We’ve all heard the old saying “you can’t make chili without diced tomatoes,” but what if you don’t have any of these left in your pantry?
There are plenty of delicious substitutes for diced tomatoes that will still give your chili meal a flavorful boost.
When it comes to creating the perfect pot of chili, fresh or quality canned produce is usually essential.
But like so many other staples items we find ourselves out of from time to time, sometimes there’s a need for a substitute.
Fortunately, there are plenty of ingredients that you likely have on hand at home which can stand in as appealing replacements for diced tomatoes—think along the lines of salsa, pureed tomatoes, and even more unexpected alternatives such as black beans and olives.
In this article, I’ll share my top 8 recommended substitutions for diced tomatoes when making chili, plus some great tips on adding tons of flavor to your dish with these tasty swaps.
So grab your favorite pot and cooking implements- it’s almost time to cook up some delicious chilis!
Why Even Use A Substitute For Diced Tomatoes in Chili?
Tomatoes play a large role in chili, as they act as the main flavor base.
But relying solely on canned tomatoes can be a bit limiting when it comes to finding ways to customize and create your own unique flavors.
That’s why substituting some of the canned tomatoes with other ingredients can really help to expand your palette.
Substitutions such as diced carrots and celery add sweetness, while bell peppers bring earthiness.
Sweet potatoes are great for adding bulk without changing too much flavor, while mushrooms give an umami punch that compliments the dish very nicely.
However, if you don’t want any strong changes in taste or texture then there are still alternatives you can use in place of tomato products (for example chiles may be used instead of spices).
This allows those who have certain diets to still enjoy the meal, but also leaves more room for customization within regular diets depending on your desired flavor.
The 8 Best Substitutes for Diced Tomatoes in Chili
Making chili without the right ingredients can be challenging.
That’s why it’s important to have substitutions on hand in case you run out of diced tomatoes.
Fortunately, there are a variety of tasty and nutritious substitutes that will still provide great flavor and texture.
Here are 8 of the best:
1. Tomato Paste
Tomato paste can provide the same amount of acidity and sweetness that diced tomatoes would, but it has a thicker consistency that makes it easier to work with.
A good substitution ratio is 1 tablespoon of tomato paste per every 2 tablespoons of diced tomatoes called for in the recipe.
Additionally, if you find that your chili needs more moisture, you can add a small amount of water or vegetable stock as well.
Tomato paste also provides additional flavor complexity due to its concentrated nature; just be sure not to use too much as it can overpower other flavors in the dish.
2. Tomato Sauce
The key is to use the right amount of tomato sauce – too much and you’ll get a soupy chili, not enough and you’ll have an overly-dry dish.
For every cup of diced tomatoes that your recipe calls for, use about ¾ cup of tomato sauce.
You may also want to add some additional spices if the recipe doesn’t call for them as canned tomato sauces tend to be on the bland side.
Chopped jalapenos or cayenne pepper are both good additions that will give it some kick!
Salsa is a great substitute for diced tomatoes in chili recipes.
Not only does it add more flavor and depth to the dish, but it also provides more moisture, which can be helpful when cooking with dry ingredients such as beans or spices.
Salsa comes in many different flavors and varieties, so use whichever one you prefer for your recipe.
The most important thing to remember is that the salsa should be thick enough to ensure that all of the other ingredients are incorporated evenly throughout the chili.
When substituting salsa for diced tomatoes, use about 1 cup of salsa per every 2 cups of diced tomatoes called for in the recipe.
Additionally, reducing any added liquid by ¼ cup will help keep your chili from becoming too wet.
4. Fresh Chopped Tomatoes
Fresh chopped tomatoes are a great alternative to canned diced tomatoes when making chili.
Fresh tomatoes provide a flavor and texture that is hard to replicate with canned varieties.
To use fresh tomatoes in place of diced tomatoes, start by washing them thoroughly and removing any stems or blemishes.
Once they’re clean, chop the tomato into small cubes or slices.
