Your Complete Guide to Delicious Rotel Substitute

Finding a good Rotel substitute may sound daunting but have no fear. We’ve researched the best alternatives for the days when you can’t use the canned original. 

Rotel makes an excellent base for many dishes, including casserole, enchilada, tacos, queso, dips, and sauces. The list is endless. And if you can’t find a can of Rotel, that doesn’t mean you can’t make a delicious meal with a substitute.

What Are Rotel Tomatoes?Tomatoes in jars on a wooden table

Rotel Tomatoes is a unique blend of tomato juice with a hint of spice. The mix contains a lot of spices, with green chilies to bring the heat up. 

You can find the recipe in some dishes like queso and tortilla soup. While it’s a fantastic addition to traditional meals, there are a few issues if you get used to the canned mix.

Why You Might Need a Substitution for Rotel Tomatoes

The biggest issue with canned Rotel Tomatoes is that you may not see them in the store. The mix can be hard to find, whether due to manufacturing or canning issues.  

If you decide to keep some in the pantry for such cases, keep in mind that leaving Rotel Tomatoes for too long can spoil them.

But don’t stress. There are many substitutes to change things up that use traditional Rotel. 

The Best Rotel Tomatoes Substitute

Let’s explore some of the best alternatives for Rotel.

Canned Diced Tomatoes

Tomatoes and chilis on a cutting boardThis is the most popular option since it’s readily available and easy to work with. Plus, you probably have this lying around in your pantry already. 

Rotel consists primarily of tomato juice, so canned diced tomatoes are a good alternative. 

How to substitute:

Generally, it consists of green peppers, salt, and pepper. The first step is deciding on the consistency you’re looking for. If you want it more liquid, chop the diced tomatoes finely or leave it as it is. Then, add spices you enjoy. 

Note that one tablespoon of this substitute equals the same amount of traditional Rotel, so you don’t have to change much about your recipe. 

Tomato PureeTomato puree in a jar

This is a good substitute for Rotel since it consists of tomatoes, but it has a pretty different consistency. We’d recommend it more for soups or stews. 

This can be a terrific alternative if you don’t enjoy the traditional Rotel consistency. Plus, it’s more convenient, and seasoning the puree to your taste is super easy.

How to substitute:

You can use tomato puree as it is or water it down with boiling water, depending on the consistency you’re looking for. Once you get there, add spices and chilies to your taste. 


Salsa with a nacho Can you substitute salsa for Rotel? Salsa is tomato-based with all the spices and chilies already added. It’s the perfect alternative if you’re using Rotel as a sauce for nachos or chili poppers.  While it comes ready-made, you can make additional changes to the heat based on your preferences. 

You can make any of these tomato-based mixes yourself with fresh tomatoes. If you don’t have time for shopping, look at our Misfits Market review. It’s a grocery delivery service with organic and eco-conscious products.

How to substitute:

It’s pretty much the same as any other substitute for Rotel above. You can use the salsa as it is or add more spices to your taste.

Canned Green ChilisBunch of green chilis

If you’re not a fan of tomato-based food, canned green chilies are an awesome substitute. 

They add spice, texture, and color to your dish. Plus, they come in a range of strengths, so you can try out a few and find what works for you. For example, a California pepper is one of the least spicy chilis. It’s a good option if you’re not into super-hot food.

Lemon Pickle

Lemon slices on a block of woodIt might sound a bit strange, but lemon pickle is a good option if you don’t enjoy tomato as a base for your dish or need a more mild Rotel substitute

Pickling lemons is a time-honored tradition in many cultures. There are two ways to make them — the quick way and the traditional way. The first one takes around 25 minutes, while the latter can take days. 

But since we’re looking for a convenient and easy alternative, let’s learn how to make Rotel in under 30 minutes. 

