10 Brands of Canned Tomatoes That Professional Chefs Swear By

updated Jan 29, 2021
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Canned tomatoes being poured into strainer over glass bowl.
Credit: Photo: Ghazalle Badiozamani | Food Stylist: Jesse Szewczyk

Ask any home cook, and they’ll probably tell you that one of the most-reached-for items in their pantry is a can of tomatoes. These tomatoes are the base for tons of sauces, soups, and stews, and help dinner come together a whole lot faster. It’s not just home cooks who rely on this essential ingredient, though — professional chefs do, too. Of course, visit any grocery store and you’ll find countless options to choose from.

Read more: We Tried Every Brand of Canned Tomatoes, Tomato Paste, and Marinara Sauce We Could Find — Here Are Our Favorites

To help narrow things down, we asked some expert chefs to share their go-to brands, both in their restaurants and at home.

1. Cento San Marzano Peeled Tomatoes

“I prefer these San Marzano tomatoes because they have the right acidity and sweetness to bring out the best flavor of almost any dish. I like to use canned tomatoes as an umami booster and will often roast and concentrate them for flavor.” — Sarah Gavigan, chef and owner of Otaku Ramen in Nashville, Tennessee

Buy: Cento San Marzano Peeled Tomatoes, $3.69 for 28 ounces at Target

Credit: Joe Lingeman/Kitchn

2. Bianco DiNapoli

“I use Bianco DiNapoli tomatoes exclusively for the pizza sauce at my restaurant Nizza. Bianco’s tomatoes are grown in the Central Valley of California, where growing conditions are ideal (lots of sun and heat), producing a mildly sweet and low-acid tomato. The real test of a great canned tomato? Pop one in your mouth right out of the can.” — Sean McNorton, chef at Nizza in New York City

“Bianco DiNapoli is a pantry staple in my kitchen. I use them for hearty pasta dishes and warming stews and sauces. The flavor always reminds me of my time living in Rome (which I still dream of.)” — Camilla Marcus, chef and founder of west~bourne in New York City

Buy: Bianco DiNapoli, $6.99 for 28 ounces at Mercato

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3. Nina Italian Peeled Tomatoes

“These tomatoes break down really well and keep sauces nice and chunky without being overly blended. These are my go-to when I make any red sauce like marinara, Bolognese, and vodka. I also use them when making clam chowders, bisque soups, gazpacho, and salsas.” — Glenn Rolnick, executive chef of Carmine’s in New York, Atlantic City, and Las Vegas 

Buy: Nina Italian Peeled Tomatoes, $1.89 for 35 ounces at Instacart

Credit: Instacart

4. La Valle Italian Peeled Tomatoes

“We use imported whole San Marzano tomatoes from La Valle. The area around Mount Vesuvius is one of the best places in the world to grow tomatoes, as they benefit from the Mediterranean climate and the mineral-rich soil. This particular type of tomato has a greater flesh-to-seed ratio, making them a bit sweeter. There is also less water content.” — Eden Gaim, chef of Al Volo at JACX&CO in Long Island City, New York

“I’m partial to La Valle Organic Tomatoes, imported from Italy. This brand makes a great sauce that has the perfect balance of sweetness to acidity. It makes a great base for a rustic, chunky sauce.” — Jeff Caputo, executive chef of The Food Crate

Buy: La Valle Italian Peeled Tomatoes, $3.49 for 28 ounces at Instacart

Credit: The Online Italian

5. Fontanella Italian Peeled Tomatoes

“Fontanella tomatoes are consistently ripe and lower in acidity. At DiAnoia’s, we use them in our house marinara sauce and for braising different meats for pasta dishes.” — Dave Anoia, chef and owner of DiAnoia’s Eatery in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

More info: Fontanella USA

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6. Mutti Polpa

“My first choice has always been Mutti because they have consistently great taste — each tomato remains remarkably fragrant and naturally sweet. The taste is so fresh that sometimes I enjoy it straight from the can! I use their tomatoes for everything: sauces, reductions, soups, and even bloody Marys.” — Michele Casadei Massari, executive chef and owner of Lucciola in New York City

Buy: Mutti Polpa, $25.93 for twelve 14-ounce cans

Credit: Instacart

7. Pomi Tomato Sauce

“I’ve used several canned tomato brands over the years. Generally, I review the label; it should have a pretty slim list of ingredients and no preservatives or added salts. It should also taste bright, full, and somewhat sweet. For the most part, I use Pomi tomato sauce, made from 100% fresh Italian tomatoes. When I find them, I’ll buy their organic line of chopped or strained tomatoes that are packaged in glass bottles. This way, if I don’t use the whole bottle, it’s easy to store in the fridge for the next meal.” — Suzy Karadsheh, founder and chef of The Mediterranean Dish

Buy: Pomi Tomato Sauce, $1.50 for 17.63 ounces at Instacart

8. 365 Everyday Value Whole Peeled Tomatoes

“My choice is always Whole Foods Market’s brand of organic whole peeled tomatoes. They’re sweet, organic, and the can has no BPA liner.” — Sharone Hakman, CEO and chef of Chef Hak’s

More info: 365 Everyday Value Whole Peeled Tomatoes, $1.49 for 28 ounces

Credit: Amazon

9. Carmelina Italian Chopped Tomatoes

“To me, the Carmelina version is everything I’m looking for in a canned tomato product: equally bright, tart, sweet, deep, and rich.” — Micah Fredman, chef and co-founder of ipsa provisions in New York City

More info: Carmelina

10. Muir Glen

“Real Tex-Mex relies heavily on canned tomatoes — certain dishes and salsas simply cannot be made correctly with fresh tomatoes. Muir Glen canned tomatoes are a solid bet for any type of dish you’re making. My favorite is their Fire-Roasted line, which you can get in whole, diced, crushed … the list goes on.” — Liz Solomon Dwyer, founder of King David Tacos in New York City

Buy: Muir Glen Organic Diced Tomatoes, $15.98 for twelve 14.5-ounce cans

Did your favorite make the list?