5 Best Substitutes for Fire Roasted Tomatoes

Fire-roasted tomatoes are your regular tomatoes that have been packed full with a unique smokey flavor. It is a remarkable ingredient that can turn a bland, common recipe into a mouth-watering meal.

If you’re trying to whip up a “grammy-winning” pasta dish or sauce, having fire-roasted tomatoes in your arsenal can help take the dish up a notch, but they are not so easy to come by.

In such cases, you would need other good substitutes for fire roasted tomatoes; the best solution is to fire-roast your own whole, fresh tomatoes; it is an easy and quick process.

But if you don’t have the means to do so, you can go for other alternatives such as fresh diced tomatoes, crushed tomatoes, tomato puree, tomato paste, and roasted bell peppers.

You can intensify their flavor by adding a blend of spices.

What are Fire-Roasted Tomatoes?

Just as its name suggests, fire-roasted tomatoes are tomatoes that have been roasted over an open fire. Depending on what they’re being used for, they can be roasted whole, diced, crushed, or pureed.

You can fire roast the tomatoes whole at home, but they’re more commonly purchased pre-roasted in cans.

Some brands add seasoning like basil, garlic, or chilies to their roasted tomatoes to intensify the flavor.

If you’re making some homemade fire-roasted tomatoes, you may decide to slice them into halves or quarters to get even more flavor from the roasting process.

What Flavor Is Fire-Roasted Tomatoes?

Substitutes for Fire Roasted Tomatoes

Fire-roasted tomatoes are typically sweeter than other types of fresh, canned, or cooked tomatoes. Being roasted by fire enhances the natural sugars in the fruit and adds a smoky flavor that compliments it very well.

Cooking with fire-roasted tomatoes adds a great flavor in terms of sweetness and smokiness to a recipe.

Canned fire-roasted tomatoes usually have added flavoring agents, like roasted garlic, chilies, or basil. So take note of this when roasting your own tomatoes.

Substitutes For Fire Roasted Tomatoes

1. Freshly Diced Tomatoes

This option is the simplest substitute to fire-roasted tomatoes, it’s very straightforward. The only significant difference between fire-roasted tomatoes and diced tomatoes is that no cooking is required.

Simply chop up some fresh tomatoes, or you can use them whole. It offers the distinct taste of tomatoes, although they lack the smoky taste and smell of fire-roasted tomatoes.

Fresh tomatoes have a fresher and simpler texture, and because there’s no cooking involved, fresh tomatoes are also healthier. They retain most of their nutrients, like lycopene (anticancer pigment). 

Diced tomatoes make a great addition to any recipe. They can be used as a topping for any hearty soup, and it adds a chunky fresh taste.

Freshly chopped tomatoes make a great part of Mexican treats; it “holds the ropes” for dishes like pico de gallo and ancho salsa. You can equally add diced tomatoes to your salads to make a healthy appetizer meal.

However, one drawback of using uncooked diced tomatoes to replace fire roasted tomatoes is their water content.

It may add too much moisture to your dishes, getting it a bit soggy or watery if not eaten soon after serving. Storing diced tomatoes follows a laid-down method; they could get ruined if not stored properly. They need to be eaten fresh for maximum flavor and should be consumed soon after preparation.

2. Canned Tomatoes

If you do not have access to fresh tomatoes, you can use canned tomatoes as an alternative. Canned tomatoes may not be the best fire roasted tomatoes substitute, but it is not a bad option either.

They contain a fairly good amount of nutrients as long as you opt for a reliable brand. Those with a higher lycopene percentage, alongside other vitamins and minerals, ensure to always check the label. 

Canned tomatoes have a very long shelf life compared to fresh tomatoes; they can be stored in your pantry for later. But remember to use the product before its expiry date.

You can use canned tomatoes for a variety of meals; they can be used for easy soup dishes and pizza sauce toppings.

