6 Great Tomato Paste Substitutes When You’re In a Pinch

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Tomato paste is a popular ingredient in a variety of dishes. This product adds a little body to your recipes and provides a meaty and satisfying flavor.

So, what can you do when you find your sans tomato paste in the midst of an epic dinner? Grab a tomato paste substitute, of course.

We are all too familiar with the unfortunate event of running out of an ingredient in the middle of cooking. For that reason, we came up with a list of the top six substitutes perfect for replacing tomato paste.

Check out the article below for more information on how to use these products in place of tomato paste. We will also share when to use them and why.

6 Substitutes for Tomato Paste to Use

We found the best ways to replace tomato paste in any dish that calls for this particular ingredient. Not only can you replace the item, but you can provide the same great flavor and feel.

1. Try a Can of Tomato Puree

One of the best substitutes for tomato paste is tomato puree. Keep in mind that puree has a much thinner consistency than paste. When swapping the two,  you will need to use more puree, about 3 TBSP to 1.

You make tomato paste from boiled tomatoes and plum tomatoes. These tomatoes get boiled down, pureed (or pressed), and strained to remove flesh and seeds. They have a bold flavor with a thick texture.

Best for:

  • Stews
  • Soups
  • Sauces

2. Fresh Tomatoes are a Fabulous Option

The best substitute for tomato paste in many recipes is fresh tomatoes. There is little out there more delicious than a fresh, ripe tomato from the garden.

Unless you plan on using it as a garnish or leaving them in whole chunks, you will have to do a bit of work.

Get the results you need by simmering your fresh tomatoes until the mixture thickens. You can then remove the seeds and flesh or leave them be.

Tomatoes produce a very thin consistency compared to paste. You will have to use a few of them to match the cooking ratio.. Use one medium tomato to 1 TBSP of paste.

Best for:

  • Soups
  • Pasta dishes
  • Additives in recipes

Up Next: The Best Tomato Substitute For Your Delicious Up & Coming Dish!

3. Grab a Can of Tomato Sauce

Tomato sauce (AKA salsa Roja in Spanish) is an excellent substitute for tomato paste but not as thick.

We use tomato sauce in tons of recipes and can take the place of tomato paste when needed.

We often use tomato sauce as a base for many tomato dishes. And is often a part of the dish and not used as a condiment.

When using tomato sauce in place of paste, use 3 TBSP of tomato sauce for every TBSP of tomato paste.

Best for:

  • Soup and sauce base
  • Added flavor
  • Marinades

4. Spaghetti Sauce is Something to Try

Spaghetti sauce comes from tomatoes, other vegetables, herbs, and an array of spices. While you can use this option as a substitute for tomato paste, keep in mind that it will change the flavor of the dish.

The good news is spaghetti sauce is very close to the consistency of tomato paste. If you are putting together a plate and replacing one for the other, you can keep the measurements the same.

Best for:

  • Pasta
  • Salsa
  • Recipes requiring thick coatings such as chicken parmesan.

5. Ketchup is Always Available

Ketchup is a staple in every kitchen, making it a quick and easy substitute for tomato paste. Ketchup has a very thick consistency that is a near perfect match for paste.

Ketchup, like spaghetti sauce, also has a lot of added ingredients. Keep this in mind when swapping it out for the paste.

Most ketchup brands have a lot of added sugar. This will make it much sweeter than simple tomato paste, and you won’t want to use it in savory dishes.

Best for:

  • Spaghetti sauces
  • Pizza sauces
  • Sweet marinades

Up Next: The Best Ketchup Substitutes List

6. Grab Some Canned Tomatoes

Do you have an extra can of tomatoes sitting in your pantry? Use that in place of your missing tomato paste.

The best way to swap these two ingredients out is by boiling down the contents inside the can. The results will be a lot more watery and less consistent than paste, so use a two to one ratio in your dish.

