Thursday, July 26, 2012

DIY Rotel Recipe

I posted in the spring about the huge garden we planted in the backyard.  Well, some plants didn't exactly make it (green beans, lettuce, sweet peppers!), and it looks like a huge weed patch, but boy, do we have tomatoes.  Almost every day we were getting "harvests", as I like to call it, of this size.

I had been giving a lot away and trying to eat my share of them, but we couldn't keep up.  I tried to think of things we like to eat with tomatoes and thought, hmmm, I sure do use a lot of Rotel.  It's easy, full of flavor, and doesn't add any fat to the recipe.  It's not that expensive, but I wanted so badly to make use of our tomato crop; however, I don't can.  So, I looked around for some tips and different recipes and came up with this one.  You can store it in the freezer and eat within the next 8 months.  Because I grew my own tomatoes and cilantro (and had everything else on hand in my pantry), 10 cans of Rotel cost me $1.25 to make-which I spent on fresh peppers.  That is $.12/can!

DIY Rotel

  • 1 gallon ripe tomatoes peeled and chopped 
  • 2 large Anaheim peppers, chopped 
  • 2 large Poblano peppers, chopped (or use all Anaheim)
  • 3 Large (or 5 small) fresh Jalapenos, chopped
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons salt
  • 2 Tablespoons minced garlic
  • Cilantro to taste (I food process and freeze from fresh, so it was about 3 tbsp)
  • Juice of one Lime
  • 1 Tablespoon onion powder (not pictures and totally optional)
  • First, you will need to peel your tomatoes.  Prepare a large pot with boiling water.  Cut a shallow "X" through the skin on one side of your tomatoes.  Place in boiling water for 30 seconds, followed by an ice water bath.  I boiled my tomatoes in shifts and just kept adding them to the ice water bowl.  Every once in a while, I added fresh ice.  Leave them in the water until they cool completely, about 5 minutes.

  • Next, peel all of the tomatoes.  It is super easy!  It peels right off.  I peeled and placed them back in the water so that they had a little cushion.  Once peeled, dice all the tomatoes and put into a large pot.

  • Next, dice all of your peppers.  I am usually one who will use a produce sack or lunch baggie as a barrier between my hands and the peppers so that I don't have to worry about the oils getting on my hands and then in my eyes.  BUT, since I had a lot of peppers to chop, my cheap self bought a bag of latex gloves for $1.  It looks like a lot of peppers, but don't worry.  It will cook down!
  • Place the peppers and the rest of your ingredients in the pot. Cook on medium for about 45 minutes.  It should reduce slightly.  Once done, cool completely.  Store in freezer safe containers in 1 1/2 cup increments and freeze!  Again, enjoy in any recipe that calls for Rotel for the next 8 months.  For more information about freezing tomatoes, I found this article.
 Use in any recipe that calls for Rotel and you will love it!


  1. I am so excited to try this! My MIL has a huge surplus of tomatoes and we use Rotel like crazy! Thank you for sharing! I love your blog!

  2. I'm so glad I found you on Pinterest! Can't wait to try this recipe - thanks!! :)

  3. I am so excited tO have found you on Pinterest. I love using Rotel but we do not buy food in metal cans...sO that presents a problem of using store bought Rotel. I will be making this shortly.

  4. I love Rotel, but I love this homemade version better!

  5. Could you use the same recipe and use a hot bath method to seal in mason jars?

  6. I also would rather can. Is it possible?

    1. Absolutely. I didn't know how to can at the time (nor did I have the supplies for it!), but you can definitely can this recipe!

    2. This looks wonderful and what I really like is the lack of sugar! I just finished canning 24 pints of salsa and the ingredients aren't really that different at all. That recipe used a pressure canner for 30 minutes at 10 lbs of pressure for pints. That's how I'll be processing these, I think. Thank you so much!

    3. I know this is a rather old post, but considering I just Googled "homemade Rotel recipe canning" today, this comment could still be relevant to those searching. What I've discovered from looking at plenty of canned tomato recipes, it's possible to can this recipe. As Riverspitter mentioned, this recipe is ideal for pressure canning as written. This could be adapted for water-bath canning, which is all I've done so far this summer (and hope to get a pressure canner for Christmas for next year's bounty). In order to do so, you would need to add either citric acid or bottled lemon juice to each hot jar before ladling in the hot, cooked tomatoes. How much? For pints, it's 1/4 tsp citric acid or 1 TBSP lemon juice, and for quarts, it's 1/2 tsp citric acid or 2 TBSP lemon juice. Now to the why.

      The reason behind this addition of citric acid/lemon juice is to acidify the tomatoes to make them safe for water-bath processing. Traditionally, tomatoes used to be acidic and over time and cross-breeding, the acidity has been bred out of them, as the general public prefers low-acid tomatoes, for whatever reason. Would heirloom varieties be better, you say? Perhaps, but they are also more water-packed, and are not the ideal types for salsa and canned tomatoes. Usually you want to buy what are called "paste" tomatoes, like Romas and San Marzanos. They're meatier, which results in better "chunks" when cooked down, like the recipe above. The addition of citric acid/lemon juice is also recommended by the National Center for Home Food Preservation, the experts on safe canning.

      So, here's how I would adapt this recipe:

      Prepare for water-bath canning. Heat a large pot of water to boiling. Wash and sterilize jars. Keep hot in water bath until ready to fill. Put lids and rings in small pot with hot water at simmer.
      Prepare recipe as written above, but keep hot.
      Remove jars from bath, dumping water back in. Add citric acid/lemon juice to each hot jar as noted in measurements written. Ladle hot Rotel into each jar, leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Wipe rims, apply lids and rings, and process 45 minutes.
      Remove, let cool, check seals, and store accordingly.

      Hope that helps! And to Katie, thank you for posting this recipe. It looks wonderful!

    4. I'd love to can too. I have an electric pressure cooker. Any ideas if I still need to add citric acid and how long to pressurize? I've done spaghetti sauce before in my 10 qt PPC. Wasn't sure if it's the same rules or not. Also, what does the 1 gallon of tomatoes convert to if measuring my lbs?

  7. Can I use fresh cilentro and how do you process and freeze it?

  8. I'm allergic to all citrus so can vinegar be substituted? Please contact at
    Thanks for your assistance.

    1. According to Wikipedia, vinegar is not a citrus but a combination of acids and alcohol.

  9. I'm a little confused, what is 1 gallon of tomatoes? Can I have a weight please or number of tomatoes. I know this isn't rocket science, but a estimated weight would be nice.


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