When using canned tomatoes to make pasta, you would not need to chop it up; instead, you could just pour in your canned tomatoes. They can also be used for sauces, salsa, and even for meat marinades.

However, this may not be the healthiest option but would work as a quick alternative to fire-roasted tomatoes.

3. Sun-Dried Tomatoes

A close substitute for fire-roasted tomatoes is sun-dried tomatoes. They provide a really excellent alternative and are simply ripe tomatoes that are put through a food preservation process, usually under the sun or in a dehydrator.

Sun-dried tomatoes are marinated in sulfur dioxide or salt to preserve their freshness and nutrients. This process causes the tomatoes to lose their water content, which gives them a wrinkly and shrunken appearance.

Dried tomatoes and fire-roasted tomatoes has similar taste. They have a salty and savory taste and a crunchy texture.

The smoky smell and taste of fire-roasted tomatoes are lacking in sun-dried tomatoes. They don’t have a charred taste and are more like raisins or other sun-dried fruits, except that they are saltier.

Sun-dried tomatoes also have a long shelf life or storage period; they last for a long time. When unopened and properly stored, bags of sun-dried tomatoes could last up to 24 months. Once opened, try to consume the bag within six months.

Sun-dried tomatoes are very versatile; they can be ground into a powder form and used as a seasoning or topping. They add a distinct taste to dishes like pasta and pizzas.

You can also use sun-dried tomatoes to make your own tomato pesto for your Italian dishes. They can also be eaten on their own, and they have a tangy, salty flavor.

However, you may be unable to make smooth sauces with sun-dried tomatoes as they have lost most of their juices during the drying process, which leaves them crumbly and flaky.

4. Tomato Puree

Tomato puree is a sauce or liquid with thick consistency gotten from cooking and straining fresh tomatoes. There is some cooking involved with tomato puree, but unlike fire-roasting or sun-drying, the tomatoes are boiled and mashed until the desired thickness is achieved.

If you don’t have an oven to roast your tomatoes, boiling them is an easy way to make a puree. You can also opt for canned pureed tomatoes available in grocery stores. However, if you want your dish to taste fresh, it may be best to make the puree yourself.

Tomato puree is very nourishing, as it’s made fresh and all its nutrients retained. Add a dash of salt and pepper according to taste to heighten the flavors and add a little kick.

When prepared correctly, you can achieve the taste of regular store-bought tomato sauce with pureed tomatoes, and it may be stored in the freezer for up to six months for long-term use. 

This eases up the process of meal prepping, and you can easily whip up perfect budget-friendly and healthy meals.

Tomato puree is also very versatile and can be used for different dishes. It is especially great in making tomato soups, sauces, pasta, and pizzas.

However, tomato puree typically lacks texture as it is in liquid form. This shouldn’t be an issue depending on the dish you are making. You can always add tomato chunks to the mix for some texture if necessary.

5. Tomato Paste

Tomato paste is made from cooking tomato puree for a long time, resulting in a thick and concentrated texture, like toothpaste, but it’s red in color.

The seeds and skins of the tomatoes are strained out to achieve a smooth texture. Tomato paste has low water content and is not watery or soggy because it has been reduced by long hours of cooking.

Before adding tomato paste to a dish, it needs to be dissolved in warm water or added during cooking.

You need to be mindful of the amount of tomato paste you add to your dish due to its concentrated form; you do not want the flavor to overpower your dish.

When properly incorporated into a dish, tomato paste delivers tomato-ey goodness and savory taste, and you shouldn’t be able to taste a difference when using it in place of fire-roasted tomatoes. It also adds a bright and tasty color to the dish.

You can purchase tomato pastes from any grocery store, and they’re very common and easy to use, just like canned tomatoes. This is also a cheap substitute for fire-roasted tomatoes compared to the other substitutes mentioned.

Tomato paste can be used for dishes like stews and saucy meats. Please note that tomato paste lacks texture and may not thicken a sauce properly; instead, it only adds flavor and color to the dish.

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