The Best 8 Substitutes for Tomato Sauce for All Situations

image of replace tomato sauce

Tomato sauce is a versatile ingredient you don’t want to find yourself without. However, in a situation where you don’t have a jar laying around, don’t panic. There are other options available for you to use. 

There are plenty of great substitutes you can use in place of tomato sauce. These include tomato options with a similar flavor profile. Or non-tomato options can give the same texture with a new taste.

Don’t waste your time rushing to the store when you run out of tomato sauce. Instead, head to the cupboard and grab an item listed below. 

image of tomato sauce

What is Tomato Sauce?

Tomato sauce is often found as a base for many main dishes consisting of proteins like Hamburg, chicken, turkey, etc. This ingredient is also often used to flavor Italian and Mexican meals like tacos and spaghetti. (*)

Tomato sauce comes from chopped pre-cooked tomato chunks. These chunks are placed into a pulping machine and the seeds, stem, and skin are removed. Finally, it is placed into a puree machine and mashed into a fine mixture. 

Although other ingredients are often added to tomato sauce to create its flavor profile, tomato is the boldest flavor by far.

What Can You Do with Tomato Sauce?

There are various ways to use tomato sauce in a variety of dishes. It is commonplace in many Italian foods, Mexican cuisine, and other recipes. 

A few places where you will find tomato sauce listed as the main ingredient include

  • Spaghetti sauce
  • Chili
  • Soups and stews
  • Chicken Parmesan
  • Marinara dip
  • Cream sauce
  • Gravy

What are The Best Substitutes for Tomato Sauce?

When you are cooking or baking, you should always have a few good go-to alternatives for the main ingredient. If you run out of tomato sauce, there are options out there. 

Keep in mind, that not all options will work on their own. Sometimes you will have to get a little creative. This creativity might require a little magic with different ingredients and spices.

You will also need to factor in how tomatoes break down and the acidity level they possess. These aspects can change the look, texture, and taste of your dish.

But enough talking. If you are looking for a substitute for tomato sauce in your upcoming dish, here are a few of our favorites.

1. Tomato Paste is a Thicker Alternative

Tomato paste is a concentrated version of tomato sauce. This is a good option for those who love the bold flavor of tomatoes.

If you want to use tomato paste in place of sauce, you can do so in most dishes. However, keep in mind that the tomato paste is thicker than the alternative. This means you will have to add water to the recipe. 

  • To substitute: Use one TBSP of paste to one TBSP of sauce

Learn more: 6 Great Tomato Paste Replacements When You’re In a Pinch

2. Try Using Canned Tomatoes for a Great Flavor

Canned tomatoes make another great substitute for tomato sauce. The most obvious difference between the two is that canned is usually chunks of tomatoes. You can either use whole tomatoes or mash them up to get the right consistency.

Canned tomatoes can be used in soups and stews to get a great flavor and texture. Another great advantage of this product is its long shelf life.

  • To substitute: Use two TBSP of canned tomatoes for every one TBSP of tomato sauce.

3. Ketchup Can be A Simple Solution

Ketchup is another popular substitute for tomato sauce. This ingredient is a staple in many households and easy to get your hands on. 

If you are out of tomato sauce and need a quick replacement, ketchup is a good way to go.

Keep in mind that most ketchup brands use a lot of sugar and vinegar to flavor their product. For that reason, the flavor profile will be much different and sweeter.

  • To substitute: Use one TBSP of ketchup for every one TBSP of tomato sauce.

Learn more: The Best Ketchup Substitute (#11 TASTE VERY SIMILAR)

4. Use a Little Tomato Juice

Tomato juice is the best option when it comes to matching the flavor profile of the sauce. This product is the result of freshly squeezed tomatoes, leaving a thin juice with a concentrated flavor.

Keep in mind that tomato juice will be waterier. That means you should cut out ½ -1 cup of water in the recipe when using this option. 

