11 Tomato Puree Substitutes In Your Pantry: Save Your Recipe
Looking for a tomato puree substitute? Whether you have run out or forgotten to purchase what you need, these 11 tomato puree substitutes will help you still make your beloved tomato based recipes.
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Why you’ll love these alternatives
Save your meal: Who hasn’t gone to make a meal and realized they are missing one essential item…I know I have! Knowing some alternatives for tomato puree can help you fix the situation and still get your meal on the table.
Discover something new: A few of these replacements are not made of tomatoes at all! So you may discover a whole new way of making the recipe you love.
Always be prepared: By learning about some of these different ingredients and their flavor profiles, you will always be able to find substitutes for recipes that call for tomatoes.
So hang in there to see what new and slightly “out of the box” ways you can create your favorite tomato based meals when you don’t have tomato puree.
First, let’s get to know exactly what tomato puree is, because all the tomato products out there can get pretty confusing.
Tomato puree can be found in the supermarket or made at home. It is made purely of tomatoes and nothing else. The texture is normally smooth and the consistency is thin. There are no additional flavors in a tomato puree.
What is it good for? Tomato puree is good for tomato based soups, sauces, and condiments. Anything from a tomatoey beef stew to a pizza sauce can start with a good tomato puree. The beauty of tomato puree is that it is a basic flavor that can be used to build something with great depth and flavor.
How is it made? Tomato puree is made by boiling tomatoes in water (most commonly roma tomatoes) and then pureeing in a blender or food processor. You can either remove the skin and seeds or not. It depends on the texture you want.
Taste, texture/ consistency, nutrition The taste should be similar to eating a slightly cooked tomato.
For a smoother texture, pass the pureed tomatoes through a sieve to remove the seeds and skin.
For a rougher texture, remove the skin from the boiled tomatoes before pureeing and then do not pass through the sieve in order to keep the slightly chunkier texture (due to the seeds still being in the pureed mixture).
Overall, the consistency will be thin due to the water content in the tomatoes.
The nutritional attributes are vitamins C and D, Iron, Potassium, Calcium and Phosphorus.
What makes a good tomato puree substitute?
Taste: A good substitute should either be made of tomatoes, or have similar flavors of acidity, saltiness and sweetness. The substitute should also have few to no added flavors.
Texture: A good replacement has a thin consistency or can be made to have a thin consistency fairly easily.
Processing: The best substitutes will be ones that have been cooked just a little, and have little to no processing, just like the tomato puree.
11 Best Tomato Puree Substitutes
The first five tomato puree alternatives in this list are my favorites because they can really help you keep the flavors similar in a dish that calls for tomato puree.
I list them in order of closest resemblance and least amount of work to achieve a similar consistency.
After the first 5, you will notice that many of the options have more additives, different textures, and added flavors that can change the taste profile of your meal if not careful.
Tomato passata A tomato passata is essentially the same as tomato puree, except the tomatoes have not been cooked in a passata. Instead, the tomatoes are just picked and pureed. Some passatas can be found in their raw form with the seeds and skins in the blended mix. Others have been passed through a sieve to have a thinner consistency and smoother texture.
Taste: Tastes like raw tomatoes that have been blended in a blender.
Texture/Consistency: Thin consistency and smooth to semi-smooth texture.
Processing: Minimal. Just pureed.
Suggested measurement: 1 part tomato passata : 1 part tomato puree. Due to the passata being slightly less cooked than the puree, your recipe may need to cook a little longer than normal. Tasting as you go is a great way to make sure your recipe comes out as similar as possible to the original recipe.
Tomato sauce Tomato sauce is made slightly differently from tomato puree. Tomato sauce is typically made by chopping up tomatoes and cooking them with olive oil, spices, salt and sugar. The mixture is cooked until most of the water is gone and then blended into a smooth sauce. When looking to buy tomato sauce, look for the least flavored option.
Taste: Tastes like tomatoes, slightly sweeter due to longer cooking and addition of sugar. Plus possible flavors of onion and salt depending on what was added to the mixture. Be sure to read the can.
Texture/consistency: Slightly thicker consistency than puree due to cooking out more of the water. The texture can be smooth or chunky, depending on whether the recipe was blended and passed through a sieve.
Processing: Most tomato sauces are simmered on the stove for longer periods of time to achieve a deeper, more caramelized flavor of the sugars and evaporate out more water. Both of these processes increase the flavor of the tomatoes in the sauce.
Suggested Measurement: 1part tomato sauce : 2 parts tomato puree. I suggest starting off with ½ of the called for amount of tomato puree due to the fact that tomato sauces have a stronger, richer flavor. Add a little at first and then add more if needed.
Tomato paste A great way to substitute for tomato puree is with tomato paste. Since tomato paste is just tomato puree with all the water removed, you can make puree by adding the water back.
