At the start of the new year, seed catalogs hold me spellbound, particularly as I try to decide which slicing tomatoes I will plant this year.
I attempt to be conservative when selecting how many of these Solanum lycopersicum varieties will fit in my raised beds, especially since I also like to grow determinate paste tomatoes for canning, and maybe a cherry variety or two.
But the types known as “sandwich” or “slicer” tomatoes challenge my resolve to plant a practical amount. They’re typically thin-skinned and richly flavored, the best for fresh eating.
Beefsteak plants usually produce the largest sandwich tomatoes, while others with the “slicer” designation yield smaller, six- to eight-ounce fruits.
When they’re in season, I’ll eat at least one per day in a caprese salad, fresh salsa, or a sandwich.
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There’s a real advantage to being able to grow tomatoes for fresh eating in your own garden. These particular varieties don’t ordinarily pack or travel well, so they’re not always available commercially, or even at the farmers market.
Which type is best? I’m eager to share my hard-won knowledge on this matter, acquired over years of catalog browsing and growing different types in my home garden.
Some that I’ll recommend are heirlooms, while others are hybrids that have been bred to increase disease resistance without sacrificing flavor.
Ready to check out the.possibilities? Here’s the lineup:
23 Standout Slicing Tomatoes to Grow in Your Garden
As we delve into these standout tomato choices, you should be prepared for your mouth to water in anticipation of this summer’s harvest, and for your hands to start itching to get out and dig in the veggie garden.
Here are 23 of the most tempting fresh eating tomatoes you can grow at home:
1. Arkansas Traveler
‘Arkansas Traveler’ is an heirloom variety that originated in the Ozark mountains in the 19th century. Mild-tasting, six- to eight-ounce fruits are deep pink with a red hue.
The indeterminate vines grow up to five feet tall and four feet wide, and fruits are ready to harvest in 80 days. ‘Arkansas Traveler’ is disease-resistant and is tolerant of hot, humid conditions.
Find seeds in a variety of packet sizes available at True Leaf Market.
2. Big Beef
A 1994 All-American Selections winner, this disease-resistant, beefsteak hybrid yields copious quantities of 12- to 16-ounce red beauties.
The vigorous indeterminate vines reach a mature height of five to seven feet, and fruits are ready to harvest in 73 days.
You can find seeds in a variety of package sizes available at True Leaf Market.
3. Big Rainbow
‘Big Rainbow’ is an heirloom variety with bright yellow and red bicolored skin and flesh. Large, one- to two-pound ribbed fruits are ready to pick in 85 to 90 days.
Indeterminate vines grow up to six feet tall, and like many heirloom cultivars, the yield is moderate, so if you have space you may want to plant a few extras.
Find 30- and 100-seed packets and live plants available at Burpee.
4. Big Yummy
Some heirloom sandwich varieties take 90 to 110 days to mature. This disease-resistant hybrid that matures just 69 days from transplant may be the answer if that kind of waiting has made you reluctant to grow beefsteaks in the past.
‘Big Yummy’ is a determinate variety that yields a sizable crop of nearly seedless, eight- to 10-ounce fruits that are both high in sugar content, and delightfully acidic. And fresh eating is only the start, since the fruits may be canned and freeze readily, too.
The plants are compact enough for container gardening as well, with a mature height of four feet and spread of about two feet. ‘Big Yummy’ is beginner gardener-friendly, that’s for sure.
Find 25-seed packets of ‘Big Yummy’ from Park Seed via Amazon.
5. Black Krim
A Russian heirloom that hails from Krymsk, a town near the Black Sea, ‘Black Krim’ produces smoky-flavored fruits with a meaty texture.
These indeterminate plants don’t produce as many fruits as hybrids do, so be sure to plant a few extra if you have the space, so you’ll have enough of these round, reddish-brown-fleshed fruits for use in salads and sandwiches.
Honestly, I’m not sure you could ever have enough of these juicy orbs with their intense tomato flavor.
Plants grow to a mature height of five feet tall, with an 18-inch spread. The eight-ounce fruits are ready for harvest after 80 days.
You can count on this variety to resist heat and cool conditions, too.
Find organic ‘Black Krim’ seeds for sale in 30-seed packets from Botanical Interests.
‘Bodacious’ is a hybrid indeterminate cultivar bred by Burpee. Vigorous, disease-resistant plants produce an abundance of 10- to 12-ounce, bright red fruits in 80 days.
The sweet, delicious fruits are borne on vines that reach five to six feet tall at maturity, with a two-foot spread.
You can find 25 seeds and live plants available at Burpee.
‘Brandywine’ is an heirloom variety that sports pink, red, or yellow fruits. Weighing up to two pounds, the asymmetrical, ribbed tomatoes have a creamy texture, and are low in acid.
Indeterminate vines can grow up to nine feet tall, and will require staking. Fruits mature in 80 to 100 days.
