Better-Than-Canned Stewed Tomatoes Recipe

For this recipe, freshness is key! Why enjoy something out of the can when you can make it on your own in a short amount of time? This recipe for stewed tomatoes is fresh and much better than something that's been sitting on the shelf at a grocery store for months. It's a must-try if you use stewed tomatoes in chili, pasta, or any other dish. Another plus is that you can make this recipe ahead of time and freeze it for 3-4 months.

Recipe developer Patterson Watkins is the brains behind this easy recipe that is good for the tomato lover in all of us. "Fresh tomatoes are slow cooked with green bell peppers, celery, salt, pepper, and a little bit of sugar to release all those fabulous tomatoey flavors," Watkins raves. "This process of stewing tomatoes is a great way to preserve your tomatoes without all the fuss of canning and processing. I love using my homemade stewed tomatoes to make my family's favorite, country captain — a braised chicken dish combining stewed tomatoes and curry)." 

She also shares why this version is so much better than canned tomatoes. "Making your own stewed tomatoes is a surefire way to ensure you're getting only the finest ingredients, avoiding those questionable preservatives from store-bought canned stewed tomatoes," Watkins says.

Gather the ingredients for these better-than-canned stewed tomatoes

This recipe is pretty simple, and you will only need a few ingredients to make it. First and foremost, be sure to grab a few Roma tomatoes. "Roma tomatoes are my preferred mater as they are relatively uniform in size and don't contain as much liquid as other larger tomatoes," Watkins shares. Then, get sliced celery, diced green bell pepper, granulated sugar, salt, and black pepper. 

Once you have those things, you can make this better-than-canned stewed tomatoes.

Prep the tomatoes

To prepare the tomatoes for blanching, score the bottom of them with an "X" and remove the core.

Then, fill a large pot about ¾ full with hot water. Place it on the stove and bring the water to a boil. Once you see bubbles reach the surface, transfer the tomatoes to the pot and boil for 30 to 60 seconds or until the tomato skins begin to crack. 

"Blanching (quickly boiling and then cooling) is the technique we used to remove the skins from the tomatoes without damaging the tasty pulp," Watkins says of the secret method. "The reason we remove the tomato skins is mainly for texture consistency. The tomato skins also contain a nutrient called flavonols, which impart a bitter flavor if not removed." 

Remove and peel the tomatoes

Use a slotted spoon to remove the tomatoes from the boiling water and place them in a large bow that's filled with ice water to blanch them. 

Once the tomatoes are cool enough to work with, remove the skins and discard them since you won't need them at any point. Then, place the tomatoes on a cutting board and slice them into 1-inch slices.

Add the veggies to a pot

Add your veggies to the same pot you used to boil the tomatoes. This includes sliced tomatoes, sliced celery, and diced green bell peppers. Give the mixture a few good stirs to combine. Turn the heat to medium-low and bring the mixture to a simmer.

Once it begins to simmer, cook together for 30 minutes. You won't need to cover the pot with a lid — but make sure to stir occasionally. Once the peppers and celery are tender, that's another good indicator that these are good to go. "Slowly simmering these stewed tomatoes will allow them to maintain their form, try not to boil or you'll get something more akin to stewed marinara," Watkins points out. 

Remove from heat and store

Remove the tomatoes from the heat and let them cool. Once cooled, transfer them to a sealable container or zipper bag if you plan to store them in the freezer. Once frozen, they will last 3 to 4 months, which makes them good to make ahead of time. 

"Love me some stewed tomatoes with cheesy grits or buttery rice for a super simple side dish," Watkins says of potential serving suggestions. "They are also fabulous in sauces, like country captain or chicken cacciatore."

Better-Than-Canned Stewed Tomatoes Recipe
5 from 32 ratings
Instead of using canned tomatoes from the grocery store, make your own stewed tomatoes to cook with that will keep in the freezer for 3 to 4 months.
Prep Time
Cook Time
stewed tomatoes in bowl
Total time: 41 minutes
  • 10 Roma tomatoes
  • 1 cup sliced celery
  • 1 cup diced green bell pepper
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  1. Prepare your tomatoes for blanching by scoring the bottoms with an "x" and removing the core.
  2. Fill a large pot ¾-full with hot water and bring to a boil. Once boiling, carefully transfer your prepped tomatoes to the pot and boil for 30 to 60 seconds or until the tomato skins begin to crack.
  3. Using a slotted spoon, remove the tomatoes from the pot, and cool them in a bowl filled with ice water.
  4. Once the tomatoes are cool enough to handle, remove the skins (you can discard the skins once the tomatoes have been peeled), and transfer the peeled tomatoes to a cutting board. Slice the tomatoes into approximately 1-inch slices.
  5. Place the sliced tomatoes, celery, bell pepper, sugar, salt, and black pepper in a large pot (you can use the same pot you used to blanch the tomatoes), and stir to combine. Bring the mixture to a low simmer over medium-low heat. Once simmering, cook, uncovered, for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until the celery and peppers are tender. Set aside to cool at room temperature.
  6. Once the stewed tomatoes have cooled, transfer them to a sealable container or zipper baggie for storage. Zipper baggies are ideal for long-term storage in the freezer (about 3-4 months).
Calories per Serving 44
Total Fat 0.4 g
Saturated Fat 0.1 g
Trans Fat 0.0 g
Cholesterol 0.0 mg
Total Carbohydrates 9.7 g
Dietary Fiber 2.9 g
Total Sugars 6.4 g
Sodium 508.7 mg
Protein 1.9 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
Rate this recipe