Canned Tomatoes
The Battle For The Best

Using quality canned tomatoes changes your tomato sauce recipe from good to great. "It's all in the sauce!". I've tried many different brands and there is a big difference between quality and taste.

So if your not making your own crushed tomatoes I want to make sure you know how to pick a great quality canned tomato.

Plum tomatoes or Roma Tomatoes and San Marzano tomatoes go head to head in the battle for the best in color, texture and flavor.

San Marzano tomatoes come from the Agro Nocerino Sarese region in Italy, in between Salerno and Naples, from the town of San Marzano Sul Sarno. The reason why these beautiful Heirloom breed of tomato are so sweet is they're grown in the rich and fertile volcanic soil resulting from the proximity to Mount Vesuvius. This is what makes these babies the best tomatoes in the world.

Any San Marzano tomato should be rated by the D.O.P. (Denominazione D'Origine Protetta), which the exact translation is: Denomination of Origin Protected. The seal of the D.O.P is found on many authenticated Italian food products and insures it's quality and believe me there if there is one thing that Italians take seriously, it's food.

Another seal you should look for is the Certificazione Agroalimentare no.(###, three numbers) This certifies the quality of the San Marzano tomato. If you see this seal you'll know that brand tastes great.

See the difference in color?


plum tomato San Marzano tomato


It's possible to get a great tasting canned plum tomato, especially if they are Italian plum tomatoes, and it will cost you about half the price but if tomato is your main ingredient, for say a Marinara Sauce Recipe, then why skimp. The difference in price for San Marzano canned tomatoes is only about a dollar or two.

If you are planning to make a Italian Soup Recipes then it is perfectly fine to use a good quality canned plum tomato.

I rated the tomatoes from a scale of 1-10 in the following categories:

Color(C). I'm looking for a red vibrant color which makes a big difference in the appearance of your tomato sauce recipe. If the tomato was picked before it was ripe and then canned then the sun didn't bring the tomato to it's full ripeness and it won't be as sweet as it could or should have been.

Texture(T) I want my tomatoes to be tender and smooth. Some canned tomatoes can have a tough, course or gritty texture. The tomato should almost melt in your mouth. Also the canned tomato juice should have a good consistency. Not watered down.

Flavor(F) The most important feature of course. Because if the ingredients you use don't taste good then how is the Italian recipe going to taste good? I look for a sweet tomato taste with salt but not too salty. Too much salt to me means they are trying to compensate for lack of flavor. Too little and it tastes bland.

Do you have a canned tomato suggestion and a brand that you want rated? Send me an email and tell me about it!




Baresi Italian Plum Canned Tomatoes Baresi Italian Plum Canned Tomatoes: This was a very good product. I would use this brand any day for any of my Italian Pasta Recipes. It was tasty, sweet, tender and had a very nice, bright color.
Scores:
C = 9
T = 8
F = 9



Bionaturae Organic canned Tomatoes Bionaturae Organic Canned Tomatoes: I don't know what it is about organic food products. It's like the minute they call it organic it's like a license to make it taste BAD! I thought because this company was based out of Italy it would be different. I was wrong. Tough, gritty, flavorless.
Scores:
C = 7
T = 4
F = 3



Carmelina Canned Tomatoes Carmelina Canned Plum Tomatoes: I enjoyed this brand of canned plum tomato. The texture was tender and smooth and the flavor was sweet. As you can see the bright red color is as it should be. Very nice.
Scores:
C = 8.5
T = 8
F = 8.5



Cento Plum Tomatoes Cento Plum Canned Tomatoes: This is a really "great" brand of Plum tomato. Just as good as their brand of San Marzanos. The tomato was very tender and flavorful and the juice was just thick enough and there wasn't too much salt. I would use this brand for a Tomato Sauce Recipe, any day!
Scores:
C = 9
T = 8
F = 9



Cento Plum Tomatoes Cento Cherry Tomatoes: Although there is a traditional Italian pasta recipe made with a cherry tomato sauce, this is not a good alternative to using fresh. Normally a great brand for canned tomatoes, I was not thrilled about this one. Tough and watery but relatively sweet.
Scores:
C = 6
T = 6
F = 7



Cento Organic Tomatoes Cento Organic Plum Tomatoes: Another really "great" product from Cento. I've tried the regular brand and the San Marzano and to be honest they are all great. Same thick juice, flavorful and tender tomato and the color is brilliant in all of the types of canned tomato from this brand. I don't think you can go wrong with Cento.
Scores:
C = 9
T = 8
F = 9


Cento San Marzano Tomatoes Cento San Marzano Tomatoes: The first time I tried these canned san marzano tomatoes they were good. I tried them again and they were GREAT! I used this brand to make my Marinara sauce video and later that night for dinner. So what can I say… All around 10 points!

