10 Rotel Substitutes [In Quesos & More]

Tex-Mex cuisine is popular among spice lovers for a reason. Dishes like chile con carne, casseroles, and fajitas offer tangy and earthy flavors balanced with a good amount of spice to tickle the palate.

There were times I didn’t have Rotel at hand to make Queso. Or one of my guests would claim they had an allergy to it.

In these cases or even if you would like to customize the sauce to your kids’ preferences, here’s a list of 10 healthy Rotel substitutes.

You can use canned diced tomatoes as an alternative to Rotel in casseroles and chilis or marinara sauce or fresh tomatoes in fajitas and lasagnas. Salsa or tomato puree with green chili peppers work well in place of Rotel in a dip, sauce, or queso. We bring you all this and more, in this list of Rotel substitutes for different types of dishes.

Best Rotel Substitutes For Quesos, Dips, And Sauces

Here are some great substitutes for Rotel in cooking.


If you’re looking for a Rotel substitute for queso, look no further than the jar of salsa in your refrigerator.

Chile con queso, or simply queso, is an appetizer made of melted Velveeta cheese and chili peppers and served with warm tortilla chips.

The tangy, spicy flavor of the dish comes from diced tomatoes and green chilis, which are the two key ingredients in a can of Rotel.

But if you don’t have Rotel in your pantry and are thinking, “Can you substitute salsa for Rotel tomatoes?”, yes, you can.

Salsa can be used as a Rotel substitute for dips too.

Salsa contains fresh and canned tomatoes, jalapenos, cilantro, onion, garlic, lime, cumin, chili powder, pepper, salt, and sugar.

Together, these ingredients create a flavorful, tangy, and slightly spicy vegan dip or sauce that your kids can enjoy, too.

Salsa can be used as a Rotel substitute for Quesos, Dips, And Sauces

1 tablespoon Rotel = 1 tablespoon salsa

2.Tomato Puree And Green Chilis

If you’re making a sauce or dip to accompany your homemade tortillas and nachos or a bowl of classic queso, a can of Rotel is a great ingredient to add for a burst of spicy tanginess.

What to use if you don’t have Rotel? Sub in a blend of tomato puree or paste with green chilis, which are pretty much what Rotel contains anyway.

This way, you can get a quick, healthy, and delicious substitute without having to go all the way to the supermarket. You can also adjust the spice to suit your family’s tastes.

1 tablespoon Rotel = 1 tablespoon tomato puree + green chili peppers

tomato puree can be a good substitute for quesos, dips, and sauces

Best Rotel Substitutes In Casseroles And Chilis

3.Canned Diced Tomatoes

A lot of Tex-Mex casseroles and chilis like this creamy chicken casserole made with Cheddar cheese, chicken breasts, and tortilla chips, and this flavorful, hearty chili con carne recipe come alive with Rotel.

However, if your local grocery store doesn’t stock this ingredient, you may wonder, “What is a good replacement for Rotel?

Check out canned diced tomatoes. This substitute is quite close to Rotel in terms of its tangy tomato flavor and consistency. You can add these to your homemade dish in a pinch.

You can easily get canned diced tomatoes at your local stores.

If you’re comparing Rotel vs diced tomatoes, however, you may find the spice factor lacking. Simply add chilis, pepper, or any other spice or seasoning to get the spice quotient of Rotel.

This substitute is super customizable and suitable for your little ones as well.

Canned Diced Tomatoes is quite close to Rotel in terms of its tangy tomato flavor and consistency

1 tablespoon Rotel = 1 tablespoon canned diced tomatoes + seasoning of your choice

4.Lemon Pickle

Want to pep up your Mexican chili or casserole but don’t have Rotel on hand? Or maybe you’re wondering how to make Rotel without tomatoes as you dislike the latter’s tanginess.

You can also puree this vegan substitute in case you want a smoother texture.

As lemon pickle is preserved in a blend of brine, lemon juice, and spices, it gives your dish a good amount of heat without being unbearable for your kids. It’s also healthy for them and you, as lemon is a good source of vitamins and fiber.

1 tablespoon Rotel = 1 teaspoon lemon pickle

Best Rotel Substitutes In Soups And Stews

5.Tomato Ketchup

Whipping up this rich and flavorful tortilla soup or plain old tomato soup for your kids? Add in a few spoons of Rotel.

This blend of diced tomatoes and chili peppers will give your soup a tangy, spicy punch, and a rich texture that your kids will love.

You can also add Rotel to homemade stews if you have an extra can lying around.

If you don’t have it, though, and are unsure of what you can replace Rotel with, pour in some tomato ketchup.

This popular table condiment contains ground tomatoes and seasoning that makes it a great substitute for Rotel.

You can also customize the heat quotient by adding ground or diced chilis or other spices.

If you or your kids are allergic to chilis or can’t bear their heat quotient, you can use store-bought ketchup plain and enjoy the sweet and sour flavor of tomatoes.

However, if you can’t tolerate gluten, check the ingredients to see if the stabilizing agents contain gluten.

