Canned tomatoes are perfect for winter soups and stews, which is where I use them most often. Once you’re familiar with the concept of cooking down tomatoes to create a sauce, you can start changing things up by adding different ingredients or making flavoured tomato paste or puree.
My favourite way to make thick tomato sauces is to roast whole tomatoes in olive oil until they burst open and collapse into a pile of juicy, smoky deliciousness that has already started releasing its juices. Those juices are used to cook down the tomatoes into a thick sauce. You can use this method to make tomato sauces that are sweet, spicy, smoky, or herby. It’s an easy way to add depth and flavour to any dish made with canned tomatoes.
Anyway, without going any further into recipes let’s explore the best tomato sauce brands out there:
9. Cento San Marzano Peeled Tomatoes
This is one of two brands I’ve found that come from Italy and are certified DOP. The other brand, Contadina, tastes like pureed tomato paste, but Cento has more texture to it and a bit less acidity.
The flavour is richly tomatoey with deep notes of basil that make the sauce taste fresher than anything else out there. These peels have just as much character as peeled tomatoes and use them in recipes where you can see the texture like in a baked pasta dish or lasagna.
8. Bianco DiNapoli
Bianco DiNapoli is an organic, Italian-style canned tomato sauce that’s available in many grocery stores. It’s somewhere between a thin and thick style of pasta sauce, with chunks of diced tomatoes throughout. The flavor isn’t anything special—it tastes like a basic tomato sauce with a little bit of extra salt added to it—but the texture is nice, especially if you’re going for something on the thicker side. It’s a good choice if you want something that’s very easy to find in stores, and it also happens to be pretty cheap.
7. Nina Italian Peeled Tomatoes
Nina Italian Peeled Tomatoes are grown in the rich volcanic soil of Southern Italy and have been since 1932. They are a great choice for your favourite recipes because they’re vine-ripened, non-GMO tomatoes that come to you with their thick skins removed so all you taste is tender tomato goodness.
6. La Valle Italian Peeled Tomatoes
These are peeled Italian plum tomatoes from the Campania region of Italy. It’s a great product for making sauces and dishes that require whole, intact tomatoes. These have a flat bottom so they can rest on their side while cooking (unlike regular canned tomato sauce). The plums make this sauce sweet, rich, and thick with just enough acidity to keep it bright without being sour or acidic tasting. You could easily use these as your base for sauces, soups, and stews, or even carry them over pasta.
5. Fontanella Italian Peeled Tomatoes
Fontanella Italian Peeled Tomatoes are made with vine-ripened tomatoes. They’re BPA and gluten-free, as well as being preserved in glass jars. These canned tomatoes come packed with calcium, potassium, and vitamin A. You can purchase Fontanella Italian Peeled Tomatoes at Whole Foods Market or on Amazon. As far as taste goes, these are a great choice for anyone who is looking to make homemade spaghetti sauce or pizza sauce at home. The texture is also great for blending into sauces.
4. Mutti Polpa
Mutti tomatoes are a classic Italian brand and this tomato sauce is no exception. They have been making canned tomatoes for over 50 years, so they know how to make them well. This particular version of Mutti Polpa has low sodium compared to many other brands at only 10% of the daily recommended value per serving. The sauce tastes like it was made on the vine: sweet with just a hint of acidity—just what you want from fresh tomatoes.
3. Pomi Tomato Sauce
Pomi is a family-owned company out of Italy. It’s one of the oldest canned tomato sauce companies in the world, and Pomi has been using tomatoes grown all over Italy for their products since 1982. They produce more than 80 different types of sauces and paste—including some organic options—but I chose to include this particular variety because it is so tasty, versatile, and just as good or better than many imported varieties that cost significantly more money. It’s also a relatively low sodium option at 330mg per serving, and it contains no artificial ingredients.
Pomi is definitely one of the best-canned tomato sauce brands out there because of its flavour—it’s thick, rich, sweet with just a hint of acidity (which you can adjust by adding vinegar to taste), and full-bodied. It’s got some great texture thanks to the chunks of real tomatoes that are included in every jar. And if you like your canned tomato sauces to have a hint of smoke, you’re going to love this one.
2. 365 Everyday Value Whole Peeled Tomatoes
365 Everyday Value is Whole Foods Market’s private-label brand. It’s a pretty decent tomato sauce with an affordable price tag. The tomatoes are peeled, but the tomatoes aren’t organic and don’t have any other special certifications or claims attached to them. However, they do taste good and provide plenty of value for money at $1 per can—that’s less than half the cost of most canned tomato products on this list! A 365 Everyday Value product review says that the sauce has a smooth, thick consistency and tastes fresh.
1. Carmelina Italian Chopped Tomatoes
Carmelina canned tomatoes are the perfect addition to any Italian dish. These sauces are handcrafted in Italy using only fresh vine-ripened tomatoes and a blend of herbs, garlic, and olive oil for a truly authentic taste. All of Carmelina’s products are made with 100% natural ingredients without any added salt or sugar. Each jar contains 5 oz (142 g) of chopped tomatoes in tomato puree sauce that is ready to be used in most recipes.
I hope that this guide has helped you to get more familiar with canned tomatoes and how they can fit into your meals. There’s nothing wrong with keeping a few cans of whole plum tomatoes in the pantry for those times when you need them, but I hope that these tips will help you become more creative about using canned tomatoes in place of fresh ones. And if you have any questions or comments, please leave them below.