15 Different Types of Tomatoes for Snacking, Cooking, and More

Despite being a fruit (a berry in fact!), tomatoes are considered as vegetables from a culinary point of view. These juicy summer ‘veggies’ come in different varieties, each of which are pleasingly flavorful. As an extremely versatile food packed with antioxidants, tomatoes are not just eaten fresh as a healthy snack but also roasted, grilled, or sautéed to enhance the taste of your meal.

Based on how they are grown, tomatoes can be broadly classified into the following two types:

  • Heirloom Tomatoes: They are grown from a single strain, retaining similar characteristics for several generations. These tomatoes, valued for their taste and texture, come in unusual colors such as dark purple and orange.
  • Hybrid Tomatoes: These are grown from two different varieties in order to combine the best characteristics from both parents. They have better disease resistance than heirloom varieties.

Apart from these,  tomatoes can be sorted into three groups, slicing, paste/sauce, and salad/cocktail tomatoes based on their texture suitable for specific uses. Additionally, since they come in a wide range of size and shape, they are divided into a few groups like cherry (tiny tomatoes), plum (the medium ones), beefsteak (large varieties), as well as round and flattened globe tomatoes.

Some of the Best Heirloom Tomato Varieties

1. Plum Tomato

Plum Tomato

These oval or cylindrical tomatoes are full of fresh tangy flavor and have higher solid content with few seeds, which make them an ideal variety for preserving. They are dark red, medium-sized fruits with a firm, crack-free texture. Plum tomatoes are particularly popular for making delicious sauces and pastes or can be diced and sold as canned variety. They are commonly used in dishes like plum tomato tart and aromatic slow-roasted tomatoes.

Type: Paste or sauce tomato

2. Pear Tomato

Pear Tomato

They get their name from the small, pear-shaped fruits that are usually yellow, but can occasionally be orange or red. These tomatoes have a mealy, paste-like texture and are known for their excellent sweet taste. Aside from being eaten fresh, these teardrop tomatoes are used for flavoring soups, as well as for adding to bruschetta.

Type: Paste tomato

3. Brandywine Tomato

Brandywine Tomato

These are large, meaty fruits with a firm, pink skin and juicy texture. Tomato lovers proclaim that the brandywine tomatoes are one the best-tasting varieties out there. They are ideal for eating fresh, as part of a classic bruschetta or Caprese salad. You can also include them in roasted form in dishes like sandwiches, and shrimps that consist of fennel and feta.

Type: Beefsteak tomato

4. Cherokee Purple

Cherokee Purple

They are a large, refreshingly acidic cultivated variety that have a thick, dusky-rose skin and a rich, smoky flavor. Because of their dense, juicy texture, the Cherokee tomatoes are best enjoyed raw and often served with summer salads. These tomatoes are commonly used in dishes like caprese salad, Bloody Mary salad with pickled shrimp, and ham and cheese tartines.

Type: Slicing, beefsteak tomato

5. Roma Tomato

Roma Tomato

Also known as Italian plum tomatoes, these are a pear- or egg-shaped variety with bright red skin. They are grown in Mexico, Australia, Great Britain, and the US and commonly used for producing tomato paste and canning because of their firm texture. These tomatoes are valued for their rich, tangy taste and best used in shrimp pastas, creamy soups, Moroccan zaalouk, and vegetable medleys.

Type: Plum, paste tomato

6. Beefsteak Tomato

Beefsteak Tomato

These are large, meaty tomatoes that are available in different varieties, including red, pink, purple, and yellow. Because of their classic tomato flavor combined with thick, juicy consistency, they are preferred for making dips, sauces, salsa, sandwiches, and hamburgers. Some of the popular dishes made from these varieties include tomato jelly, bacon and spinach stuffed tomatoes, and chicken and pepper salad.

Type: Slicing, paste tomatoes

7. Green Beefsteak

Green Beefsteak

These are not unripe beefsteaks, but a separate variety of heirloom tomatoes with a bright green skin and unique tangy flavor. Known for their versatility and crunchiness, the green beefsteaks can be paired with juices, artisan sandwiches, dips, hot or cold sauces, and salsas. They even taste delicious when used in baked desserts and pies.

