Whether you are making pasta, pizza, chicken, pork, or other types of meat or fish, tomato sauce is the basis that you need to make these dishes.
This sauce gives a good texture and more flavor to different types of dishes. In fact, it’s a classic in Italian cuisine. However, this ingredient is used often in many dishes in other cuisines around the world.
However, you’re probably wondering if this common ingredient has its substitutes when cooking. What can I use instead of tomato sauce in recipes? Let’s find out!
Substitutes for Tomato Sauce
As previously mentioned, tomatoes are flexible so you can use different types of tomato-based substitutes in recipes. Read below to find out what substitutes you can use.
1. Tomato Paste
This paste adds tomato flavor to your dish. It’s a good and easy substitute for tomato sauce but tomato sauce is less concentrated than tomato paste, so you’ll need twice as much just to get to the right flavor.
For every 2 to 3 tablespoons of tomato sauce use a tablespoon of tomato paste when cooking. If you want to have the same thickness as tomato sauce, add one cup of water to three-quarters of a cup of tomato paste so you can get the same texture and thickness.
Use this tomato paste instead of tomato sauce when you are cooking chicken in a slow-cooker like Ropa Vieja or Moroccan Chicken.
2. Canned Tomatoes
Can tomatoes be another substitute for tomato sauce? They fit very well in your recipe, the flavor and its thickness give the tomato flavor that you need.
These diced tomatoes are packed in cans with a lot of liquid, so you’ll need to strain the juice and use the tomatoes solid. These canned tomatoes aren’t concentrated as the paste, so you’ll have to double the amount.
You’ll need 2 tablespoons of canned tomatoes for every tablespoon of tomato sauce when cooking.
If your recipe requires tomato sauce and you are using canned tomatoes, you don’t have to worry about the texture or the taste of your dish.
You can use this substitute when cooking roasted eggplant spread or chicken bean stew.
3. Tomato Juice
Tomato sauce is the best fresh substitute that you can use. It’s made from freshly squeezed or crushed tomatoes and doesn’t include preservatives or additives. So, when using tomato juice, be aware that it might turn bad more quickly than any other substitute.
For every ½ cup of tomato sauce and ½ cup of water can be replaced with 1 cup of tomato juice and also you can add salt and sugar.
You can use tomato juice as a substitute in any type of recipe that requires tomato sauce. The only difference is in the freshness as the juice is freshly squeezed.
4. Tomato Soup
Although it’s not commonly used, tomato soup can make a great substitute for tomato sauce. However, it’s important to know that the flavor is sweeter than that of tomato sauces, so make sure that you adapt the taste to your recipe.
You can use 1 can of tomato soup as a substitute for 1 cup of tomato sauce and ¼ cup of water. These adjustments can easily make your dish as tasty as you have used the sauce.
You can use tomato soup when making spaghetti and chili sauces. It’s easy to make and boosts the taste of any dish.
5. Tomato Ketchup
We all have tomato ketchup in our fridges. It’s easy to find and works perfectly in your dishes instead of tomato sauce. The ketchup is not as thick as tomato paste, but it’s thicker than the sauce of fresh tomatoes.
When you add ketchup to your recipe, you have to keep in mind that tomato ketchup contains vinegar, sugar, and spices in its texture. So, when you cook add the amount that you need not more because it’ll change the flavor of the dish.
One tablespoon of ketchup for every spoon of tomato sauce. It goes well in most recipes. You can swap ketchup in recipes that are already sweet like spicy pulled pork or sweet and sour ribs.
6. Fresh Tomatoes
Fresh tomatoes are the best substitute you can use.
Making your tomato sauce from fresh tomatoes is the best thing that you can do. It’s healthier and you know what you are making and using in your dish.
Use paste tomatoes, because they have less water and fewer seeds.
If you are using freshly picked tomatoes, then you’ll need to peel them off and you need to get rid of the seeds. Simmer the tomatoes until they are reduced by half and remove the extra liquid that you don’t need.
Use one large tomato for every tablespoon of tomato sauce. It’s fresh, healthy, and way better than any other sauces.
You can easily adapt the freshly squeezed tomatoes in your recipes, especially if you are cooking pasta. This homemade fresh tomato sauce can also be a good substitute when making creole or other meat with mushrooms.
