What Can I Substitute for Stewed Tomatoes?

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You’re already cooking your pasta sauces or creamy tomato soup when you think to yourself – Hold up, did I buy stewed tomatoes? NO?!

When cooking, stewed tomatoes are a common ingredient, so it would be a surprise to have none of it in your fridge!

But we’re not judging because sometimes, we just don’t have it around in the kitchen or supermarket.

Not to worry, as there are numerous substitutes for stewed tomatoes you can try.

Read on for our list of ingredients you can replace stewed tomatoes with!

What Can I Use Instead of Stewed Tomatoes?

Simply put, stewed tomatoes are tomatoes cooked with various seasonings and spices, then sealed in a jar or can.

You can find stewed tomatoes with onions, bell pepper, garlic, celery, and herbs.

Canned stewed tomatoes include additives like sugar, salt, citric acid, and calcium chloride.

You can use stewed tomatoes in many recipes as they are versatile!

You’ll mainly find it in tomato-based dishes from various cuisines, particularly French and Italian recipes.

That said, stewed tomatoes are also widely used in Asian cuisines and America, with so many unique ways to cook them.

We can also find stewed tomatoes in exotic recipes and vegan diets, whether as a main course or side dish.

Fun fact: You can find stewed tomatoes in different recipes worldwide, including in tomato stews, vegetable dishes, fish recipes, meat dishes, pizza toppings, pasta sauces, tomato chutneys, meat recipes, salsa, bruschetta, soup, casseroles, salads, and more!

So, if you can’t find stewed tomatoes in your grocery store or realize you have none of it halfway through your recipe, use any of these substitutes for stewed tomatoes:

1. Tomato Sauce

When boiling, peeling, seeding, or pureeing fresh tomatoes, you’ll always get tomato sauce.

It’s similar to tomato paste, but some sauces are thicker as they add sugar, basil, Parmesan cheese, and other ingredients.

Like tomato paste, you won’t have chunks, making it suitable in your sauce, creamy stew, or as a pizza topping. The thickness of tomato sauce will affect the texture and consistency of most recipes, so use about 3/4 cup of tomato sauce for every cup of stewed tomatoes a recipe calls for.

We suggest using unseasoned tomato sauce so you can adjust the flavor yourself.

2. Diced Tomatoes

Diced tomatoes are smaller and firmer chunks, unlike stewed tomatoes with bigger and softer pieces. This ingredient is essentially tomatoes cut into small square pieces then canned in juice.

While diced tomatoes are cooked a bit, they aren’t simmered like stewed tomatoes.

Diced tomatoes would also have added seasons and salt, fire-roasted prior to canning for more of a smoky flavor.

You can use diced tomatoes as a substitute for stewed tomatoes in a stew, soup, pasta sauce, among other recipes. When cooking diced tomatoes longer with other vegetables like garlic, chopped bell pepper, onion, and spices, you can use this as a good substitute for stewed tomatoes in recipes.

3. Tomato Paste

image of leftover tomato paste

Tomato paste is one of the most common kitchen staples, which is why it’s easier to substitute stewed tomatoes with it.

Tomato paste improves the flavors of marinades, soups, and sauces, making them denser with more flavor.

Your recipes will also have a more attractive, bright, and intense appearance!

You won’t tell the difference when you add veggies and seasonings like onions, celery, black pepper, sweet paprika, and the like!

We suggest using tomato paste in meat dishes.

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4. Crushed Tomatoes

As the name suggests, crushed tomatoes are crushed until it has a smooth texture, and they will usually be mixed with a bit of tomato purée. As a result, you get an excellent substitute for stewed tomatoes!

Crushed tomatoes have small tomato chunks and are usually pourable with a thicker texture. Its texture is comparable to a mix of diced tomatoes and sauce.

Be wary when purchasing crushed tomatoes, though, because some brands would have a chunky mash while others take on an almost smooth puree!

That said, crushed tomatoes still have a bright flavor, suitable for pasta and creamier soups. While you’ll get a slightly different consistency and texture, you’ll still have a good flavor.

5. Whole-Peeled Tomatoes

These are simply tomatoes packed in juice and canned, typically using plum tomatoes. While canned whole tomatoes are peeled, they still have their seeds intact.

We use this in soups, pasta sauces, and other yummy recipes, crushing them before use.

We recommend adding the juices for more of a strong tomato flavor. Whole-peeled tomatoes make a perfect substitute because of their versatility, as you can add extra seasoning for personal taste.

However, you’ll have to do a bit more work when you want to achieve a more authentic stewed tomato flavor.