Here’s what you’ll need: 

  • 8–10 lemons
  • One cup of brown sugar 
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 tbs curry powder 
  • 1 tbs mustard seeds
  • One cup of apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tbs sea salt
  • 2 tsp turmeric
  • Around 5 clean bottling jars

How to substitute:

  1. Wash the lemons and cut them up, throwing away the pips. 
  2. Add the remaining ingredients to a thick-bottomed pot (a crockpot is a good idea), stirring well and bringing it to a boil. 
  3. Let it boil for around 12 minutes, and add the lemon slices. Remove from the heat and stir well. 
  4. Let it cool a bit, and spoon the homemade Rotel substitute into your jars, making sure the liquid mixture covers all lemon slices. 
  5. Let the jars cool and store for at least two weeks before using your lemon pickles.  

SeasoningsSpices in jars on a wooden table

The spice makes the Rotel. Certain spices are an absolute must, like salt and pepper. Some add-ons that work well include oregano, chili powder, and garlic powder. 

But it’s all based on your preferences. The spices will only enhance the taste of your Rotel. 

How to Make Rotel at Home

If you don’t want to use alternatives, why not make it yourself? 


Here is what you’ll need:

  • 3.5 lbs of peeled and chopped tomatoes
  • One onion (optional)
  • Three chilies of your choice (depending on their hotness)
  • Salt to taste


Follow these steps:

  • Finely chop the onions, place them in a saucepan, and brown them.
  • Add the tomatoes and bring them to a boil. Then, let it simmer.
  • Once soft, add in your peppers and spices.
  • Let the sauce cool down.
  • Put it into glass jars and freeze it if you wish.

Note that freezing this Rotel substitute may cause it to become spicier, so consider that when adding your peppers. 

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How to Choose the Best Rotel Substitute for Your Needs

Some Rotel alternatives are best for specific recipes. Here’s what to use depending on the meal:

Lasagna on a plate Casseroles and Chilis: The best alternative is definitely chopped canned tomatoes. The texture works great for such meals. 

Rotel Substitute for Queso, Dip, and Sauce: Salsa is a good alternative. It’s smooth in consistency and combines well with other ingredients like cheese. For example, a delicious nacho cheese dip combines well with salsa.

Fajitas and Lasagnas: Tomato puree is a winner here as it layers well and sticks ingredients together, which you need for both of these dishes. Nachos on a plate

Rotel Alternative in Enchiladas and Tacos: For these recipes, we recommend you make your own substitute for Rotel sauce with chopped canned tomatoes. They provide some much-needed juiciness, especially if you’re making beef tacos. 

Rotel Substitutes in Soups and Stews: Tomato puree makes a fantastic base for any soup or stew requiring Rotel. Simply add your spice and chiles to your taste. 

Recipes That Use Rotel

Many recipes make use of Rotel. Some of the most delicious examples include:

  • Nachos
  • Chile
  • DipsTomato plant
  • Soups
  • Fajitas
  • Ground beef dip
  • Tacos
  • Stew
  • Sausage dip
  • Casserole
  • Lasagna. 

If you want to add a bit of a kick to any meal with a tomato base, choose one of the alternatives above. 

Bottom Line — Finding the Right Rotel Substitute Recipe

The list of Rotel alternatives is extensive. Each substitute comes with its benefits, the main one being that you can adjust the ingredients’ quantity to your taste. 

We recommend trying out more than one alternative to find out what works best. Still, canned diced tomatoes work with basically any recipe. 


Can you substitute diced tomatoes for Rotel?

Diced tomatoes are our go-to alternative. They have a similar texture, and you can use them in recipes requiring canned Rotel. 

Can you freeze Rotel?

Absolutely! You can freeze your homemade Rotel, but note that the peppers might be a bit spicier after. To freeze canned Rotel, pour it into an airtight jar. 

What can I replace Rotel with?

Some popular options for a Rotel substitute include canned tomatoes, tomato puree, salsa, and canned green chilis. 

Is making Rotel hard?

No, the process is quick and simple. You can find out how to make it by scrolling up. But if cooking isn’t for you and this article made you sweat, the versatile world of subscription boxes has a lot to offer.


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