Below are the best tomato paste substitutes to use when you need tomato paste and don’t feel like running to the grocery store.
Are you missing the tomato paste that you need for a recipe? Chances are that you DO NOT need to go to the grocery store. Most likely, you already have a perfectly suitable alternative to tomato paste somewhere in your kitchen or pantry.
If you are out of the thick paste, try one of the great substitutes listed below.
What is Tomato Paste?
Tomato paste is a dark red, thick paste made from tomatoes that have been cooked for a long time to reduce the water content and concentrate the flavor. This process create a tomato based paste that has thick consistency. It is used as a flavoring or coloring agent in many recipes. Since tomato paste has a concentrated tomato flavor profile, it is an easy way for cooks to add a punch of tomato flavor to whatever they are cooking. Additionally, tomato paste’s thick consistency allows it to be used as a thickening agent.
1) How to Substitute Tomato Sauce or Puree for Tomato Paste
When a recipe calls for tomato paste, it is usually because a small amount is needed to add tomato flavor without adding too much liquid. There are several tomato paste substitutes that will work in a pinch.
The best substitute for tomato paste is concentrated tomato puree. It is thick like a paste but has a slightly different flavor. If you are starting with a can of pureed tomatoes, use a 1 to 1 ratio of puree to paste (meaning if the recipes calls for 2 tablespoons of tomato paste then use 2 tablespoons of tomato sauce/puree.
2) How to Substitute Fresh Tomatoes for Tomato Paste
Fresh tomatoes can be used as a tomato paste substitute, but they will not have the same concentrated flavor. To use fresh tomatoes, cook them down until they are very soft. Then, puree the tomatoes and strain out the seeds and skin. The end result will be almost like a homemade tomato paste, but again not nearly as concentrated
This method works best if you are using ripe tomatoes that are in season.
3) How to Substitute Ketchup for Tomato Paste
Ketchup can be used as a tomato paste substitute, but it will add sweetness to the dish. To use ketchup, start with a small amount and slowly add more to taste.
The good news is that ketchup is already quite concentrated. So you can apply a 1 to 1 ratio to your recipe if you use ketchup straight from the bottle. Meaning that if your recipe calls for one tablespoon of tomato paste, use one tablespoon of ketchup.
Keep in mind that ketchup contains vinegar, so it may change the flavor of your dish. For example, Sir Kensington’s Classic ketchup may not be a good substitute since it has higher vinegar notes.
It is also important to keep in mind that ketchup is thinner than tomato paste, so you may need to use less liquid overall in your recipe.
4) How to Substitute Crushed Tomatoes for Tomato Paste
Crushed tomatoes can be used as a tomato paste substitute, but they will add more liquid to the dish. To use crushed tomatoes, start with a small amount and slowly add more to taste.
You may also need to cook the dish for longer to allow the excess liquid to evaporate.
5) How to Substitute Marina Sauce for Tomato Paste
Marinara sauce (spaghetti sauce or any tomato pasta sauce)can be used as a tomato paste substitute, but it will add more liquid to the dish. To use marinara sauce, start with a small amount and slowly add more to taste.
Due to the excess liquid, you may also need to cook the dish for longer to allow the extra liquid to evaporate.
6) How to Use Tomato Soup Instead of Tomato Paste
Since tomato soup tends to be sweeter and has more water, it is actually a bit difficult to replicate tomato paste exactly with tomato soup or bisque. However, if tomato soup is all that you have in your kitchen (and you don’t mind the sweeter notes), you should cook the tomato soup down in order to reduce the soup’s water content. If you decide to go the tomato paste route, use the ratio of 1 to 0.5 when it comes to the liquids that you will remove form the recipe. Meaning that if you add 1 tablespoon of tomato soup, remove about 1/2 tablespoon of liquids from other liquid based ingredients (starting with the lighter liquids e.g. water).
7) How to Substitute Red Salsa for Tomato Paste
Red salsa can be used as a tomato paste substitute, but it will add more liquid to the dish. To use red salsa, start with a small amount and slowly add more to taste.
In order to allow the extra liquid to evaporate, you might also need to cook the meal for longer.
8) How to Substitute Green Salsa for Tomato Paste
Green salsa can be used as a tomato paste substitute, but it will add more liquid to the dish. To use green salsa, start with a small amount and slowly add more to taste. Again, you may also need to cook the dish for longer to allow the excess liquid to evaporate.
9) Non-Tomato Based Substitutes for Tomato Paste
Pureed Red Peppers
If you are looking for a non-tomato-based substitute for tomato paste, you can try using roasted red peppers. Roasted red peppers have a sweet and smoky flavor that can add depth to a dish. And chances are you already have bell peppers in your kitchen.
To use roasted red peppers, puree them in a food processor or blender until they are smooth. You may need to add a little bit of water to get the desired consistency.
Pureed Butternut Squash
If you are looking for a non-tomato-based substitute for tomato paste (and you don’t care about the red color that tomato paste provides), you can try using pureed butternut squash. Butternut squash has a sweet and nutty flavor that can add depth to a dish.
To use butternut squash, cook it until it is very soft. Then, puree the squash in a food processor or blender until it is smooth. You may need to add a little bit of water to get the desired consistency.
Red Wine and Cornstarch
If you are looking for a non-tomato-based substitute for tomato paste, you can try using red wine and cornstarch. This combination will add acidity and thickness to a dish.
To use this combination, mix equal parts red wine and cornstarch. Then, add the mixture to your dish and cook it until it has thickened.
If you are looking for a non-tomato-based substitute for tomato paste, you can try using Nomato sauce. Nomato sauce is made with carrots, bell peppers, and spices and it has a similar consistency to tomato paste. While it can’t be used as a thickening agent (because it is on the watery side, like marina sauce), Nomato sauce can still work as a non-tomato paste substitute.
To use Nomato sauce, simply add it to your dish in the same amount that you would use tomato paste.
There you have it! These are some of the best substitutes for tomato paste that you can use if you find yourself out of this ingredient. Whether you only have pasta sauce, diced tomatoes, or any canned tomatoes in your kitchen, you should have found at least one substitute that could work.
Thank goodness that Americans tend to naturally collect tomato products.
What are some tomato paste-based recipes that I can try the substitutes on?
Looking to learn more about how to substitute other ingredients? Check out our research on the top recipe ingredient substitutions.