The Closest Flavor Substitute For Fire Roasted Tomatoes

The rich, smoky flavor of roasted tomatoes can deepen recipes and offer an extra kick of flavor to dishes. Whether you're sprinkling the charred vegetables into salads or folding them into homemade pasta sauces, the taste of fire-roasted vegetables is an easy culinary hack that can't be overlooked. While you can certainly fire up the grill and char your own tomatoes before you get cooking, that extra work isn't necessary if you're wanting a similar smoky flavor — no flames necessary.

Buy roasted tomatoes in cans to have on hand for the next time you're wanting to deepen a pot of fiery pinto beans or add richness to barbecue baked beans. Or simply reach into your spice cabinet and look for the dark orange jar of paprika. Using canned tomatoes and doctoring them up with smoked paprika can offer a similar flavor profile to adding a handful of fire-roasted tomatoes to your meal.

Different kinds of paprika can be added to recipes to offer a subtly sweet spice similar to the charred sweetness that roasted tomatoes provide. After all, there's a good reason why Hungarians have been using the spice for centuries.

Keeping fire away from tonight's recipe

While regular paprika can liven up recipes, smoked paprika offers that extra zing that more closely resembles the toasty caramel flavor that roasted tomatoes deliver. Smoked paprika is made from red peppers that have been air-dried over smoke. As the peppers' oils clings to the smoke and the paprika dries, the unmistakable smoky flavor is locked into the dried ingredient even when it is ground into fine powder. Simply open a can of high-quality tomatoes, add the spice to taste, and enjoy a smokier dish without needing to turn on your grill.

Note that several different kinds of paprika are available in markets, and since paprika is made up of dried peppers, start to add the ingredient slowly to recipes until you've achieved your deserved level of smoky, satisfying heat. Though the spice itself is mild, the powder still packs heat that can warm up your sauces and soups with a spoonful. For an even more noticeable taste of heat, consider toasting the spice in a pan or cooking the powder with oil before folding it into the stew you've planned for tonight's meal.