You know that earthy, tart scent that a vine-ripened beefsteak leaves on your hands? Now imagine that fragrance wafting dreamily around your living room and kitchen. Tomato-scented candles have cropped up in our real lives (at a shop in upstate New York, of course) and on our timelines. We credit the trend’s origin to our collective, pandemic-induced desire to go off the grid, start a family farm, and never check emails again. Or maybe it’s TikTok. CandleTok is full of globby handmade candles and Diptyque dupes, typically in familiar aromas like fig, plum, pear, and pumpkin spice. But the scent du jour is tomato. Popular candle reviewer Kudzi Chikumbu, or @sircandleman (also a TikTok exec), recently dedicated a video to Otherland’s Tomato Terrazzo, describing it as reminiscent of gazpacho. And from then on, our For You Page (FYP) has been like an ever-growing patch of fresh tomatoes. Tomatoes are technically a fruit, but like their real-life incarnations tomato candles inhabit the liminal space between sweet and savory. From Jo Malone to Boy Smells, a bunch of Strategist-approved brands have been busy concocting scented candles that preserve the smell of fresh, sun-drenched produce and we can’t wait to burn them all winter long. Below, 15 of our favorites:
After contemplating buying a tomato-scented candle for months, a quick whiff of this one from Flamingo Estate made it clear we’d found the one. The brand describes it as a single-note candle, but the scent is actually very complex. At first it’s a tiny bit citrusy and floral, then gradually you get the unmistakable smell of newly formed tomato vines and freshly picked fruit.
The Cut’s beauty director Kathleen Hou has had a “scent obsession” with tomatoes since helping her mom weed out tomato patches when she was younger. This candle is like the “edible equivalent … of a perfectly toasted heirloom tomato sandwich: sweet, creamy, and salty (it must have Maldon sea salt) all at the same time.” But it’s not too sweet — the green notes add just a hint of much-needed savoriness, Hou writes.
If you’re far, far away from any greenery, Boy Smells — a longtime Strategist favorite — just might have a solution. This candle is dominated with notes of orange peel, white tea, and, yes, tomato vine. It has even earthier secondary notes, including oakmoss, white cedar, and dirt, to tone down the sweetness of the primary scents.
Spanish luxury brand Loewe is now part of the next generation of status candles, according to our U.K. colleagues. This candle is made with the essence of tomato leaves and comes in what looks like a traditional terracotta planter for would-be gardeners. You can also get the candlestick version, which would look cheery on any celebratory tablescape in the coming months.
For those who read NYT Cooking religiously: Every scent in Apotheke’s Market line comes with its own recipe. In this case, there’s one for a tasty tomato tarragon soup (grilled-cheese croutons would be a welcome topping). The candle features a dash of orange zest underneath the pickled tomato and tarragon notes.
To get a headstart on next year’s tomato season, this candle arrives in plantable packaging that’s been infused with Brandywine tomato seeds (the fruit of which can weigh up to a pound each). There are additional notes of herbs and leafy greens for a summer salad vibe.
With only two notes, earthy tomato vine and spicy black pepper, this candle is perfect for the person whose ideal lunch is just freshly sliced tomatoes drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with salt. You can also get a votive trio set with this scent, along with lemon basil and fresh tulip.
Part of Paddywax’s Farmhouse collection — which includes scents like Mint Leaf Cardamom and Cactus Flower — tomato is actually a middle note in this candle, so it’s not as overwhelmingly tomato scented as others on our list. Top notes are lemon, lime, white peppercorn, and eucalyptus while base notes include sage and basil.
This candle features the smell of the entire tomato, with a top note of minty tomato leaf and a middle note of fruity tomato pulp. It also has the other aromatics of the great outdoors: freshly cut grass, moss, musk, and cedarwood.
[Editor’s note: Since Urban Apothecary lists its prices in British pounds, this is an approximate conversion to U.S. dollars.]
Don’t let the top note fool you — the lemon zest is supposed to boost the tomato leaf and thyme middle notes. Tomato-scent skeptics: The candle sits more toward the fresh side of the scented candle spectrum with base notes of moss and basil, too.
The award for wittiest tomato candle goes to this Andy Warhol–inspired Campbell’s soup can candle from Ligne Blanche. The box and can design make it worth buying if only to display between art books, but it smells good, too. Notes of tomato leaf, basil, and mint give it more of a freshly picked produce scent than actual tomato soup.
One thing that makes Jo Malone scents so popular is that they don’t hit you over the head with perfumy smells, instead they linger and unfold over time. That quality is particularly helpful when it comes to capturing something as ephemeral as picking tomatoes in July. The brand describes this candle as having a “rich, green aroma” of tomatoes warmed by the sun.
If you want a tomato candle that looks a lot like a tomato, this is the one. The bright-red glass cup is peppy enough to put anyone in a good mood, and you can reuse it as a bud vase when your candle is done. Notes of tomato leaves, rhubarb, basil, thyme, and sandalwood give this a tangy, earthy scent.
Otherland candles are notoriously imaginative both in their illustrated container designs and unexpected scents. This candle is part of a six-part Homestead series that includes Sriracha Rose, Berkshires Granola, Velvet Persimmon, Woodlands, and Spice It Up. Otherland describes Tomato Terrazzo as having notes of heirloom tomato, celery salt, and leafy vines. Strategist writer Chloe Anello expected the candle to smell like sauce or soup after reading several reviews online, but in real life she says it smells more like a tomato garden rather than something being cooked. “You can smell a hint of tomato, but it’s more just the aroma of the garden rather than the tomato itself,” she says.