Why is a tomato a vegetable?

In this brief guide, we will answer the question, “why is a tomato a vegetable,” and discuss when did tomatoes become a vegetable, and what makes a vegetable a vegetable.

Why is a tomato a vegetable?

Tomato is considered a vegetable because of the way in which it’s used in recipes.

Tomatoes are most often served cooked with other vegetables, rather than as a dessert or snack. They have low sugar content, and thus don’t contribute to the sweetness of a dish. They also have high acidity and are used as a flavor component more than as a sweet component (like other fruits).

Most people consider tomatoes to be vegetables because of their texture and flavor profile.

What are the main reasons why tomatoes are considered vegetables?

There are two main reasons that a tomato is considered a vegetable.

The first is that the Supreme Court ruled, in 1893, that tomatoes are vegetables. The case involved import tariffs for fruits and vegetables, and the court ruled in favor of the U.S. government’s right to impose tariffs on imported vegetables (including tomatoes).

The second reason is more practical: genetically speaking, a tomato is a fruit. But when you look at it from the perspective of how it’s used in cooking, typically as an ingredient in savory dishes, it makes sense to classify the tomato as a vegetable.

Are tomatoes fruit?

It depends on how you define “fruit.” According to botanists, tomatoes are a fruit.

The scientific definition of a fruit is the part of a plant that develops from a flower and contains seeds. So, by this definition, tomatoes are indeed fruits. In fact, the tomato is a nutrient-dense superfood packed with vitamins A and C, potassium, antioxidants, and more.

However, the US Supreme Court ruled in 1893 that the tomato should be classified as a vegetable on the basis of its culinary applications (it’s usually eaten as a main course).

So whether you consider it a fruit or a vegetable, there’s no denying that this versatile ingredient is delicious!

When did tomatoes become a vegetable?

Tomatoes are fruits, and they are classified as such in the botanical world. But when it comes to cooking, tomatoes are treated more like vegetables, and they were even classified as such by the US Supreme Court in 1893.

What is a tomato?

Tomatoes form from flowers and contain seeds, so they are classified as fruits according to the botanical definition. Their classification has been the subject of legal debate in the United States, where tomatoes have been classified as both fruits and vegetables, according to different contexts and purposes.

In the early 20th century, grocers would often pay higher tariffs on canned tomatoes than they would on other types of canned fruit because tomatoes were considered a vegetable rather than a fruit.

The problem with this classification was that there were no tariffs for imported vegetables compared to those for imported fruit. In 1883, importers of tomatoes sued for lower tariffs, but their claims were rejected by the US Supreme Court in 1893.

The court’s decision was based on their determination that a tomato is technically a fruit because it grows from a plant’s ovary after fertilization. But it was also based on their conclusion that tomatoes had historically been used in cooking as vegetables rather than fruits; therefore, they should be taxed accordingly. 

Is tomato classified as a vegetable on the basis of culinary applications?

Yes,  tomato is classified as a vegetable on the basis of culinary applications.

While the tomato is considered a vegetable under the culinary definition, it is technically classified as a fruit. This is because it is the ovary that contains seeds in a flowering plant.

The problem of whether it should be called fruit or vegetable can be traced back to 1893 when the Supreme Court determined that tomatoes should be classified as vegetables.

At this time, tomatoes were still primarily used in savory dishes. The court ruled that they should be taxed as vegetables, as they were imported and sold in their raw form.

What makes a vegetable a vegetable?

Vegetables are defined as plants or plant parts that are consumed by humans or other animals. They are categorized according to the edible portion of the plant consumed: either the leaves (lettuce), stem (asparagus), roots (carrot), tubers (potato), bulbs (onion), or flowers (broccoli).

Biology defines vegetables as any part of a herbaceous plant that is not fruit, seeds, or flowers. This means that even though garlic, rhubarb, and tomatoes are technically fruits, they are considered vegetables because they do not have the same sweet taste as other fruits. Similarly, beans and peas aren’t officially vegetables because they’re technically seeds.

Other FAQs about Tomatoes that you may be interested in.

Are blighted tomatoes safe to eat?

What is wrong with my tomato plants?

Are cracked tomatoes safe to eat?

Can I use crushed tomatoes instead of tomato sauce?


In this brief guide, we have addressed the question, “why is a tomato a vegetable,” and other questions related to the subject, such as when did tomatoes become a vegetable, and what makes a vegetable a vegetable.