Tomatoes come in so many forms; it isn’t just the bright red, juicy, fresh fruit that we once argued was a vegetable.
Like potatoes, there are so many ways you can prepare tomatoes for cooking or eating straight. There’s tomato paste, roasted tomatoes, tomato sauce, sundried tomatoes, and more.
Two of the popular types of tomato products are tomato puree vs crushed tomatoes. But is there really a difference between these two? Aren’t crushed tomatoes considered tomato puree anyway?
We’ll explain the differences below, so read on!
What is Tomato Puree?
The best way to define tomato puree is something between tomato paste and crushed tomatoes.
It’s thick in nature but consists of pureed tomatoes, meaning there aren’t any chunks. Instead, it’s smooth with a deep flavor. Sometimes, people make tomato puree simply by diluting tomato paste with water.
You can easily find tomato puree for sale in local grocery stores, with one of the more famous brands being Hunt’s.
You can also make your own tomato puree! Because tomato puree is concentrated with a deep flavor, you’ll only need a smaller amount of it to achieve great flavor.
We make tomato puree through cooking and straining tomatoes, so you’re left with puree liquid. The result is a mix of the tomato paste’s thickness and tomato sauces’ saucier consistency.
Fun fact: One cup of tomato puree canned tomato puree contains approximately 95 calories with 4.1g protein, 0.5g fat, and 23g carbohydrates. It also has 4.8g fiber, 12g sugar, 70mg sodium, and 45mg calcium! (*)
We set tomato puree apart from other tomato products because of its deeper flavor.
You can use this for soups, casseroles, stews, or homemade sauces. If you want to thicken your tomato puree, you can add tomato paste.
What Are Crushed Tomatoes?
On the other hand, crushed tomatoes have tomato paste or tomato puree mixed in!
It’s a combination of diced tomatoes with tomato paste or tomato puree, created through stewing the tomatoes, dicing them, then adding the paste or puree.
You may add other additives or seasonings for more flavor.
Crushed tomatoes may either have small, stewed chunks or none at all, with the texture varying. Like tomato puree, you can find crushed tomatoes sold in groceries or make your own.
- Fun fact: One cup of crushed tomatoes contains about 39 calories with 2g protein, 0.3g fat, and 8.8g carbohydrates. It also has 2.3g fiber, 5.3g sugar, 225mg sodium, and 41mg calcium. (*)
While crushed tomatoes have a waterier consistency than tomato puree, they have lower water content than whole or diced tomatoes. This prevents overcooking and provides a slightly more concentrated flavor.
- Pro-tip: Whether you make your own crushed tomatoes or buy a can of it, add a bit of basil, which adds light flavor!
The Main Different Between Tomato Puree and Crushed Tomatoes
Now that you know what tomato puree and crushed tomatoes are, what are the differences between these two? They still sound so similar! We compare tomato puree vs crushed tomatoes below:
- Tomato puree is sometimes made of tomato paste diluted with water, while crushed tomatoes are diced tomatoes missed with tomato paste or puree.
- Tomato puree has a smoother texture because all the skins and seeds are removed. Crushed tomatoes would have a chunkier texture, usually sold in jars or cartons, sometimes including the seeds and skins.
- In terms of taste, tomato puree has a more intense tomato flavor and is slightly sweeter than the traditional chopped or whole tomatoes. Crushed tomatoes still share the tomato flavor but are not as strong.
- Crushed tomatoes have slightly higher acidity levels than tomato puree, but puree has more lycopene.
- We recommend using tomato puree in dishes that need a strong tomato flavor and thicker texture, like pasta or pizza sauce. It’s also best suited for recipes with longer cooking times, like baking.
- Crushed tomato sauce is best for dishes requiring a subtle tomato flavor, like salsa or chili.
- Tomato puree is technically a processed product, but you can make it at home. Crushed tomatoes are usually made of tomato puree at home, though you can find them on sale in grocery stores with added preservatives.
Despite these differences, there is no “better” tomato ingredient as it depends entirely on what you’re making and the consistency and desired tomato intensity you want.
If you want healthier crushed tomatoes or tomato puree, we highly recommend making your own. Many recipes can help you create these two tomato products at home, so prepare your tomatoes and desired seasonings!
Frequently Asked Questions
Other than the tomato puree vs crushed tomatoes comparison guide, we’ve listed down frequently asked questions:
1. Can I use tomato puree to substitute for tomato paste (and vice versa)?
Yes, you can use them interchangeably, but there will be a difference in the overall texture. If you use crushed tomatoes, you may want to add a little bit of water to match the tomato puree’s consistency. But when using tomato puree, it’s best to add a bit of tomato paste for thickness.
Fun fact: Crushed tomatoes contain fewer calories than tomato puree because there are fewer additives, particularly when homemade. However, this still depends on the kind of brand you purchase from, so we recommend checking the nutrition label!
2. Do tomato puree and crushed tomatoes use the same kind of tomatoes?
This would vary, depending on your location, the brand you use, and, if homemade, the tomatoes you have. You can use any type of tomato to create tomato puree or crushed tomatoes, with no pressure!
Pro-tip: We recommend using Roma tomatoes for better flavor, but again, no pressure! Roma tomatoes are larger than grape and cherry tomatoes, with chewy flesh and lower water content.
3. Are there any similarities between tomato puree vs crushed tomatoes?
Of course, we mean, they are made of a similar fruit! But they share even more similarities than that.
For starters, these tomato products are made from peeled and seeded tomatoes. Both these products can add richness and thickness to your dishes, though tomato puree is a bit thicker.
The best part is the health benefits these two products bring, as they are both made of healthy tomatoes! Expect these tomatoes to be high in antioxidants with vitamins A, C, and K. However, tomato puree contains a bit more lycopene than crushed tomatoes.
Fun fact: Studies show that processed tomatoes are a better lycopene source than raw tomatoes! (*)
Wrapping It Up
Tomatoes are used in so many different recipes, coming in various forms, tomato species, and ways of cooking. When it comes to tomato puree vs crushed tomatoes, the main difference is that the former is finer without any chunks. In contrast, crushed tomatoes have a chunkier, pulpier, and slightly watery consistency.
While it’s acceptable to interchange the two tomato products, note that it can change your recipe’s consistency, so we don’t recommend it unless you’re in a pinch. Hopefully, our comparison guide on tomato puree vs crushed tomatoes helped you out!
Go ahead and purchase these products in the store or make your own with the best recipes now.