Type: Slicing, paste tomato

8. Green Zebra

Green Zebra

They are not traditional heirloom tomatoes but have been considered a ‘modern heirloom’ variety in the recent times. The name is derived from their dark green skin with zebra-like yellow stripes. These tomatoes are not just a spicy treat to eat but also amazing to look at. They are somewhat mealier and tarter than regular tomato varieties. The green zebras are commonly used in Spanish, Portuguese, and Italian cuisines, including Gazpacho soup and Caprese salad.

Type: Round, snacking tomato

9. Black Krim

Black Krim

Also called Black Crimea, these tomatoes originated in the Isle of Krim off the Crimean Peninsula. They come in different varieties, ranging from black to dark reddish-purple skin and having rich, earthy, smoky flavor with a hint of sweetness and saltiness. Black Krims are best suited for eating fresh, as well as using in cocktail drinks, juices, and adding to sandwiches or salads.

Type: Slicing, flattened globe, cocktail tomato

10. San Marzano

San Marzano

Originating in San Marzano sul Sarno, a town near Naples in Italy, the San Marzano tomatoes are similar to Romas except that they are more pointed and thinner. They can also be differentiated by their thick flesh, as well as stronger and thicker taste. These are most suitable for making sauces for authentic Neapolitan pizza or pasta.

Type: Plum, paste tomato

Common Types of Hybrid Tomatoes

1. Cherry Tomato

Cherry Tomato

The cherry tomatoes are small round varieties believed to have been developed from domesticated garden types and wild currant-type tomatoes. These are perhaps the most versatile tomatoes loved by people around the globe. Available in red, yellow, purple, and orange varieties, they not only add a splash of color to your meal but also make it delightfully sweet and tangy. While these can be grilled, cooked, and sauced to serve with bruschetta, salad, and pizza, you can also eat them raw.

Type: Round, salad tomato

2. Campari Tomato

Campari Tomato

The Camparis, known for their dark red color, juicy texture, low acid content, and natural sweetness, are rounder and smaller than plum tomatoes but bigger than cherry tomatoes. Over the years, these tomatoes have become increasingly popular and are now available as ‘tomato-on-the-vine’ in markets. Aside from being served fresh over mozzarella cheese, salads, and meats, they are roasted and served in sandwiches and over pizzas.

Type: Round, cocktail tomato

3. Grape Tomato

Grape Tomato

These are crisp and crunchy hybrid tomato varieties, ranging from the tangy yellow to the candy-like sweet red. Since they have a thick skin, these fruits hold their fleshy texture well when cooked. They are not just ideal for snacking on fresh but also make a great addition to chicken or fish steak, stuffed bell peppers, jalapeno bruschetta, and pasta.

Type: Slicing, salad tomato

4. Cocktail Tomato

Cocktail Tomato

These are a small tomato type that pack a sweet, juicy punch with a fruity aftertaste. They are considered one of the most versatile tomatoes that can be served with any meal on any occasion. Being a soft-skinned variety with meaty texture, cocktail tomatoes can be used for making delicate sauces, heated and tossed on barbeques, or stuffed with veggies and meats.

Type: Paste tomato

5. Super Sweet 100

Super Sweet 100

These are a small-sized hybrid variety with an intensely sweet taste. Valued for their flavor, they are best consumed raw and fresh off the vine. While they are suitable for juices and salads, super sweet 100 can be cooked, stewed, canned, and frozen.

Type: Cherry tomato


Q.1. Are green tomatoes just raw tomatoes, or are they a completely different type?

Ans. Unripe tomatoes have a pale green skin and feel nearly solid, having a more tart or acidic flavor. Then there are some green varieties that stay green even after they are completely ripe. Aunt Ruby’s German green and Green Zebra are some of the well-known true green tomatoes.

Q.2. Which types are commonly used for canned tomatoes?

Ans. The tomato varieties that are typically used for canning include Roma and San Marzano.

Q.3. Which tomatoes are best for making salsa?

Ans. Fresh tomato salsa should be ideally prepared with firm and fleshy varieties. Although you can use any of the types, Roma is the preferred choice because it holds up well.

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