Scores:
C = 10
T = 10
F = 10


Cirio Canned Tomatoes Cirio Canned Tomatoes: I like this brand a lot! It had a deep red color to the tomato which means it was properly ripened before canning. The meat was tender and the flavor was sweet and not too salty which allowed the true flavor of the tomato to come through. Big points for this Canned Italian Plum Tomato!
Scores:
C = 8
T = 9
F = 9


Cucina Viva Canned TomatoesCucina Viva Canned Tomatoes: I just moved to the Columbia, MO and found this and the Cirio brand. What a relief! I know I have two great brands of Canned Italian Plum tomatoes to use for my Italian pasta recipes. This was sweet flavor with a thick juice and the tomato was firm but tender and smooth in consistency.
Scores:
C = 9
T = 9
F = 7


Dei Fratelli Plum Tomatoes Dei Fratelli: This brand of canned tomatoes claims to be organic and are unsalted. They had an decent flavor and if you are on a low sodium diet you could use this brand in your Italian food recipes. The texture was a little tough and it might have been the lower of salt content but to me it lacked flavor.
Scores:
C = 7
T = 4
F = 5


Eden Organic canned Tomatoes Eden Organic Canned Tomatoes No Salt: This Organic canned tomato was not that impressive to me either. It looked and tasted like basil and salt in a watery tomato juice. You can see how much basil they put in and you could hardly taste the tomato flavor. Texture was not too bad and color was ok as well.
Scores:
C = 7
T = 4
F = 3


Flora Plum Tomatoes Flora: Regular canned tomatoes. This was an extraordinarily good brand that would give any canned plum tomato a run for their money and rated well across the board. Sweet, colorful and tender. For a plum tomato it I rated it highly but since it is a plum tomato I wouldn't rate it as high as a San Marzano.
Scores:
C = 7
T = 6
F = 7


Flora Plum Tomatoes Flora San Marzano Canned Tomatoes: This brand of San Marzano tomato was really, really good. They were colorful, tender, and flavorful. Everything you would expect from a canned San Marzano tomato. Priced reasonably and in my area was seen in many of the local grocery stores as well as specialty stores.
Scores:
C = 9
T = 9
F = 8


Gia Russa San Marzano Canned Tomatoes Gia Russa San Marzano Tomatoes: I use there dried pasta and it is a good product. So is this San Marzano tomato. It was tender. Perhaps too tender. It literally fell apart in my mouth and on my spoon. Very sweet, perfectly salty and nice color.
Scores:
C = 8
T = 6
F = 8



Hunts Canned Tomatoes Hunts Canned Tomatoes: Do I hear Ketchup? This is exactly what I would use this brand for. It was terrible. The tomatoes were almost white near the stem area because they were picked so young. They were tough, too salty and juice was like reddish water.

Scores:
C = 2
T = 1
F = 2


La Bella San Marzano ITALIAN PLUM Canned Tomato Brand La Bella San Marzano Italian Plum Canned Tomato Brand: Brand is the key word here. This is very deceiving. Naming the product with the San Marzano name yet it is clearly an Italian plum. It lost rankings just for that. It was a little watery and although the tomato was sweet and tender I had a chip on my shoulder about the bait and switch.
Scores:
C = 6
T = 6
F = 6


La Valle Canned TomatoesLa Valle Canned Tomatoes: I really enjoyed this brand of tomato. Although a Italian Plum rather then a San Marzano, it had a nice sweet flavor, the juice was a good consistency and the it was tender. Very nice. I would, and did use this canned tomato for sauce any day.

Scores:
C = 8
T = 7
F = 8


Marconi Canned Tomatoes Marconi Italian Plum Canned Tomatoes: This brand was a little on the tough side. Although it was sweet and bright in color and had a good salt volume to the taste it also was a little watery.
Scores:
C = 7
T = 6
F = 7



Midwest Country  Canned Tomatoes Midwest Country Fare Canned Tomatoes: There is absolutely NOTHING good I can say about this brand expect if you do end up buying it and open the can, pour it right into a blender and use it for Bloody Mary mix and throw a ton of spices in it. It's the only way you'll get any flavor out of it.

Scores:
C = 2
T = 1
F = 2


Monte Pollino Italian Plum Canned Tomatoes Monte Pollino Italian Plum Canned Tomatoes: For an Italian named, Italian distributed product I was not that pleased. The tomatoes seemed young, tough and tart and the juice was watery. As you can see the color was good but not great.