7. Tomato Puree
Tomato puree is made with cooked, pureed, and strained tomatoes. This thick liquid is used in sauces, dips, soups, stews, and salsas. Tomato puree has a deeper flavor and thicker consistency than tomato sauce. But you can add water or broth to make it thinner.
You can also add herbs, cooked garlic, and onion to obtain a similar taste to tomato sauce You can use tomato puree as a substitute for tomato sauce in a 1:1 ratio.
8. Tomato Passata
Tomato passata is made with raw pureed and strained tomatoes. It doesn’t contain flavorings or additives, but sometimes it has added salt.
Tomato passata has an intense tomato flavor and thick consistency. It’s usually used in sauces, stews, soups, and other dishes. Substitute tomato sauce with tomato passata in a 1:1 ratio.
9. Stewed Tomatoes
Stewed tomatoes are usually cooked tomatoes with different herbs, spices, celery, onions, and bell peppers seasoned with salt, pepper, and sugar. There are also variations of stewed tomatoes with added vegetables.
They work in soups, stews, sauces, casseroles, and other dishes. You can use stewed tomatoes as a substitute for tomato sauce but first, you need to blend them to get a smooth consistency.
After blending you can also cook them and depending on the ingredients which they have add seasonings to your taste. Substitute tomato sauce with stewed tomatoes in a 1:1 ratio.
10. Crushed Tomatoes
Crushed tomatoes are another substitute you can use instead of tomato sauce. They are usually mixed with tomato paste or tomato puree and have a finer consistency than stewed tomatoes.
Crushed tomatoes are used in sauces, soups, and other dishes. Just blend and cook the crushed tomatoes to get the desired consistency and develop a better taste.
Substitute tomato sauce with crushed tomatoes in a 1:1 ratio.
11. Pasta or Pizza Sauce
Pasta or pizza sauces are tomato-based sauces and can be also used as a substitute for tomato sauce in your dishes.
They both have different tastes and consistency and are prepared differently.
Pizza sauce is usually uncooked and it cooks together with the pizza while pasta sauce is cooked. These sauces usually have added herbs and seasonings therefore you have to use them in dishes that have a similar flavor.
You can also adjust the flavor and consistency of these two sauces to be similar to tomato sauce. Use pasta or pizza sauce as a substitute for tomato sauce in a 1:1 ratio.
12. Marinara Sauce
Marinara sauce is a versatile sauce you can use in every dish that calls for tomato sauce. You can use store-bought or homemade marinara sauce and add seasonings and vegetables to your taste.
Marinara sauce is usually made with tomatoes, garlic, onion, basil, oregano, and olive oil. But there are also variations made with olives, capers, red pepper flakes, spices, anchovies, and wine.
It has a thinner consistency than tomato sauce and a different flavor, but you can cook it longer to make it thicker and get the desired texture.
Substitute tomato sauce with marinara sauce in a 1:1 ratio.
13. Tomato Powder
Tomato powder is made from dried, ground tomato skins. It is used as a seasoning, spice, and garnish in many different dishes. Tomato powder has a concentrated tomato flavor and is easy to rehydrate with hot water.
You can use it to give a beautiful tomato flavor to soups, sauces, and stews, or sprinkle it over vegetables, chicken and fish.
Use 1 part of tomato powder and 1 part of hot water to rehydrate and use it in dishes as a substitute for tomato sauce. You can also adjust the amounts of tomato powder and water to get the desired consistency.
14. Sun-Dried Tomatoes
Sun-dried tomatoes have a sweet-tart flavor and firm texture. They are used in many different dishes like soups, sauces, salads, meat, and vegetable dishes.
You can find sun-dried tomatoes dry or marinated in oil with added flavorings or plain. If you want to use sun-dried tomatoes as a substitute for tomato sauce first you need to rehydrate them.
To make one jar of tomato sauce you will need 1 cup of sun-dried tomatoes and 1 ½ cup of water. Bring the water to a boil and pour over the dried tomatoes. Let them sit for 1-2 hours until they are softened.
Blend the rehydrated tomatoes with 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil to get a tomato sauce with a smooth and thick consistency. You can also add dried basil, salt, pepper, garlic, and onion powder to get a better flavor.
