What Is Tomato Frito?

Tomato (Solanum lycopersicum) is a widely grown plant commonly cultivated for its edible fruits. Indeed, it is one of the most popular fruits in the world.

Although the original domestication of the tomato plant is not established, China remains the largest producer of tomatoes with an output that accounts for nearly 33% of global production.

When it was newly discovered, tomatoes were mainly used as ornamental plants which were planted in the gardens of the high-class citizens across Europe because they were rare and they symbolize affluence. Their fruits were also believed to be inedible or maybe poisonous until the advancement in medicine proved the myths wrong.

Tomato is usually eaten raw as in salads, or used in cooking as a vegetable. Tomato is not only used as an ingredient to prepare various dishes, a large percentage of it is processed into products such as tomato juice, tomato puree, tomato paste, ketchup, dehydrated tomato pulp, tomato frito, and passata.

Of all the afore-mentioned tomato derivatives, tomato frito holds a versatile, almost sacred place in the Mediterranean, particularly in Spanish cuisine. If you’re not conversant with Spanish cuisine, you may have little or no idea what tomato frito is. WHAT IS TOMATO FRITO and what is it used for? Read on, you’re about to find out.

What is tomato frito?

Tomato frito (also called “tomate frito”) means “fried tomato” in Spanish. It is a sauce made from pureed tomato. It is usually made by frying tomato puree in a small amount of vegetable oil and may be seasoned with onion, garlic, or other seasonings as desired. Tomato frito is native to the Spanish. It is interesting to know that, in place of fresh tomatoes, tomato frito is the most common tomato ingredient of Spanish cuisine. Around the 20th century, tomato sauce was introduced, but Spain was the first country to industrially produce tomato frito. Since then, the product TOMATO FRITO has been widely accepted all over the world. 

What is tomato frito used for?

Tomato frito is a dish on its own and can be eaten as a dip or spread or used as a base for lasagna, pizza, or pasta. It can also be added to soups and sauces to enrich them. Tomato frito can be used as a sauce for french fries, fried eggs, meatballs, rice dishes, and other dishes.

Is tomato frito the same as passata?

No, tomato frito is not the same as passata. While tomato frito is made by subjecting tomatoes to a cooking process (frying), passata is mostly an uncooked tomato puree. The only similarity is that both are made from pureed tomatoes that have been strained. Passata can also be used as a base ingredient for pasta, stews, sauces, stews, and other dishes. However, passata is not a stand-alone dish like tomato frito.

Read also: Does Fish Sauce Need to Be Refrigerated?

Is tomato frito the same as tomato puree?

No, tomato frito is not the same as tomato puree. Tomato puree is not usually fried like tomato frito.

Best tomato frito alternatives

A commonly accepted alternative to tomato frito is Passata. If your recipe calls for tomato frito and you can’t find any, get passata instead. Fry the passata in a little olive oil and add salt and sugar. You can also season with onions and garlic as you desire.

Other tomato frito alternatives include;

  • Tomato puree
  • Ketchup

Better yet, if you’re able to get fresh tomatoes, you can make your own tomato frito at home.

Read also: Why Is Cheesecake Called CheeseCake?

How to make your homemade tomato frito      

You want to make your tomato frito at home, but you have no idea how to go about it? Let me show you how.


  • 1kg fresh tomatoes
  • 4 tablespoons vegetable oil (preferably, olive oil)
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • Salt (to taste)
  • Garlic (optional)
  • Onion (optional)
  • PREP TIME: 20 minutes
  • COOK TIME: 40 minutes – 1 hour.


  1. Remove the tomatoes from the stalk and wash thoroughly under running water.
  2. Boil some water in a saucepan.
  3. With a sharp knife, make a small “X” cut on the bottom of each tomato, then immerse the tomatoes in the boiling water for 20-30 seconds. After 30seconds, use a strainer to transfer them into a bowl of cold water.
  4. Once the tomatoes are a bit cool, peel off the skins. 
  5. Cut the tomatoes into large chunks. Make sure to collect any tomato juice trickling while you are cutting, in a bowl.
  6. Heat your saucepan and add 4 tablespoons of vegetable oil. At this point, you can sauté your thinly sliced onion and garlic in the oil, but this is not compulsory. If you don’t have onion and garlic, just skip and move to the next step.
  7. Once the oil gets hot, add the tomatoes (with the juice). 
  8. Add your sugar and salt and stir the mixture. Let it simmer over low heat for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  9. After 20 minutes when the tomatoes are well cooked, remove the saucepan from heat and pass the tomato mixture through a food mill or a colander to get a finer consistency.
  10. Taste and adjust salt and sugar, if necessary.
  11. Cook for a few more minutes till you get your desired consistency. The longer you cook it, the thicker it gets.
  12. Your tomato frito is ready for consumption. You can use it immediately or transfer it into jars and store in your refrigerator. 

You will agree with me that tomato frito is quite easy to make at home. But if you don’t feel up to it, you can get the store-sold ones. So, if you were wondering before, “what is tomato frito”? Now you not only know what tomato frito is, but you also know how to make your own.

By Luong Tan

Luong Tan, the creative and passionate founder of Bourbono, is a multi-talented individual with a deep love for the culinary arts. An accomplished food blogger, cookbook author, and former Ambassador of US cuisine in Vietnam (2015-2016), Luong has been on a mission to share his appreciation for food with the world.

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