There are so many varieties of tomato, each one unique and wonderful in its own way. Whether roasting, grilling, frying, or making a salad, there is a perfect tomato to suit your needs and taste. With so much to choose from, you could be forgiven for asking what tomatoes are best for different recipes. I have come up with an expansive list and explanation of which tomatoes you should be using for which dishes.
Use plum for rich pasta sauces and sweet cherry tomatoes to toss into salads or eat raw. Beefsteaks are best for burgers and sandwiches while tomatoes with less watery seeds, like Roma, are great for salsa and bruschetta. Large heirlooms for jams or roasting, and tiny currant tomatoes for pickling.
Knowing which tomatoes go best in specific recipes can be challenging, with so many tomato varieties available for our enjoyment.
Luckily, there are enough tomatoes to choose from to accommodate most recipes and tastes. Let’s look into a few of them and see what tomatoes are best for different recipes.
Different Tomatoes And Their Strengths
Tomatoes come in a large variety of shapes and colors. Did you know that they also come with different strengths of taste? Since there are so many types of tomatoes and hybrids, we have selected our top five. Let’s look at our top five tomatoes and their strengths.
1. Plum Tomatoes
Plum tomatoes, and the subvariety called Roma tomatoes, are commonly grown in gardens and are readily available in stores. Plum tomatoes are oval and have a robust, tangy flavor. They have few seeds, so they are often used in sauces, tomato soups, tomato paste, and stews.
2. Beefsteak Tomatoes
As the name would suggest, beefsteak tomatoes are large and meaty. They are the picture-perfect tomato and are enjoyed best when they are a deep red color. Beefsteak tomatoes have a mild, balanced flavor. They are great to use in burgers, and sandwiches as they cut well and have a good texture.
3. Cherry Tomatoes
These tiny tomato varieties not only look adorable but also pack a punch. They are juicy and full of sweet flavor. They taste similar to regular-sized tomatoes, but their flavor is a little more concentrated because of their size. They are lovely to use in salads, sauces, and skewers. They are also tasty as a raw snack.
4. Grape Tomatoes
The grape tomato is another small variety. It looks similar to cherry tomatoes, although slightly more oval in shape. Grape tomatoes have a good balance of sweet and acid and a rich flavor. They can be used for roasting, grilling, or enjoyed raw in salads or alone.
5. Heirloom Tomatoes
Heirloom tomatoes are grown by many gardeners and home cooks. They are non-hybrid varieties that take different forms. Heirloom tomatoes get their name from the way they are grown. Farmers take the seeds from the best of their crops to grow new tomatoes. The result is delicious and gorgeous tomatoes, and some interesting colors and shapes.
Which Tomatoes Are Best For Burgers?
Tomatoes used for burgers tend to be large, plump, and able to hold the contents together once sliced. Tomatoes are sometimes classified according to whether we can slice them well or they should be included in pastes and sauces. Since we will be slicing tomatoes to place in burgers, we have selected a few slicing tomatoes for you to use in your next burger.
- Beefsteak tomatoes. This tomato is one found in most stores. The quintessential tomato is large, sweet, and slices well.
- Cherokee purple. This tomato is large and sweet. It is red with hints of purple and perfectly accompanies burger meat and other ingredients.
- Brandywine. Brandywine is a beefsteak tomato. They are typically pink and taste sweet. They are large and go well on burgers.
- Green zebra. These are heirloom tomatoes that are green and golden in color. Their taste is tangy, which makes a great contrast to the flavor of a beef burger.
There are so many tomatoes that go well on burgers. When selecting yours, go for one that is large, ripe, not bruised, and will slice well.
Which Tomatoes Are Best For Salsa?
When deciding which tomatoes to use for salsa, it is essential to note a few criteria. Salsa tomatoes should be fleshy, sweet with a bit of acid, and have few seeds. When selecting the tomatoes for your salsa, ensure that you choose ones that are ripe and without bruising.
Our favorite salsa tomatoes include:
- Roma tomatoes. These are a great option since they are sweet, meaty, and have few seeds. They are not too watery, so you will not have to drain them when making your salsa.
- Amish paste tomatoes. These tomatoes are a prime paste variety. They are similar to Roma tomatoes but have a sweeter flavor.
- Big or Little Mamma tomatoes. Both the large and small versions of this tomato are meaty and fantastic to use in salsa.
If you only have juicy, watery tomatoes at your disposal, simply cut them in half and remove the watery seed part of the tomatoes before adding them to your salsa. You may also wish to drain them in a colander before using them.
