9 Best Tomato Puree Substitute Options to Save Your Dishes

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Odette Published: December 29, 2021
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Considered a staple in most countries, tomato puree is one of the most commonly used ingredients in the culinary world alongside tomato sauce and paste. Many, including food enthusiasts and chefs, applaud this ingredient as you can incorporate it into a wide variety of dishes. You can add it to soups, curried dishes, and pasta recipes. Not to mention, it’s also a well-known tomato paste substitute. Alongside other tomato-based sauces, pureed tomato makes amazing and flavorful dishes you love. But telling by its versatile use, it’s no wonder that you’ll frequently run out of this ingredient.

Luckily, you can use other tomato-based products and sauces to substitute for tomato puree! Scroll some more and discover substitutes you can use in its place and all the essentials you need to know.

What Is Tomato Puree?

Before heading to its substitutes, let’s discuss what exactly tomato puree is. It is a thick sauce made of briefly simmered tomatoes that have been blended or processed and strained to get rid of the skin and seeds. This process produces a silky smooth thick puree, which you incorporate into dishes for flavor, color, and body. Take this crockpot fasolia recipe for example. It only has a spoonful of the tomato ingredient but it certainly has flavor and body to its soup.

Although you can make your own at home, commercial pureed tomatoes in cans and jars are widely available in grocery stores. However, unlike the homemade variant, there are a few things you have to keep in check when you plan on using commercial puree. For one, it has a strong concentrated tomato-ey taste to it that can easily overwhelm your dishes. Additionally, adding too much can also make your dishes too acidic, which you can compensate with by adding water and seasoning it with salt. This would dilute the acidic taste and create just the right consistency.

Tomato Puree vs Tomato Paste

But how does tomato puree compare to paste? When it comes to tomato sauces, always keep in mind that the differences lie in their consistency, texture, and taste.

Tomato paste has the thickest consistency out of all the sauces because it has been cooked down for several hours. But it doesn’t stop there: after straining seeds and skin, it’s cooked further until it becomes a thick, paste-like base.

Taste-wise, it has a rich umami flavor profile, all thanks to the long cooking time. In fact, it’s a key ingredient for this marinara sauce recipe. Meanwhile, tomato puree has a sweeter, milder, and fresher taste than paste. Lastly, they also differ in uses. The paste variant is used to thicken and provide body to dishes. Meanwhile, the puree is used as a base for tomato-based dishes such as soups, pizza sauces, and condiments like salsa. Nevertheless, the paste variant provides an excellent tomato puree substitute when it’s diluted in water.

Tomato Puree vs Tomato Sauce

Now that you know how these two sauces compare to each other, let’s talk about how puree differs from tomato sauce.

Tomato sauce has a thinner body with a smoother, less rough texture compared to puree. Puree also has a more developed flavor compared to sauce, thanks to the additional cooking time and added seasoning. And most importantly, canned tomato sauce is unseasoned while puree is seasoned with salt.

9 Useful Tomato Puree Substitutes

tomato sauce in pot, the best tomato puree substitute

Considering how often dishes call for this versatile ingredient, there’s no telling when you’ll use it all up. Chances are, you might exhaust your stock while cooking your favorite dishes, or worse, your comfort food! But don’t stress. Here are nine handy tomato puree substitute options you can use.

Tomato Sauce

When it comes to substitutes, the top pick would be tomato sauce. It’s quite close to puree’s consistency as well as flavor profile, although other tomato sauce recipes may include ingredients like vinegar or herbs. Nevertheless, it’s nothing you can’t fix with a few seasonings and ingredient adjustments here and there.

Since this substitute is a no-brainer, you may use exactly as the recipe suggested for puree. That’s a 1:1 substitution ratio.

Tomato Paste and Water

Just because it differs from puree in terms of consistency (and even flavor), it doesn’t mean you have to cut this substitute out. In fact, it’s a great substitute since an equal mix of tomato paste and water gets a texture that’s close to tomato puree. When substituting, keep in mind that for every ½ cup of tomato puree you just need a combination of ¼ cup tomato paste and ¼ cup water.

