Is There Really A Difference Between Cherry And Grape Tomatoes?

If you've ever picked up a small container of bite-size red tomatoes at the grocery store, without giving a second thought to check for the grape versus cherry label, odds are your recipe and palate were none the wiser. There's a good chance they may have been labeled incorrectly as well — the two varieties are interchangeable with pretty much no exceptions. However, they are not totally identical. 

The similarities between grape and cherry tomatoes are fairly obvious. They're smaller than the other tomato varieties, but equally as deeply red-hued, and offer up a sweet and juicy burst when popped in your mouth. In that sense, they can be eaten just like, well, grapes and cherries.

The two earned their names from the fruit they resemble. Other than their slightly varied berry shapes, the differences between the two come down to size, taste, and texture. That being said, for the most part, they are interchangeable. But once you understand the subtle distinctions in the above factors, you'll know when to opt for one over the other depending on what you're making and just your general preference.

Cherry tomatoes are sweet and juicy

Just like their fruit friend, cherry tomatoes grow perfectly round in shape. They fall on the sweeter end of the tomato spectrum with an almost candy-like quality when at peak ripeness. They're extremely juicy and tend to burst in your mouth — or all over your cutting board — once you pierce their thin skins.

Much like how other types of tomatoes come in colors other than their signature red, cherry tomatoes are also available in shades of green, orange, yellow, and deeper reds and browns. They can grow in varying sizes and shapes, such as the yellow pear variety. However, what you come across most often in the produce section are the little round red balls fit for popping in your mouth. You'll often see them with their green stems still intact.

Cherry tomatoes are perfect for fresh salads, salsas, and kebabs (think toothpick caprese bites), or simply roasted with some olive oil and salt.

Grape tomatoes have a meatier quality

Grape tomatoes take on a longer, oval shape much like their fruity vineyard counterparts. They resemble miniature plum tomatoes. As with cherry tomatoes, they can also be found in shades of orange and yellow. However, bright red and in a little plastic container is what you'll most often come across at the store.

They are heartier and meatier than cherry tomatoes and have slightly thicker skin. They're also a perfectly poppable bite, but you should expect less of a sweet squirt and a little more toothsome chew. Their flavor takes on a slightly more savory tomato tone as opposed to the cherry's burst of sweetness.

Grape tomatoes can be used just as you would with a cherry tomato. Bottom line: When all is said and done, both varieties are perfect for any dish calling for a small, juicy bite of umami tomato flavor. However, you may need to cut a cherry tomato into smaller pieces if you're looking for that more petite forkful the grape tomato offers up. Tomayto, tomahto, as they say.