If you do not happen to have fresh tomatoes on hand, you can opt for the canned variety. Select whole canned tomatoes rather than sliced ones. Whole tomatoes are likely to have their seeds intact, which will make for a sweeter tasting salsa. If you are using canned tomatoes for your salsa, drain them before continuing with your dish.
Which Tomatoes Are Best For Salads?
What is a salad without tomato? I love adding tomatoes to salads and have selected a few good options for you to try.
- Cherry tomatoes. These are great to add to a salad since they are small enough to eat without cutting and are full of flavor.
- Grape tomatoes. Grape tomatoes are similar to cherry tomatoes. They may need to be cut but hold well when cut to eat and add a lovely sweet flavor to your salad.
- Heirloom tomatoes. These are good for salads because of their flavor. They are the best of the crop, so they will add something special to your salad. They need to be cut, so you can make the pieces the size you desire for easy eating.
- Beefsteak tomatoes. Beefsteak tomatoes are hearty and meaty. Their flavor is milder than the others we have listed here, but they taste sweet. They will not overpower the other ingredients of your salad.
- Sundried tomatoes. Sundried tomatoes are rich in flavor and add a stunning and unexpected tang to any salad. Their chewy texture also adds interest to the dish, and their dark red color adds visual appeal, too.
When selecting tomatoes for your salad, ensure you choose ones that are healthy and ripe. Those picked when ripe on the vine tend to be full of flavor compared to those ripened in store as they are picked earlier.
Which Tomatoes Are Best For Tacos?
When selecting tomatoes to add to tacos, consider the amount of moisture you will be introducing to the meal. (Not many people enjoy a soggy taco, right?) The best tomato to consider is plum or Roma tomato. These tomatoes are full of flavor but have little water and few seeds.
Tomatoes add color to tacos. They also help balance the flavors by adding a touch of acid. Did you know that traditional tacos either had lime or tomato? Since tomatoes add acid to the taco, traditional cooks did not add both into the same taco.
I wrote about what goes into a traditional Mexican taco and whether they usually have tomatoes, cheese, or sour cream.
When choosing tomatoes, be sure to select tomatoes that are ripe and healthy. Consider removing the seeds and juice of the tomato before chopping it up for your taco. That way, you will minimize the moisture that will seep into the taco, making it soggy.
Which Tomatoes Are Best For Roasting?
Tomatoes are a lovely, sweet, and sometimes tangy addition to other roasted vegetables. When selecting tomatoes for roasting, consider how thick their skin is, how well they hold together when cooked, how much moisture they contain, and their size.
Some good tomatoes for roasting include:
- Cherry tomatoes. Cherry tomatoes make for good roasting because of their intense flavor. Their skin is pretty thin, so be aware that they may not hold.
- Grape tomatoes. Grape tomatoes are also good roasting tomatoes. Their skin is slightly thicker than cherry tomatoes, so they hold better.
- Plum/Roma tomatoes. A lovely rich flavor when roasted.
- Beefsteak tomatoes. If you are looking for a larger roasted tomato, beefsteak is a good option. It will hold well if cut in half for roasting or being stuffed.
- Canned tomatoes. If you do not have fresh tomatoes at your disposal, consider roasting canned tomatoes. Simply drain and drizzle them with olive oil and add seasoning to suit your taste.
Which Tomatoes Are Best For Canning?
Tomatoes that are good for making sauces and pastes make great canning options. It’s possible to use any tomato but smaller types like cherry will have a lot of skins. Let’s look at a few favorites.
- Roma tomatoes
- San Marzano
- Amish Paste
- Big mama
These options are dense paste or sauce tomatoes that make great choices for canning. The long shape makes them easier to fit into cans or jars. They have fewer seeds and more flesh which is better for sauces when used later on.
Best Tomatoes For Eating Raw
In our opinion, most tomatoes are great for eating raw. Since they all have unique flavors and are so packed with antioxidants, we see no need to cook them unless absolutely necessary.
Still, I have selected the top picks of tomatoes for eating raw. Enjoy these simply as they come for a fresh taste of summer.
- Cherry tomatoes
- Plum tomatoes
- Sundried tomatoes
The best option when selecting tomatoes to enjoy is to pick them right off the vine. If this is not possible for you, try to choose tomatoes that were allowed to ripen before being harvested. Those picked while still green and matured in the store are generally not as tasty as those ripened before picking.
I wrote another article on the best tomatoes to use for bruschetta and loads of other tips for making it. A delicious way to eat raw tomatoes.
With so many varieties of tomatoes available to us, it would be a shame to experience only one or two continuously. Some tomatoes are great for eating raw, some are great for roasting, and others are attractive options for salsa and sauces. Try growing your own or finding a farmers market to buy quality tomatoes.