The Best Type Of Canned Tomatoes For Your Pasta Sauce

When it comes to pantry essentials few items are as versatile as canned tomatoes. Want a bright, satisfying breakfast? Break out a can and whip up some Shakshuka. Need a weeknight dinner that won't disappoint? Penne arrabiata will never let you down. And — believe it or not — according to Bon Appétit canned tomatoes are almost always going to be the better choice over fresh, as tomato season is short, and even during that time, it can be hard to find a good one in your grocery store. Meanwhile, canned tomatoes are packed at the height of their flavor and freshness, making them the superior option for many recipes.

Still, for all their uses the variety of canned tomato products on the shelf can be pretty intimidating. What's the difference between crushed and diced? And when should I pick one over the other? The last thing you want is the excitement of digging into spaghetti and meatballs served with a chunky marinara disappearing as you dish out a bland, mealy sauce. Thankfully there is one type of canned tomatoes you can reliably reach for every time a plate of pasta is calling your name.

For sauce, choose canned whole peeled tomatoes

When it comes to the canned tomatoes that tick all the boxes for perfect pasta sauce, whole peeled tomatoes offer a range of advantages over other options like diced or pureed. As Serious Eats notes, they are often the least processed, so the tomato flavor is fresher and they break down into a silkier sauce. Starting from whole tomatoes also gives you more control over the texture of your sauce, according to Simply Recipes: blend it smooth or crush it by hand for a more hearty, rustic texture. Tomato sauce recipes are highly variable and every cook or family often has their own, so you want to start from the perfect blank canvas before adding your own personal touches.

Manufacturers also tend to pick the highest quality tomatoes for whole peeled (via Saveur). The difference between canned tomato flavors can be pretty huge, and with a dish like tomato sauce that is often a simple expression of a core ingredient, you always want to opt for quality to ensure the perfect end result. While some extra salt or olive oil might improve an already good sauce, no amount of additions or cooking techniques can turn a bad tomato into a good one.