The Worst Canned Tomato Brands You Can Buy

From The Blog

Think all canned tomatoes are created equal? Think again! While these convenient pantry staples can be a lifesaver for whipping up quick pasta sauces or adding depth to stews, not all brands deliver on flavor and quality. In fact, some canned tomatoes are so subpar, they can actually ruin your favorite dishes with their overly salty, watery, or metallic taste. To help you avoid a culinary catastrophe, we’ve rounded up the worst offenders in the canned tomato aisle. Get ready to banish these lackluster brands from your shopping list for good!

1. Hunt’s

Leading the pack of worst canned tomato brands is Hunt’s. According to a poll by Mashed, nearly 23% of respondents named Hunt’s as the brand they’re least likely to buy. The primary complaint? Cans filled with unappetizing skins, peels, and cores that you have to pick out before using.

But the offenses don’t stop there. Hunt’s tomatoes also have a distinctly bitter, metallic taste that overwhelms any dish they’re added to. Even worse, the tomatoes are often mushy and watery, lacking the firmness and texture you want in a quality canned tomato product.

So unless you enjoy playing a game of “spot the tomato chunks” while eating your spaghetti, it’s best to leave Hunt’s on the shelf. Your taste buds (and dinner guests) will thank you.

2. Contadina

Another brand that consistently ranks among the worst is Contadina. In a ranking by Mashed, Contadina landed near the bottom, with reviewers calling out its overly sweet taste that requires a ton of seasoning to balance out.

The cloying sweetness is likely due to added sugars, which have no place in a quality canned tomato. The result is a product that tastes more like tomato candy than the bright, acidic flavor profile you want in a good tomato base.

What’s more, Contadina tomatoes are often poorly peeled, leaving you with unappetizing bits of skin floating in your sauce. It’s clear that cost-cutting measures in sourcing and processing leads to a decidedly low-grade product.

3. Great Value

You may be tempted to grab a can of Great Value tomatoes on your next Walmart run, but don’t let the budget-friendly price fool you. These generic tomatoes are a prime example of “you get what you pay for.”

Great Value tomatoes lack the rich, deep tomato flavor you crave, instead delivering a thin, watery taste. The ratio of juice to tomato is way off, leaving you with a diluted, unsatisfying product.

Plus, the quality of the tomatoes themselves is questionable at best. Expect to find more than a few mushy, mealy specimens in each can, along with the occasional stem or green tomato that slipped through quality control.

4. Whole Foods 365

You might assume that Whole Foods’ house brand, 365, would be a safe bet for quality canned tomatoes. But according to Wirecutter’s taste test, these tomatoes are “flat, bland, and poorly peeled,” producing a sauce that’s overly tart and underwhelming.

The Whole Foods 365 tomatoes also have a deceptively low price point, which should be a red flag. It’s a classic case of sacrificing quality for affordability, resulting in a product that’s simply not worth buying, no matter how easy on the wallet.

If you’re looking for organic canned tomatoes, there are far better options out there from brands like Muir Glen or Bianco DiNapoli. Don’t let the Whole Foods label lure you into a sub-par tomato experience.

5. Del Monte

Del Monte may be a household name, but their canned tomatoes fall woefully short of expectations. The main issue? Sky-high sugar and sodium levels, with some varieties even containing high fructose corn syrup.

These additives not only detract from the natural tomato flavor, but they also make it nearly impossible to control the seasoning in your dish. You’ll end up with an overly sweet, salty mess that’s a far cry from the balanced, nuanced sauce you were aiming for.

What’s more, Del Monte’s cans are often filled with underripe, pale tomatoes that lack the vibrant red color and fresh taste of a quality product. Do yourself a favor and pass on this brand.

6. Happy Harvest

Don’t let the cheery name fool you – Happy Harvest canned tomatoes are anything but a joy to cook with. This bargain-basement brand, commonly found at discount stores like Aldi, consistently ranks among the worst in taste tests.

The tomatoes are often pale, mealy, and lacking in flavor, with a watery consistency that does nothing to elevate your dishes. You’ll also likely find plenty of unripe green tomatoes in the mix, adding an unpleasantly bitter note to your sauce.

7. Cento “San Marzano”

While Cento’s certified D.O.P. San Marzano tomatoes are generally well-regarded, their standard “San Marzano style” tomatoes are a different story. In fact, these tomatoes aren’t actually grown in Italy and have been the subject of a lawsuit over deceptive labeling.

Without the true San Marzano pedigree, these tomatoes simply don’t deliver the exceptional taste and texture that you’d expect from this prized variety. You’re better off skipping the imitators and splurging on the real deal if you want to experience the magic of San Marzano tomatoes.

So there you have it – the canned tomato brands to avoid at all costs. Don’t let these imposters sneak into your pantry and sabotage your cooking! Remember, when it comes to canned tomatoes, quality is key. Stick with top-rated brands like Bianco DiNapoli, Muir Glen, and certified San Marzanos for the best results. Your taste buds will thank you.

Jamie Anderson
Jamie Anderson
Hey there! I'm Jamie Anderson. Born and raised in the heart of New York City, I've always had this crazy love for food and the stories behind it. I like to share everything from those "Aha!" cooking moments to deeper dives into what's really happening in the food world. Whether you're here for a trip down culinary memory lane, some kitchen hacks, or just curious about your favorite eateries, I hope you find something delightful!

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