When adding the tomatoes to your chili, add them at the beginning so they have time to soften up and release their juices as the chili simmers.
If you want a chunkier texture similar to what you would get from using diced tomatoes, add some of the tomato skins back into the pot after chopping them up.
This will give your chili more body without sacrificing flavor.
Lastly, don’t be afraid to experiment with different types of fresh chopped tomatoes for different flavors!
Roma and cherry tomatoes both work well for chilis but feel free to mix it up if you want something new!
5. Roasted Red Peppers
Roasted red peppers are a delicious alternative to diced tomatoes in chili.
Roasted red peppers add color, flavor, and texture to your dish.
- To make roasted red peppers for chili, start by preheating the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Next, cut two large red bell peppers into quarters and remove the seeds and membrane.
- Place them on a parchment-lined baking sheet and roast for 20 minutes or until they’re lightly charred and tender.
- Allow them to cool before chopping into small pieces.
- Once prepared, toss the chopped roasted red pepper into your chili along with other ingredients like ground beef or turkey, beans, onion, garlic powder, cumin, oregano, tomato sauce or paste (if desired), salt and pepper to taste.
- Simmer over low heat for 30 minutes or until the flavors have blended together nicely.
- Serve hot topped with shredded cheese if desired!
6. Fire-Roasted Tomatoes
Fire-roasted tomatoes are a delicious and easy way to add smoky flavor to your chili.
Fire-roasting is a simple cooking technique where vegetables, such as tomatoes, are cooked over an open flame or hot coals.
This process gives the vegetables a slightly charred, smoky flavor that pairs perfectly with chili.
- To fire-roast tomatoes for use in chili, start by preheating the oven to 400°F (204°C).
- Place whole Roma or plum tomatoes on a baking sheet lined with foil and roast for 30 minutes or until lightly charred and softened.
- Once cooled, remove skin and dice into small pieces before adding to your chili mix.
Fire-roasted tomatoes can also be used in other dishes such as soups, sauces, stews, pastas and more!
The smoky flavor makes it an excellent addition that will enhance any dish you make.
7. Carrot and Celery Puree
Carrot and celery puree is a delicious, nutritious alternative to diced tomatoes in chili.
It’s made with carrots, celery, onions, garlic, and herbs blended together into a smooth paste.
This puree has a subtle sweetness that adds flavor to any dish without overpowering the other ingredients.
Carrot and celery puree can be used in place of diced tomatoes for an easy way to add extra nutrition and flavor to your chili.
- To use it as a substitution for diced tomatoes, simply blend equal parts carrot and celery with one small onion and two cloves of garlic until everything is finely chopped.
- Then add this mixture directly into the pot with your chili ingredients during the cooking process.
The result will be an incredibly flavorful chili packed with nutrients from the added vegetables!
8. Dried Tomato Flakes
Dried tomato flakes are a great way to add flavor and texture to your chili without having to use fresh tomatoes.
These flakes are made from tomato skins that have been dried, crushed, and ground into small pieces.
The result is a dark red powder with an intense tomato flavor.
When using dried tomato flakes in chili, you should start by rehydrating them with hot water or stock before adding them to the pot.
This will help bring out the flavors of the tomatoes as well as thicken up the sauce.
Once they’re rehydrated, you can add them directly to your chili along with any other ingredients like beans, spices, or vegetables.
You may also want to adjust the seasoning if needed since dried tomatoes can be quite salty on their own.
With just a few simple steps you can easily create a delicious chili packed full of flavor!
The 8 Best Substitutes for Diced Tomatoes in Chili
- Tomato Paste
- Tomato Sauce
- Fresh Chopped Tomatoes
- Roasted Red Peppers
- Fire-Roasted Tomatoes
- Carrot and Celery Puree
- Dried Tomato Flakes
- Pick your favorite substitute from this list to use in your chili.
- Prepare the rest of your meal.
- Enjoy in no time!