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How to Make Homemade Rotel

Rotel with their diced tomatoes and mixture of green peppers, have been a beloved pantry staple for many, adding a zesty kick to countless recipes. However, what do you do when you don’t have any on hand? The answer is simple: make your homemade Rotel right at home this way we will share below.

rotel substitute

In this article, we’ll explore how to create a substitute for Rotel that captures the essence of fresh tomatoes and chilis while sharing some fantastic recipes that call for this zesty ingredient. If you can’t buy store bought no problem! (affiliate links present)

How to Make Rotel

When it comes to adding a burst of tomato flavor with a hint of heat to your favorite recipes, this can has long been a pantry favorite. These diced tomatoes and green chilies bring a unique zing to dishes, like our Homemade Pico de Gallo Salsa but with some heat. Canned is fine if you don’t have any, fear not!

One of the key ingredients is, of course, fresh tomatoes. To replicate the tomato flavor found, start with ripe, juicy choices in the produce section (we will discuss canned too later). You can use a variety like Roma, plum, or even vine ripened tomatoes, depending on your preference and what’s available to make Rotel Tacos and all the things…..

homemade rotel

Homemade Rotel

To create a base that closely resembles the texture you remember, consider making tomato puree. Begin by blanching briefly in boiling water, then peeling and seeding them. Afterward, blend them into a smooth puree using a food processor or blender. This thick tomato juice puree forms the foundation of your homemade mixture.

Adding Heat: Rotel tomatoes is what some people call this ingredient, already mixed together and canned. It’s known for it’s great kick, thanks to the inclusion of chilies. To replicate this heat in your homemade version, consider using fresh pieces to make smoked chiles to add to it’s punch.

If you don’t have the time to do this added step you can certainly use canned, or just dice from fresh. Heat will be added more with roasted jalapeños or serranos. Chop them finely and mix them into your tomato puree.

diced chiles

The way you make a milder version is that you can remove the seeds and membranes from any or all of these peppers before adding them to the mix. For an even more authentic flavor, you can roast them as noted above briefly over an open flame or in the oven before chopping them.

Recipe for Rotel

To truly capture the essence of Rotel it’s essential to season your homemade version correctly. Heat is a key ingredient that differentiates it from a can of diced tomatoes as is. Add a small bit at a time to your tomato-chili mixture to taste, adjusting the heat level to your liking until it is just right for your Instant Pot Tacos or other dish.

To mimic the tangy aspect, consider incorporating citric acid. This naturally occurring acid adds a zesty kick and helps preserve the freshness of your homemade mixture. You can find citric acid at most grocery stores or online.

homemade rotel recipe

You see this is listed on the back of the can. All of them are; Tomatoes, Water, Chopped Green Chili Peppers, Less Than 2% Of: Salt, Citric Acid, Calcium Chloride, Natural Flavor, Cilantro.

Rotel Substitute

Now that you’ve created your homemade Rotel substitute, let’s explore some fantastic recipes that call for this zesty ingredient:

  1. Combine this with freshly fine diced chopped onions, cilantro, lime juice, and a pinch of salt for a vibrant and fresh salsa.
  2. Our 5 Ingredient Chili is great with your homemade Rotel instead of diced tomatoes to make things quick and easy. Brown your ground beef with your favorite chili seasonings and it will add heat which we love.
  3. Queso Dip with Meat, cream cheese and shredded cheddar makes a delicious creamy and spicy cheese dip that’s perfect for parties.
  4. Enhance tomato-based soups like gazpacho or tomato bisque with the zing of your homemade mixture.
  5. Stir into cooked rice along with some cumin, coriander, and a squeeze of lime juice for a flavorful Mexican-inspired side dish.
  6. Use yours as a base for taco filling, combining it with ground meat, taco seasoning, and black beans.
  7. Make nachos with our Shrimp Rotel Dip Recipe drizzled over the top of chips for a fun seafood snack.

If you find yourself in a pinch without any Rotel tomatoes, your homemade substitute can save the day. Not only does it capture the tomato flavors, but it also allows you to customize the level of heat and acidity to suit your taste.

how to make rotel

Experiment with different chili varieties, seasonings, and acidity levels to make your homemade Rotel truly your own. The possibilities are endless, and your culinary creations will surely delight your taste buds and those of your family and friends.

So, the next time you’re faced with a recipe that calls for this canned mixture of goodness, remember that you can craft your very own homemade rotel with tomatoes either canned or fresh to elevate your dishes and adjust the heat to your tastebuds this way.

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Homemade Rotel

Homemade Rotel recipe is here! How to make Rotel substitute if you don't have a can but want to make this diced tomatoes green chile mix.
Course Side Dish
Cuisine American, Mexican
Keyword diced tomatoes, green chiles, rotel
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 0 minutes
Servings 8
Calories 22kcal
Author The Typical Mom


  • 1 cutting board


  • 1 cup diced tomatoes canned, not drained
  • 1/4 c green chiles diced, 1/2 of a 4 oz. can
  • 1/4 c onion diced
  • 1/2 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1/8-1/4 tsp salt start with 1/8, mix and decide whether you want more
  • 1/4 jalapeno seeded and diced fine, this is OPTIONAL to add more heat if you like


  • Above is the easiest way to make a copycat version of Rotel with canned ingredients without roasting or boiling any of the produce items. To get a bolder more authentic flavor blend I will explain the from scratch way to make this too.
  • As listed above – Combine all ingredients into a bowl, taste and add more salt if you'd like. Allow the mixture to sit for at least 30 minutes to an hour before using. Use in your favorite recipes.
  • From scratch you'll need – 4 ripe but still firm tomatoes, 3 fresh green chiles, 1/2 c. diced onions, 1 clove garlic, 1/2 tsp salt to taste.
  • Tomatoes – Start by washing and rinsing the tomatoes. If you want a smoother texture, you can peel them. To do this, bring a pot of water to a boil and make a small "X" at the bottom of each one. Carefully drop each one into the boiling water for about 30 seconds, then immediately transfer them to a bowl of ice water. This will make it easier to peel the skin. Once the tomatoes have cooled, you should be able to peel off the skin easily. Remove the cores and dice the tomatoes into small pieces. Put into a bowl.
  • Chiles – Wash and rinse the green chilies. Finely chop. If you prefer a milder flavor, you can remove the seeds and membranes before chopping. Be cautious when handling hot peppers, and avoid touching your face or eyes.
  • If you want to add extra flavor, you can finely dice half an onion and mince a clove of garlic. These are optional but can enhance the overall taste.
  • In a mixing bowl, combine the diced tomatoes, chopped green chilies, and any optional onion and garlic. Add 1/2 teaspoon of salt, or adjust to your taste preferences. Gently mix all the ingredients together until they are well combined. Ensure that the salt is evenly distributed. Taste your homemade Rotel mixture. If you want it spicier, you can add more chopped green chilies or even some chili powder, or diced jalapeno for an extra kick.
  • Allow the mixture to sit for at least 30 minutes to an hour before using.
Nutrition Facts
Homemade Rotel
Amount Per Serving (1 oz)
Calories 22 Calories from Fat 1
% Daily Value*
Fat 0.1g0%
Saturated Fat 0.01g0%
Polyunsaturated Fat 0.03g
Monounsaturated Fat 0.01g
Sodium 203mg9%
Potassium 107mg3%
Carbohydrates 5g2%
Fiber 2g8%
Sugar 3g3%
Protein 0.5g1%
Vitamin A 65IU1%
Vitamin C 10mg12%
Calcium 18mg2%
Iron 1mg6%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
5 from 1 vote (1 rating without comment)
Recipe Rating

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