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How to Peel Tomatoes Without Boiling or Ice Bath: An Easy and Fast Method

Learn how to peel tomatoes with bath-temperature water in less than a minute. All you need is a clean sink. This is a great tip for busy cooks.

A picture of a peeled tomato sitting on a marble coaster on a wooden table.

Canning tomatoes can be very rewarding, but it can also be very tedious and time-consuming. The hardest part, in my opinion, is peeling all those tomatoes. Do you have any idea how many tomatoes are in fifteen pounds of tomatoes? It’s a lot. Enough to make your fingers pruney. 

And don’t get me started on the old-fashioned method of boiling water and ice baths. It’s enough to drive someone away from tomato preservation and sauce-making. This is hands down the easiest way to remove tomato skins. You can now look forward to tomato season without feeling overwhelmed.

An Easier & Faster Way to Peel Tomatoes

I’ve got a way to get through the peeling phase so much faster. This method is great for those of us in colder climates who only get a few tomatoes at a time. I usually collect a handful of them each day. If I left them out until I had enough to process, they’d rot. That brings me to the first step of quick and easy peeling.

Pop them in the freezer.

I don’t wash my tomatoes before I freeze them. I just stick them in a storage bag. Sometimes I remove the stems, but it really depends on how busy I am. Often they go in in the same condition they came off the vine.

Tomatoes can last in the freezer for months. This works well if the harvest season is super busy for you. You can come back and do your tomato preservation when things have settled down. Other produce is not as forgiving.

Pop them into warm water.

Leave your tomatoes in the freezer until the absolute last minute. Since my tomatoes are kept in batches of 4 lbs, I only remove and peel one bag at a time. Prepare warm water in either the sink or a large mixing bowl. Plop your frozen tomatoes in and give them a swish. You want all sides of the tomato to have contact with the water. Be sure to work quickly because the longer the tomatoes sit, the harder it is for this trick.

Two teal bowls of tomato soup garnished with spring greens on a wood table with burlap napkins.

Squeeze the fat end.

Find the end of the tomato that had the stem. Gently squeeze the tomato on the opposite end with a pulling motion and the tomato will pop out, leaving the skin in your fingers. If a little skin remains on the opposite end, just pinch it to remove and it will come right off. Just pop your peeled tomatoes into a large bowl and put the skins into the compost.


This method works best with Romas since they fit nicely in the hands, but it will work on all kinds of tomatoes. With large tomatoes, like Beefsteaks, you may have to squeeze/pinch the sides, but the freeze method will still make it infinitely easier.

See the instructions in action:

Do you have to peel tomatoes to cook them?

No, you don’t! People tend to peel, core, and seed tomatoes for pasta sauces so the sauce has a uniform consistency, but it’s certainly not required. Salsas are a great example of it being up to the chef which texture they prefer. It will taste just as good, with or without peels.

How do you remove skins from cherry tomatoes?

The same way! Just pinch the ripe tomatoes with your fingers instead of your palms. It’s easy peasy. And the best thing is, cherry tomatoes (which tend to drown the average gardener each year) can be used in sauces. They also make an excellent paste

Jars of freshly made pasta sauce garnished with basil.

Are peeled tomatoes the same as stewed tomatoes?

It’s all in the seasoning. Peeled tomatoes, even those bought from a store, contain no seasonings, while stewed tomatoes often have onion powder, salt, garlic powder, and sometimes vinegar.

If you’re interested in preserving your peeled tomatoes as stewed tomatoes, check out this recipe: Canning Stewed Tomatoes with Lady Lee’s Home

Are peeled tomatoes less acidic?

While the peel, seeds, and tomato flesh all contain acid, the peels are a marginal part. Removing them doesn’t reduce acidity in any meaningful way. Fresh tomatoes tend to be less acidic than commercially canned tomatoes and certain varieties of tomatoes, such as Ace, Amish Paste, Big Girl, Fireball, and San Marzano, are less acidic than some other varieties.

Tomato pesto in a glass jar, garnished with basil, and a piece of pita bread beside it.

Ideas for Your Peeled Tomatoes

So you’ve got them all peeled and ready to go.  Now it’s time to enjoy making a myriad of soups, tomato sauces, and other delicious tomato recipes.

Here is a handful of recipes for you to try:

How To Make Homemade Spaghetti Sauce From Scratch

Fresh Tomato Sauce by Love & Lemons

Homemade Tomato Soup by Spend With Pennies

10-Minute Gazpacho by The Mediterranean Dish

And don’t go chucking the peels in the garbage. Either compost them, give them to your chickens, or check out my friend Angi’s site to find out how to get the most from your tomato harvest (including the peels). And while you’re at it, make sure you save those tomato seeds!

A Pinterest-friendly image of a peeled tomato.

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  1. I have done this before Btw,. Thanks for sharing , its actually a very easy and quick step to peel tomatoes. Always love your Ideas, Thanks for sharing these

  2. This is so helpful!! Thanks so much!!

    1. Jessica Lane says:

      You are so welcome!

  3. Looks like a great way to skin tomatoes! Wish I had read this earlier, I just processed my last batch this morning. Definitely going to try this next year.

  4. I appreciate the helpful tips and am hoping to have the opportunity to prove your method this year!
    I’ve plopped them into a simmering water bath (for 30 seconds) but obviously the flaws in that are as you mentioned, getting enough at one time to make it worth that, (but it’s ok for fresh table salsa, enough for a meal or two for family)…. and of course trying not to get burned by hot water.
    I have no experience with comparison/tasting pre-frozen tomatoes to fresh grown, and the last time I had a ripe heirloom tomato was years ago, but I had to laugh at the thought of comparing a fresh homegrown ripened tomato with a frozen one… simply because I’m convinced that NOTHING will ever compare with a fresh ripe tomato… (of course the flavor will seem diminished)!
    I’ve just moved to the north central plains and this is the 1st grand experiment: a week ago we put in 5 different kinds of tomatoes (8″ started indoors). The community garden’s soil is broken up but not amended in any way. There is no black plastic on the ground or anything else… and I’m quite anxious (this is June already!)
    Fingers crossed for all growers!

  5. Mike the Gardener says:

    What do they taste like? I have heard that freezing your tomatoes reduces their great taste. Not sure if that is true or not as I either eat them fresh or after I have canned them.

    1. Jessica Lane says:

      I’ve heard that before, but I’ve never noticed and difference in flavor. I think the way you cook them plays a part. If you were using them as a stewed tomato, it might be more noticeable than in a sauce.