Our Experts Found the Best San Marzano Tomatoes You Can Buy

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Looking for the best San Marzano tomatoes for your homemade spaghetti sauce or go-to Italian meal? Our culinary pros tested nine brands to find the most delicious.

Test kitchen preferred the best San Marzano TomatoesTaste of Home

A well-stocked pantry should always contain the essentials: pasta, rice, oils, spices and canned goods. These basics ensure that you always have the building blocks for a homemade meal at the ready. One of our Test Kitchen’s favorite pantry basics is canned San Marzano tomatoes.

San Marzanos are different than other types of tomatoes. These plum tomatoes are grown in a certain part of Italy and are renowned for their sweet flavor and mild acidity. While only those grown in Italy get the name San Marzano, you’ll find plenty of excellent San Marzano-style tomatoes that taste just as delicious.

Because of their particular flavor, these tomatoes are beloved by chefs and foodies—our Test Kitchen included. But not all canned San Marzano (and San Marzano-adjacent) tomatoes are the same.

How We Found the Best San Marzano Tomatoes

Tkp San Marzano Tomatoes SocialTaste of Home

To find the best of the best canned tomatoes, our Test Kitchen experts sampled nine San Marzano tomato brands. The tomatoes were tasted blindly and our prep crew also sliced, diced and pureed these tomatoes to see how they were to work with. All the while our pros kept these criteria in mind:

  • Flavor: How did the tomatoes taste? Did they taste fresh? Did they have that distinctive San Marzano flavor: sweet and not too acidic? Are there any other additional tastes coming through—good or bad?
  • Texture: Are the tomatoes soft? Do they still have an almost fresh or firm texture?
  • Appearance: How do the tomatoes look coming out of the can? Are they a rich red color? More orange? Are the tomatoes intact and whole or are they squished and broken apart?

Our Test Kitchen-Preferred Canned San Marzano Tomatoes

After much slicing, dicing and tasting, our Test Kitchen team found four brands of canned tomatoes that really stood out. Here are the favorites and how to use each.

Best Homegrown Flavor: Hunt’s San Marzano Style Tomatoes

Tkpf Tkpf San Marzano Tomatos HuntsTaste of Home

The biggest compliment our Test Kitchen can give to a packaged product is to call it almost homemade (our pros know the difference between purchased and from scratch). When it came to Hunt’s San Marzano Style Tomatoes, several testers remarked on how these tomatoes tasted almost like garden tomatoes that have been canned at home. It doesn’t get better than that—other than making your own canned tomatoes.

These tomatoes from Hunt’s (also one of our favorite ketchup brands), had a mild, sweet flavor much like plum tomatoes picked from the garden. There was no bitterness or tinny flavors like you might get from lesser quality tomatoes. The texture here was firm, meaning they would hold up well to dicing for recipes like bruschetta or certain soups.

In fact, the flavor of these tomatoes was so good, you could use them in any recipe where tomatoes are the star. These Hunt’s tomatoes will shine.

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Best Shortcut to Italian Flavor: Cento Italian Style Tomatoes

Tkpf San Marzano Tomatos CentoTaste of Home

Tester after tester remarked that these Italian-style tomatoes from Cento tasted like a satisfying San Marzano tomato plus a little something extra. Of course, our Test Kitchen pros were right on the money: These tomatoes are real San Marzanos canned with a touch of salt and basil.

These tomatoes were exactly what our team wanted of San Marzano tomatoes: sweet without that bracing acidity. While canned, these tomatoes were still plump and juicy.

This addition of a single herb does a lot to boost the flavor of these tomatoes and inspire our team of cooks. Basil and tomato is a classic combination and had our team thinking of Italian favorites like satisfying red sauces, chicken cacciatore, chicken pamesan and homemade pizza. Simply put: These are a must for any Italian dish.

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Best for Soups: Mutti Pomodoro San Marzano

Tkpf San Marzano Tomatos MuttiTaste of Home

If you’re making chili, minestrone or other hearty soups, odds are the recipe will call for a can or two of tomatoes. While many recipes will suggest stewed or diced tomatoes, our Test Kitchen says substitute in a can of San Marzano tomatoes—particularly Mutti Pomodoro San Marzano. All you have to do is dice the tomatoes to the right size and consistency.

These tomatoes had a very rich red color—essential for homemade tomato soup. Flavor-wise, testers remarked on how Mutti tomatoes walked the line between acidic and savory, and that’s exactly the quality you’re looking for in the tomatoes in your soups and chilis. A touch of acid plays well with other veggies in soups like minestrone, while the savory notes are really what makes homemade chili so homey.

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Best for Sauces: Alessi Pomodoro San Marzano

Tkpf San Marzano Tomatos AlessiTaste of Home

One of the best ways to make use of a can of San Marzano tomatoes is to make pasta sauce. San Marzano tomatoes are slightly sweet, not too acidic and lend themselves well to flavors like basil and oregano which you’ll find in this marinara recipe. And the best San Marzano tomatoes for your homemade sauces have to be Alessi Pomodoro San Marzano, according to our Test Kitchen.

These tomatoes came out of the can a vivid red color—exactly what you want for making marinara sauce or pizza sauce. The Alessi tomatoes were a bit softer than other options we tried, but for sauces where you really want the tomato to break down and melt into the mixture, that’s ideal. Additionally, these tomatoes weren’t oversweet—another great feature for cooked sauces.

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How to Use Canned Tomatoes

You know by now that a can of tomatoes is a great start to many Italian-inspired dishes, particularly pasta sauces. But you don’t need to stop there.

Use canned San Marzano tomatoes in soups, chilis and all sorts of homey dishes where you want to add freshness and a hint of acidity. One of the tastiest ways to use a can of tomatoes is in beef osso bucco—decadent and delicious. But we’ve got more inspiration where this comes from:

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Lisa Kaminski
Lisa is an associate editor at Taste of Home where she gets to embrace her passion for baking. She pours this love of all things sweet (and sometimes savory) into Bakeable, Taste of Home's baking club. At home, you'll find her working on embroidery and other crafts.