True Leaf Market carries red, pink, and yellow ‘Brandywine’ tomato seeds in a variety of package sizes.
Learn more about ‘Brandywine’ tomatoes and how to grow them in our guide.
‘Bushsteak’ is a hybrid cultivar bred by Burpee that produces eight- to 12-ounce fruits on a bushy, two-feet-tall plant.
Ideal for container growing, the determinate vines produce sweet, mild-flavored fruit in just 65 days.
You can find live plants and packets of 40 seeds available at Burpee.
9. Chef’s Choice Green
A hybrid with heirloom flavor, this 2016 AAS Winner produces uniform fruits in a lively shade of green with yellow stripes.
There’s no need to batter and fry them since they’re fully ripe when they attain this color, though you can if you like. Instead, these seven- to 10-ounce fruits look pretty layered on a multicolored tart, or chopped for a fresh green salsa.
And if you choose to assemble BLATs with avocado, these green slices serve as a nice complement to the varying shades of green.
Like the five other cultivars in the Chef’s Choice series, these are indeterminate plants that will yield ripe fruits throughout the season, and reach a mature height of about five feet tall. This one matures just 85 days from transplant.
Find Chef’s Choice ‘Green’ for sale in 30-seed packets from David’s Garden Seeds via Amazon.
10. Cherokee Carbon
I came across this dark tomato for the first time last year, and it now holds a spot in my fresh eating tomato lineup as long as I’m able to continue sourcing the seeds!
A robust, sweet, flavorful hybrid of ‘Cherokee Purple’ and ‘Carbon’ varieties, ‘Cherokee Carbon’ produces 10- to 12-ounce, thin-skinned fruits that are as appealing to the eye as they are tasty.
Indeterminate vines grow up to six feet tall and fruits are ready to harvest after 75 days.
Find 10-seed packets of ‘Cherokee Carbon’ available from Pase Seeds via Amazon.
11. Cherokee Purple
‘Cherokee Purple’ is a traditional Cherokee heirloom that produces round, 12- to 16-ounce fruits with purplish-red skin and a sweet, slightly smoky flavor.
Indeterminate vines grow three to three and a half feet tall, with an 18-inch spread. You’ll be harvesting these beauties after 85 days.
Find ‘Cherokee Purple’ seeds in a variety of packet sizes available at Eden Brothers.
If you want to learn more about how to grow ‘Cherokee Purple,’ check out our guide.
No distress here! This slicer resists late blight, verticillium wilt, and nematodes, so it’s suitable for beginner gardeners and those growing in hot, humid areas.
It’s also a space saver, growing relatively short, five- or six-foot indeterminate vines. They do just fine when grown in small spaces, or even in containers if you’re willing to give them some support.
This beefsteak produces pink, round fruits that weigh about 12 ounces apiece, and they’re ready to pick starting 75 days from transplant.
Find 15-seed packets of ‘Damsel’ seeds available at Burpee.
13. Giant Pink Belgium
Pink was popular with homegrown tomato gardeners long before the singer was a household name, and this sweet, mild heirloom variety lives up to its flavorful reputation.
Borne on indeterminate vines that reach just four feet tall with a three-foot spread, the one- to two-pound fruits can be harvested starting 88 days from transplanting.
Find ‘Giant Pink Belgium’ in 30-seed packets available at Burpee.
‘Hillbilly’ is an heirloom cultivar from West Virginia that produces one- to two-pound yellow-skinned fruits with red marbling.
The tomatoes are low-acid with a sweet, mild flavor, and will be ready for picking in 85 days. Indeterminate vines grow five to six feet tall and are tolerant of heat and humidity.
You can find packets of 30 seeds available at Burpee.
15. Kellogg’s Breakfast
This heirloom from West Virginia produces golden-orange, one- to two-pound fruits with a rich, beefsteak flavor. It’s named after a railroad supervisor from Michigan, Darrell Kellogg – not to be confused with the purveyor of popular breakfast cereals with the same name!
Indeterminate vines grow up to six feet tall, and these beauties are ready for picking in 80 to 90 days.
Find seeds in a variety of packet sizes available at Eden Brothers.
16. Medium Rare
‘Medium Rare’ is a hybrid cultivar developed by Burpee, that produces an abundance of deep pink fruits weighing 16 to 18 ounces. With a sweet yet slightly smoky flavor, ‘Medium Rare’ will brighten up your summertime sandwiches.
The indeterminate vines grow vigorously to a mature height of six to seven feet tall, with a four-foot spread.
You’ll be harvesting these big beauties in 75 to 80 days.
Find packets of 25 seeds and live plants available at Burpee.
17. Mortgage Lifter
This heirloom cultivar was bred in the 1930s by M.C. Byles, aka “Radiator Charlie.” The pinkish-red, slightly flattened fruits became so popular in the 1940s that the breeder was able to pay off his mortgage of $6,000 – simply by selling seedlings.
