Home » Ingredient Substitutes » Best Rotel Substitute for Your Recipe.

Best Rotel Substitute for Your Recipe.

Rotel tomatoes are a commonly used ingredient. Sometimes, you’ll forget to restock it and not be able to use it when in need. That’s when having a good Rotel substitute comes in handy. 

If you decide to prepare a substitute for Rotel, here are some ingredients you can use to change up your dish and achieve the most delicious and exciting flavors. 

Rotel substitute inside the wooden bowl.

What is Rotel?

Are you a big fan of Mexican cuisine? Casseroles, soups, sauces―they all have Rotel tomatoes in them. As long as a recipe requires diced tomatoes, more often than not, they’re Rotel diced tomatoes. 

That’s because this brand of canned diced tomatoes adds so much flavor and is super versatile.

Looking at the label on the can, you’ll see that it only contains a few ingredients. 

A can of Rotel has tomatoes, tomato juice, green chili peppers, water, salt, spice, and other natural flavors.

It has a spicy taste, but it’s closest to salsa in taste.

Best Rotel Substitutes

You can try many Rotel substitutes if you prefer not to use canned dice tomatoes.

If you can’t get your hands on canned Rotel, here are some tasty, versatile, easy-to-make substitutes that will give a lot of flavor to your dish. 

Here is the list of the best substitutes for Rotel tomatoes.

1. Stewed Tomatoes

White bowl with stewed tomatoes.

Nothing elevates a dish more than using the freshest ingredients.

No canned dice tomatoes? No problem! You can recreate the taste of Rotel tomatoes using fresh tomatoes and stewing them or use a can of stewed tomatoes. 

Get your juicy and ripe tomatoes from the farmer’s market, the neighborhood grocery store, or even your backyard if you have your own vegetable garden. 

You’ll need around ten tomatoes to make approximately 15 servings. But you can always add more, depending on how much Rotel tomato substitute you’ll need. 

Cooking Tips: 

  • Peel the tomatoes and boil them in water until the skin peels.
  • Remove them from the water and soak them in a bowl of ice water to peel off the skin and slice them into quarters. 
  • Afterward, put the tomatoes in a saucepan over low heat and add two teaspoons of salt.
  • Let it simmer for about 30 minutes or until it thickens. 

2. Canned Diced Tomatoes

Close up photo of canned diced tomatoes.

Since the main ingredient of Rotel is tomato, you can substitute it with just canned diced tomatoes. 

You can also replicate Rotel tomatoes by chopping a few pieces of fresh, ripe tomatoes.

They have better quality and contain more nutrients, and you can extract better and more natural flavors. 

To make your Rotel substitute taste like the real thing, you may also dice up some peppers and onions.

Cooking tips:

If you make more than enough, you can put it in a Ziploc bag and freeze it for your next recipe requiring Rotel. Just remember to dice them finely. The finer, the better. 

3. Fire-Roasted Tomatoes

Similar to Rotel, this is a canned diced tomato. The only difference is you get a smoky and sweet flavor because the open flame accentuates their flavor. 

Most grocery stores stock them in their aisles, and you can choose from several brands that sell them crushed, diced, or whole.

If you want a more full-bodied tomato-based soup or sauce, you can make your own Rotel of fire-roasted tomatoes. 

This homemade Rotel is perfect as a pizza or marinara sauce. It will also work great in sandwiches, salsas, and almost all tomato-based pastas. 

Slice your tomatoes lengthwise. Before grilling, drizzle them with olive oil and sprinkle chili powder and oregano for Western and Mexican cuisine. 

For Italian-style cooking, you can place your tomatoes in a rack with garlic cloves and rosemary before baking. 

Cooking Tips:

Use smoked paprika and a bit of sugar to achieve that easy but delicious fire-roasted taste. 

4. Marinara

Wooden bowl with marinara sauce and fresh tomatoes next to it.

Another great Rotel tomato substitute is marinara sauce. A staple in Italian cooking, it’s used in dipping sauces and as a base for various dishes and sauces.

When used in Mexican cuisine, it will give the dish a rich and complex flavor. 

Marinara has tomatoes, onions, garlic, oregano, and basil, so you can use it to replace Rotel sauce.

It’s not spicy, and you won’t need to add more seasoning. 

Cooking Tips:

Follow a 1:1 ratio when substituting marinara sauce for Rotel. You can use cayenne pepper or red pepper flakes for more heat. 

5. Pizza Sauce

Bowl filled with pizza sauce.

Have you got pizza sauce? It makes a perfect substitute for Rotel, and it’s made from just tomatoes, garlic, and spices. 

Aside from being the base sauce of pizza, you can use it for dips, spreads, soups, and many other dishes. 

While you can get your favorite store-bought ones, you can make pizza sauce from scratch to get the freshest and most natural flavors.

The ingredients are readily available in your kitchen, and it only takes a few minutes to prepare. 

Cooking Tips:

Just combine your tomatoes with some salt, pepper, dried oregano, and garlic powder and cook it in olive oil. Let it simmer in the saucepan over medium heat and cool before using. 

6. Salsa

Will salsa work as a Rotel substitute? Definitely! Remember that you can use fresh ingredients to replace those in a Rotel can, like diced tomatoes and chopped green chili peppers. 

Salsa is versatile and works with almost anything, including tacos, tortillas, quesadillas, antojitos, and enchiladas.

You can also use this Rotel substitute in roast chicken, grilled beef, seafood stews, boiled potatoes, and eggs. 

Cooking Tips:

Serve salsa fresh or cooked. But to substitute for Rotel, use cooked salsa using chilis, tomatoes, and spices. 