Taste: Concentrated taste of tomatoes.
Texture/consistency: Thick consistency and smooth texture.
Processing: The paste has been processed by evaporating out the water. This process concentrates the flavors.
Suggested measurement: 1 part tomato paste + 1 part water = 2 parts tomato puree. For instance, if your recipe calls for 1 cup of puree, then you would use a half cup of paste and a half cup of water to give you the amount of puree substitute you need for the recipe.
Canned Tomatoes Whether whole, chopped, diced or crushed, canned tomatoes can be turned into tomato puree. Just place them in the blender and blend them up.
Taste: Tastes like tomatoes.
Texture/consistency: Could be whole tomatoes, diced tomatoes, or crushed tomatoes. All types will need to be pureed and passed through a sieve to remove seeds.
Processing: Any canned tomato has been cooked, canned in tomato juice, and has possible preservatives added.
Suggested measurement: 1 part pureed canned tomatoes : 1 part tomato puree
Canned Stewed tomatoes Canned stewed tomatoes require slightly more work than something like adding water to tomato paste. However, the flavor you get will be very close to tomato puree.
Taste: Tastes like cooked tomatoes. May have a slightly sweeter taste due to sugar being added. Make sure there are no other seasonings in the can.
Texture/consistency: Whole tomatoes that have been stewed and would need to be pureed and passed through a sieve.
Processing: Cooked and most likely canned in tomato juice with some sugar.
Suggested measurement: 1 part pureed stewed tomatoes : 1 part tomato puree
Fresh Tomatoes Believe it or not, if you have some tomatoes in the garden or that you got at the grocery store and didn’t use, then you can make your own tomato puree to replace canned tomato puree.
Taste: Tastes like raw tomatoes that have been mashed up and may even taste better than the canned puree.
Texture/consistency: Whole tomatoes that must be boiled and pureed to the consistency of tomato puree.
Processing: Slight cooking and pureeing.
Suggested measurement: 1 part homemade tomato puree : 1 part store bought tomato puree
Tomato soup Here is where the list starts to get a little more interesting. Most tomato soup is made of tomato puree, however, most also contain thickening agents such as flour, and also high fructose corn syrup. But in a pinch, tomato soup can work in a recipe instead of tomato puree.
Taste: Tastes like tomatoes that have been sweetened. Much of the time you will lose a lot of the acidity in a tomato soup.
Texture/consistency: Slightly thicker consistency due to thickeners like flour and a smooth texture.
Processing: Most tomato soups are cooked with all kinds of spices and flavors before canning.
Suggested measurement: 1 part tomato soup : 2 parts tomato puree. Start with half the amount of soup so you can taste the recipe and know if the flavor profile has changed too much. If not, then you can add another part of the soup.
Tomato juice Tomato juice that is sold at the market for drinking is just watered down tomato puree. In most cases, there will be some sugar, salt, and other spices added in order to make the drink more palatable.
Taste: Tastes like tomatoes with salt, sugar and spices.
Texture/consistency: Very thin consistency and smooth texture.
Processing: Most likely this drink has been cooked with flavor additives, watered down, and then canned or bottled.
Suggested measurement: 1 part tomato juice : 1 part tomato puree. Tomato juice can be a great alternative for tomato puree, but whatever you are making may need to be cooked slightly longer in order to allow some of the additional water to evaporate out of the recipe.
Once the additional water has evaporated out, you will be able to determine if you need to add more tomato juice or not.
Ketchup Ketchup has a tomato base, but also contains vinegar, sugar, and other spices. I would only use this when you have absolutely no other replacements to use, since ketchup has a pretty distinct flavor and may actually change the flavor profile of your dish drastically.
Taste: Tastes like sweet and tart tomatoes.
Texture/consistency: Thicker consistency and smooth texture.
Processing: Ketchup is processed to extract the tomato flavors and then add the vinegar and additional flavors for flavoring. Also contains preservatives.
Suggested Measurement: 1 part ketchup + 1 part water = 2 parts tomato puree
Marinara Marinara is tomato based, but normally contains large amounts of robust flavors such as oregano, garlic, basil and onion. I would only use marinara as a tomato puree replacement if the recipe you are making has the same or similar flavor profile as the marinara you are using.
Taste: Tastes like tomatoes with basil, oregano, garlic and onion.
Texture/consistency: Thick consistency and can have anything from a smooth texture to a chunky texture.
Processing: Normally cooked for long periods of time to impart bold flavors and develop natural sugars within sauce.
Suggested Measurement: 1 part marinara + 1 part water = 2 parts tomato puree
Pizza Sauce Pizza sauce is very similar to marinara in that it normally contains bold flavors of basil, garlic and onion. Pizza sauce is a good substitute for tomato puree only if the end flavors of the dish are similar to the flavors of the pizza sauce.
Taste: Bold flavors of cooked tomato, basil and other italian seasonings.
