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The 5 Best Substitutes for San Marzano Tomatoes

In the last few years, the recent popularity of cooking shows has led to a re-emergence of Italian cuisine in many areas.

One variety of this food becoming increasingly popular is the San Marzano tomato.

The San Marzano is an important part of pasta dishes, especially when making fresh spaghetti sauce at home.

However, it is equally important to consider a substitute for San Marzano tomatoes.

San Marzanos are widely known as some of the best tomatoes globally, specifically for their consistency and flavor.

These specific tomatoes must be used when making pasts dishes because they are easy to grow, have a consistent texture, produce fewer seeds, and have less juice than most other tomatoes.

San Marzanos are thin-skinned and meaty, so they dry well when roasted.

The flavor is also very sweet, with enough acidity to balance it out.

However, many people do not grow their own San Marzanos or get them when they want them fresh off the vine.

This means that a substitute will have to be found when the time calls for it.

Luckily, there are many great substitutes for San Marzano tomatoes.

Keep on reading for the five best substitutes for San Marzano tomatoes.

What is San Marzano Tomatoes?

what is san marzano tomatoes

If you’re a fan of Italian food, you’ve probably heard the name San Marzano before.

It’s associated with rich flavors and authentic tastes that can’t be found elsewhere.

San Marzano Tomatoes are an heirloom variety of plum tomatoes originating from Italy, and their taste is often compared to sweet melon and buttery richness (1).

The sauce made out of these tomatoes is incredibly smooth and suitable for any dish.

Besides the incredible taste, San Marzano Tomatoes are also famous for their low amount of seeds and juice.

These properties make them perfect for preserving in jars or any other container.

San Marzano Tomatoes are easy to grow and can be easily preserved.

The juice produced by these tomatoes doesn’t contain solids, making it suitable even for young children.

Their light flavor and low acidity make them great for sensitive taste buds.

The 5 Best Substitutes for San Marzano Tomatoes

If you can’t find San Marzano Tomatoes in your local grocery store or if you simply want to have more variety, it’s time to explore other options.

1 – Canned Tomatoes

canned tomatoes

If you come across San Marzano Tomatoes, taste them.

If they are not your liking, you can choose another domestically grown tomato.

However, certain circumstances allow for better alternatives than others.

For example, if it’s winter and the only San Marzano Tomatoes available are pale compared to the vibrant colors of summer, they are likely to be bland.

However, if you come across good-quality San Marzano Tomatoes in winter, by all means, go for it.

Most canned fruits and vegetables will not live up to the expectations set by Italian farmers and growers.

This is because they receive their supplies from afar, resulting in lower quality products.

If you can find locally grown and sourced canned tomatoes, it may be worth using them in place of San Marzano Tomatoes.

2 – Cherry Tomatoes

cherry tomatoes

Cherry tomatoes are generally sweeter than their regular-sized cousins, and this is why they tend to be more palatable.

Many consider them one of the best substitutes for San Marzano Tomatoes.

They also have slightly higher water content and lower acidity than regular tomatoes, although this is less noticeable in sweeter varieties such as grape tomatoes.

However, you should keep in mind that they lack the robust flavor which makes San Marzano Tomatoes so sought-after.

Also, this is not always a bad thing.

If you plan to use them in salads or sandwiches where they will be mixed with mayonnaise and other strong flavors, using sweeter tomatoes can provide more subtlety.

3 – Roma Tomatoes

roma tomatoes

Roma Tomatoes are a good option if you want to prepare something quickly without spending too much time on it.

Also, because of their thick skin, they are sometimes preserved in jars after maturation is complete.

This makes them available year-round, and their taste can be compared to that of San Marzano Tomatoes even though they may not be as juicy.

Even though Roma Tomatoes can be used in place of San Marzano Tomatoes, the fact that they lack moisture and juice makes them unsuitable for many dishes.

If you’re planning to make a soup or another dish that requires adding water, using Canned Tomatoes would be more appropriate.

4 – Sun-dried Tomatoes

sundried tomatoes

Sun-dried tomatoes have been dried in the sun, which often results in a much sweeter flavor.

They are a great way to bring a rich tomato flavor to your dishes if you don’t want to use canned or fresh tomatoes.

Combined with sugars and oils, they make an interesting ingredient for marinades.

As with many other dried alternatives to fresh produce, sun-dried tomatoes are sometimes used in preserving.

This is because they have a longer shelf life than their native counterparts, which allows them to be kept for long periods without losing freshness or flavor.

Also, there is no need to cook them before using them.

Their rich tomato flavor usually doesn’t require any further preparation.

5 – Tomato Paste

tomato paste

Tomato paste is another option for those of us who love a juicy, flavorful tomato taste but do not have access to San Marzano Tomatoes or the time to spend preparing meals from scratch.

The paste can be mixed with water or stock and used in soups, stews, and sauces.

For best results, you should use unsalted Tomato Paste to ensure that the end product has a rich tomato flavor instead of becoming overly salty.

Also, adding vegetables such as carrots or celery can enhance this by providing additional flavors.

Depending on what dish you are preparing, you may even want to add garlic or onion.


San Marzano Tomatoes are an essential ingredient in the culinary world.

They provide a lovely, rich tomato flavor and maintain high levels of juice and acidity even after being cooked on high heat.

If you cannot find San Marzano Tomatoes or do not have time to prepare them, we recommend using either Cherry Tomatoes, Roma Tomatoes, Sun-dried Tomatoes, or Tomato Paste.

As with any ingredient substitution, make sure you know the differences in flavor and texture before deciding what to use.

Yield: 4 Servings

The 5 Best Substitutes for San Marzano Tomatoes

The 5 Best Substitutes for San Marzano Tomatoes
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes


  • Canned Tomatoes
  • Cherry Tomatoes
  • Roma Tomatoes
  • Sun-dried Tomatoes
  • Tomato Paste


  1. Pick your favorite substitute from the list above.
  2. Follow cooking directions for your selected substitute with the proper ratio of ingredients.
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