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15 December 2022

The New York Times | Wirecutter

The Best Canned Tomatoes

Pastene San Marzano D.O.P. Tomatoes

Having worked in the food and restaurant industry for a decade, I can tell you that no two brands of canned tomatoes are exactly alike. Some tomatoes are velvety, brilliantly red, and full of flavor, while others are tough, underripe, and insipid. To date, we’ve assessed over 25 different cans of whole peeled tomatoes—some with our colleagues at NYT Cooking—to find the best.

In all our tests, we tasted all of the tomatoes twice: once straight out of the can and heated through, and then again made into Marcella Hazan’s Tomato Sauce. In doing so, we’ve encountered a huge range—from tomatoes that were sweet enough to eat straight out of the can to ones that carried a whiff of dead animal. We were also surprised to learn that price didn’t always correspond to quality.

A note on pricing: We list the online prices of these cans, and some of them are slightly marked up—that’s the cost of nationwide availability and convenience. And though some picks are sold online in multipacks, we’ve listed prices on a per-can basis. Keep in mind that you may be able to find these tomatoes for significantly less at your local grocery store. (For an explanation of why we avoided regional brands and stuck to cans that could be found throughout the country, read How we picked and tested.)

Pastene San Marzano DOP Tomatoes
 (about $6 per 28.6-ounce can at the time of publication)

What we like: Plump, meaty tomatoes with pulpier juice and a notable basil flavor. Made the best, most emulsified sauce we’ve tasted yet.

Good for: Pizza, sauce, when you want plush textures.

Out of the can, the Pastene San Marzano DOP Tomatoes were nice and meaty, with a thick, pulpy juice and a notable basil flavor. We all agreed these would be a great option for pizza.

The basil flavor took center stage when tasting these tomatoes from the can, but once they were cooked into Marcella Hazan’s sauce, the basil mellowed yet still provided some herbal sweetness. These tomatoes also made the sauce with the best texture—silky and emulsified, not watery like many others we tried. Wirecutter supervising editor Marilyn Ong wrote, “This sauce is really delicious—complex, layered, and cohesive,” while editor Gabriella Gershenson said, “The tomato has a nice creamy texture—it’s easy to cut with a spoon.” Marguerite jotted down that, overall, this sauce is “thick and sweet with some tartness that really punches through.”


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