diced tomatoes on a board ready to make rotel

Homemade Rotel Tomatoes Recipe

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Homemade Rotel is so easy to make in your kitchen! Using fresh tomatoes, onions, and hot peppers from your garden, this recipe for Rotel comes together quickly. And there are so many recipes with Rotel, that you’re going to want to make a lot!

Red and green hot peppers on a tray with red tomatoes

In this post, you’ll learn what is in Rotel tomatoes, how to make homemade Rotel for freezing, and recipes to use your Rotel.

My little sprouts and I have harvested over 100 pounds of tomatoes this year. What are we doing with all of those tomatoes? We are eating them like crazy as well as freezing them to use later. 

The kids have also been taking some home and I have been sharing with family, friends, and neighbors. I have made multiple quarts of roasted tomato sauce to put in the freezer to use throughout the year. 

But one of my favorite ways to use garden-fresh tomatoes is to make homemade Rotel.

a big giant bowl of diced up tomatoes

What is Rotel?

Rotel is the brand name for canned diced tomatoes and diced chili peppers. It is an ingredient often used in soups, sauces, queso, and casseroles. It’s a convenient way to add extra flavor to recipes that require diced tomatoes.

Making homemade Rotel tomatoes is simple and healthier than the canned version. I use it for many things. It brings a ton of flavor to dishes and it’s super versatile.

diced onions on a cutting board by a bowl of diced up tomatoes

What are the benefits of making homemade Rotel instead of using canned?

  • Using your own fresh, free ingredients from your garden
  • Better flavor
  • Better quality
  • Chemical-free produce
  • More nutritious produce

When you grow something, you know what’s in it, what’s been on it, and how it’s been handled. It’s great to make a batch of homemade Rotel for freezing instead of letting your wonderful produce go to waste.

diced onions on a cutting board ready to go in homemade rotel tomatoes

How to Make Rotel Tomatoes

The recipe for Rotel couldn’t be simpler. All you have to do is finely dice one onion, two to three hot peppers (you can use whatever kind you have on hand),  and about two cups of tomatoes. The finer you can dice them, the better. I like a petite dice on my tomatoes especially.

Mix the diced ingredients together well and you’ve made homemade Rotel!

Diced tomatoes, onions, and jalapenos in a bowl
Finely diced tomatoes, onions, and hot peppers in a bowl.

Homemade Rotel for Freezing

If you have a lot of tomatoes and peppers from your garden, make a large batch of homemade Rotel for freezing. You will only have to do the dicing and cleaning up one time. And once your Rotel is done, you’ll have a freezer full of flavor! 

After dicing up the onion, peppers, and tomatoes, mix well and toss them in a Ziploc bag. Get out as much air as you can to prevent freezer burn. It lasts in the freezer for months and tastes fresher than canned in your recipes. 

I make tons of Rotel for freezing. When I need a can of Rotel tomatoes, I just grab a bag from the freezer and drop it in my recipe. Easy peasy! 

Homemade Rotel ingredients on a cutting board: tomatoes, hot peppers, onion and a knife.
Bags of homemade rotel tomatoes ready to freeze lined up on the counter

Using Rotel in Recipes

Many people wonder, “Is salsa the same thing as Rotel?” No. Salsa contains more water and additional spices and flavorings. You can’t usually substitute salsa for a can of Rotel or bag of homemade Rotel in a recipe. 

So stick to your homemade Rotel when making these delicious dishes:

As I have stated before on this blog, USDA and DHS regulations prevent me from serving home-canned foods to my kids, so I freeze as much of our produce as I can to use throughout the year. My homemade Rotel tomatoes are easy as can be and super handy to have on hand to add flavor to many dishes.

What is your favorite way to use your garden tomatoes? Click here to find more ways to use your excess tomatoes from the garden. And excess hot peppers from the garden as well. There are so many other recipes for hot peppers you can make.

You can make your own spicy diced tomato and chili homemade rotel tomatoes recipe with garden tomatoes this summer and fill your freezer full of flavor.
Print Recipe
4.22 from 23 votes

Homemade Rotel

Spicy diced tomatoes to enhance many recipes
Prep Time10 minutes
Total Time10 minutes
Course: Salad
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: hot peppers, rotel, tomatoes
Servings: 4
Calories: 62kcal
Author: Christina


  • 2 c finely diced tomatoes
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2-3 small hot peppers of your choice, very finely diced


  • Chop all ingredients and mix. 
  • Use as is or freeze until needed in an airtight container.


