You’ve looked up what is a substitute for San Marzano tomatoes. And they said there’s only one variety of San Marzano tomatoes that tastes good. Now you’re asking, “what if I can’t grow them?” Well, don’t worry! I’m here to tell you how to substitute for San Marzano tomatoes.
What Exactly Is San Marzano Tomatoes?
The San Marzano tomato is a variety of plum tomato that originated in the area around Mount Vesuvius, Italy. It’s considered to be one of the best varieties for cooking and canning. If you’re unable to find these tomatoes in your local market, you might be able to substitute other plum varieties for them in recipes.
San Marzano tomatoes are especially popular with Italian cooks because they have low acidity levels and a rich flavor that makes them perfect for using as a sauce base or adding fire-roasted diced tomatoes to dishes such as lasagna, pizza, and stews. San Marzanos are also recommended by chefs when making fresh tomato sauces because they tend to retain more moisture than other plum varieties.
Substitute For San Marzano tomatoes
San Marzano tomatoes are the real thing. They’re grown in the volcanic soil of Mount Vesuvius, and they’re a far cry from the bland, watery supermarket tomatoes that most Americans are used to.
But what if you can’t find them? Below are some good substitutes for San Marzano tomatoes:
1. Canned plum tomatoes
These are not as good as San Marzanos, but they’re better than most canned tomatoes. They’re usually found in the pasta aisle of your grocery store near spaghetti sauce. Look for brands with no added salt or sugar — those will be labeled “no salt added” or “unsalted.”
2. Fresh plum tomatoes
This is one of my go-to substitutes for San Marzanos because it’s easy to find fresh plum tomatoes in season (summer). You can use them just like canned plum tomatoes above — just cut them up and cook them down into sauce while you’re making dinner. Don’t bother peeling them first — just cut off the stem end, chop them up, and throw them in the pot!
3. Roma Tomatoes
Romas are another type of plum tomato that is popular in Italian cuisine. They’re smaller than San Marzanos but still have a rich flavor that works well in sauces and soups. The Roma brand can be found at many grocery stores and is also sold online through Amazon.com.
4. Pomodoro San Marzano
This tomato is a hybrid between the San Marzano variety and standard beefsteak tomato. Pomodoro San Marzano was created by Drs. Roberto Fiaschetti and Giovanni Coruzzi at the University of Perugia in Italy as part of an initiative to preserve traditional varieties of vegetables native to the country’s south-central region.
5. Crushed Tomatoes
Crushed tomatoes are made from whole tomatoes that are cooked down and then crushed with a fork or food mill. You can use crushed tomatoes instead of San Marzano if you don’t mind the texture difference between them, which is usually more smooth than chunky.
6. Diced Tomatoes
Diced tomatoes are chopped into small pieces with a knife or food processor before cooking down into sauce or paste. You can use diced tomatoes instead of San Marzano if you don’t mind their less-intense flavor and chunkier texture.
7. Carolina Sweets
These are grown in North Carolina and have a similar taste to San Marzanos. They’re also quite low in acidity which makes them ideal for sauces and soups.
8. Pomodoro Viva Italia
These tomatoes come from Italy and look similar to San Marzanos although they have a slightly different flavor profile. They’re still worth trying if you can’t get the real thing!
9. Cherry Tomatoes
Cherry tomatoes are small (about 2 inches across) round tomatoes that come in red, yellow, and orange varieties depending on the variety you choose; their sweetness makes them perfect for salads or as an addition to pasta or pizzas!
10. Blended Tomatoes
Canned tomato purée is a good substitute for San Marzanos. It has a similar texture and acidity as the Italian variety, but it’s not quite as flavorful. You can also use crushed or diced tomatoes if you prefer more texture in your sauce.
