What is the Best Type of Tomato to Use?

The tomato section of the supermarket’s produce department can get a little overwhelming. It doesn’t have to when you have our handy guide to what type of tomatoes should be used in what recipe.

The tomato section of the supermarket's produce department can get a little overwhelming. It doesn't have to when you have our handy guide to what type of tomatoes should be used in what recipe.

Tomatoes are one of the most versatile foods in the daily American diet. They’re featured in everything from soups, to sauces, to sandwiches, to salads. (Wow, lots of “S” names!)

But while we may think of tomatoes as a one size fits all accompanying food, there are actually quite a lot of different variations of tomatoes that we overlook, and all of them can be best used for different things.

Let’s take a look at some of the different tomato varieties out there and what they are best known for.

Cherry Tomatoes

These tomatoes are pretty common in salads. They’re little and round, much like a cherry, which is where the name comes from.

They come in several variations, including red, yellow, orange and purple. Their taste is tangy and sweet and they can be used for more than just salad. You can sauce them, grill them and cook them. They even go great as a healthy snack. Dip it in some ranch for a slightly less healthy but more delicious experience.

They also are perfect for skewers, given their small size.

Grape Tomatoes

These are often confused with cherry tomatoes. They’re equally small, but they’re more oval in shape. Like, you know, a grape!

They have a thicker skin which means that cooked grape tomatoes hold onto their texture. You can toss them in pasta or roast them in the oven. They also go really well alongside some form of meat.

Much like the cherry tomato, they’re perfect for snacking and skewering thanks to their diminutive size. They’re also a great addition to any salad.

Red Beefsteak Tomatoes

This is probably the tried and true tomato you’re used to. They’re red, juicy and meaty. They’re commonly used in everything from salsas to sauces. The flavoring of this tomato is mild, which makes them blend with the taste of most dishes.

This is also the most common sandwich and hamburger tomato, once again because it doesn’t overpower the flavor of the meat. If you want a traditional tomato, this is the one for you.

Green Beefsteak Tomato

This is one of the times where eating a green tomato is ok! These crunchy, tart and tangy green tomatoes are commonly found in artisan sandwiches, but also can be used for salsa, sauces and other dips, as well as pickling.

This is a tomato that can be used in baking. They make a great addition to pies and various desserts. Some people even use them as a substitute for Granny Smith apples.

Roma Tomatoes

If you’ve ever bought “plum tomatoes” you’re buying Roma. Tangy and flavorful, these oddly shaped tomatoes have a real “garden fresh” taste to them.

They are most commonly used for traditional Italian “Sunday Gravy” or tomato sauce as the non-Italian among us like to say. They are also used in stews and tomato paste.

These are my favorite sandwich tomatoes as the slices are small and don’t overtake the rest of the sandwich.

Roma tomatoes are also common in bruschetta and salads.

Cocktail Tomatoes

These tomatoes have soft walls and a meaty texture. Their flavor starts off like a traditional tomato but there is an aftertaste that is sweet and almost fruit-like.

They do especially well with heat, as such they are perfect for a lot of different sauces. They’re also perfect additions to a barbecue and can be easily stuffed with meat and vegetables.

Heirloom Tomatoes

Heirloom tomatoes come in a variety of sizes and colors. They’re also one of the best tomatoes to add a little something different to a classic dish thanks to their rich flavoring.

A lot of people use heirloom tomatoes for sandwiches and salads, but they also can be roasted. Serving them up raw with some oil, salt, spices and fresh mozzarella can also make for a fantastic appetizer or snack.

On the Vine Tomatoes

As the name implies, these are tomatoes that are still on the vine when you buy them. There is a reason for this, as they continue to soak up the nutrients of the plant until fully ripe. The end result is a juicy and sweet flavor.

These are pretty common in tomato soup, but they’re also featured in a lot of jams and sauces. This is a very versatile tomato, with nearly endless possibilities.

In Conclusion

There you have it! These various tomatoes can be combined or used separately to create a variety of versatile dishes. What is your favorite kind of tomato? Sound off in the comment section below and let us know.

Kevin Kessler

Kevin J. Kessler is an experienced professional writer and published author living in Orlando, Florida. With a lifelong passion for food, this sandwich loving Italian boy enjoys exploring unanswered questions about the foods we all know and love so well. Kevin’s foodie lifestyle was born through his love of Walt Disney World and the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival. A lover of stories, he enjoys trying new dishes from all over the world and learning everything there is to know about where food comes from, how its prepared, and what variations on it exist.