Blistered tomatoes add a special touch to just about any meal. In less than 10 minutes, turn cherry or grape tomatoes into something extra delicious with garlic, shallots and basil.

Large cast iron skillet filled with blistered tomatoes, shallots and basil.

I only got serious about vegetable gardening a few summers ago, but it’s quickly become one of my favorite hobbies.

I don’t have a huge garden, but it’s amazing what it can yield each year, just from a few packs of seeds.

So far this year, I’ve enjoyed snap peas (usually served with my bourbon salmon recipe) and a ton of salad greens, which I generally just toss with citrus salad dressing for a simple side dish.

Later in July and into August, we can start incorporating grill zucchini and lots of homegrown tomatoes into our meals. And I’ll also be pulling up some carrots for roasted glazed carrots and balsamic roasted carrots.

I mostly grow smaller grape and cherry tomato varieties (perfect for beet and tomato salad), and we usually end up with a HUGE harvest, because I grow more tomatoes than we probably need.

Blistered tomatoes are an easy and delicious way to prepare grape and cherry tomatoes. Just like roasted grapes, they can be eaten on their own or incorporated into a variety of dishes.

“This was soooo good. Hands down, the best recipe for cherry tomatoes! This cooks quickly, too. Nobody’s recipe for cherry tomatoes is like this. I highly recommend. I cooked this for myself with some fried raviolis from Trader Joe’s.”

The ingredients for sauteed tomatoes laid out on a dark surface, including cherry tomatoes on their vines, salt and pepper, sliced shallots and garlic, and basil leaves.

What you’ll need to make blistered tomatoes:

  • tomatoes – the recipe written below uses 2 pints (4 cups) of cherry and/or grape tomatoes, but you can adjust the recipe for however many tomatoes you want to cook.
  • olive oil – I like the flavor that olive oil adds to blistered cherry tomatoes, which is why I use it instead of vegetable or canola oil.
  • garlic – I love the flavor and look of thinly sliced garlic cloves in this recipe.
  • shallot – one large shallot, thinly sliced, adds a savory note that contrasts with the sweetness of the tomatoes. If you have to buy a whole bag of shallots, use the rest to make fancy toast for a snack.
  • lemon juice – a little bit of fresh lemon juice adds a brightness to the tomatoes that can’t be beat. Lemon lovers should also check out my lemon smoothie!
  • salt and pepper – to season the sauteed tomatoes to perfection.
  • basil – hopefully all of you gardeners that are growing tomatoes also have a basil plant. I love the green freshness that chopped fresh basil adds to blistered tomatoes, and my fried goat cheese salad.
Red and yellow blistered cherry tomatoes with shallots and basil, in a cast iron skillet.

What kind of skillet should I use for blistered cherry tomatoes?

If you have a cast iron skillet, making blistered tomatoes is absolutely the time to break it out (I also recommend orange glazed chicken and blistered shishitos in cast iron). The even, intense heat that cast iron provides blisters the tomatoes so, so well.

If you’re new to cast iron cooking, be sure to brush up on how to clean and care for cast iron cookware after you’re done making sauteed tomatoes.

But if you don’t have cast iron, no worries at all. A large, heavy stainless steel skillet will also work quite well for blistering tomatoes.

A small dark plate of blistered grape tomatoes with shallot, garlic and basil.

How to blister tomatoes:

Blistering tomatoes takes less than 5 minutes, so make sure you have all of your ingredients prepped and ready before you begin.

Start by heating the oil in a skillet. When it’s nice and hot, add the tomatoes. Let them cook for 2 minutes, and don’t stir them during this time!

Just like with my fajita vegetables recipe, sometimes less stirring is critical to achieve a nice brownness. After 2 minutes, stir the blistered cherry tomatoes once and let them cook another minute without disturbing them during that time.

Then, you’ll be stirring garlic and shallots into the sauteed tomatoes! Cook for just 30 seconds longer, and stir constantly. Watch very carefully, because nothing is worse than burnt garlic.

As soon as the garlic and shallots become fragrant, turn off the heat! Stir in the lemon juice, salt and pepper, and then sprinkle the blistered tomatoes with basil. You’re done!

Large cast iron skillet filled with blistered tomatoes, shallots and basil.

One quick but important tip about blistering cherry tomatoes:

It turns out that blistering tomatoes on the stove can sometimes get a little smoky.

If you don’t want to hear your smoke detector beeping at you, I recommend opening a kitchen window before you begin blistering tomatoes.

Or better yet, if your grill has a side burner on it, cook the blistered tomatoes outside (and make some grilled buttermilk chicken while you’re out there)!

Cooked summer fruit and shallots and garlic served on toasted bread.

How to serve sauteed tomatoes:

I make blistered tomatoes so often in the summer that I feel like I’ve served them just about every which way.

While I enjoy sauteed tomatoes as a side dish all on their own, I also love them spooned over a grilling flat iron steak.

Blistered cherry tomatoes are also amazing served with toasted bread, either alongside some baked lemon ricotta cheese or as part of a pizza crostini bar. Or, slather your crostini in a bit of roasted garlic dip and then top with the tomatoes.

I also love blistering cherry tomatoes and tossing them with pasta dressed with olive oil and garlic, or added to lemon caper pasta or salmon pasta.

Large cast iron skillet filled with blistered tomatoes, shallots and basil.

Blistered Tomatoes

Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes

Blistered tomatoes add a special touch to just about any meal. In less than 10 minutes, turn cherry or grape tomatoes into something extra delicious with garlic, shallots and basil.


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 pints cherry or grape tomatoes
  • 3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1 large shallot, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Pinch ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil


  1. Heat oil in large cast iron or other heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add tomatoes and allow them to cook, undisturbed, for 2 minutes or until they start to blister. 
  2. Stir once and allow to cook, undisturbed, for 1 more minute.
  3. Stir in garlic and shallot and cook for 30 seconds or just until fragrant, stirring constantly and being careful not to let garlic burn.
  4. Remove from heat. Stir in lemon juice, salt and pepper. Serve sprinkled with basil.

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 98Total Fat: 7gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 6gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 89mgCarbohydrates: 9gFiber: 2gSugar: 5gProtein: 2g

This website provides estimated nutrition information as a courtesy only. You should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe using your preferred nutrition calculator.

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