7. Lemon Pickle

You might be wondering how lemon pickles can be a substitute for canned tomatoes. It’s an excellent Rotel substitute because it copies the acidic tomato flavor.

You can even add spices to temper the citrus flavor and achieve Rotel’s spice level.  

Although there’s a quick way to make lemon pickles, you typically need several days to get the best flavors.

After putting your sliced lemons, lemon juice, and salt in a jar, you must wait around a week to 10 days before using it.   

Cooking Tips:

When substituting, use 10 ounces of chopped lemon pickle for a 10-ounce can of Rotel. 

8. Tomato Sauce or Tomato Puree

Can labelled tomato sauce.

You may run out of Rotel, but you can always opt for a substitute for Rotel tomatoes, like ordinary tomato sauce.

You can buy canned tomato sauce at any grocery or make it from scratch. 

Making tomato sauce and tomato puree involves the same process.

You’ll get chunky tomato sauce if you quickly blend your tomatoes into the food processor.

Blend it longer to break down the tomato chunks for a smooth, slightly thicker tomato puree. 

If you like your red tomatoes on the spicy side, you can always add fresh green chilies, green chilies powder, or diced chili peppers. 

Cooking Tips:

Shorter cooking times produce a fresher flavor, while longer cooking times result in a thicker sauce and stronger cooked flavor. Keep this in mind when cooking tomato puree.   

9. Picante Sauce

If heat is vital in your Rotel substitute, consider using picante sauce. It’s similar to salsa, but picante sauce is finer, more liquid, and has a pourable consistency. 

Buy it ready-made at any supermarket or make your own. It’s pretty easy to prepare, and you can use it for a Rotel recipe like an enchilada or a casserole. 

Mix your diced tomatoes, garlic cloves, and other seasonings and blend them in the food processor until smooth. 

Cooking Tips:

Add habanero peppers for that extra level of heat. Use it immediately or store it in a sterilized jar for future use. 

10. Canned Green Chilies

Making a Rotel substitute is easy if you already have a can of diced green chilis. Just slice some fresh tomatoes or open a can of tomatoes, then add some seasoning to taste. 

To further mimic the taste of Rotel by adding lime juice and chopped cilantro.

Mix all the ingredients, and you have a homemade Rotel. 

Cooking Tips:

You can use tomato puree instead of tomato sauce to make a nacho dip or bread sauce. 

5 Delicious Recipes Using Rotel

Here are five popular recipes that use Rotel tomatoes.

1. Chicken Fajitas 

Impress your friends and family with a simple but delicious chicken fajitas dinner. You don’t need to be a professional chef to master this dish. And you only need approximately 20 minutes to cook it. 

Slice chicken breasts into pieces and season it with salt and spice seasonings. Then, finely chop some zesty green chilies, onions, and tomatoes, add some tomato paste, and saute.

Deglaze it with red wine, add tomato sauce, and allow it to simmer. Afterward, you can season with chili, salt, pepper, or lime juice. 

2. Rotel Beef Enchiladas

With just 15 minutes of prep time and 30 minutes of baking time, Rotel beef enchiladas will surely be a crowd-pleaser and a favorite comfort food. 

Cook a pound of beef in a skillet. Drain the oils and juices and blend in your tomatoes and enchilada sauce. Then, place the beef mixture on the tortillas, adding a tablespoon of cheese. 

Roll them up and place them on a baking dish with the seam side facing down. Pour the remaining sauce and add more cheese until it’s spread evenly and covers all the tortillas. Then, bake it covered for 30 minutes. 

3. Rotel Dip with Ground Beef 

This Rotel dip recipe only calls for three ingredients: Rotel (or your preferred tomato substitute), cheese, and ground beef. 

Cook the beef and sprinkle some seasoning. Drain the oil and juices, then stir in your cheese and Rotel. Stir until the cheese melts and your dip is thick and creamy. 

4. Rotel and Ranch Taco Soup

Another easy and tasty Rotel recipe requires beef, ranch dressing, Rotel, and taco ingredients like pinto beans, cream corn, and hominy. 

Cook the beef and drain the pan before adding your ranch dressing and taco seasoning mix. 

Then, add the rest of the ingredients and stir together. Simmer on low heat, and then serve this Rotel and ranch taco soup with cheddar cheese and warm tortilla chips. 

3. Rotel Chicken Bake

For this Rotel Chicken Bake, you’ll need chicken breasts, Rotel (or canned green chilis as a substitute), shredded cheese, spices, and garnish. 

Put the chicken breasts in a baking pan. Add the Rotel and seasonings next, and top it with shredded cheese. Bake it and enjoy this cheesy chicken goodness! 

Related Question:

What are the ingredients in a can of Rotel?

Rotel’s ingredients include diced tomatoes, chopped green chilies, and other flavorful spices. 

What makes Rotel tomatoes hot?

There’s a variety of Rotel containing vine-ripened tomatoes, habaneros, and spices for people who love the extra kick or level of heat. 


Rotel is a flavorful ingredient you can easily replace when you don’t have it in your kitchen. Find a substitute for Rotel from these suggestions for many great chili recipes. 

They’re versatile and will go well with any tomato-based dish. Use it for any tart, spicy, and tangy dish, and enjoy an explosion of flavors. 

More Ingredient Substitutes

Natalia | Flavorful home
Natalia is a recipe developer, food photographer, and home cook. She started Flavorful Home to document her recipes and share home cooking tips. She loves creating flavorful and nutritious meals while keeping the cooking process simple and joyful!
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