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Peeling Tomatoes the Easy Way – Just Like Mom Does

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Need to know how to peel tomatoes easily? It’s easy, but is it necessary? Read on to find out how to do it (and to hear what I think about peeling tomatoes).

Have plenty of tomatoes? Try this recipe for tomato chutney! (It’s delicious!)

washing a bowl full of fresh 'maters

One of the most common questions people ask on my recipes is “do I need to peel the tomatoes?” Here’s the deal. I’m the Queen of Shortcuts. If there’s a way to cook real food at home in less time, I’ll find it. Skipping the chore of peeling tomatoes is one of those shortcuts for me!

But that said, it’s not for everyone. For instance, my mom. When I was visiting recently her tomatoes were producing abundantly and she wanted to make my salsa for canning recipe. (And yes, it does delight me that my mom uses my recipe for this!)

Where I would just throw the whole tomato in, my mom prefers to remove the skin from hers. Who am I to tell her (or you!) not to? So I helped her and snapped some photos while I was at it, so I could share this easy method of peeling tomatoes with you.

peeling tomatoes with an ice water bathHow to peel tomatoes

When you have a large harvest, the easiest way to do this chore is with the boiling water method. Basically, you’ll submerge whole, ripe tomatoes in simmering water and then plunge them into an ice water bath. This loosens the skin of the tomatoes, making it a breeze to just slip them right off.

Some people recommend cutting a shallow X in the bottom of the tomato before dropping them into the hot water, but honestly, it’s unnecessary and just one more shortcut you can embrace.

Once peeled, you can use the fruit in any recipe you like.

tomatoes floating in ice water

Another way to skin tomatoes

Have you ever frozen whole tomatoes? Yep! You can do that! And a funny thing happens when you do. When you remove the frozen orbs from the freezer and allow them to come to room temperature, the skin just slips right off. You can hasten this by dropping the frozen tomatoes in a sink full of room temperature water. That makes two easy methods for peeling tomatoes! 

Tomatoes that have been frozen like this will be quite soft once completely thawed but they’re perfectly fine for adding to all of your favorite recipes, like pasta sauce or chili.

transferring tomatoes to an ice water bath

Peeling Tomatoes with a Boiling Water Method

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes

Try this easy method for removing the skins from tomatoes.


  • vine-ripe tomatoes


  1. Start by bringing a pot of water to a low boil. Use a wire strainer or large slotted spoon to lower tomatoes into the hot water so you don't burn yourself. Add just as many as will fit, allowing all of the fruit to be submerged. dropping two red tomatoes into hot water
  2. Leave tomatoes in the simmering water for 30 to 60 seconds, or until the skins appear to be wrinkling slightly. tomatoes simmering in a pot
  3. Use the wire strainer again to lift the hot tomatoes out of the pot and transfer them to a sink or bowl of ice water. transferring tomatoes to an ice water bath
  4. Allow tomatoes to sit for another 30 seconds or so. You'll see the skin begin to visibly fall off of the flesh.
  5. Remove each tomato from the water individually and use your hands to slip the skin right off the fruit. Peeling a tomato
  6. If you have more tomatoes to skin, repeat the process.
Nutrition Information:
Serving Size: 1 grams
Amount Per Serving: Unsaturated Fat: 0g

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Meet the Author

Kris Bordessa

Kris Bordessa founded Attainable Sustainable as a resource for revitalizing vintage skills. Her book, Attainable Sustainable: The Lost Art of Self-Reliant Living (National Geographic) offers a collection of projects and recipes to help readers who are working their way to a more fulfilling DIY lifestyle.

2 comments… add one
  • Cara Smith Nov 13, 2019, 2:56 am

    I’m guessing you mean to let them boil for 30-60 seconds, not minutes, correct?

    • Kris Bordessa Nov 13, 2019, 7:21 am

      Ack! Yes! Thanks for alerting me to this; I’ll fix it now.

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