Cook canned whole peeled tomatoes with a quarter cup of chopped bell pepper and another quarter cup of chopped onion for a fresher and better flavor.

6. Tomato Puree

The puree is a versatile ingredient you can use to substitute stewed tomatoes. After straining them from their seeds and skins, it’s a thick liquid made from cooking tomatoes.

As a result, you get consistency between sauce and paste, but with a more similar flavor to tomato paste. Some brands would simply combine tomato paste and water to create puree!

That said, expect no herbs or added seasonings other than salt in the puree. However, that’s a good thing as you can adjust it to your liking.

We like to add bell peppers, celery, onions and have our tomato purée slightly seasoned with pepper, sugar, and salt!

7. Make Stewed Tomatoes from Fresh Tomatoes

You probably already have raw tomatoes in your fridge or growing in your garden, so why not just make stewed tomatoes yourself? (*) Whether you have chopped or whole tomatoes, you can use them for your stewed tomatoes!

That said, here is an easy recipe to try:


  • 8-10 ripe tomatoes (You can also use canned tomatoes)
  • 1/4 teaspoon of ground black pepper
  • two teaspoons of salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon of sugar
  • Two tablespoons of unsalted butter
  • Chopped veggies like celery, bell peppers, garlic, onion (optional)


  1. Peel fresh tomatoes with a knife, discarding all the tomato skins. You can also place the whole tomatoes in a pot of boiling water for half a minute, then put them in an ice bowl to peel them easily.
  2. Cut your whole tomatoes into your preferred chunks.
  3. Heat the chopped fresh crushed tomatoes in a sizable saucepan for about five minutes on medium-low heat to prevent them from burning. Stir your fresh tomatoes frequently until they become softer and you see juice.
  4. Season your fresh tomatoes with all your spices and vegetables (like celery!), stirring until everything is well-incorporated. Taste test and adjust your seasonings until you achieve the desired flavor.
  5. Continue to simmer your fresh tomatoes for around 20 minutes in low heat to prevent them from burning. Continue stirring it frequently until it reaches your desired consistency.
  6. You can let it cool and use it however you want to! If needed, store the cooked tomatoes in an airtight container and place them in the fridge. You must consume it within five days. However, you can extend the lifespan by putting it in the freezer to last for up to three months. Just make sure you defrost the tomatoes before using them.

We recommend this route if you don’t like canned tomatoes and want a fresher flavor. However, please note that making your stewed tomato from fresh tomatoes means taking more time and effort!

But hey, if you have 30 minutes to spare, it’s worth trying, and at least you’ll have a bigger batch whenever you need them.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do you still have questions about using stewed tomatoes and the alternatives we mentioned above?

Here are frequently asked questions to learn from:

1. Is there a difference between stewed tomatoes and diced tomatoes?

Yes, diced tomatoes are basically tomato lumps with a bit of fresh tomato juice. Crushed tomatoes are made with tomato paste or puree and diced tomatoes. Stewed tomatoes are different from the two, cooked and canned with different flavors and added sugar.

2. What are the nutritional benefits of tomatoes?

Tomatoes are rich in an antioxidant called carotenoid pigment lycopene. This can reduce the risk of cancer, macular degeneration, and heart disease.

Besides that, tomatoes, in general, are low in calories with very little fat.

It also contains vitamins A, C, and B6, essential vitamins that we need to consume daily for proper health! (*, *, *)

3. Are tomato sauce and stewed tomatoes the same?

Stewed tomatoes have bigger pieces and aren’t as smooth or pureed as tomato sauce.

Tomato sauce is smoother than stewed tomato with added flavors.

We use tomato sauce as a base in various sauces, and it’s a bit thicker than stewed tomatoes and tomato juice. It isn’t as thick as tomato paste, though!

4. Is homemade better than canned stewed tomatoes?

The choice is entirely up to you!

They have their different pros and cons, with homemade stewed tomatoes having the added nutritional benefit since it doesn’t contain preservatives. Furthermore, the canning process may eliminate some of the vitamin C or fiber, though there will still be a lot of nutrients left.

However, canned tomatoes wouldn’t require any prep work, saving you more time.

Canned is a more popular option for its convenience and because they last longer than homemade versions.

Fun fact: Regardless of what stewed tomatoes you use, you’ll get a mix of sweet, sour, and umami flavors!

Wrapping It Up

Let us know what you think about any of these ingredients and if you have other suggestions to share when substituting stewed tomatoes.

We hope our list helped you out and that you achieved a successful recipe!

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