Best for:

  • Soup base
  • Stews
  • Recipes looking for a tomato flavor

Make Your Own Tomato Paste in a Few Simple Steps

If you are not happy with substituting your tomato paste for another option, you can always opt to make your own.

If you have the interest, and time, here is how we like to make tomato paste.

What you need: 

Below is a list of the ingredients and tools you will need to create the perfect homemade tomato paste.

  • 5 lbs tomatoes
  • 1 TBSP olive oil
  • 1 TBSP kosher salt or sea salt
  • 1 TBSP lemon juice (optional)
  • A sharp knife (Chefs knife)
  • Medium to Large Pot
  • A large strainer
  • A large, rimmed baking sheet
  • Jars for storage (You can also use ice cube trays (more on this later)

What you need to do

Now that you are ready, follow these steps for the perfect homemade tomato paste. You will never have to worry about using a substitute again.

  • First, preheat the oven to 350°F.
  • Prepare your tomatoes by washing, steaming, and chopping them into quarters.
  • Next, pour the olive oil into the pot over medium to high heat.
  • Toss in the tomatoes, cooking them until they are soft and the peels begin to fall off.
  • Now, turn off the stove and push the hot tomatoes through the strainer (or food mill). Make sure to remove all the seeds and skin and discard them the proper way.
  • Add the lemon juice now if you choose to use it.
  • Finally, reduce the puree you made into a paste. You do this by pouring it onto the baking sheet and placing it into the oven. Leave it for three hours or until all the water has evaporated. You will need to give the mixture a good stir every half hour or so.

And, that’s it, folks; you have made a successful, delicious, and fresh tomato paste that can you can use in any recipe.

How is Tomato Paste Used?

Tomato paste is popular in many dishes, especially Italian, Mediterranean, and Mexican cuisines.

You will find tomato paste in more dishes than we can count, with some of the most popular ones being,

  • Spaghetti sauces
  • Curry
  • Tacos
  • Stews
  • Casseroles
  • And more.

This is an ingredient that we like to use for flavor, to thicken up a sauce or stew, or as the topping on any dish.

Recipes Involving Tomato Paste

Do you have some extra tomato paste lying around and itching to use it up before it goes bad? Here are some great recipes you should try.

  • Spicy Smoked Paprika Sauce (For Chicken)

Get recipe: thespicetrain.com

  • Creamy tomato and Spinach Pasta

Get recipe: joyousapron.com

  • The Perfect Pizza Sauce

Get recipe: hiddenspringshomestead.com

Get recipe: barbellinthekitchen.blogspot.com

  • Meaty Meatloaf with Tomato Paste

Get recipe: mykitchenserenity.com

These are only a handful of the many ways you can use tomato paste to liven up a delicious dish. Grab a cookbook or scour the web to find more ways to use up your leftover tomato paste. Or, consider getting creative and making a few concoctions of your own.

Tomato Paste FAQs

Is Tomato Paste healthy?

Tomato paste is a great source of many essential vitamins and nutrients.  It includes (but is not limited to) iron, vitamin B, C, E, and potassium. It is also loaded with antioxidants, is low in fat and calories, and is gluten free.

Is Tomato Paste High in Sodium?

The amount of sodium in tomato paste depends on the amount added. Tomatoes do not naturally have sodium in them, but it is often used as an additive when preparing the paste.

What Non-Tomato Options Can You Use in Place of Paste?

If you don’t have any tomato products on hand, don’t worry. You can replace the ingredient with other flavors to make your dish delightful. Some options you can use include olive, soy sauce, or an array of seasonings.

Does Tomato Paste Expire?

Canned tomato paste is usually good for up to two years or six months past the printed, best if used by date. Remember, you shouldn’t use opened tomato paste after one week.

Learn more:

Summing Things Up

If you don’t have the tomato paste the recipe in front of you calls for, don’t panic. There are a variety of ways to replace this product, providing you with the same great taste and texture.

When you are in a pinch, give one of the options listed below a try, you will be pleasantly surprised.

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Up Next: Your Top Guide For All Food Ingredients Substitutions!

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