Stuffed Tomatoes

5 from 4 votes
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This flavorful stuffed tomato recipe is an easy side dish or a delicious vegetarian main course. Fill with a savory bread crumb and parmesan cheese mixture, and bake until tender with a crispy top!

Stuffed tomatoes served on a white plate.

Stuffed tomatoes are a simple to-prepare dish that will surely impress. Not only is this fruit packed with nutrients, but its rounded shape is also perfect for filling with delicious ingredients. After baking, the tomatoes become super tender, with a crunchy crust.

For this recipe, I added a classic Italian-inspired bread crumb filling. It’s mixed with aged parmesan cheese and freshly chopped herbs and garlic. To ensure the filling doesn’t become too soggy, the tomatoes are briefly salted to draw out the excess moisture before stuffing.

Key ingredients

Ingredients to make this stuffed tomato recipe.
  • Tomatoes: Vine-ripened tomatoes are tender, juicy, and hold their shape well. I used ones about 4 ounces in weight and 2 ¼ to 2 ½ inches in diameter. Larger beefsteak tomatoes can be used, but I recommend cutting them in half before stuffing.
  • Bread Crumbs: Use Italian-style bread crumbs. They have a fine texture that browns nicely when baked for a crunchy crust. Plain bread crumbs can be used, but increase the salt to ½ teaspoon. Larger panko bread crumbs give more crispiness but don’t turn as golden in color.
  • Cheese: Use finely grated, dry parmesan cheese. Parmigiano Reggiano or pecorino romana are good substitutes. These help to bind the stuffing and add a saltier taste.
  • Herbs: Dried herbs from the Italian-style bread crumbs and freshly chopped basil and parsley provide interesting aromas and flavors to the sweet tomatoes.
  • Olive Oil: The extra fat added to the stuffing and drizzled on top adds richness and crunch.

Wash the tomatoes

Rinse the surface of the tomatoes with cool running water. This removes any dirt and debris from harvesting. You don’t want it to transfer into the flesh when slicing and coring.

Prepare the tomatoes

To create a cavity for filling, slice off about 1/4-inch from the stem side. Use a spoon to scoop out the pulpy seeds. A jagged grapefruit spoon works well for this task! Do not remove the flesh on the sides; it helps the tomatoes hold shape so it doesn’t fall apart when baking.

There will be a lot of juice inside; pour it out so the stuffing doesn’t get soggy. To season the inside of the tomato, sprinkle in a little bit of salt. This will enhance the savory and sweet taste while drawing out the excess moisture. Flip them over and let them drain on a paper towel while you prepare the filling.

Make the stuffing

This is my favorite style of stuffing to add to vegetables like stuffed mushrooms. It combines Italian-style bread crumbs, parmesan cheese, basil, parsley, minced garlic, salt, pepper, and extra virgin olive oil. You can also use homemade bread crumbs; the larger particles deliver more crunch. This is a great way to make the stuffing gluten-free.

Lightly pack the bread crumb filling into the cavity of each tomato. I was able to fit about ¼ cup of the mixture. Add just enough for a rounded top. Do not overfill, or the stuffing will taste dry.

Bake the stuffed tomatoes

Four tomatoes filled with bread crumbs and placed in a baking dish.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place the stuffed tomatoes in a lightly greased 8 by 8-inch baking dish or foil-lined baking sheet. The oven temperature with tenderize the tomatoes while drying the surface to create a crispy topping.

They are ready when they feel soft, the skin just begins to wrinkle, and the filling is golden brown. This process takes about 25 minutes or 30 minutes for larger tomatoes. Don’t overcook them; they will be too soft to serve and very mushy when eating. Garnish with a little bit of parsley and enjoy while still hot.

Flavor variations

This recipe for stuffed tomatoes is easy to customize. Feel free to try these delicious options to switch up the filling:

  • Rice: Add cooked rice like white, brown, or wild rice. Mix it with sauteed vegetables like bell peppers, zucchini, or corn. This makes for a tasty gluten-free option.
  • Protein: Add sauteed ground beef, turkey, shrimp, or shredded chicken for extra protein. Add quinoa or crumbled tofu for a vegetarian filling that is high in protein. Canned black beans, chickpeas, or pinto beans add extra fiber.
  • Herbs and Spices: Cumin, coriander, curry powder, smoked paprika, garlic, and onion powder add a boost of savory taste. Cilantro, basil, dill, oregano, parsley, or green onions add freshness.
  • Cheese: For a more tangy flavor, add feta, goat cheese, blue cheese, or cream cheese. For a melty consistency, add shredded mozzarella, smoked gouda, swiss, or cheddar.
Baked tomatoes with bread crumb filling.

Serving suggestions

Frequently asked questions

How do you hollow out tomatoes?

Make a thin slice off the stem portion to create more surface area so it’s easier to hollow out. Use a spoon or grapefruit spoon to dig out the pulp and seeds. Keep the outside flesh intact for stuffing with filling.

How do I choose the best tomatoes for stuffing?

