Simple Tomato Paste Substitutes

If you regularly cook at home, you'll know how indispensable tomato paste is for all sorts of recipes.

By Cookist

It's used in everything from sloppy joes to pizza sauce, hearty homemade chilies, curries, and marinades. Tomato paste adds a delicious tomato flavor as well as a bit of tanginess to dishes. Unfortunately, you might not always have a tube of tomato paste stashed in your fridge. The good news? You can substitute tomato paste with a variety of other tomato-based products and get similar results. So the next time you're out of tomato paste, try one of these easy tomato paste substitutes.

What is Tomato Paste?

Tomato paste is an ultra-concentrated tomato sauce. It has a thick texture and is made by cooking tomatoes until they've reduced into a thick paste. Tomato paste is usually sold in tubes and store-bought versions usually have salt and stabilizer. There are also other versions flavored with herbs, spices, and garlic. It's used in pasta sauces, stews, sauces, soups, and more.


Tomato Paste Substitutes

If you don't have any tomato paste on hand, there are several other easy swaps you can use, many of which you probably already have at home!

Tomato Sauce


Tomato sauce is ideal when you want to add some tomato flavor to a dish but don't need to worry too much about thickening it. Since tomato sauce isn't as potent tasting, you'll need to double up on how much sauce you add to your recipe. Use 2 to 3 tablespoons of tomato sauce for each tablespoon of paste.

Tomato Puree

If you don't have tomato paste, tomato puree is the next best option. Tomato puree is thicker than tomato sauce. The flavor isn't as concentrated as tomato paste, but puree will help thicken certain dishes. Swap 2 to 3 tablespoons of puree for every tablespoon of tomato paste.

Canned Tomatoes


Canned tomatoes are an excellent tomato paste substitute because they are incredibly flavorful and can help thicken up dishes. Strain the tomatoes to remove the liquid, then substitute 2 tablespoons of canned tomato for 1 tablespoon of tomato paste.

Fresh Tomatoes

You can use fresh tomatoes as a tomato paste substitute, however, it'll involve a few extra steps. First, you'll need to peel and deseed the tomatoes. Next, you'll need to blend them until they're nice and smooth. Finally, you'll need to cook the tomatoes until they reduce by about half or so. One large tomato will equal about 1 tablespoon of paste. It's a good option to use for soups and stews.

Tomato Soup


Tomato soup will add a similar delicious tomato flavor to your dish, but it is quite a thin liquid, and some versions are a bit sweeter than regular tomato paste. If you opt to use tomato soup as a substitution, reduce the other liquids in your recipe and consider adding a thickener like flour or cornstarch. For every can of tomato soup, you use, reduce the other liquids by ½ cup.


If you don't have any of the other substitutions on this list and can't jump out to the store, you can use ketchup as a last port of call. It's less thick than tomato paste but is thicker than fresh tomatoes. However, ketchup also contains sugar, spices, and vinegar, among other ingredients. Using ketchup will change the flavor of your dish, so it's best to stick to this substitute if you're making something with tangy, sweet flavors like a barbecue marinade. Substitute 1 tablespoon of ketchup for every tablespoon of tomato paste.

How to Make My Own Tomato Paste


If you have some extra time on your hands, try making tomato paste at home – it'll taste fantastic and is worth the effort. To make tomato paste from scratch, you'll need 1 pound of fresh paste tomatoes or 1 can of crushed tomatoes.

If you're using fresh tomatoes, deseed them and remove the skins.

Once the tomatoes are peeled and deseeded, blend them on high until they're completely smooth.

Transfer the tomatoes to a saucepan and cook them over medium-high heat. Let the tomatoes simmer, making sure to stir often so they don't burn. Keep cooking until the liquid reduces and you're left with about 2/3 cup of tomatoes. That's it!

Store your tomato paste in an airtight container for 3 to 4 weeks. To keep it fresh, pour a little olive oil over the top before refrigerating.

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