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Are You Using the Right Type of Tomato for Your Recipe?

Do heirloom tomatoes taste better? Which variety has the most acid? What's best type of tomato for canning? We're answering all these questions–and more–in our tomato guide!

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Tomatoes via Taste of HomeTaste of Home

Whether you say ‘to-MAY-to’ or ‘to-MAH-to,’ they’re delicious! Especially at their peak, fresh tomatoes are good with pretty much everything.

But are you using the right tomato for your recipe? If you’ve ever experienced a much-too-juicy tomato on your burger, or a marinara sauce that doesn’t taste quite right, we’re here to clear things up.

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Raw Organic Red Beefsteak Tomatoes Ready for CookingBrent Hofacker/Shutterstock


Best for: sandwiches

Named because of their large size and meaty texture, these should be your go-to for your favorite summer subs or a classic burger. Not only because they slice easily, whether you like them thin or thick, without getting juice everywhere, but they won’t fall apart. Wins all around!

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Fresh colorful ripe Fall heirloom tomatoes in basket over wooden background, top view, horizontal compositionFoxys Forest Manufacture/Shutterstock


Best for: salads and baked goods

Looking for something more colorful than your usual red tomato? These modern hybrids can easily be shared among your green-thumbed friends. Not all look or taste the same, so you’ll find a wide range of sizes, colors and flavors. To keep things simple, toss them together for a salad, or top your savory tart with heirlooms for a colorful twist.

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Small red cherry tomatoes spill out of a wicker basket on an old wooden table in rustic style, selective focusShutterstock/5PH


Best for: appetizers, sides and salads

While these tomatoes aren’t necessarily shaped like cherries, they’re just as sweet! Just because they are on the smaller size doesn’t mean they can’t do a lot. Cherry tomatoes are especially popular for appetizers because they can easily be stuffed with soft cheeses and herbs, or served as a simple side dish.

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Delicious fresh raw San Marzano tomatoes for an healthy mealShutterstock/Sabino Parente

San Marzano

Best for: sauces

A variation on the domestic plum tomato, these come out of the rich volcanic soil at the base of Mount Vesuvius in Italy. Their sweet flavor and low acidity means they’re perfect for fresh or canned sauce. They’re definitely worth the splurge if you’re making spaghetti sauce from scratch!

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Many Roma tomatoes in baskets at the marketShutterstock/Marc Bruxelle


Best for: soups and canning

Primarily known as Roma tomatoes, you might also see these oblong tomatoes labeled as Plum tomatoes. Big on sweetness, but also acidity, they have a lower moisture and water content than most other tomatoes, so they work well when canned (check out these 11 recipes), thrown on the grill or used in a fresh tomato soup.

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A bowl of grape tomatoes over a wood tableShutterstock/Paulo Vilela


Best for: appetizers and salads

It shouldn’t be a surprise that these guys are named because they’re the size of a grape. They are uniform in size and sweetness, and work wonderfully in any mini lunch or appetizer, like a kebab with lunch meats and cheese or in a simple salad with feta. Or just pop ’em in your mouth for a sweet and juicy snack!

See our 30 best fresh tomato recipes here.

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