How to Peel Tomatoes

Here, how to peel tomatoes two ways. One involves the microwave.

June 07, 2022

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blanched tomatoes on white plate


blanched tomatoes on white plate

Photo by: Magone/Getty Images

Magone/Getty Images

By Layla Khoury-Hanold for Food Network Kitchen

Layla Khoury-Hanold is a contributor at Food Network.

We love summer for tomato season, which includes making silky, fresh tomato sauce and soups such as gazpacho. But there’s one important step you’ll need to complete if you want to ensure an extra-smooth consistency and mellow-sweet flavor. Here, we’ll tackle all your tomato-peeling questions and share a step-by-step process for the easiest way to peel tomatoes.

Why Would You Peel Tomatoes?

When summer bestows you with a bounty of tomatoes, you’ll want to highlight the season by making fresh tomato sauces, soups and salsas. You might even try your hand at canning whole tomatoes or tomato sauces, and working with peeled tomatoes is especially important for this process.

  • To ensure a uniform, smooth texture. Tomato skins are tough and hard to chew, so removing them before you make sauces – especially canned sauces – is important.
  • Avoid bitter flavor. When tomatoes are cooked, the skin can impart a bitter flavor, so removing the skin ensures that tomatoes’ sweet-tangy flavor profile shines through in cooked tomato-based dishes like sauces and soups.

Italian-Style Canned Tomatoes

Canned tomatoes are a home canner’s dream. Who doesn’t want to gaze at rows of jars of their own home-canned tomatoes lined up like soldiers in the middle of winter? That’s winning! The deal is that to do anything of any quantity, you have to put up a lot of tomatoes. According to the National Center for Home Preservation, an average of 21 pounds is needed per canner load of 7 quarts! Please notice this recipe is for 1 single quart and you will need to scale up accordingly.

How to Make a Basic Tomato Sauce: A Step-by-Step Guide

Read these simple steps for making a delicious tomato sauce, then watch our how-to video.

ripe tomatoes are prepared for blanching


ripe tomatoes are prepared for blanching

Photo by: Magone/Getty Images

Magone/Getty Images

How to Peel Tomatoes

Avoid using a vegetable peeler to peel your tomatoes, as it will remove part of the tomato flesh along with the skin. The most efficient way to peel tomatoes is to blanch the tomatoes by quickly boiling them in hot water, which helps to loosen the skin from the flesh, and then shock them in an ice bath. The ice bath helps stop the cooking process and cools the tomatoes down so they’re easy to handle. The tomato skins will slip right off! Here’s how to quickly peel tomatoes.

1: Pick the Best Tomatoes

The blanching technique for peeling tomatoes works for a variety of tomatoes. Generally, look for medium to large tomatoes that are smooth, without any blemishes or bruises. You’ll want to pick ones that are heavy for their size. Give them the sniff test—they should smell fragrant, with a pleasant grassy smell by the stem or stem area and a tomato-y aroma on the skin. If tomatoes are out of season, Roma tomatoes, which are available year-round at grocery stores, are a good pick. For a primer on different tomatoes, check out A Concise Guide to the Different Types of Tomatoes.

2: Boil Water & Prepare Ice Bath

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Meanwhile, prepare an ice bath by filling a large bowl with cold water and plenty of ice cubes.

3: Prep the Tomatoes

Wash and dry the tomatoes and remove any stems. Use a paring knife to cut a small, shallow X on the bottom of each tomato (the opposite end to the stem end).

4: Boil the Tomatoes

Once the water has come to a boil, gently lower the tomatoes into the boiling water. Boil the tomatoes for 30 to 60 seconds. Watch carefully as smaller tomatoes will need less time; you don’t want the tomatoes to start cooking. You’ll know the tomatoes are ready to be removed when the flesh starts to wrinkle, and the skin starts to peel away from the flesh. Use a slotted spoon or a strainer to transfer the tomatoes to the prepared ice bath.

5: Peel the Tomatoes

Once the tomatoes have cooled enough to be handled, remove them from the ice bath and peel off the skin. Use your fingers or the blade of a paring knife to help remove the skin in big pieces.

Blanching and peeling the tomatoes


Blanching and peeling the tomatoes

Photo by: Rivière, Jean-Francois/Getty Images

Rivière, Jean-Francois/Getty Images

How to Peel Tomatoes In the Microwave

If you don’t have time to boil a pot of water to blanch your tomatoes, or if you just need to peel one or two tomatoes, try microwaving them.

1: Prep the Tomatoes

Wash and dry the tomatoes and remove any stems. Use a paring knife to cut a small, shallow X on the bottom of each tomato (the opposite end to the stem end).

2: Microwave the Tomatoes

Then place 1 to 2 tomatoes in a microwave safe container and microwave on high for 25 to 30 seconds. Keep a close watch as the tomatoes could explode.

3: Cool and Peel the Tomatoes

Let tomatoes cool before handling (or shock them in an ice bath to speed up the process). The skins will slip right off with the aid of a paring knife.

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