Use this mixture as a substitute for tomato sauce in a 1:1 ratio.
15. V8 juice
V8 juice is a beverage made from water and juices of 8 vegetables including tomatoes, beets, carrots, celery, lettuce, spinach, watercress, and parsley.
This juice is a good source of vitamins C and A and potassium but also has a high sodium content(there is also a low sodium version).
V8 juice is not used only as a beverage. It can be also used in sauces, soups, and chilies. You can simmer V8 to get a thicker consistency.
Use 1 cup of V8 juice as a substitute for ½ a cup of tomato sauce in your dishes. Have in mind that you will get a different flavor from the vegetables that V8 juice contains.
Substitute for Tomato Sauce in Lasagna
Lasagna is the most common Italian dish that has tomato sauce as one of its main ingredients when cooking.
However, you are probably asking yourself is there something else to use instead of tomatoes, is there another ingredient to make this dish a bit more different.
Of course, there is. If you are out of tomatoes or sauce, don’t worry as you can use the following substitutes.
Eggplant and Zucchini
These two common vegetables can be used as replacements for tomatoes. Moreover, instead of tomato sauce in between the layers, you can easily use olive paste or tapenade.
Mushrooms can also work as a replacement, but you’ll have a vegetarian, tasty lasagna. In this recipe use béchamel sauce (butter, flour, and milk) and add the mushrooms with wine and cook the mixture.
This is a very common replacement as you will eat a very healthy and green looking lasagna. Béchamel is also used in this combination.
What Can be Used in Place of Tomato Sauce?
In place of tomato sauce you can use tomato paste or juice, canned tomatoes, fresh tomatoes, tomato ketchup or puree, tomato passata, or some of the products mentioned above.
Can I Use Diced Tomatoes Instead of Tomato Sauce?
You can use diced tomatoes instead of tomato sauce. Diced tomatoes are cut into small chunks and preserved with salt, citric acid, and calcium chloride.
These additives are keeping the tomato pieces firm. Therefore, you will have to blend them and cook longer to get a similar consistency to tomato sauce.
Can I Substitute Pasta Sauce for Tomato Sauce?
You can substitute pasta sauce for tomato sauce but have in mind that it has a different flavor because of the added herbs and seasonings.
Therefore, you have to use pasta sauce in dishes that have similar flavors. You can also adjust the flavor and consistency of pasta sauce to be similar to tomato sauce.
Is Tomato Puree the Same as Tomato Sauce?
Tomato sauce and tomato puree are actually very similar. The only difference between them is in their flavor and culinary uses.
If you use tomato puree use it as a recipe ingredient as it’ll blend with the other flavors, whereas the tomato sauce is used as it is.
How Can You Tell if Tomato Sauce is Bad?
Smell it and take a look at it. If the sauce has an off odd flavor and appearance, even mold, then definitely you should throw it out.
Throw out all cans or packages that are leaking or rusting as they are for sure gone bad.
Homemade Tomato Sauce Recipe
You can easily make tomato sauce at home in just a few minutes. The following recipe can help anyone prepare fresh tomato sauce with a few ingredients and save their dish.
I would like to share with you one of the best recipes on how to make the basic, but the most delicious tomato sauce. It’s easy to prepare and it does not take too much time to cook this sauce.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil,
- finely chopped onion and crushed garlic
- You can add celery and carrot, chopped (optional)
- 2 tablespoons chopped parsley and you can also add basil for better taste
- Whole peeled, seeded and chopped tomatoes, the juice is included
- Finally, add the good-old salt and pepper duo, as much as you like.
- Firstly, heat the olive oil in a pan on medium heat and add the onions, carrots and celery. Stir occasionally and then cover the pan and cook for another 15 to 20 minutes until the vegetables soften.
- Then, you should remove the cover and add the garlic and increase the heat. Cook for another 30 seconds.
- Add the tomatoes and the juice into the pan. It’s important to know that If you are using fresh tomatoes, first you need to boil them for a minute and then add them to the pan. Also, add basil and season it with salt and pepper. Bring go a low simmer and low cook. Uncover until the texture gets thicker for about 15 minutes.
- After all, this is done, your sauce is ready for your dish.