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The Big Beef Tomato

Big Beef tomatoes are the dream of tomato lovers. These beefsteak tomatoes have a classic tomato flavor that you can only get from these juicy fruits. This larger fruit is easy to grow for those that are just getting started as a gardener. It’s resistant to diseases, such as tobacco mosaic virus and gray leaf spot. It’s hard to resist planting a few rows of these!

Closeup of big beef tomatoes on vine.

What is a Big Beef Tomato?

A Big Beef tomato is a hardy tomato that grows larger in size than most other tomatoes. They are known for growing from 12 oz to 16 oz. Some people tend to pick them sooner, though, which can result in a harvest of tomatoes that are 10-12 oz.

Big Beef tomatoes are known for their heavenly flavor and being easy to grow for beginners.

View of big beef tomatoes ripening on vine.

Easy to Grow Varieties of Big Beef Tomatoes

“Big beef tomato” is also an umbrella term that encompasses several varieties of these extra-large “beefy” fruits that are grown. Varieties that are easy to grow include:

– Big Beef


– Cherokee Purple

Mortgage Lifter

Brandywine tomatoes on the vine, a type of big beef tomato.
Brandywine tomatoes.

How to Grow a Big Beef Tomato

The Big Beef tomato is one of the easiest plants to grow. They are known for being heavy feeders, but it’s well worth the extra food when you have a harvest full of giant, ripe fruit and get to enjoy that old-time tomato flavor.

Growing Season

These disease resistant plants only take 85 days to maturity. Plant them outside during the summer. They will continue to produce until the first frost. It’s common for people to start beef tomato plants inside, and then move them outside during the summer months.

Start Small

When planting these tomatoes, it’s important to start small regardless of whether you are starting them inside or outside. Put seeds in starter trays or small pots to begin with. Starter trays are often easier when you are planning on growing a large number of plants.

Gardeners can use regular potting soil for these plants. The soil should be moist, not soggy. Too much water can drown your beef tomato plant, especially if it has not developed roots yet.

Tomato seedlings in starter pots.

Moving Seedlings Outside

Plants should remain indoors until there is no chance of frost.

The nighttime low temperature should be a minimum of 50 degrees Fahrenheit before moving them outside. These plants will not survive cold nights. Typically, this is also when there is no danger of frost on the ground, but it never hurts to double check the temperature before moving them.

Tomato plants need to be in a sunny area of the vegetable garden where they will receive at least 6-8 hours of sunlight per day.

Young tomato plants planted outside.

Avoid Planting Plants Too Close Together

As you move your tomatoes outside, it is important to make sure they are not planted too close together. Big Beef tomatoes are one of the largest varieties of tomatoes, so they will need plenty of room.

Rows of tomato plants should be at least two feet apart. Individual plants should be planted 24″ – 36″ apart. However, this may differ for hybrid varieties. Double check the instructions on your package of seeds to make sure that your plants are planted an appropriate distance from each other.

How to Take Care of Big Beef Tomatoes

The following sections will provide highlights about tomato care. For a complete guide on optimal tomato plant care, from planting to harvesting and storage, please check out our article on How To Grow Tomatoes: The Complete Guide For the Best Tomatoes.  You may also be interested in our blog post on how to grow big tomatoes!

It’s important to provide proper care to these plants to get the most out of your harvest.

Water / Mulching

You need to mulch the soil with organic matter as this will help the soil retain moisture. It’s critical for your tomato plants to make sure that the soil is moist. You need to water them as needed to keep the soil moist (about 1 inch per week).

Fertilizing / Feeding

Tomatoes require specific nutrients (such as calcium) to produce their best crops of fruit. To learn how to determine what your tomatoes need and when they need it, consult our ultimate tomato fertilizer guide.

Pruning / Pinching

Pruning and pinching are a tomato care technique that can help your tomato put forth its best yield. But you need to know when to do this and what tomatoes need it. To help you with this, visit our pruning tomatoes guide.

Diseases and Pests

Sad, but true — if you grow tomatoes, you’ll probably have to deal with these issues. To learn how to detect, treat, and take steps to prevent diseases, read our tomato diseases guide. 

For information to help you spot, eliminate, and deter 15 different pests, visit our guide on common tomato pests.

View down row of tomato plants.


Harvesting your tomato plants is easy. You simply pick the fruit from the vine when it is red and at least a few inches in diameter.

If the first frost appears before your tomatoes are ripe, pick them and set them on the kitchen counter inside. They will continue to ripen as long as they are at room temperature.

Can You Leave Tomato Plants Out in Wet Weather?

Light to average amounts of rain will not hurt your tomato plants. However, bringing them inside if they are in pots will not hurt them either.

Heavy rain can damage your plants, killing small plants and stunting the growth of larger plants. If you live in an area with heavy rainfall, consider implementing a drainage system in your garden. Covering your plants during heavy rains is another great option.

Ways To Use Big Beef Tomatoes

Big Beefs are ideal for eating fresh on sandwiches, but they can also be made into sauces or used for stuffed tomatoes, soups, stews, and casseroles.

Ravioli pasta with a tomato and herb sauce.

You may also can your tomatoes, freeze them, or even make dried tomatoes to preserve your harvest.

Recipe Ideas

Roasted Tomato Pasta Sauce

Stuffed Tomatoes 1 (meat included in the flling)

Stuffed Tomatoes 2 (meatless filling)

Tomato Pie (Frank’s Hot Sauce gives this a nice kick)

Where To Buy Big Beef Tomato Plants and Seeds

This is a popular tomato variety, so you probably won’t have any difficulty buying starter plants or seeds locally. But in the even that you do, plants and seeds are available for purchase online.

In Conclusion

Big Beef tomatoes are an American favorite. Their short growing cycle of only 85 days to maturity, heavenly taste, and impressive size are just a few of the things that make these plants appealing for gardeners. If you love tomatoes, it’s time to clear up some space in the garden for a few rows of these.

Excited for more tomato content? Then visit our tomato page for growing tips, comprehensive guides, and tasty recipes!

Cluster of red big beef tomatoes.


Saturday 15th of April 2023

Nowhere in your tutorial did you mention whether Big Beef is a determinate or an indeterminate variety. Not knowing which it is, one is left to wonder what pruning method it requires. Under the heading "Moving Seeds Outside", I think you should have said "Seedlings" instead of "Seeds", since your advice applies to starting from seed indoors. Another point of confusion is the first sentence, "Plants should remain indoors until after germination." Although I don't know a lot, I do know that seeds germinate, not plants. Of course, there isn't even a plant until after germination. I wish you would rewrite this section with more clarity. Thank you for presenting these tutorials. I did learn a lot from them.


Saturday 22nd of April 2023

Dan - Thanks for taking the time to comment. Looking for an editorial position?!? :)

Big Beef is a hybrid.

Good catches; I've updated.