15 Best Uses For Canned Tomato Juice

School is out for summer, which means our favorite, tomato season, is in full swing. Something about a ripe, juicy tomato adds just the right touch of freshness to a backyard barbecue that we love. But how do you enjoy that bright, sweet flavor after the weather starts to cool? One easy answer is tried-and-true tomato juice — not the sugary, bottled stuff, but the classic canned variety.

Picked at the peak of ripeness, tomatoes used for pure juice maintain that perfect summer flavor all year long. Not only does it taste great, but tomato juice is even good for you, too. The nutrient-rich beverage is loaded with antioxidants — most notably lycopene, which has been linked to chronic disease prevention, per Molecules. Ready to give canned tomato juice a try? Here are some ways to savor the flavor of summer all year long, from refreshing beverages to comforting soups — and bisques.

Bloody Mary

Savory, tangy, and sometimes spicy, the Bloody Mary is a beloved brunch staple and a boozy way to add a splash of antioxidants to your day. While its appearance at a morning meal wouldn't raise an eyebrow, the history of the tomato-based tipple is a bit more questionable. Whether it was invented by French bartender Fernand Petiot and popularized by The St. Regis New York, or concocted by actor George Jessel as a potent hangover cure, the world may never know — though brunch crowds everywhere are thankful for its flavorful existence.

Concocting the perfect cocktail at home is easier than you might think. To make a classic Bloody Mary, simply combine your tomato juice of choice with quality vodka, Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco sauce (if you so choose), lemon juice, black pepper, and celery salt. For a traditional presentation, garnish with a celery stick and lemon wheel. Now, here's where things can get weird. In the age of Instagram, Bloody Marys have become more known for their over-the-top toppings than their savory flavor profile. Attention-seeking accouterments have included everything from bacon-wrapped scallops and jumbo shrimp to a whole fried chicken.


A beautiful blend of fresh vegetables married with tangy tomato juice, gazpacho is as much a drinkable salad as a refreshing summer soup. While the dish's origins are rooted in Spanish cuisine, the purely veggie-packed version is very much an American twist. The original recipe was based on bread, not tomatoes which didn't arrive in Spain until the 16th century. Gazpacho made its American debut in an 1824 cookbook, though it didn't take off in the States until the mid-20th century. A resurgence in the 1990s among the culinary elite cemented the soup as a summer staple.

For a quick-to-assemble make-ahead meal, grab a can of tomato juice and some fresh veggies to whip up this Mexican gazpacho recipe. The raw nature of the ingredients makes this a fast weeknight dinner (it comes together in just 15 minutes), and a healthy one at that. In addition to the aforementioned pure tomato juice, the dish contains cucumbers, bell peppers, and raw garlic and onions.

Tomato granita

If you love the taste of tomato juice, why not enjoy it frozen? Simple yet oh, so delicious, granita is a snow cone's Italian cousin and the perfect treat on a hot summer day.

The best part about granita is that it requires absolutely no cooking. Simply combine the ingredients (in this case, tomato juice, sherry vinegar, lemon juice, and agave), in a shallow pan, toss it in the freezer, and scrape the mixture with a fork every half hour or so to give the frozen delight its signature flaky texture. And when plated well, granita can be downright elegant without anyone having to know how simple it is to concoct.

Bloody Mary fans and those who prefer their desserts on the savory side will love tomato granita as an after-dinner treat, but the tangy notes and earthy nature of the dish make it an ideal accompaniment to your next cookout. Served on fire-roasted vegetables or a fresh piece of fish, tomato granita will elevate your grill game to flavorful new heights.

Spice up your rice

While cheap and easy to have on hand, rice can be, well, boring. One of the simplest ways to add big flavor to your next batch of rice is to switch up your cooking liquid; for example, try swapping out the water with, say, tomato juice. As the rice cooks, it soaks up all that earthy, tangy goodness turning each granule into a mouthwatering morsel. Plus, the soft reddish-orange hue the grains take on is as appealing to the eye as it is to the palate.

For your next taco night, impress your guests with this shortcut Spanish rice recipe. By replacing the water with tomato juice, the rice absorbs even more tomato-y flavor to become the star of the dinner table. While you're at it, go ahead and make an extra-large batch to spice up your weekly meal prep. Add your grilled protein of choice and fresh veggies to make a hearty burrito bowl or top it with fresh seafood and chorizo for a play on paella.

Salad dressing

One of the easiest ways to liven up your weekday lunch is to top it with a fresh, homemade vinaigrette. Give your salads sun-kissed summer flavor all year by swapping in tomato juice for fresh tomatoes in scratch-made salad dressing when the fruit isn't in season.

Of course, you could always can your own fresh tomatoes, but the process is complicated and, if not done properly, can lead to food-borne illnesses like botulism. Save yourself the hassle and reach instead for a can of trusty grocery store tomato juice, which can reside safely (unopened) in your pantry for up to 18 months.

