Tomato sauce is made from fresh tomatoes that have been cooked with oil, stock, and seasoning. Tomato sauce is often used to add flavor to dishes like meats, soups, stews, and sauces, and is readily available in grocery stores.
You can use other ingredients as a tomato sauce substitute in most recipes. Tomato pureé, tomato paste, ketchup, and canned crushed tomatoes all work as a substitute for tomato sauce.
Best Substitute for Tomato Sauce: Tomato Paste
The best substitute for tomato sauce is tomato paste. Like tomato sauce, tomato paste is made from cooked tomatoes. To make tomato paste, the tomatoes are cooked until they are completely soft, and then strained to remove the skins and seeds. The mixture is then cooked again until most of the liquid has been reduced.
Tomato paste is more concentrated than tomato sauce because tomato paste is cooked for much longer. Tomato paste also has a thicker consistency and a stronger flavor than tomato sauce.
In most recipes, you can use tomato paste as a substitute for tomato sauce, but you should dilute it with water to tone down its sharp, acidic flavor. For every cup of tomato sauce, use ⅓ of a cup of tomato paste and ⅔ of a cup of water.
Other Tomato sauce Substitutes, alternatives, and Replacements
There are many canned and bottled tomato-based products that you can use in place of tomato sauce. In certain recipes, you can substitute tomato-free ingredients for tomato sauce too.
Tomato-based Substitutes for Tomato Sauce
Tomato pureé is made from tomatoes that have been cooked and turned into a concentrated, thick liquid. Tomato pureé is more concentrated and has a stronger flavor than tomato sauce.
When using tomato pureé as a tomato sauce substitute, you should mix it with water to reduce the flavor’s intensity and to thin the liquid.
Use half a cup of tomato pureé mixed with half a cup of water in place of one cup of tomato sauce.
Ketchup (sometimes called ‘catsup’) is a bottled sauce used as a condiment on foods like fries and hot dogs. Ketchup is made from tomatoes that have been cooked with spices, vinegar, and corn syrup, among other ingredients.
Ketchup is sweeter than tomato sauce and has a thick consistency. In most recipes, you can use ketchup as a 1:1 substitute for tomato sauce, but you should adapt the recipe to allow for ketchup’s sweet flavor. If your recipe calls for sugar or another sweetening agent, then you should reduce the sugar or sweetener accordingly in the dish.
Tomato juice is a beverage made from tomatoes. The liquid is extracted from the tomatoes, and the pulp is removed to make tomato juice.
Tomato juice is a popular ingredient in many cocktail drinks and is often enjoyed neat as a healthy alternative to fruit juices and soft drinks.
Tomato juice is not as concentrated as tomato sauce, and it doesn’t have any added spices. You need to adapt your recipe to allow for the lack of flavor when you use tomato juice as a tomato sauce substitute.
Use one cup of tomato juice in place of half a cup of tomato sauce. Reduce the amount of water in the recipe by half a cup to allow for the liquid consistency of tomato juice. Add extra salt and spices to enhance the flavor of your dish.
Marinara sauce is a sauce made from tomatoes that have been cooked with onions, garlic, herbs, and spices. Some variations of marinara sauce include wine in the ingredients.
Marinara sauce works as a tomato sauce substitute in Italian dishes like pasta or pizza. Because marinara sauce and tomato sauce are both made from cooked tomatoes and have a similar flavor and consistency, they are both brilliant substitutes for one another in recipes.
You can use the marinara sauce as a 1:1 substitute for tomato sauce, but you should adjust the seasoning and add some extra herbs and spices to the dish.
Finely chopped fresh tomatoes can work as a tomato sauce substitute in many recipes, but chopped tomatoes will change the texture of the food. If you use finely chopped tomatoes instead of tomato sauce, your dish will have a chunky texture.
Using finely chopped tomatoes as a tomato sauce substitute will give the food a more bland flavor. Your dish will still have the same sharp, acidic tang of the tomatoes, but you should add more herbs and spices to boost the flavor of the dish. Substitute one cup of finely chopped fresh tomatoes for one cup of tomato sauce.
If finely chopped fresh tomatoes are too coarse for your recipe, you can chop up fresh tomatoes and liquidize them in a blender or liquidizer. Doing this will give you a liquid similar to tomato juice that is a great tomato sauce substitute.
