How to Peel Tomatoes in 3 Easy Ways

Our Test Kitchen expert reveals her tips for how to peel tomatoes every which way.

Let’s clear the air here. Most of the time, you don’t need to peel a tomato. A quick slice or chop is all it takes to lend their juicy flavor to a sandwich, salad, or one of our many fresh tomato recipes. So why make the extra effort? When you want the texture of a dish-such as salsa, soup, jam or sauce-to be as smooth as silk, removing tomato skin is the way to go.

Tomatoes don’t need to be peeled with a blade like carrots and potatoes do. Trust us; that would get messy. A tomato’s delicate texture calls for a more creative approach. Culinary expert Christine Rukavena shows us the best way to peel a tomato—three of them, in fact. Let’s walk through each, step by step.

How to Peel Tomatoes: The Blanching Method

Boiling is the quickest and most convenient way to peel a tomato. The skin lifts easily from the vegetable—erm, fruit—and the partial cooking helps preserve the tomato’s fresh flavor and plump texture.

woman scoring skin of tomato on wooden cutting boardTaste of Home

Step 1: Prepare the tomatoes

Wrangle up a large saucepan and fill two-thirds of it with water; bring to a boil. As the water heats, use the time to give the tomatoes a little prep. Give them each a gentle rinse in the sink and remove their cores. On the bottom of each, make a small X-shaped insertion with the tip of your knife.

Step 2: Boil, boil, boil

Using a slotted spoon, carefully lower the tomatoes into the water, one at a time. Cook for 30-60 seconds. You’ll know they’re ready when the skin at the “X” mark begins to loosen.

Test Kitchen tip: Keep careful watch over the tomatoes as they cook. If left in the water too long, the tomatoes will become mushy.

woman placing tomato in ice bath from boiling potTaste of Home

Step 3: Cool them quick

When each tomato looks about ready, remove it from the pot. Immediately transfer it into a large bowl filled with ice water. This will prevent any further cooking.

woman peeling tomatoes in ice bathTaste of Home

Step 4: Peel!

At last, your tomatoes are ready to peel. Pierce the outer layer with the tip of a knife and lift. The skin will glide right off.

Test Kitchen tip: Stubborn skin? Plop the tomato back into the boiling water for a few more seconds and try again.

How to Peel Tomatoes: The Roasting Method

Roasting is a hands-off technique for peeling tomatoes that gives them a robust, smoky flavor that’s great for making salsa or spaghetti sauce. This method works well with smaller, less juicy tomatoes such as plum and Roma tomatoes.

halved tomatoes on sheet panTaste of Home

Step 1: Prep

Give each tomato a gentle rinse under the sink and remove the core. Cut in half lengthwise and place cut side down in a lightly oiled rimmed baking sheet.

Test Kitchen tip: For an awesome pasta sauce, toss the tomatoes in oil and Italian herbs before roasting. Use the peeled tomatoes (and the fragrant oil from the pan) in your recipe.

Step 2: Roast

Dial the oven up to 425°F and bake until the edges of the tomatoes are well browned. This can take 30-35 minutes. Or you can broil the halved tomatoes 6-8-inches from the heat for 8-12 minutes. Remove when the skins are split and charred.

roasted halved tomatoes on sheet ban hand removing skinTaste of Home

Step 3: Peel

Let the baking dish cool slightly. Then, have at it. The easiest way to peel off the skin is with your hands.

How to Peel Tomatoes: The Freezer Method

Have a bumper crop of tomatoes that you can’t use all at once? Clear some room in the freezer to store for a rainy day. (Yes, you can freeze tomatoes—and tons of other fresh summer produce!) Once thawed, removing tomato skins is a cinch. Use your whole peeled tomatoes in cooked foods such as soups, sauces and stews, not salads, because they lose their firm texture once frozen.

woman placing cored tomatoes into plastic ziplock bagTaste of Home

Step 1: Prep and freeze

Give the tomatoes a gentle rinse, pat dry and remove their cores. Then arrange the tomatoes (whole) on a cookie sheet and send them into the freezer. Make sure they don’t touch. Once frozen, transfer to a large freezer bag and seal.

Test Kitchen tip: Make sure to label the outside of your freezer bag with a “use by” date. Tomatoes can be frozen for up to 8 months.

Step 2: Thaw and peel

When you’re ready to peel the tomato, simply run it under warm water and the skin will slip right off.

Test Kitchen tip: For less fuss, simply leave the tomatoes out for a few hours to thaw.

peeled tomatoes in glass bowlTaste of Home

There you have it! Peeling tomatoes is easier than you’d think. Next time you’ve got a bushel on hand, opt for these easy methods instead of buying a can of pre-peeled tomatoes. Check out our entire collection of grocery-store staples you should make instead of buy, here.

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Nicole Doster
Nicole is a writer, editor and lover of Italian food. In her spare time, you’ll find her thumbing through vintage cookbooks or testing out recipes in her tiny kitchen.
Christine Rukavena
Christine loves to read, curate, sample and develop new recipes as a book editor at Taste of Home. A CIA alumna with honors, she creates cookbooks and food-related content. A favorite part of the job is taste-testing dishes. Previous positions include pastry chef at a AAA Five Diamond property. Christine moonlights at a boutique wine shop, where she edits marketing pieces and samples wine far higher than her pay grade.