Scores:
C = 6
T = 4
F = 3


Muir Organic Plum Tomatoes Muir Organic Plum Canned Tomatoes: It's a shame that most organic products I've had loose in the quality department and that isn't necessary. Much like this product. The juice was watered down and the tomato was tough and salty to make up for lack of flavor. You could see the tomato was picked much too early.
Scores:
C = 4
T = 4
F = 4


Nina San Marzano TomatoesNina Plum Tomatoes: I initially ranked this brand of Italian Plum Canned Tomato with triple 8's. At the time that was what the quality deserved. Unfortunately as is the case with many companies, in my opinion, they let their quality drop. A friend told me he took my suggestion to buy them at Costco and try them. He later told me was not impressed. So I went to re-purchase and he was 100% right. The tomatoes were left unpeeled, they were tough and although sweet, it tasted like sugar, not the natural sweetness of a tomato. Shame on you Nina… Scores:
C = 5
T = 3
F = 3


Nina Plum TomatoesNina San Marzano Tomatoes: This canned tomato is one of the best San Marzano tomatoes I've had. The juice in the can was rich and thick, the tomato was tender and deep red, the flavor was sweet and the texture was smooth. This brand of San Marzano is top of the line. However, based off the most resent re-ranking of the above, I must retest before I can stand my this ranking. (I am going to re-test these based off of my most recent revision of their plum tomato ranking. I hope they have not dropped in quality here as well…)

Scores:
C = 10
T = 9
F = 10


Palermo Boys Canned Plum Tomatoes Palermo Boys: A plum tomato brand had a very nice tender texture. Nice red color and the flavor was a balance of both sweet and salty. I found this in a local Italian specialty store and the price was right. I can picture two quido's running the show. A great brand I would use for any of my Italian pasta recipes.
Scores:
C = 8
T = 7
F = 9



Poma Rosa San Marzano Canned Tomatoes Poma Rosa San Marzano tomatoes had a good tasting juice that was sweet and had just enough salty flavor. Color was a nice deep red. But the tomato, although it was also sweet, was a little tough side. It had a grainy texture. It was not what you'd expect from a San Marzano tomato.
Scores:
C = 6
T = 8
F = 6


Progresso Plum Tomatoes Progresso Plum Tomatoes: There isn't much good to be said about this brand. It lacked flavor, color and the texture was gritty and course. The juice was watered down and had way too much salt to compensate for the lack of flavor. It's like they picked the tomato when it was young and green and it matured off the vine. A prime example of industrial food.
Scores:
C = 3
T = 2
F = 2


Pugliese Plum Tomatoes Pugliese Plum Tomatoes: Puglia is a region in Italy in the heel of the boot and where this brand of canned plum tomato derives. A perfect example of a great quality of plum tomato that holds up against a San Marzano. The color, texture and flavor were great! Just look at the deep red color. The juice was thick, flavorful with just the right amount of salt. Good Job!
Scores:
C = 9
T = 9
F = 8


Rao's Organic canned Tomatoes Rao's Organic Canned Tomatoes: Finally an organic canned tomato brand I can stand behind. This San Marzano organic canned tomato had a rich, thick juicy base, the tomato was tender and sweet and the color was a bright, ripe red.
Scores:
C = 8
T = 8
F = 9



Rega Rega San Marzano Tomatoes Rega Rega Tomatoes: I never used or tasted this brand of San Marzano tomato until I tested it. A really, really good brand. Now that I have tasted it I would and will use this brand. It was a little saltier then some of the other brands but sometimes that is a good attribute depending on the Italian pasta recipe your making.
Scores:
C = 9
T = 8
F = 8


San Marzano Brand Canned Tomatoes San Marzano Brand Canned Tomatoes: This one surprised me and not in a good way. I heard this was a good brand of canned tomato but I was not impressed. The juice was watery, the color of the tomato was mild and the texture was a little gritty. I also think there was too much salt.
Scores:
C = 5
T = 4
F = 5



Sclafani Canned Plum Tomatoes Sclafani was surprisingly delicious because this brand of canned plum tomato had the consistency, color and texture of a good brand of San Marzano tomato brand. The juice with thick, the tomato was as tender as butter and the fork melted through it. The taste was sweet with just enough salt. Bravo Sclafani!
Scores:
C = 10
T = 8
F = 10


Strianese San Marzano TomatoesStrianese San Marzano Tomatoes: A good tasting tomato, but a little small. The juice was a little thin as well. Thickness of juice was good. The color was a the nice red as you would hope for so it was a well rounded tomato. Scores:
C = 8
T = 8
F = 8



Tutto Rosso Plum TomatoesTutto Rosso Plum Tomatoes: A complete disappointment. The product didn't hold up to it's name. Tutto Rosso meaning "Everything Red" was anything but red. The texture was not only gritty but almost tough and flavor… No. Not for me. The only run for the money this brand would give is Progresso. Both head to head for a bad canned tomato.
Scores:
C = 2
T = 2
F = 2




This is a work in progress and although I'm sure I don't have all the brands available today on this site, give me time. I'll eat my way to them sooner or later!

I always try to use great quality products in all my recipes and you should too. It's a must! Because Italian food is based on using the best of simple, fresh, local ingredients. That's what does and will make all of them taste so incredible.

If you run into a brand of canned tomato that you think I should try or rate, good or not so good, please send me an email and I'll do my best to find it.

I try to be objective and test each product and rank them according to my tastes. If you decide to try any of the products here you do so at your own discretion. If you are so inclined to disagree with my ranking or if you feel the product is not up to par, by all means email me or post your opinions here.

I want to know and so do my readers.

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