Choose tomatoes that have a round shape to make them easier to stuff. They should be 2 to 3 inches in diameter. They should be ripe but not mushy before filling. Vine-ripe tomatoes are my top choice, followed by beefsteak. Heirloom tomatoes have a milder flavor with less acidity. They are tricker to stuff because of their uneven shape.

Can I make the stuffing ahead of time and assemble the stuffed tomatoes later?

Yes! The tomatoes can be hollowed out, and the stuffing mixture can be prepared 2 days ahead of time. Store them separately in airtight containers in the refrigerator. Don’t stuff until the day of baking.

Can I freeze stuffed tomatoes for later use?

No, freezing damages the delicate texture of the tomatoes. When defrosted and baked, they will become very mushy. It’s best to bake fresh stuffed tomatoes for the best taste.

Stuffed tomato with bread crumbs that is split in half.

Salt the tomatoes before stuffing

Tomatoes are composed of over 90% water. This will cause a soggy filling if left in the cavity. Once the visible juices are poured out, sprinkle in a little salt to draw out additional water by osmosis. This also seasons the flesh, enhancing the natural savory and sweet taste. Drain the tomatoes upside down on a paper towel to collect residual moisture before stuffing. All you need is about 5 to 10 minutes. When baked, the juices in the flesh will be tastier.

Stuffed Tomatoes

Making stuffed tomatoes is a delicious and healthy way to enjoy fresh, juicy tomatoes. The combination of savory fillings, like cheese, and herbs, paired with the sweet and tangy flavor of the tomatoes, creates a mouthwatering dish that's perfect for a summer meal or a satisfying snack.
5 from 4 votes
Prep Time20 minutes
Cook Time25 minutes
Total Time45 minutes
Servings 4 servings
Course Side
Cuisine American

Ingredients 
 

  • 4 vine-ripened tomatoes, about 2 ½" in diameter
  • ½ cup Italian-style bread crumbs
  • ½ cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon chopped parsley
  • 1 tablespoon chopped basil
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for drizzling

Instructions 

  • Preheat the Oven – Set the oven rack to the middle position. Preheat to 400ºF (200ºC). Lightly grease an 8×8-inch baking dish with olive oil. Alternatively, use a foil-lined baking sheet.
  • Wash – Rinse the tomatoes under cool running water. Dry with a clean towel.
  • Prepare the Tomatoes – Trim off about ¼ inch from the top of the tomato. Use a spoon to scoop out the pulpy seeds, then pour out the juices. Season the cavity with salt. Invert the tomatoes and place them on a paper towel-lined plate to drain the juices.
  • Make the Stuffing – In a medium bowl, combine the bread crumbs, parmesan cheese, garlic, parsley, basil, salt, and pepper. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil, mixing until the bread crumbs are evenly coated.
  • Stuff Each Tomato – Stuff each hollowed tomato with about ¼ cup of the filling, lightly packing it into a small mound. Do not overfill.
  • Bake – Transfer to the greased baking sheet. Drizzle about ½ teaspoon of olive oil over the filling of each tomato. Bake until soft, the skin just begins to wrinkle, and the tops are golden brown and crispy, about 20 to 25 minutes.
  • Serve – Transfer to a platter and serve immediately while still hot. If desired, garnish with chopped parsley.

Recipe Video

YouTube video

Notes

  • Using Large Tomatoes: If larger than 3 inches in diameter, use two tomatoes. Cut the tomatoes in half, then scoop out the pulpy seeds. Add enough stuffing to fill the cavity.
  • Using Plain Bread Crumbs: Combine ½ cup plain bread crumbs, ½ teaspoon Italian seasoning, ¼ teaspoon onion powder, and ¼ teaspoon garlic powder.
  • Make Ahead: The hollowed tomatoes and stuffing can be refrigerated for up to 2 days before baking. Wait to stuff to prevent a soggy filling. 
  • Storing: Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
  • Reheating: Microwave on high setting in 15-second intervals until hot. Alternatively, place on a lightly greased foil-lined sheet pan and warm at 325ºF (165ºC) until hot, about 10 to 15 minutes.

Nutrition Facts

Serves: 4 servings
Calories 123kcal (6%)Carbohydrates 13g (4%)Protein 5g (10%)Fat 6g (9%)Saturated Fat 2g (10%)Polyunsaturated Fat 1gMonounsaturated Fat 3gCholesterol 7mg (2%)Sodium 404mg (17%)Potassium 343mg (10%)Fiber 2g (8%)Sugar 4g (4%)Vitamin A 1218IU (24%)Vitamin C 19mg (23%)Calcium 102mg (10%)Iron 1mg (6%)

Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000-calorie diet. All nutritional information is based on estimated third-party calculations. Each recipe and nutritional value will vary depending on the brands you use, measuring methods, and portion sizes per household.

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Jessica Gavin

I'm a culinary school graduate, cookbook author, and a mom who loves croissants! My passion is creating recipes and sharing the science behind cooking to help you gain confidence in the kitchen.

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