HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >

Discussion

Best substitution for canned tomatoes in chili: tomato paste? puree? sauce?

I am accustomed to making chili with canned tomatoes. However now must avoid the seeds that come in canned tomatoes.

What is your advice as to a substitute: paste, puree, sauce, juice, or a combination?

Thanks for your help.

BTW, I know I could sieve the canned tomatoes to remove the seeds , but that's too tedious and time consuming for me.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
Delete
Posting Guidelines | FAQs | Feedback
Cancel
  1. Fresh tomatoes.

    If thats still too much effort just use paste.

    1. Canned diced tomatoes do not have seeds in my experience. That's what I'd choose over the other options you list.

      1. Agree that I've not seen seeds in canned, diced tomatoes. Out of your options, I'd choose tomato sauce, then puree. In my experience, many recipes actually call for sauce.

        1. Commercial tomato sauce is typically made with tomato paste and water, you can do that at home so I wouldn't bother buying it. I'd use either fresh tomatoes and just seed them myself or use tomato puree. But I don't find seeds in canned diced tomatoes usually.

          The choice also depends on how much you like tomato pieces in your chili or if you prefer it smooth.

          1. real tomatos with the seeds squeezed out

            1. I'd use canned diced tomatoes.

              I completely disagree with those who say to use fresh tomatoes at this time of year. When they're in season, there's really nothing better. In January, canned really does taste better.

              8 Replies
              1. re: caseyjo

                Exactly.... those saying fresh tomatoes at this time of year must be living somewhere else, or just think it's the "thing to say" on a cooking forum.
                Even when tomatoes are in season, I use canned, crushed tomatoes for chili.
                and it tastes great, lower cost, too.

                1. re: wyogal

                  Vine ripened local greenhouse tomatoes are available year round if you know where to look.

                  1. re: twyst

                    +1. Farmers markets.
                    I also buy Campari tomatoes from Costco (you can find them elsewhere) in the winter. They taste really good.
                    I'd still use a canned product for chili.

                  2. re: wyogal

                    normally for a chili i would suggest canned tomatoes as well, but since the OP is looking for an ALTERNATIVE to canned tomatoes, wouldnt fresh tomatoes be the best choice? a chili should def have tomato chunks over tomato puree!

                    plus i live in FL... its technically still tomato season here :)

                    1. re: mattstolz

                      OP is looking for an alternative that does not have seeds. Last I saw, fresh tomatoes are full of them and the OP doesn't want to sieve them.
                      (and tomatoes really don't even need to be present in chili)

                      1. re: wyogal

                        You don't have to sieve them. It's quite easy to remove the seeds from tomatoes while dicing them, I do it all the time with just my thumb. And yes, I live in the South where tomatoes are not unheard of in January.

                        1. re: wyogal

                          That's how I read it as well, an alternative to canned WHOLE tomatoes that have no seeds. IMHO, it's not worth sourcing greenhouse tomatoes for chili when perfectly ripe, prepped tomatoes are available in a can at the local grocery store for much cheaper.

                          1. re: wyogal

                            i think that fresh tomatoes are actually the easiest type of tomatoes to de-seed, because all ya have to do is squeeze them, or quarter them and take them all out with one fell swoop. and at least TO ME tomatoes need to be there in chili (at least in red chili!)

                    2. If you don't want to sieve, then I would use a combination of tomato sauce, and the paste. I like to caramelize the tomato paste a bit before deglazing (from browning meat, onions, chilies, tomato paste) with more liquid.
                      And then there is the concept of no tomatoes, which many people believe should not be in chili anyway. Just beef, chilies, maybe some onion.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: wyogal

                        "I like to caramelize the tomato paste a bit before deglazing (from browning meat, onions, chilies, tomato paste) with more liquid."

                        Too many people don't do this and it makes a huge difference. Its one of the first techniques they teach you in culinary school. The techincal term for doing it is known as "pincer"

                        1. re: twyst

                          yes. I know. But, thought I'd use laymen's terms.
                          Been there.

                      2. I use only the El Pato brand of hot Mexican tomato sauce.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: mucho gordo

                          I use a combination of El Pato and Rotel. Never noticed any seeds in the Rotel, but I wasn't really looking either.

                        2. do you have cartons of passata there? it's become increasingly common and very cheap in the UK and I quite often use it instead of tinned tomatoes when I don't want the chunky texture.

                          1. Authentic chili doesn't have tomatoes (sauce, diced, or otherwise) so leave it out.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: achtungpv

                              I've said that a couple of times, but people keep insisting on the OP using fresh tomatoes. and if she doesn't want to strain canned tomatoes, why would she want to peel, seed and chop fresh?
                              Beef + chilies = chili

                            2. A large can of tomato puree. No seeds, no work.

                              1. Thanks to all for your help.