The $10 Costco Star Ingredient I Buy Every Fall

updated Sep 25, 2022
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Has slow-cooker season snuck up on you, or have you been checking the days off the calendar until it is time for sweaters and soups? Farmers at the outdoor markets have sold their final summer harvests of corn, tomatoes, okra, and the like, so I am turning to my other favorite place to stock up on groceries: Costco.

I have slow cooker recipes on the menu for the foreseeable future, so the one ingredient I know that I won’t leave Costco without are canned Cento Whole Peeled San Marzano Tomatoes.

Credit: Patty Catalano

What’s So Great About Cento Whole Peeled San Marzano Tomatoes?

Canned tomatoes are essential to so many of the low-and-slow simmers and braises I cook during the chilly fall and winter months, so I make sure to stock my pantry with the best-tasting ones. We conducted a taste test of canned tomatoes and found a huge difference between brands. Lucky for us, the winning brand is the same one you can find at your local Costco, but sold in packs of three for $10. Plus, it’s a repeat winner on our annual Kitchn Essentials list.

San Marzano tomatoes are full of rich tomato flavor and natural sweetness despite having no added sugar. These tomatoes are whole, but you can use them for any recipe that calls for whole, diced, or crushed canned tomatoes; just use kitchen shears, a chef’s knife, or an immersion blender to chop them as required for the recipe.

What’s the Best Way to Use Cento Whole Peeled San Marzano Tomatoes?

Here’s what a week of slow cooker dinners using the canned San Marzano tomatoes looks like.

  • Monday: This Slow Cooker Hominy Squash Casserole calls for Mexican-style diced tomatoes or Ro-Tel, so I just add a small can of diced green chiles to my shopping list.
  • Tuesday: Cook the tomatoes with chicken, chipotle, and seasonings for easy Slow Cooker Fajitas.
  • Wednesday: Slow Cooker Stuffed Bell Peppers in Marinara are the ideal mid-week meal when nobody is home at the same time for dinner.
  • Thursday: Slow Cooker Black Bean Chili is pure winter comfort food. I’ll serve it with cornbread and all the fixings.
  • Friday: Although this Slow Cooker Coconut Lentil Curry calls for fire-roasted tomatoes, I’ll use the San Marzanos and finish with smoked salt. You can even take the tomatoes out of the juice and pop them under the broiler for a few minutes to get that dark roasted flavor if your heart desires.
  • Saturday: I’ll serve Chili Mac and Cheese from the slow cooker to feed a crowd of friends as we watch the ball game.
  • Sunday is all about Sunday Sauce, that long-simmered tomato sauce that is the base for the night’s family dinner. This recipe is written for the stovetop, but after browning the meat it can be finished and simmered in the slow cooker instead.

Because San Marzano tomatoes are so versatile for a variety of different dishes and cuisines, you might want to pick up two packs of this pantry staple on your next Costco trip.

Find it in stores: Cento Whole Peeled San Marzano Tomatoes, $9.99 for 3 (28-ounce) cans

What’s your favorite way to use canned tomatoes? Tell us in the comments below.