Processing: Has been cooked to develop flavors of italian seasonings.
Suggested Measurement: 1 part pizza sauce + 1 part water = 2 parts tomato puree
8 Non tomato-based substitutes for tomato puree
These unique substitutes are ideal for anyone who is in a real pinch…meaning they have absolutely no tomato products in their home. I know there are people with nightshade allergies and therefore they cannot eat tomatoes, so a few of these non tomato based substitutes for tomato puree will work.
Roasted red pepper sauce Being a relative to the tomato, red peppers can give a similar, yet unique flavor to a dish when used in place of tomato puree. Roasted red peppers develop a nice tangy acidity and sweetness similar to a cooked tomato. And when pureed, it can give you a nice similar taste, texture and consistency, although the overall taste will be different.
Pumpkin Puree Pumpkin puree has a slightly thicker, but very similar texture and consistency to tomato puree. Though the overall flavors of your dish may be sweeter than if you use a tomato-based replacement, adding a bit of acid like lemon juice or vinegar may help balance that out.
Carrot Puree The taste and consistency of carrot puree will be similar to that of pumpkin puree, making it perfect to replace tomato puree in any recipe. Again, the carrots will bring more sweetness to the dish so you will need to find a way to balance that.
Roasted Butternut Squash Another member of the gourd family, butternut squash will work similarly to pumpkin puree when you want to use it instead of tomato puree. Just balance the sweetness.
Sweet Potato Another great choice to replace tomato puree in a recipe is sweet potato because of its texture and consistency. Add it to any recipe that calls for tomato puree and then add a bit of acid to balance out the sweetness.
Umeboshi Paste Umeboshi paste may not be something you have in your pantry on a daily basis, but if you want to try something completely new…umeboshi paste is it! Umeboshi paste is a Japanese flavor paste made from the Ume fruit. The fruit is actually pickled and then pureed into a paste and has flavors of sweet, sour, and salty. Sound like any other fruit we know? Yup the tomato! You will just have to experiment with this one to see how much you would need to use in your recipe. And because it is a paste, it will probably need to be watered down a bit in order to be closer to the tomato puree texture and consistency.
Tamarind Concentrate The flavor of tamarind is one you can find in dishes such as curries, and even Worcestershire sauce. The distinct sour and somewhat sweet flavors can mimic some but not all of the tomato puree flavors in a recipe that calls for tomato. Due to the sometimes sour nature of this sauce, you may need to add some additional sugar to your recipe for balance.
Zucchini plus lemon juice Zucchini is a great fruit that can give you a similar texture to tomato puree. When cooked it has a sweetness and by adding a bit of lemon juice and salt, you may find that the flavors are very similar. Again, you will have to just play around with the amounts to find what works in your recipe.
Tips for the best result
Know your recipe. If your recipe is an italian style recipe that already has italian flavors, then using marinara or pizza sauce in place of tomato puree in your recipe may work perfectly. However, if you know you need something with less flavor or a thinner texture, then finding a replacement like passata may work better for your recipe.
Don’t be afraid. Whenever you change out ingredients in a recipe, there is some trial and error involved. If you don’t get it right the first time, just try something different the next time. And you never know…you may like it even better with the replacement!
Stock your pantry. By stocking your pantry with a variety of versatile ingredients from tomato purees to pumpkin purees, you can be sure to always have a way to replace what you need in a recipe.
Tomato puree vs tomato sauce
Tomato puree is simple and pure in flavor and texture. The tomatoes are boiled and pureed into a thin, smooth texture and used as a base to build off of in many recipes that will eventually become marinaras, sauces and chilis.
Tomato sauce is more complex than tomato puree. Tomato sauce has been cooked longer and cooked with additional flavors such as onion, salt and sometimes even sugar. The richer, bolder flavor of tomato sauce may overpower a recipe that calls for tomato puree, so be sure to cut back on any substitutions you make.
Tomato puree vs tomato passata
Tomato puree is quickly boiled tomatoes that have been pureed with no additional flavors.
Tomato passata is uncooked tomatoes that have been pureed with no additional flavors.
The texture and consistency are similar in both.
Where do you find tomato puree in the grocery store?
Normally you can find tomato puree with the other canned tomato products such as whole canned tomatoes and chopped tomatoes
Is tomato puree just tomato paste?
Tomato puree is where tomato paste starts before they remove all of the water and concentrate the flavors.
How much tomato paste equals tomato puree?
If you need 1 cup of tomato puree, then use ½ cup of tomato paste mixed with ½ cup of water as a replacement.
Can you mimic the taste of tomato without tomato?
There are many ways you can mimic the taste of tomato without using tomato. Such as zucchini and lemon juice. You can see 8 other ways to mimic the tomato taste in the section above labeled “8 Non Tomato-Based Substitutes for Tomato Puree”