  • To substitute: Use 1 cup of tomato juice for one cup of sauce

Learn more: What Can I Substitute for Tomato Juice? (12 Ingredients to Try)

5. Spaghetti Sauce Tastes Great

Another common household item is spaghetti sauce. A can or jar of spaghetti sauce is easy to come by and pretty cheap. When making up most dishes, spaghetti sauce can be a great substitute for tomato sauce.

The biggest difference between the two options is the added ingredients to change up the flavors. There are many species and other items in spaghetti sauce to give it a unique taste. These ingredients can change the flavor profile of your dish.

  • To substitute: Use 1 cup of spaghetti sauce for one cup of tomato sauce.

6. Fresh Tomatoes for a Fresh Flavor

If you are cooking up a delicious meal and run out of tomato sauce, grab a few fresh tomatoes from the garden. Depending on the recipe, you might not have even to squeeze or blend them. 

If you are making a soup or stew, you can simply cut the tomatoes into chunks and add them in. 

If you choose to use fresh tomatoes to make the sauce, there are a few things you have to do.

First, you need to peel the tomatoes and remove the fleshy outer layer. Next, you need to boil them down so they are easy to puree. Finally, you must place them in a blender until they are consistent.

  • To substitute: Use one fresh tomato for every 1 TBSP of tomato sauce.

Learn more:

7. Some Delicious Tomato Soup Can Be a Great Option

If you have a can of tomato soup, you can use it as a tomato paste alternative. Like spaghetti sauce, the soup will provide a great tomato flavor in any recipe. Yet, this ingredient will also have added spices and ingredients that alter the taste. 

Depending on the product, the texture shouldn’t be too much different. You can add this ingredient to pretty much any recipe that requests tomato sauce.

  • To substitute: Use one cup of tomato soup for every cup of tomato sauce.

Learn more:

8. Tomato Puree is Great in Soups and Sauces

You can always substitute tomato puree for tomato sauce. Although this option is almost spot-on in flavor it isn’t perfect when it comes to consistency. Tomato puree is much thicker than sauce. But you can always add a little water to thin it out. 

Use tomato puree in recipes like dips, stews, and chili.

  • To substitute: Use one TBSP of tomato puree for one TBSP of tomato sauce.

Learn more: What Can I Substitute for Tomato Puree? 10 Options to Try

Substitute for Tomato Sauce Without Tomatoes

If you don’t like tomatoes or suffer from allergies, you might be looking for an alternative option.

Luckily, you can try plenty of substitutes in place of tomato sauce that doesn’t have tomatoes in the ingredients.

Here are some of our favorite non-tomato substitutes for tomato sauce. 

Pureed or Blended Red Bell Peppers

You can use red bell peppers if you want a powerful flavor and the same red color as tomatoes. These are a healthy alternative to tomato sauce and great for many dishes. 

Blended Carrots and Beets

A great alternative is blending carrots and beets to create a unique sauce base and delicious flavor. This option isn’t going to offer the same acidity so isn’t good for recipes that need that specific characteristic.

Alfredo Sauce for Spaghetti

If you are looking for a tomato sauce alternative to put on top of your spaghetti, alfredo is fantastic. Alfredo sauce is a mix of butter, flour, and milk that creates a creamy paste. 


Can You Substitute Tomato Sauce for Tomato Paste?

Yes, you can substitute tomato sauce for paste. However, to get the same consistency you will need to add ½ cup of water to the mix.  

What is the Best Tomato Sauce Substitute for Chicken Recipes?

The best substitute for tomato sauce in chicken and meat recipes is tomato paste and puree. While these options are thicker than sauce, they are full of flavor. Alternatives to tomatoes like alfredo sauce are another delicious option.

Can You Replace Tomato Sauce with Dried Tomatoes?

You can use dried tomatoes in place of tomato sauce. Keep in mind you will need to at least double the amount used to get the same flavor and consistency. If you add the tomatoes whole, you will change the texture of your dish.  

What is the Best Substitute for Tomato Sauce in Lasagna?

You can always replace the tomato sauce with other vegetables in lasagna. Some of the best options include zucchini and eggplant. You can also use an olive paste in between each layer for substance. 

Up Next: Your Common Food Ingredient’s Shelf Life – A Comprehensive Guide By Groups

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