Have you ever wondered what other fruits there are that look and taste similar to tomatoes? You might be surprised by some of them, so let’s explore this in more detail.
Some of the fruits that look the most like tomatoes include persimmon, tamarillo, and tomatillo. In terms of taste, you can sometimes swap tomatoes for tomatillos or pumpkins. There’s nothing quite like a tomato, but these fruits are similar!
In this article, we’re going to look at the top 9 fruits that look and taste like tomatoes. If you need to swap tomatoes in a recipe, you should focus on the taste, rather than the appearance, so make sure you pay attention to this too.
Which Fruits Look Like Tomatoes?
Tomatoes are round, matte, and can be as small as a grape or as large as an apple. Tomatoes are bright red and have green crowns on the top, and they grow on vines. Surprisingly, quite a few fruits look like them and here are some of the closest options:
They may differ in terms of color, but all of these have taut skins and are fairly spherical, so let’s check them out in a bit more detail.
If you compare them to orange tomatoes, rather than red tomatoes, persimmons are probably the most convincing lookalikes. Persimmons are roughly the same size as many large types of tomatoes, and they are spherical, with slightly shiny skins.
They even have crowns, like tomatoes, although these crowns are tougher and woodier. Until you cut a persimmon open, it can look amazingly similar to a tomato.
These little fruits are sometimes called tree tomatoes because they look so similar to plum tomatoes. They come in red or yellow, and even inside they look like a tomato, with soft flesh surrounding the seeds.
However, they aren’t particularly similar in terms of taste. The skins are bitter, and generally, people only eat the flesh.
Sometimes known as ground cherries, a tomatillo looks quite like a tomato, especially once its outer leaves have been peeled away. These fruits are somewhat heart-shaped, with a stem at the top, and it would be easy to mistake one for a tomato. They come in various colors.
Inside, they do have flesh and seeds, but the seeds are fewer and the flesh is more robust and firm. However, even the plants can look quite like common tomato plants, perhaps because the two are actually relatives.
There are a lot of varieties, but some kinds of gooseberries look a lot like green tomatoes or even red tomatoes. Like many other fruits, they have firm, taut skins and a rounded shape. At a glance, it might be tricky to tell the difference between a gooseberry and a tomato.
The inside of a gooseberry looks more like the inside of a grape, however.
Most people think that pepinos look more like miniature melons than tomatoes, but they do bear resemblance to some of the colored and stripy tomatoes. They are rounded, with a star-shaped crown at the top that is very much like a tomato’s crown.
Which Fruits Taste Like Tomatoes?
If you are trying to take tomatoes out of a recipe you are making, the taste is going to matter more than the appearance. Not much tastes like a tomato, but you will sometimes be able to replicate the flavor if you choose your substitute with care.
The options include:
- Tamarind (if turned into a paste)
- Red bell pepper
Your recipe will still taste different, but using these for substitutes should work reasonably well.
As mentioned, tomatillos are related to tomatoes, so it makes sense that they would give you a similar flavor profile when used in cooking. Some people make crispy green salsas with these instead of with fresh tomatoes.
You can also cook the darker kinds into rich stews, and they will lend them a strong, unique flavor that is close to tomato, but with its own unique profiles.
Pumpkins might sound like an odd option, but they can be good for replicating the texture of cooked tomatoes, so they may be used in sauces. However, pumpkin lacks the acidity of tomatoes, so you might want to add a splash of vinegar too. This should make your recipe sharper, and not too sweet.
Pumpkin can’t be used as a substitute for fresh tomatoes; it works best as a replacement for cooked, chopped tomatoes or tomato paste.
If turned into a paste, tamarind fruits can work well to replace tomatoes in a recipe. It manages to be both sweet and sour simultaneously, and you’ll often see it in curries and other dishes. It is a rarer ingredient to find, but if you look out for it in the international food aisle, you should come across it.
It will have a different flavor to tomatoes, but it mimics the sweet and sour taste pretty well overall.
Red Bell Pepper
In terms of color and – to some extent – taste, red bell peppers are another good swap. You can use a crispy red bell pepper in a salsa or as part of a salad wrap, and it’s probably the closest you’ll get to a fresh tomato. It isn’t the same of course, but it can lend your salad freshness and juiciness that it might otherwise be lacking.
Red bell pepper won’t create a tomato-like sauce, however, because peppers don’t cook down as much as tomatoes. They are more robust, so they tend to retain their shape and texture. You may find that red bell pepper works well in some cooked recipes, but not all.
Unripe mangoes work surprisingly well when used to replace tomatoes. The tartness of the fruit will replicate the flavor, so make sure you use them before they have sweetened and softened.
Those are the 9 fruits that look and taste most like a tomato. Some only offer either the look or the taste, while others – like tomatillos – are similar in both characteristics. If you are going to swap tomatoes for another food, you might want to try various options to see which gives you the best substitution.