In spite of its underrated status outside of Mexican and Tex-Mex cuisine, Rotel tomatoes make a great pantry staple. Rotel tomatoes are often out of stock, since they aren’t as popular across the country but are in high demand in the regions that use them. Frustrating, we know.
All of the alternatives on our list are adjustable to create more specific Rotel flavors. What are the best substitutes for Rotel Tomatoes? You can use fresh red tomatoes with chopped green chilies, canned diced chili tomatoes, tomato puree, sauce, pasta sauce, or other fresh diced tomatoes. It depends on how you intend to use it which one you choose. You’ll find out how to recreate the specific unique flavor Rotel products have in this article. We’ll compare their flavor and texture, their spiciness, and how to use them.
What Are Rotel Tomatoes?
If you’ve never heard of Rotel, your first question is probably “what are Rotel tomatoes?” They’re actually canned tomato products used in Mexican and Tex-Mex cooking. There are a number of flavors available, but it’s best to use the Original Rotel Diced Tomatoes unless the recipe specifically calls for them. Also available are Fire Roasted Diced Tomatoes & Green Chilies, Serrano Pepper, Mild, Hot, and Mexican Style Lime Juice With Cilantro.
In general, substituting Rotel tomatoes is pretty simple, unless you need a specific flavor. Then, you will need to add other specific ingredients and maybe even adjust your mixing method.
How To Recreate Specific Rotel Tomatoes Flavors (Products)
Every flavored canned diced tomato product from Rotel contains diced tomatoes and chilies. What if you want to substitute a specific flavor, such as Chipotle and Green Chilies Rotel?
When attempting to recreate these flavors, it is easy to see what goes into the original product. In this case, diced tomatoes, green chili peppers, and chipotle peppers will do the trick. The “Chunky” product can be recreated by cutting the tomatoes into larger pieces. This will produce a chunkier texture than the original diced tomatoes.
The most difficult flavor to replicate is Fire Roasted Diced Tomato. For this, you will need to roast and char your tomatoes, then dice them and combine them with diced green chilies. With that said, let’s see how you can substitute Rotel canned products using our easy alternatives!
Best Substitutes For Rotel Tomatoes
The following is a comprehensive list that includes easy substitutions as well as some that will require a little bit of experimentation. Having a wide selection of alternative replacements for Rotel tomatoes ensures you have options for every possible scenario.
1. Fresh Red Tomatoes With Green Chilies
Since Rotel’s canned tomato products are made with vine-ripened tomatoes, it’s impossible to detect whether they’re vine-ripened or not. If that’s the case, just choose any ripe, fresh tomato. Many people do not think that tomatoes taste better when they are ripened on the vine anyway. In general, red tomatoes are the most affordable and available type. These are the types without special names like “Roma” or “better boy.”
Since fresh tomatoes have a much tangier flavor than canned tomatoes, you may need to adjust the taste of this mixture according to how you would have used canned tomatoes. When creating specific flavors, make the adjustments (like using habanero chilies to recreate Hot Rotel tomatoes).
The great thing about this option is that you can adjust the consistency, flavor, and spiciness, and it can be used in virtually the same way as Original Rotel!
2. Canned Diced Tomatoes
As an alternative, we recommend Rotel diced tomatoes because their “diced tomatoes” are actually diced, not chopped or crushed. To create a more realistic texture substitution, make sure the canned diced tomatoes do not contain seasoning or preservatives, and ensure that the diced tomatoes are diced.
Also, you can use plain diced canned tomatoes or those that have already been flavored with chilies (green chilies are best). If you choose an unflavored option, you can add the amount and type of chili you prefer. When you buy a pre-flavored chili tomato product, you save a lot of time, but the flavor may not be as good as the Rotel Tomato product.
3. Salsa (Fresh Or Canned)
The basic salsa recipe does include diced tomatoes and green chilies, as well as some diced onions, cilantro, and lime juice. Buying a premade fresh or canned salsa is a great substitute if you’re making a recipe that calls for all of these ingredients anyways!
While you may not be able to adjust the consistency as much as you could with canned diced tomatoes, you can still adjust the flavor. The Mexican Style Lime and Cilantro Rotel Tomatoes are especially great and easy to use in this alternative.
4. Tomato Puree
Another substitute that will only work in some situations, such as a cooked recipe. Tomato puree is essentially cooked and blended tomatoes. Rotel tomatoes would have disintegrated if cooked, so a tomato puree would be ideal in soups, stews, casseroles, or sauces.
Furthermore, tomato puree can be easily adjusted and customized to create the flavor you want. You can change the spiciness and even leave it out altogether. You can add some diced tomatoes (fresh or canned) or even halved cherry or plum tomatoes to a smooth tomato puree to give it more texture.
5. Tomato Pasta Sauce
The main difference between tomato sauce and tomato puree is that tomato sauce has a flavored component, while tomato-based pasta sauces have some texture, similar to the texture of cooked Rotel tomatoes.
Like tomato puree, there are several different textures to choose from. Naturally, a chunkier pasta sauce is better than a smooth one unless you are going to blend everything together anyway. Usually, green chili sauces aren’t spicy. However, you can find pizza sauces that are spicy. And it is easy to find roasted tomato sauces, too.
The easiest way to prepare a premade sauce like this that comes from an entirely different cuisine is to buy plain pasta sauce and adjust the flavor later. It does take more time and effort, but it is well worth it when it comes to a sauce like this that comes from a completely different country.
6. Fresh Tomatoes
There are some other fresh tomato alternatives to diced red tomatoes that are very versatile and very easy to use. Red tomatoes have several advantages. First of all, you can easily add as much chili (or other seasonings) to create a replica of Rotel or use the flavor combinations as inspiration. You can use these tomatoes for salsa, toppings, stews, soups, and much more. You can choose a specific type of tomato to control the taste.
Red vine tomatoes (small tomatoes on the vine) have a sweeter and fruitier flavor, plus they’re extremely soft and juicy. Beefsteak tomatoes have the same sweetness, but they have a fruitier undertone and a meatier texture.
7. Lemon Pickle
It’s obvious that this substitute does not contain any tomatoes, and that’s exactly why it’s on this list! There are a variety of flavors to choose from, and you can store lemon pickles for months inside the pantry!
You can still adjust the flavor when adding chili. Generally, this alternative works better for fresh dishes like salsa or garnish, but you can also use it in sauces and soups. Lemon pickles are a much more intense and tangy flavor than Rotel so don’t use them as a one-to-one substitute.