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What are stewed tomatoes good for?

Stewed tomatoes are a versatile ingredient that can be used in many dishes. They have a rich, concentrated tomato flavor that makes them ideal for stews, sauces, soups, casseroles, pasta dishes, and more. If you have a can of stewed tomatoes sitting in your pantry, keep reading to learn all the delicious ways to use them.

What are stewed tomatoes?

Stewed tomatoes, sometimes labeled as stewed tomatoes or tomato puree, are tomatoes that have been cooked down into a thick, rich mixture. To make stewed tomatoes, whole tomatoes are simmered for an extended period of time while seasonings like onion, garlic, basil, oregano, salt, and pepper are added.

This long cooking time causes the tomatoes to break down and release their juices, creating a soft, tender texture. The tomatoes and their juices are then strained to remove skins and seeds, resulting in a smooth, thick consistency.

Unlike crushed tomatoes or tomato sauce, stewed tomatoes contain little to no added liquids. The concentrated flavor makes them well suited for recipes where you want bold tomato taste without the excess liquid. Their soft texture also makes them easy to incorporate into soups and stews.

Nutrition of stewed tomatoes

Stewed tomatoes are nutritionally similar to fresh tomatoes, containing key vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and plant compounds like lycopene. A 1/2 cup serving of canned stewed tomatoes provides:

  • Calories: 32
  • Protein: 1 gram
  • Fiber: 1 gram
  • Vitamin C: 16% DV
  • Vitamin A: 8% DV
  • Vitamin K: 12% DV
  • Potassium: 6% DV
  • Lycopene: 22% DV

They are fat free, cholesterol free, and low in sodium when no salt is added during the canning process. The rich, concentrated flavor allows you to use less tomatoes to achieve full taste.

How to buy and store stewed tomatoes

Stewed tomatoes are available canned in the tomato/pasta aisle of most grocery stores. When purchasing, look for tomatoes packed in juice rather than heavy syrup, which adds unnecessary sugars.

Low sodium or no salt added versions allow control over the salt content used in recipes. Organic options are also available for those wishing to avoid conventional pesticides and farming practices.

For optimal freshness and flavor, use stewed tomatoes within 1 year of purchase. An unopened can will keep 2 to 5 years stored in a cool, dry pantry.

Once opened, stewed tomatoes should be transferred to an airtight container and refrigerated. Properly stored, they will keep 4 to 7 days.

What are the best uses for stewed tomatoes?

The rich, concentrated flavor and smooth texture of stewed tomatoes make them a handy staple for countless savory dishes. Here are some of the top ways to use canned or homemade stewed tomatoes:


Stewed tomatoes add rich tomato flavor and natural thickness to soups and chowders. Use them in minestrone, tomato basil, butternut squash, chicken noodle, and other hearty soups.


For deeply flavored chili, simmer chunks of stewed tomatoes with beans, spices, and protein like ground beef or turkey.

Pasta sauce

Mix stewed tomatoes with seasonings like garlic, onion, basil, oregano, and red wine vinegar for a quick and easy pasta sauce.

Lasagna and casseroles

Layer lasagna noodles, stewed tomatoes, cheese, and meat or vegetables for classic lasagna. The tomatoes also add moisture and flavor to enchiladas, eggplant parmesan, and zucchini casseroles.


Beef stew, chicken stew, and vegetarian stew are all elevated by adding tender bits of stewed tomato.


This Israeli dish of poached eggs in a spicy tomato sauce is ideal for using up a can of stewed tomatoes.

Pizza sauce

Purée stewed tomatoes with garlic, oregano, and olive oil for a quick homemade pizza sauce topped on dough or flatbread.


Mix stewed tomatoes, olive oil, balsamic glaze, basil, and garlic, then spoon over toasted bread for bruschetta.

Quesadillas and tacos

Stir stewed tomatoes into beef or bean mixtures for flavorful quesadilla and taco fillings.


Add chunks of tender stewed tomatoes to curries like chicken tikka masala or vegetarian chickpea curry.

Recipes using stewed tomatoes

Here are some popular recipes for putting those cans of stewed tomatoes to good use:

Slow cooker beef stew

Chunks of stewed tomatoes melt into this hearty beef stew as it simmers away in the slow cooker.

Minestrone soup

This classic Italian soup is loaded with vegetables and beans and gets its rich tomato base from stewed tomatoes.

Chicken enchiladas

Corn tortillas stuffed with chicken, cheese, and spicy stewed tomatoes make delicious enchiladas.

Pasta with sausage and peppers

Penne pasta is tossed with Italian sausage, bell peppers, onions, and stewed tomatoes for a fast weeknight meal.

Skillet lasagna

All the flavors of lasagna without the fuss using quick cooked noodles, stewed tomatoes, cheese, and spinach.

Vegetable chili

Kidney beans, carrots, zucchini, and stewed tomatoes team up for a meatless vegetarian chili.


Poach eggs right in the sauce of stewed tomatoes cooked with onion, garlic, spices, and peppers.

Barbecue pulled pork

Shredded slow cooked pork shoulder simmers in a stewed tomato-based barbecue sauce.

How to make your own stewed tomatoes

While convenient, canned stewed tomatoes can sometimes contain high amounts of sodium and undesirable additives. Making your own at home allows control over ingredients.


  • 2 pounds fresh tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Wash and core the tomatoes, then cut into quarters.
  2. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and cook 5 minutes until soft.
  3. Add garlic and tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Bring to a simmer, then reduce heat to low. Cook uncovered 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  5. Once thickened, remove from heat. Stir in basil.
  6. Use an immersion blender to puree to desired consistency. For chunky, pulse a few times. For smoother, puree 30 seconds or more.
  7. Let cool before transferring to airtight containers. Refrigerate up to 1 week or freeze up to 6 months.


With their concentrated flavor and versatility, stewed tomatoes are a handy pantry staple to keep on hand. They add richness and texture to soups, stews, pasta dishes, casseroles, and more. Whether grabbing a convenient can from the grocery store or making your own batch, stewed tomatoes are a secret weapon for amplifying the flavor of home cooking.