Making the swap is actually very simple. Most tomato-based salad dressing recipes call for making your own juice from fresh tomatoes. Thanks to your savvy shopping, you can skip this step and get straight to the cooking — or rather, mixing. Typically, a vinaigrette calls for garlic or shallots, some form of oil and vinegar, and an emulsifier like mustard. In this instance, the tomato juice acts as a flavoring agent, bringing a brightness to your salad dressing that might just inspire dreams of summer all year long.

Freeze for later use

So, you made a recipe that called for canned tomato juice and don't know what to do with the leftovers? Instead of tossing the remnants, pull out an ice cube tray and freeze that remaining juice. Toss in a little seasoning like black pepper, celery salt, and a squeeze of lemon or a few dashes of hot sauce before moving to the freezer, and you've got a tray full of flavor boosters to use whenever you need them.

Add these chilled delights to your next pitcher of Bloody Marys to keep the drink cool without getting watered down. Toss a few into a pot of soup (like this slow cooker minestrone), for an extra pop of tomato goodness. Even use them to quickly cool down a steaming bowl of stew without losing a drop of that hard-earned flavor. By using every last ounce of tomato-y goodness, you're not only saving your future self time in the kitchen, but you're also cutting down on food waste.

Make a tangy gravy

No Southern brunch spread would be complete without a good gravy. While the classic sausage variety is certainly comforting, there's something about a bright, citrusy, slightly sweet tomato gravy that just livens up your whole plate. But the best part? Whipping up a restaurant-quality batch for your next breakfast soirée is easier than you might think.

Grab a trusty can of tomato juice, flour, butter, and, if you're feeling indulgent, some heavy cream or half-and-half. Make a quick roux by heating about 2 tablespoons of butter in a skillet over medium heat, then whisking in 2 tablespoons of flour until the mixture resembles a golden-brown paste. Whisk in your tomato juice until the mixture reaches a luscious gravy consistency. And the aforementioned cream? If you're looking to really impress your guests, add a tablespoon or two for a little extra richness. Serve that creamy goodness warm over biscuits, eggs, chicken, or any dish that could use a burst of summer flavor.

Not only is tomato gravy an omnivore's delight but it can also easily be made dairy-free and vegan by swapping the butter for olive oil or vegan butter. Give the dish a tropical twist by using coconut oil as your fat of choice.

Enhance homemade tomato soup

Few dishes remedy physical or emotional ailments better than comforting homemade tomato soup. If you have a can of tomato juice in your pantry and a few other grocery staples in your fridge, you are just minutes away from a hot bowl of nostalgia. Just simply swap in that handy tomato juice for crushed tomatoes and vegetable broth, and you're golden.

Budget-friendly, the scratch-made version allows you to control how much sodium you eat per serving, as well as customize all of your other favorite ingredients and add-ins. Whether due to a dietary restriction or as part of a balanced diet, limiting sodium doesn't have to mean compromising on flavor — there's a reason why nearly every great soup recipe starts with garlic and onions. Customize your creation with fresh herbs like basil or thyme, or add a splash of cream to enjoy a perfectly dippable bisque-like consistency.

Savory skincare

Tomato juice isn't just delicious and nutritious. It turns out, the flavorful fruit beverage may even be good for your skin. While more research is needed to know for sure, evidence suggests that a topical application of tomato might reduce the risk of skin cancer (though it's no substitute for sunscreen), aid the healing process of superficial wounds, and boost collagen production resulting in firmer, younger-looking skin, according to Healthline. If you're thinking of incorporating tomato juice into your skincare routine, just be sure to perform a spot test: Apply a small amount of juice to the back of your hand and keep an eye out for redness, irritation, or any other unpleasant reaction.

The jury is still out on tomato juice's role in everyday skincare, but you can incorporate the antioxidant-packed drink into an organic body scrub for a savory twist on your exfoliation routine. Simply combine a few tablespoons of tomato juice with coarse sugar crystals until the mixture forms a paste, then use the scrub on your heels, elbows, or anywhere else that could use a little tough love. Just be sure to avoid your face or any other thin-skinned or sensitive areas.

Whip up a one-pot dinner

With fewer dishes and less prep time but maximum flavor, one-pot meals are the unsung heroes of the modern kitchen. Armed with a can of tomato juice and a big pot like a crock pot, you too can do it all by dinnertime with time to spare. 

Swap in that liquid red gold for water when making American chop suey, a hearty mix of elbow pasta, ground beef, and sweet, tomato-y goodness that comes together in just 25 minutes. And, get this, — it tastes even better the next day. But the fun doesn't stop there. Get even the pickiest of eaters to enjoy their veggies when you add tomato juice instead of chunky canned tomatoes to this creamy taco soup recipe. Corn, beans, and a blend of savory spices dress up this weeknight wonder, while adding a dash of cream cheese cools everything down.

