The other night I was innocently whipping up this incredible roasted tomato caprese from Bon Appetit, when I made a shocking discovery. The recipe called for cherry tomatoes but I had picked up grape tomatoes at the grocery store. My mind began to race. What are the differences between cherry vs grape tomatoes? Did I just royally screw up one of my favorite recipes?

The short answer is no, I did not screw up. And the recipe turned out delicious, as usual. However, when it comes to cherry vs grape tomatoes, there are a surprising amount of differences.

So Similar, Yet So Different

Cherries from our garden photo by Maja Petric (@majapetric) on Unsplash

Unsplash on unsplash

Cherry tomatoes are round and are often sold still on the vine for a cute, fresh effect (I'm looking at you Whole Foods). They're usually about the size of an actual cherry and their round shape adds to this likeness, as you can see above. Cherry tomatoes have thin skin and a lot of juice, so when you bite into them, they'll probably squirt. According to Food Republic, this juiciness is one of the reasons many chefs prefer cherry tomatoes over grape tomatoes.

Grape tomatoes, on the other hand, are meatier and less sweet with thicker skin and less of that juicy pop. They're also more oblong and look more like their namesake than the round cherry tomatoes. See for yourself in the photo below.

Emma Glubiak

Both cherry and grape tomatoes have similar grow cycles. However, you will most likely see far more grape tomatoes in grocery stores because their thick skin makes them easier to ship. They also grow in bigger clusters which makes them better for larger harvests.

If you're trying to decide between the two for your home garden, both are reasonably easy to grow. Many gardeners love the orange Sungold cherry tomato because it has a delicate, almost tropical flavor.

Cherry vs Grape Tomatoes in Recipes

bread, vegetable, sweet, tomato
Max Bartick

Luckily, the cherry vs grape tomato debate really shouldn't impact your cooking. As I learned with my roast tomato recipe, the two are basically interchangeable. Since grape tomatoes are more widely available, it's perfectly fine to use them when a recipe calls for cherry tomatoes. This is mostly up to your personal preference.

This tomato Gorgonzola salad, for example, calls for grape tomatoes, but it would be just as delicious with cherry tomatoes. Or, try out this penne with cherry tomatoes and mozzarella, for a dish that really makes tomatoes the star.

If you're really trying to impress your coworkers, bring this salad in a mason jar to work for lunch. It calls for cherry tomatoes, but grape tomatoes would be just as delicious. 

#SpoonTip: If you're subbing in cherry tomatoes for grape tomatoes, cut them in half if they're bigger than bite-sized.

Overall, the question of whether to use cherry vs grape tomatoes is totally up to you. You can make any recipe that calls for either type of tomato with what you have available in your grocery store. Just be aware of the subtle differences between the two and you'll be chowing down on some tasty tomato dishes in no time.