11. Fresh Tomatoes
Fresh tomatoes are another option. They’re usually more expensive than canned ones, but they can be used without any cooking or pureeing — just dice them and throw them in the pot with some olive oil and garlic (or whatever herbs or spices you like). If you’re using fresh tomatoes, add salt at the end of cooking to help draw out their moisture so they don’t make your sauce watery.
Healthy Benefits Of San Marzano Tomatoes
San Marzano tomatoes are grown in the Campania region of Italy. They have a distinctively rich, sweet taste that makes them an ideal choice for many recipes.
Here are some of the benefits of using San Marzano tomatoes:
1. Low in sugar and high in lycopene
Lycopene is a carotenoid that gives fruits and vegetables their red color, including tomatoes. It’s also been shown to promote cancer prevention, heart health, and anti-aging properties.
2. Rich in vitamin C
Tomatoes are high in vitamin C which helps boost immunity, protect against infection and reduce inflammation — especially when eaten raw (unlike cooked varieties). One medium-sized tomato contains about 10 milligrams of vitamin C — more than half your daily value of this important nutrient!
Tomatoes have a long shelf life and are often available year-round. Many commercially canned products have preservatives to extend their shelf life and protect them from bacteria, which is not the case for San Marzanos.
4. Nutritional profile
San Marzanos are rich in calcium, vitamin A and potassium — all nutrients that have been shown to promote strong bones and teeth. They also contain zinc, an antioxidant that helps boost immunity and supports healthy hair, skin, and nails.
5. Full of flavor
Tomatoes are delicious when eaten raw and cooked, but it’s their unique taste that makes them stand out in the kitchen. San Marzanos have a very rich and sweet taste — making them an ideal choice for marinades, sauces, soups, and other recipes.
6. High in antioxidants
Tomatoes are a great source of phytonutrients called flavonoids. Flavonoids help promote heart health and protect against cancer, which is why they’re found in all types of fruits and vegetables.
Recipe With San Marzano Tomatoes
This recipe is a perfect example of how you can use San Marzano tomatoes in your cooking. The recipe is simple and delicious, and it will help you to understand the versatility and value of this tomato variety.
- 1 pound of fresh mozzarella
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1/2 bunch basil leaves, torn into pieces
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
In a bowl mix together the mozzarella, tomatoes, and basil. Drizzle with olive oil and add freshly ground black pepper to taste. Serve immediately or refrigerate until ready to serve.
1. Is the San Marzano tomato actually named after a town in Italy?
Yes, the San Marzano region of Italy is where this variety of plum tomato originates from. The town of San Marzano Sul Sarno has become synonymous with this type of plum tomato since it has been produced there since the 1930s.
2. What makes San Marzano tomatoes so good?
The soil and climate of their growing region are ideal for producing the sweetest, most flavorful tomatoes. They have a thick skin that allows them to be canned whole without any additives or preservatives, so you get all of their flavors when you open up a can of San Marzano tomatoes.
3. How do I use canned San Marzanos?
You can add them to stews and sauces as they are or puree them into soups and sauces for extra depth of flavor. Use them as much as possible in place of fresh Roma tomatoes — they won’t disappoint!
4. Where can I find canned San Marzanos?
A: Most grocery stores carry them in their Italian section or imported foods aisle (often there will be multiple brands). If you have trouble finding them locally, try online sources such as Amazon Fresh
5. What is the difference between San Marzano and other tomatoes?
The flavor of San Marzano tomatoes is more concentrated than in other varieties. They also have fewer seeds, which makes them ideal for sauces and salsas.
6. How do I store San Marzano Tomatoes?
Store at room temperature until ripe, then refrigerate or freeze to prevent them from spoiling. You can also purchase canned San Marzanos that don’t require refrigeration until opened.
Good substitutes for San Marzano tomatoes include any type of branded canned tomato, or paste. You can also substitute San Marzanos with Farfalle pasta and diced Tomatoes and occasionally try diced Roma Tomatoes. The results will be good enough in 90% of recipes, so it might not be necessary to go out of your way to find some.