Tomato ketchup contains ground tomatoes and seasoning that makes it a great substitute for Rotel.

1 tablespoon Rotel = 1 tablespoon tomato ketchup + seasoning of your choice

6.Homemade Rotel

Tex-Mex stews and soups taste best when you add a can of Rotel to them. Don’t have it in stock? Why not make your own homemade version of Rotel?

Making your own Rotel helps you control the heat and flavor and ensure that you’re using only the best, healthiest ingredients in the blend.

Read on to learn how to make a Rotel substitute, right at home.

You’ll need 2 parts Roma tomatoes that have been blanched, peeled, deseeded, diced, and cooked.

To this, add 1 part roasted Anaheim or Habanero chili peppers, along with a little black pepper, lemon juice, coriander, dried oregano, and salt.

Homemade Rotel can last 2 months in the refrigerator and up to two weeks once opened.

1 tablespoon Rotel = 1 tablespoon homemade Rotel

Best Rotel Substitutes In Fajitas And Lasagnas

7.Marinara Sauce

Making chicken fajitas or lasagnas? Spice them up with a generous amount of Rotel. If you don’t have it with you and are wondering, “What can I substitute Rotel with?”, use marinara sauce instead.

It’s a tomato-based gluten-free sauce with added seasoning, so you don’t really need to add any more spice to the mix.

1 tablespoon Rotel = 1 tablespoon marinara sauce

8.Fresh Tomatoes

There’s nothing better than using fresh tomatoes in place of Rotel in lasagnas and fajitas.

Tomatoes are extremely healthy and can also tweak the spice level so that your kids, too, can enjoy your homemade meal.

You can dice or mince fresh tomatoes or even grind them into a paste before adding them to your cooking.

How to substitute Rotel with tomatoes? Use them in a 1:1 ratio and add a little seasoning or spice if you wish to get the heat levels that Rotel is known for.

fresh tomatoes can be used in place of Rotel in lasagnas and fajitas

1 tablespoon Rotel = 1 tablespoon fresh tomatoes + seasoning or spice of your choice

Best Rotel Substitutes In Enchiladas And Tacos

9.Enchilada Sauce

While a lot of enchilada and taco recipes call for Rotel, you can always use good old-fashioned enchilada sauce as a Rotel substitute.

This Mexican chili sauce is made with tomatoes, chili powder, and other spices, making it a wonderful alternative to Rotel.

So if you don’t have a can of Rotel stocked up and have been asking yourself, “What is a good Rotel substitute?”, you know what to use.

However, if you’re allergic to gluten, check the ingredient list carefully, as some brands use wheat or malt to thicken enchilada sauce.

a good old-fashioned enchilada sauce can be used as a Rotel substitute

1 teaspoon Rotel = 1 tablespoon enchilada sauce

10.Picante Sauce

Picante sauce is another Texan tomato-based sauce that works well instead of Rotel in tacos and chicken enchiladas.

Whether you wish to use it as a dipping sauce or as a seasoning, this sauce has enough spice to fire up your dish.

 How to substitute Rotel with Picante sauce? The heat quotient of Picante sauce can overpower most dishes, so use it sparingly, and add a little at a time till you reach the flavor profile that you’re looking for.

1 teaspoon Rotel = ½ teaspoon Picante sauce

Frequently Asked Questions 

What Dishes Rotel Goes With?

Rotel lends a delicious zesty tomato flavor balanced with a kick of spice. This goes well with most Tex-Mex dishes. You can add it to homemade vegan meals, too.

Can I Substitute Rotel For Tomato Sauce?    

Yes, you can. If your kids don’t mind the added heat quotient that you get with a can of Rotel, this ingredient can be a yummy substitute for tomato sauce as a dip or a seasoning in spicy casseroles, soups, and stews.

What Can You Substitute Rotel For?  

Rotel can be used in place of many sauces like tomato ketchup, marinara sauce, Picante sauce, tomato puree, salsa, and so on.

All these sauces and dips contain tomato along with seasonings, making them close enough substitutes for each other.

Can You Freeze Rotel?

While Rotel can stay outside the refrigerator till its expiration date, if you have opened the can, it’s best to seal it properly and refrigerate it. Use it within a week to avoid spoilage.

You can also transfer the leftover contents into a lidded glass or plastic jar to maximize its shelf life.

To extend the shelf life further, store the contents of the can in an airtight container or a freezer bag and freeze it for up to three months or so.

However, if you constantly freeze Rotel at 0°F, it can last for an indefinite period of time till you thaw and refrigerate it, after which it will last for another 3 to 4 days.

Final Considerations

Rotel is a versatile ingredient that can go in any dish that calls for a balance of spice, tartness, and tang.

It comes in different heat levels and varieties, allowing you to pick one that meets your needs.

But if you can’t bear the taste of chilis or don’t want the tartness of tomatoes, you can always choose a substitute from the list above.

We hope that we’ve helped you in your search for the perfect Rotel substitute. Do you know of any other alternatives to Rotel? Let us know in the comments section!

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