HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >
What's your latest food project? Tell us about it

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

laredo Jan 16, 2012 09:55 AM

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. twyst Jan 16, 2012 10:00 AM

    Fresh tomatoes.

    If thats still too much effort just use paste.

    1. j
      janniecooks Jan 16, 2012 10:09 AM

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

      1. monavano Jan 16, 2012 10:24 AM

        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. r
          rasputina Jan 16, 2012 10:54 AM

          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. mattstolz Jan 16, 2012 11:04 AM

            real tomatos with the seeds squeezed out

            1. caseyjo Jan 16, 2012 11:17 AM

              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
                wyogal Jan 16, 2012 11:21 AM

                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
                  twyst Jan 16, 2012 11:23 AM

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

                  1. re: twyst
                    monavano Jan 16, 2012 11:32 AM

                    +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
                    mattstolz Jan 16, 2012 11:54 AM

                    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
                      wyogal Jan 16, 2012 12:50 PM

                      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
                        rasputina Jan 16, 2012 01:41 PM

                        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
                          caseyjo Jan 16, 2012 01:45 PM

                          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
                            mattstolz Jan 16, 2012 04:02 PM

                            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. w
                      wyogal Jan 16, 2012 11:24 AM

                      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
                        twyst Jan 16, 2012 11:27 AM

                        "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
                          wyogal Jan 16, 2012 11:29 AM

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

                      2. mucho gordo Jan 16, 2012 12:05 PM

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

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: mucho gordo
                          coll Jan 16, 2012 12:58 PM

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

                        2. f
                          flashria Jan 16, 2012 12:45 PM

                          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. a
                            achtungpv Jan 16, 2012 01:25 PM

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

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: achtungpv
                              wyogal Jan 16, 2012 01:52 PM

                              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. q
                              Querencia Jan 16, 2012 01:58 PM

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

                              1. l
                                laredo Jan 16, 2012 04:07 PM

                                Thanks to all for your help.

                                Show Hidden Posts