Serving: 12Tablespoons | Calories: 62kcal | Carbohydrates: 14g | Protein: 2g
Homemade Rotel Tomatoes Recipe

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  1. 5 stars
    I made this today with tomatoes and hot banana peppers, both from my garden. I had to taste it and it was so delicious, I can’t wait to make some of your recipes using this! I also had to add a few garlic cloves because hubby and I love garlic. I am definitely going to make another couple batches to put in my freezer. It wasn’t hard, but pretty time consuming cutting all those veggies. I cut my tomatoes small as I like the petite cut as well. After tasting this I don’t think I can ever use store bought canned rotel again!

    1. I’m so glad you enjoyed it. I feel the same way about store bought, there is just so much more flavor in homemade. So good! You are going to love using it. Thank you so much for checking it out and for your comment!

  2. My kids and husband are picky about raw onions. Do you think I could pre-cook the onions and peppers? Cool and mix? Or the onions cooked down just fine when you use it in a dish?

    1. Hi Michelle, When I freeze the onions, it softens them quite a bit. When I use the rotel, it’s soft like canned rotel and I never notice the rawness of the onion as long as I cook the dish it’s in. It might have the raw flavor if you use it raw, but not the texture. I think you would be fine not cooking them ahead if you were going to cook the dish they are in. THank you for checking it out!

    1. I don’t can or offer advice on canning. I know people do can it though and small jars would be the perfect amount. We only freeze ours or use it fresh. But thank you for checking out the recipe!

  3. 4 stars
    I’ve been thinking to do this today and wondered about the ratio. Didn’t search just opened Pinterest and TaDa there you were – Thanks!! I’m going to freeze dry it! Yum!!

  4. As most tomatoes today and green chiles are low acid foods, this should only be pressure canned(NOT water bath canning) for the time prescribed for pint sized jars in a pressure canner. The USDA publications give clear directions on canning tomatoes which make them shelf stable. I repeat: I would not water bath can this for the afore mentioned reasons.

    1. This recipe makes about a can and a half worth. A can is almost two cups and this recipe makes around 3 cups depending on how big your peppers an onion are.

    1. You could can it for sure. I don’t know anything about canning, but i would follow the instructions for canned tomatoes if I were going to try.

  5. hi christina, generally would two tomatoes equate to two cups? i know size varies. what chillies would you recommend? thanks!

    1. It really depends on the tomatoes, most tomatoes wouldn’t be a cup each, but a few would like the biggest slicers might be. When I make this, I use whatever kind of hot peppers we have. We’ve used jalapenos, serranos, habaneros, or whatever is on hand. Whatever kind of peppers you like the flavor of is perfect. Sorry those answers aren’t super helpful, but I hope you give it a try with whatever you have available. It’s going to be yummy! Thanks for checking it out.

  6. This is fantastic, I used jarred jalapeños, added some of the juice from the jar. I let it sit for a while so the flavors could mingle and it’s as if I opened a can of Rotel. I highly recommend this recipe.

      1. Thanks for sharing! Have lots of peppers and tomatoes ripening. I don’t go to the grocery store any oftener than I have to,so having this mix in freezer simplifies my life!

        1. I don’t, but if you want skinless tomatoes, you can blanch them in boiling water for 2 minutes and then shock them in an ice bath and the skins will slide right off. I don’t notice the skins in the finished product though. It’s all a matter of personal preference. Thanks for asking!

  7. Ok, first of all … “My little sprouts and I have harvested over 100 pounds of tomatoes this year” … can I simply say … jealous? While I did really good with tomatoes this year, the lack of lengthy heat really had our production down this season.

    With that said, it looks like a great mix you have there.

    1. I would share if you came over! 🙂 He he. We have been very blessed. We’ve had many strange cool spells this summer, but not cool enough to slow down the tomatoes. A cool spell for us is 85. Today I didn’t get near as many but it was 100 most of last week and tomatoes won’t make fruit when it’s that hot, so hopefully we will get another rev up in production. If not, it was a good ride! 🙂 Thank you for reading!