‘Mortgage Lifter’ produces large, beefsteak tomatoes weighing one to two pounds, with a sweet, rich flavor.
Highly disease-resistant, the indeterminate vines grow up to seven feet high, with a spread of 18 inches. Fruits are ready to harvest in 80 days.
If you want to add this heirloom to your garden, you’ll find seeds available at Eden Brothers.
Do you want to learn more about ‘Mortgage Lifter’ tomatoes? Check out our guide for cultivation tips, and more.
18. Mr. Stripey
I have fond memories of a young organic gardener I once interviewed for the local paper who grew ‘Mr. Stripey’ to sell at the farmers market.
He proudly consumed his extras in a sandwich every day in the summer, and I remember the photographer, David Luttrell, literally eating the guy’s lunch while we were talking to him.
I find it hard to blame him! The Mister yields one- to two-pound, mild, red and yellow striped fruits that are sweet, firm, and easy to slice. The indeterminate plants grow to a mature height of five feet tall, with a spread of three feet. Fruits are ready to harvest after 80 days.
My friend Ollie Belle from Kentucky peels them and water-bath cans them whole when they’ve eaten their limit of the fresh-sliced fruits at any meal of the day – and for brunch.
Heirloom ‘Mr. Stripey’ live plants are available from Burpee.
19. Patty’s Yellow
‘Patty’s Yellow’ is a feast for the eyes as well as the tastebuds.
This colorful heirloom variety sports yellowish-red skin with red streaks, and bicolored flesh.
With a sweet, slightly savory, robust flavor, these tomatoes will add a pop of color to summer salads or open sandwiches.
Indeterminate vines reach up to five feet tall, with an 18-inch spread, and 10- to 16-ounce fruits are ready for picking in 85 days.
You can find packets of 25 seeds available at Burpee.
I remember being stunned the first time I realized the colorful varieties like ‘Pineapple’ were more likely to be heirlooms than hybrids. They’re just such fun, you’d think scientists would have been striving for decades to breed these types.
‘Pineapple’ tomatoes aren’t merely eye-catching with their yellow-orange fruits that have streaks of red throughout the meaty flesh. These slicers are also big, from one to two pounds apiece, with just a few seeds and a satisfying tomato flavor that’s low in acid.
The name is indicative of the tangy-sweet fruity taste that you’ll enjoy. I favor these for caprese salad with a fruit-vinaigrette dressing instead of oil and vinegar.
‘Pineapple’ is an indeterminate variety, with long vines that can reach over six feet tall. Fruits are ready to harvest after 90 days.
Organic ‘Pineapple’ seeds are available in packets of 30 from Botanical Interests.
This hybrid cultivar hails from Poland, and is one of the few sandwich varieties that produces a crop early. It produces six- to 10-ounce deep red fruits just 59 days from transplant.
More pluses: The mildly flavored meaty orbs will hold on the vines for weeks without cracking, and the plants have enhanced disease resistance. Plants reach a mature height of three feet tall, making them perfect for container gardening.
It’s also a determinate slicing variety. So if you’re looking to harvest within weeks and amass enough tomatoes to make sauce or can salsa, this would be a good choice, alongside eating them fresh.
‘Polbig F1’ is sold in 30-seed packets from Seed King Express via Amazon.
These slices are huge, just one is big enough to cover the top of a personal pizza completely!
If you’re a gardener who gets competitive about growing the largest ‘maters on the block, here’s your chance to produce a behemoth with a rich flavor.
The indeterminate vines reach about five feet, and this hybrid variety produces two- to four-pound red spheres with rippling, strong shoulders after 80 to 85 days.
You can find packets of 40 seeds and live plants available at Burpee.
‘Steakhouse’ is another cultivar that will appeal to gardeners who want to grow huge tomatoes. It produces one- to three-pound bright red fruits with a rich, earthy flavor, and a creamy texture.
This indeterminate hybrid variety tops out at about six feet tall and fruits are ready to harvest after 80 to 85 days.
You may need two hands to hold the softball-size fruits at harvest time!
‘Steakhouse’ is available as live plants or 25-seed packets from Burpee.
A Tomato Slice of the Good Life
For me, this abiding affection for homegrown slicing tomatoes is a family affair.
My mom used to lightly salt a thin-skinned orb and eat it out of hand, like an apple, on summer mornings.
My husband is still proud of the year when his ‘Mortgage Lifter’ produced a fruit far bigger than any grown by the neighbors.
And there was that year when my teenage daughter hosted the most popular gathering at our family’s weeklong reunion: A build-your-own-BLT party featuring homegrown ‘Mr. Stripeys’ we hauled there from Tennessee.
What about you? Already part of the fan club with your own favorite to recommend? If you like a particular type, please share your experience and photos in the comments section below! You can ask questions about these popular heirlooms and hybrids in the same spot.
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