When we’re talking about substitutes for Roma tomatoes, we are actually talking about 2 main situations: whether you want to substitute fresh tomatoes or you’re looking for the canned variety.
That’s what we’ll cover here. First, let’s see which fresh tomatoes are the best as substitutes and then we’ll move on to talking about delicious canned tomatoes that can be used to make whatever dish you want to cook.
Fresh Substitutes for Roma Tomatoes
The thing you must remember about Roma tomatoes is that they belong to the plum tomatoes variety.
Since that’s the variety where they belong, that’s where you’ll find the best substitutes for Roma tomatoes, too.
All plum varieties share a slender shape, a sweet taste, a firm flesh, and they’re also less acidic than some other varieties. That’s what makes them so amazing both for consuming fresh, for canning them or for producing the best tomato paste.
The main plum varieties to look for, besides Roma tomatoes, are: San Marzano, Amish Paste, Big Mama, and Ropreco.
These 5 are the winners in terms of everything that’s good about tomatoes. They’re all equally delicious, although many would pick San Marzano as the winner of the group because they’re the sweetest, with perfect concentrated flavor, and less acidity.
If there are people who say that Roma tomatoes are tasteless, then I’m pretty sure that they haven’t eaten ones that were grown as they should be and harvested when they’re nicely ripe, not sooner.
1. San Marzano
In my article on substitutes for San Marzano tomatoes, I recommended Roma tomatoes as the first alternative.
The same is true in reverse but only if you have a more generous budget because San Marzano tends to be one of the most expensive varieties. They’re also not as easy to find everywhere on the planet.
San Marzano have a slightly different shape, they’re longer, slimmer, and pointy.
Moreover, what sets San Marzano apart is that they’re less acidic than Roma. But I don’t find Roma tomatoes to be too acidic, either.
2. Amish Paste
Amish Paste is like a Roma with a slightly pointy end. Based only on appearance, they can be easily taken for each other.
There isn’t any difference in size either, Roma grows about 3 inches long and Amish Paste grows about 2-4 inches long.
Amish Paste has a delicious flavor: it’s sweet and a bit tangy. It’s wonderful on hot summer days. If you have some mozzarella, some basil and arugula, some prosciutto or some parmesan cheese, it will be the best meal you’ve ever tasted.
The wonderful thing about this variety as one of the best substitutes for Roma tomatoes is that it has a rich flavor that doesn’t cook away. They’re fantastic eaten fresh or used for sauces and purees.
3. Big Mama
Just as Roma and Amish Paste, Big Mama also has a similar shape and the same flesh in the interior.
What really sets Big Mama apart and makes it easily recognizable is the size. If you want to grow large plum tomatoes, this is the variety to go for. It can grow up to 5 inches long and 3 inches in diameter. That’s awesome for big families who love plum tomatoes.
So, we can consider Big Mama as the biggest Roma tomato substitute. The taste is very similar, just as delicious.
This plum variety is not as famous as all the others. You might have heard of the other 4 but chances are that Ropreco tomatoes might be a bit of a mystery to you.
They’re reminiscent of San Marzano but with a bigger diameter. They look like a plumper San Marzano. They will grow 2-3 inches in length so they’re on the tiny side.
Ropreco also has a sweet and mild taste that makes it perfect, whether you’re eating it fresh or using it for cooking, freezing, and canning.
It’s a heirloom Italian sauce tomato. If you’re passionate about growing your own tomato plants, I definitely recommend giving the Ropreco a go. It can have an impressive yield even in cool summer locations.
Substitutes for Roma tomatoes if we’re out of season
Then I go for cherry tomatoes or San Marzano. However, San Marzano has a really high price during the winter and spring.
So, if you’re looking for fresh tomatoes that are tasty when tomatoes are not in season, choose cherry varieties like: Sungold, Sweet 100 or Red Currant.
Canned Substitutes for Roma Tomatoes
There are a lot of canned tomatoes out there. However, I want to introduce you to some really delicious options.
The first 3 recommendations are pricier. If you’re on a budget, check out my fourth recommendation.
1. Cento San Marzano Organic Peeled Tomatoes
Cento makes one of the best canned substitutes for Roma tomatoes. These are San Marzano, after all.
Plus, they’re organic. They’re grown and processed in Italy without the use of any pesticides or food additives.
Given all that, if you think these are expensive, you’re completely right. But they can be worth it if you want to make a delicious pasta dish or an awesome lasagna or one of the best sauces for pizza.
2. Bianco DiNapoli Organic Whole Peeled Tomatoes
Bianco DiNapoli uses California plum tomatoes for these organic canned whole peeled tomatoes.
The ingredients are: organic tomatoes, sea salt, and organic basil. They’re perfect for Italian dishes and much more.
But they’re also quite expensive, given the whole organic side of things.
All in all, they’re delicious. If you have a generous budget, give them a try and see how it goes.
3. Mutti Cherry Tomatoes
Canned cherry tomatoes are pretty hard to find but they can be so delicious.
The only thing is that these are not peeled. That goes for all canned cherry tomatoes, it’s not something that only this manufacturer does.
To be honest, if I’m using these to make pasta, I peel them one by one by hand. I can’t stand the peels, although they can be chewed easily.
Other than that, if I blend them, they are just delicious and the peelings are made into a paste.
4. Contadina Petite Cut Canned Diced Roma Style Tomatoes
If you’re looking for some affordable canned tomatoes, these ones from Contadina are very good.
It’s not a Roma tomato substitute since they use Roma style tomatoes but it’s an awesome choice for cooking anything.
The ingredients are: tomatoes, tomato juice, sea salt, citric acid, and calcium chloride. These are all natural ingredients.
The calcium chloride is a firming agent that makes the diced tomatoes retain their bite and shape during cooking.
The only thing is that they’re not organic. Hence, the pretty affordable price tag.
As you can see, there are many substitutes for Roma tomatoes, both of the fresh and canned variety, so pick whichever you can find and it’s in your price range.