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12 Best Tomato Paste Substitute Ideas

If you’re out of tomato paste and need a replacement, don’t worry! We created a list of the best tomato paste substitute ideas that work well for every recipe.

best tomato paste substitute ideas

Tomato paste comes in small cans and sometimes tubes. It’s a vital flavor-building block in recipes like beef stew and chili.

It’s best to always have a can of tomato paste in your pantry. Besides, it’s easy to store after opening it since you can keep it in the freezer.

If you run out of tomato paste, don’t exclude it from your recipe since it means losing that all-important umami flavor the ingredient adds to dishes.

Instead, find a decent substitute for tomato paste.

Top Tomato Paste Substitute Ideas You Can Try

If you’re looking for a substitution for tomato paste, check out these ideas:

1. Ketchup

tomato ketchup

Ketchup is the closest to tomato paste in terms of moisture content and intensity. It is, however, sweeter.

The main ingredient in ketchup is concentrated tomatoes, making it the top tomato paste substitute when you need it in a pinch.

You will taste extra flavors from the vinegar and spices included in ketchup’s ingredients, which work well to enhance the overall flavor of your dish.

Use the 1:1 ratio when replacing tomato paste with ketchup.

2. Tomato Sauce

Tomato sauce substitute

Tomato sauce has a similar flavor but thicker consistency than tomato paste.

To get the same thickness of tomato paste, simmer the tomato paste longer – 3 tablespoons of tomato sauce yields 1 tablespoon of tomato paste.

Alternatively, reduce other liquids in your dish and cook the meal longer with the lid open so that the liquid evaporates.

Tomato sauce works well as a tomato paste substitute in recipes like meatloaf, chili, salsa, and certain pasta sauces.

3. Tomato Puree

Tomato puree substitute

Tomato puree has the same flavor as tomato paste. It’s thicker than tomato sauce but thinner than tomato paste.

So it’s best to use twice as much tomato puree to get the same flavor as tomato paste in soups and stews (2:1 ratio).

Tomato puree also works well as a base for sauces.

4. Crushed Tomatoes

mashed tomatoes

Crushed tomatoes are either diced or whole in a can. Here’s how to make them:

  1. Drain all liquid.
  2. Add tomatoes to a saucepan.
  3. Mash as they cook until you get a thick paste.

Use 2 tablespoons of canned tomatoes for every tablespoon of tomato paste (2:1 ratio).

If you use a liquid form of crushed tomatoes for cooking, increase the cooking time so that the liquid evaporates.

5. Fresh Tomatoes

Fresh organic tomatoes

Fresh tomatoes are healthier than canned tomatoes or tomato paste. It takes time to make a paste out of them, but it’s worth it:

  1. Peel the skin of the fresh tomatoes.
  2. Cut the tomatoes open to remove the seeds.
  3. Cook them for a while.
  4. Strain the tomatoes to get a thick paste.

Fresh tomatoes have a robust flavor and add texture to a dish. They are ideal when making meat stews, salads, and curry (such as chickpea curry with sweet potatoes).

6. Marinara Sauce

Marinara sauce

Marinara sauce is also referred to as commercial tomato pasta sauce. In terms of concentration, it falls somewhere between tomato paste and tomato passata.

It contains extra flavorings like basil and onion, enhancing the overall flavor of an otherwise dull dish.

Use 2 tablespoons of marinara sauce for every tablespoon of tomato paste (2:1 ratio).

If you don’t like the extra moisture, simmer the sauce to reduce it to a tomato paste kind of consistency.

7. Tomato Passata

tomato passata

Tomato passata is a non-concentrated tomato paste with the same taste but more watery.

If you don’t mind the extra moisture, use 3 tablespoons of tomato passata for every tablespoon of tomato paste (3:1 ratio).

On the other hand, if you prefer it thicker, simmer the tomato passata for a few minutes and then use the 1:1 ratio.

8. Green Salsa

salsa verde

Made from green tomatoes, green salsa (salsa verde) is an excellent tomato paste substitute when you don’t need the red in your dish.

It has the same flavor as tomato paste, so there isn’t much you’ll be missing except for the color.

On the other hand, it’s not as thick as tomato paste, so you must adjust the other liquids in your dish to obtain the same consistency.

9. Cornstarch and Red Wine

red wine

Red wine has a rich flavor that enhances the flavor of the other ingredients in a dish, while cornstarch is a thickening agent.

Combining the two creates a decent tomato paste substitution. They work well in recipes like pasta sauce when you have other ways of incorporating the tomato flavor.

10. Red Pepper Puree

red bell pepper puree

If you have red bell peppers in your pantry, you can quickly whip up red pepper puree at home and use it as a tomato paste substitute:

  1. Roast a few fresh peppers.
  2. Remove the skin.
  3. Add them to a food processor.
  4. Puree them to a thick paste.

Red peppers have the same color as tomato paste but not the flavor.

Use the 1:1 ratio to substitute tomato paste in recipes like pasta dishes. It also works as a thickening agent.

11. Butternut Squash Puree

Butternut Squash Puree

Made from baked and mashed butternut, butternut squash puree is popular in Indian recipes.

It has a unique nutty, sweet flavor but lacks the acidity of tomatoes, which you can effortlessly correct by adding a splash of vinegar.

Butternut squash is high in fiber, minerals, and vitamins, making it a healthy tomato paste substitute.

12. Nomato Sauce

Nomato sauce

Nomato sauce is made from carrots, beets, garlic, onion, balsamic and white vinegar sautéed in oil.

You just have to combine all these ingredients, simmer them until tender, and puree them in a food processor.

You can use nomato sauce as a tomato paste substitute without any problems since it tastes almost the same.


Discover more helpful information about tomato paste:

What is tomato paste?

Tomato paste is concentrated tomatoes. You can make it by straining, skinning, and cooking tomatoes until you obtain a thick paste.

How do you thicken a sauce when you don’t have tomato paste?

Add a cornstarch slurry or a flour-based roux. Alternatively,reduce the sauce or cook the dish longer to eliminate the excess moisture.

How can I make a shepherd’s pie without tomatoes?

Use any other acid, keeping in mind that it will alter the flavor of shepherd’s pie. For instance, lemon juice adds a rich Mediterranean taste.


Tomato paste is almost irreplaceable in soups, stews, and sauces. Almost.

You can get the same flavor profile with other ingredients, such as fresh tomatoes, canned tomatoes, ketchup, marinara sauce, or red wine and cornstarch.

What’s your favorite tomato paste substitute? Let us know in the comments below!

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