Is a tomato a fruit or a vegetable? Growing up kids always flaunted the knowledge that a tomato is a fruit NOT a vegetable. And, while yes, that is true, have you ever stopped to think about what it is exactly makes a vegetable versus what makes a fruit?

Tomatoes are a favorite of many- they are versatile and can be eaten fresh or made into everything from ketchup to salsa to sauce. But today, let’s talk about the age old question- is a tomato a fruit or vegetable??

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Is a tomato a fruit or vegetable? The answer is not as clear cut as it may seem!


Is a Tomato a Fruit or Vegetable?


Well that depends entirely on who you are asking and what their criteria is for making their decision.


According to Science: Tomatoes are Fruits

Scientifically speaking, a fruit is the part of a plant that develops from the flower and contains the seeds of the plant.

By this definition, a tomato is a fruit. It develops from the flower of the tomato plant and contains the seeds.

This also means that lots of other “vegetables” are also fruits: cucumbers, peppers, squash, okra, and beans to name a few.

All other parts of the plant- roots, leaves, stalks, etc- would be the vegetables.


So in the garden- tomatoes are the fruit of the plant. But bring it to the kitchen, and you may get a different answer!


Related Reading: The Ultimate Guide to Growing Tomatoes


table of Costoluto Florentino tomatoes


According to Cooks: Tomatoes are Vegetables

In the kitchen and in the culinary world the tomato would most likely be described as a vegetable. Their less scientific criteria classifies fruits and vegetables based on sweetness and sugar content.

Tomatoes are generally used in more savory dishes such as salsa, sauces, and soups. This means it is more like to be considered a vegetable.

Of course there are always exceptions, such as my Tomato Jam which is pretty sweet!


According to the Law: Tomatoes are Vegetables

Did you know that the question Is a Tomato a Fruit or Vegetable was brought before the Supreme Court?

In 1893, the question was brought before the Supreme Court due to the fact that imported vegetables were subject to a 10% import tax, while fruits were not.

The importer in question argued that tomatoes are fruits and should be exempt from the import tax. Ultimately, the Supreme Court ruled with the cook’s definition of a tomato that I cited above. And that tomatoes are to be considered vegetables.

You can find the source for that court case here: Nix vs Hedden


Does It Really Matter?

Of course not!! Tomatoes are full of nutrition and delicious to eat in so many ways- so no matter if you consider a tomato a fruit or a vegetable keep on eating them and keep on growing them!


More About Tomatoes:

8 Fast Growing Early Tomatoes to Grow

How to Make Roasted Tomato Sauce

How to Make Tomato Jam in the Crockpot

5 Ways to Stake Tomatoes