All about the braise

Cooking for a crowd doesn't have to cost a fortune. In fact, some of the cheapest cuts of meat can make the most delicious meals — if you know how to prepare them. Flank steak and beef chuck, for example, can be transformed into mouthwatering meals through the magic of braising.

Cooked low and slow in a bath of savory liquid, tough cuts of beef, pork, lamb, or poultry become tender as the muscle fibers break down into gelatin and marry with the sauce, creating an unctuous mouthful. One surefire way to guarantee extra tender braised meat is to marinate it in acid, like tomato juice, about 25 minutes before cooking. Don't worry about marinating overnight — if it spends too long in acid, your newly tender meat will turn to mush.

Try out this miracle meal-prep combo next time you're cooking for a crowd with this braised ropa vieja recipe. In addition to marinating the meat in tomato juice, swapping in the tangy liquid for water as the braising agent adds extra tomato flavor and brightens up the rich one-pot meal. Served with rice, black beans, and a side of fried plantains, this is Cuban comfort food at its finest.

Try a Canadian Caesar cocktail

Bloody Mary's cousin from the Great White North, the Bloody Caesar cocktail is Canada's ubiquitous brunch beverage. A savory blend of vodka, clam-spiked tomato juice, and a few dashes of Worcestershire sauce, the cocktail is a more sour-umami experience than its often spicy American counterpart.

While the pairing may seem a bit odd, the blend of tomato and clam juices was no accident. Calgary Inn bartender Walter Chell reportedly took three months to craft the bespoke beverage after being charged by the owners with inventing a drink to pair with spaghetti alle vongole (spaghetti marinara with clams) for the grand opening of the hotel's new Italian restaurant in 1969. Chell took his task literally, mixing muddled clams with tomato juice and adding a dash of oregano.

But the bartender's hard work paid off. The drink was a smash and is still a favorite to this day. Most modern Bloody Caesar recipes call for pre-mixed clamato juice, but for a more traditional tipple, reach for classic canned tomato juice, instead. Making your own tomato-clam juice blend allows for a highly customized cocktail and generally a lower-sodium version to boot.

Shortcut seafood bisque

Once you've mastered basic tomato soup, it's time to get fancy. Bisque is basically soup all dressed up for company, traditionally made with cream and a rich seafood stock that can take hours to simmer down

While the classic French dish is undeniably delicious, not everyone has hours to spend making homemade stock. Get all the flavor of a rich bisque with a semi-homemade shortcut featuring tomato juice. Boil a blend of lobster, crab, and shrimp in their shells before removing the meat and setting it aside. Toss the shells in a pot with butter and oil and sauté until the shells darken, then discard. Sauté onions and garlic in the shellfish butter before adding tomato juice, cream, and a splash of white wine or sherry — chicken or vegetable broth will do if you're looking to keep this recipe alcohol-free. Add the chopped crustaceans at the very end just to heat the meat through and serve with a garnish of fresh chives. No one would ever guess that your culinary creation started in a can.

Tomato soup spice cake

A product of the Great Depression, tomato soup spice cake is a surprisingly delicious addition to America's culinary repertoire. The recipe took off in the 1930s when baking staples like eggs and butter were in short supply but canned goods were readily available. As it happens, purées or juices from fruits and veggies made an ideal substitute for fat in baking thanks to pectin, a naturally occurring starch that acts as a thickening agent. In other words, the perfect ingredient to ensure a moist cake.

There is any number of reasons why the nearly 100-year-old recipe continues to grace the pages of cookbooks and culinary blogs, but it's likely to do with the fact that the cake tastes almost nothing like its namesake ingredient. With more spice than tomato, the bake is moist, tender, and the perfect vehicle for cream cheese frosting. Eliminate the processed ingredients of yesteryear in favor of tomato juice for a slightly healthier take on the classic dessert. Just be sure to add the juice slowly, mixing until the batter becomes just runny.

Simply juice

When it comes to fruits and veggies, fresh is always better. This is especially true with juices, which can be loaded with added sugar. The benefits of juicing, specifically cold-pressed juices, have been hotly debated though there has been no significant scientific evidence to suggest that drinking juice is better than eating raw produce, according to The Mayo Clinic.

That being said, you can still squeeze in an extra dose of vitamins and savor the flavors of summer all year long with a refreshing, homemade juice. Tomato juice is delicious on its own, but with the addition of other warm-weather flavors like watermelon and lime, it becomes downright delightful. When fresh fruit isn't available, subbing in the canned variety makes for a satisfying substitute until summer comes around again. While you may not be reaping the full dietary benefits of raw tomatoes, you're still sipping on good stuff like antioxidants, vitamins A and C, and potassium. Delicious.