Tomatoes: An Essential Ingredient in Mexican Cooking

Posted under  Culture & Lifestyle, Food & Health, Nature's Path, Que Pasa on
Tomatoes are essential to Mexican cuisine. Well before the Spaniards arrived, Mexico was growing, harvesting, and eating tomatoes. It was known as tomatl to the indigenous people, and were often eaten with hot peppers, and used in sauces. Later, Christopher Columbus took the tomato to Europe where it spread to other parts of the world. Today, Mexico is one of the world’s biggest tomato exporters. In local cuisine, tomatoes are used for sauces, salsas, salads, and even desserts. While there are many varieties cultivated, five of them stand out, and are most commonly used.

Tomate Bola (Jitomate)

It's what most people call a beefsteak tomato. It is big, round, and juicy, and is best eaten raw in salads, sandwiches, and raw salsas. Because of its high water content, they are not the best tomato to cook with. To use them, simply remove the tomato stem, slice, and eat. Try them in this pico de gallo recipe.

Raw Organic Red Beefsteak Tomatoes Ready for Cooking

Tomate Roma or Saladette

Tomate roma or saladette are also known as a plum tomato. The tomate roma is small to medium in size with thin skin and less seeds than the beefsteak. Because of its thin skin and low water content, it is perfect for sauces in dishes like these enchiladas rojas, chilaquiles, and sopa de fideo. To eat, remove the stem and boil, char or roast them.

Tomatillo (Tomate Verde)

Tomatillos are a small to medium green tomato surrounded by a papery husk. It has a slightly sweet, tart flavor. It is best used for sauces, salsas, and soups, but can also be eaten raw. You can enjoy them in these enchiladas verdes, and this raw tomatillo salsa as well as our easy salsa verde recipe. To eat them, remove the papery husk, wash them, and then roast, boil or eat them raw.


An heirloom tomato is a variety that has been passed down for over 50 years through generations of a family. Heirloom tomatoes come in different shapes and colors. They are sweet and juicy and best used in salads or eaten on their own. Enjoy them in this heirloom tomato and avocado salad.


Cherry tomatoes are mini tomatoes that are extra sweet and have thin skins. They come in a variety of colors like yellow, orange, and even purple. They are best used to make quick sauces and salads. They require no food preparation, which makes them a great to-go snack. Arugula salad with cherry tomatoes

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About The Author

Dora is the founder, recipe developer, and photographer at Dora’s Table and Mi Mero Mole. Born and raised in Mexico and a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America in New York, she adopted a vegan diet to take control of her health. She is passionate about teaching others the benefit of a plant-based lifestyle while preserving the beauty and richness of the different regional cuisines of Mexico and what they represent.

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