The Best Way to Deal With Whole Canned Tomatoes

published May 12, 2014
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(Image credit: Leela Cyd)

Big cans of whole peeled tomatoes are a staple in my pantry, useful for everything from quick pasta sauces to tomato soup. But how do you chop them up without splatters and juice in your eye? It’s easy to do it right in the can. See our best tip for chopping canned tomatoes with zero mess.

(Image credit: Leela Cyd)

Use a pair of kitchen shears and get right down into the can. Snip away until the tomatoes have broken down to whatever size is useful for your recipe. Often just a few snips is all you need; the big chunks of tomato break down the rest of the way as they cook. (And if you need tomato puree, an immersion blender helps finish the job!)

I like this better than other methods I’ve tried. It’s less messy than squeezing the tomatoes between my fingers, and less risky than mashing the cooking tomatoes against the side of the pot — I’ve squirted myself with hot tomato juice more than once doing that.

You might be wondering why I don’t use diced tomatoes to begin with. Mostly, I just think that whole tomatoes taste better and are more versatile — no need to buy multiple kinds when the one will do. I also find that whole tomatoes break down into a sauce more easily (manufacturers sometimes add calcium chloride to cans of diced tomatoes to keep them firm). Beyond that, you can just call it a quirk of the chef!

How do you deal with whole canned tomatoes?