes can be used interchangeably. If you buy chopped canned tomatoes, which are most likely Roma, you can definitely use them as one of the best plum tomato substitutes.