Liquidized fresh tomatoes won’t be as tangy as tomato sauce, but you can make up for this by adding extra seasoning. Use one cup of liquidized fresh tomatoes as a substitute for one cup of tomato sauce.
Spaghetti sauce is a bottled sauce made from cooked tomatoes and herbs and spices. The flavor of spaghetti sauce is more intense than the flavor of tomato sauce, so you should use less when substituting it for tomato sauce.
Spaghetti sauce makes an excellent tomato sauce substitute in pasta, stews, and soups. Use ¾ of a cup of spaghetti sauce and ¼ of a cup of water in place of one cup of tomato sauce.
There are many forms of canned tomatoes available on supermarket shelves. Whole canned tomatoes, tomato chunks, and crushed tomatoes can all be used as a tomato sauce substitute.
Drain the excess liquid from the can, and blend the tomatoes using a blender or liquidizer. The resulting liquid can be used as a 1:1 replacement for tomato sauce, but you should add extra herbs and spices to the dish for flavor.
Tomato soup works well as a substitute for tomato sauce in many recipes. Tomato soup is thinner than tomato sauce, but it has the same spicy, rich flavor as tomato sauce.
When using tomato soup as an alternative to tomato sauce in soups, stews, and pasta dishes, reduce the amount of liquid in your recipe by a quarter to make up for the thinner consistency of tomato soup.
Tomato Free Substitutes for Tomato Sauce
If you can’t use tomatoes or anything tomato-based, there are certain ingredients you can add to a dish that has a similar taste and texture to tomato sauce.
Cooked Carrots and Beets
Fry up equal amounts of carrots and beets with a little garlic, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Simmer the vegetables until they are soft, and blend them into a smooth paste. Add half a cup of water to half a cup of carrot-and-beet paste, and use this mixture as a 1:1 substitute for tomato sauce.
Roasted Red Peppers
Red peppers have a similar sharp flavor to tomatoes. When roasted, they can be blended to a smooth paste and diluted with water to make an effective tomato sauce substitute.
You can buy bottled roasted red peppers or make them yourself by following these easy steps.
- Preheat the oven to 400°F.
- Wash and dry 6-8 red bell peppers.
- Grease a baking tray and place the peppers on their sides on the baking tray.
- Drizzle the peppers lightly with olive oil.
- Place the peppers in the oven and roast for 20 minutes.
- Remove the peppers from the oven and turn them using tongs.
- Put the peppers back in the oven and roast for another 20 minutes.
- Allow the peppers to cool completely.
Add a few drops of olive oil to the roasted peppers, and blend to a smooth paste. Add half a cup of water to the paste to thin it, and use this sauce as a 1:1 substitute for tomato sauce.
Barbecue sauce is a versatile ingredient that can be used in marinades, sauces, soups, stews, and other meat dishes. It is wonderful as a basting sauce on meat when grilling and is a delicious condiment that can be added to many dishes, such as burgers and fries, for extra flavor.
Barbecue sauce has a spicy, smoky flavor, with a similar texture to ketchup. Barbecue sauce doesn’t have the same flavor as tomato sauce, but it works as a substitute for tomato sauce in certain dishes.
Dilute half a cup of barbecue sauce with half a cup of water, and use the mixture as a 1:1 replacement for tomato sauce.
Ajvar is a relish made from roasted red peppers and eggplants. You can buy ready-made bottled ajvar, or you can make it yourself. Use ajvar mixed with water in equal parts as a 1:1 replacement for tomato sauce in pasta, soups, and stews.
Follow these steps for homemade ajvar:
- 4 red bell peppers
- 1 eggplant
- 2 cloves crushed garlic
- 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Olive oil for roasting, plus another ¼ cup.
- Preheat the oven to 400°.
- Grease a baking tray.
- Cut the red peppers in half and remove the seeds.
- Cut the red peppers and eggplant into pieces and spread them out on the baking tray.
- Drizzle olive oil over the vegetables and place the tray in the oven.
- Roast the vegetables for 30 minutes or until well-browned.
- Allow to cool, and then remove the skins from the eggplant.
- Place the roasted vegetables in a blender or food processor.
- Add the garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper, and balsamic vinegar.
- Blend to a smooth paste.
- Place the paste in a saucepan and cook over low heat for 10-15 minutes.
Allow the ajvar to cool, and use it as a great tomato sauce substitute.