Tomato Passata

Now, a lot of people might be wondering what a tomato passata is. Passata is uncooked Italian tomato puree, made from tomato that’s been skinned, deseeded, and strained. It may not be as popular in the US as the others on this list, but you can still spot it in specialty food stores and select groceries.

If you’re thinking of using this substitute, know that passata is slightly thicker than puree. Using a one-to-one substitution, don’t forget to add a little water to your passata before incorporating it into your dish.

Pizza Sauce

Next on our list of tomato puree substitute choices is pizza sauce. Basically, pizza sauce is seasoned tomato puree. Start with the same amount of pizza sauce as the amount suggested for tomato puree in the recipe. Then, adjust the remaining condiments to suit the dish you’re cooking since, as mentioned, this alternative already has added seasonings and herbs.

Marinara Sauce

Made with tomatoes, garlic, herbs, and onions, marinara sauce is also a good tomato puree substitute. You can use this ingredient the same way you would pizza sauce. And that would be using the same amount as the recipe calls for puree. Of course, feel free to adjust the seasonings in your dish as the marinara sauce may already be seasoned with herbs, capers, olives, and even wine.

Canned Tomatoes

Having been less blended, canned tomatoes are one of the best substitutes for tomato puree. Simply throw the whole can in your food processor and blend until it reaches the right consistency. This alternative is pretty straightforward: just use as much as the recipe asks for puree and you’re set.

Ketchup

Ketchup has a strong, sweet, and tangy flavor. For this reason, you can only use ketchup in small amounts to stand in for puree. To start, add a dash. Then, continue to adjust according to your liking or recipe.

Roasted Tomatoes

If you want your dish to have a rich and more concentrated flavor, you can replace puree with this ingredient. Simply add some oil and a bit of salt to the tomatoes, place them on a baking sheet, and pop them in the oven. But since you need it as a sauce, go ahead and blend them in your food processor after roasting. To incorporate in your dishes, use exactly the amount the recipe calls for.

Fresh Tomatoes

Who said you can’t use fresh tomatoes as a puree substitute? With a little work and a little help from your food processor, you can make your puree at home! Check the recipe below and learn how to make your own tomato puree.

How to Make Your Own Tomato Puree

fresh tomatoes in blender, How to Make Tomato Puree?

Making your puree at home is easier than most think. But you do need to have a good food processor, blender, or even food mill to make your puree smooth and silky! And of course, get the right tomato for your puree. You can use ripe San Marzano or Roma tomatoes.

Ingredients:

  • 3 pounds ripe tomatoes
  • Salt, optional

Steps: 

  • Prepare tomatoes. Start by cutting the tomatoes in half and discarding the seeds and pulp by using a spoon. You may also trim bruises and soft spots using a serrated knife.
  • Transfer to a large stock pot full of water. Bring the water to a boil and reduce heat to medium-low. Let it simmer for 10 minutes. Or, until the juices are released and the tomatoes are soft and tender.
  • Remove pot from heat. Let it rest for 5 to 10 minutes.
  • Peel the tomatoes. Once cold to touch, you can gently discard the skin.
  • Blend using a food processor, blender, or immersion blender. Process your puree until smooth, or until it reaches your desired consistency.

Delicious Tomato Puree Recipes to Try at Home

creamy tomato pasta bake recipe

Now that you know what substitutes you can try as well as how to make your puree at home, we’re sure you’re craving to try new recipes. Discover your new favorites below.

  • Slow-Cooker Beef and Black Bean Chili — A can of pureed tomatoes is all you need to give this recipe a hearty and delicious sauce. With the slightest of effort, you can eat this chili to your heart’s content in just 16 minutes!
  • Authentic Mango Chicken Curry — Just because you’re finding your way around a kitchen doesn’t mean you can’t use it for slightly elevated recipes like this. This chicken curry combines the sweet flavor of mangoes and rich spicy flavors from spices such as garam masala, cardamom, cinnamon, and ground coriander.
  • Tomato-Sausage Lasagna — Of course, we wouldn’t forget to add one of the classic recipes you can incorporate tomato puree in. Try this lasagna recipe that features sweet Italian sausages for a new twist you might like!
  • Shrimp Penne with Spicy Tomato Sauce — Lastly, this dish has a beautiful and delicious coating of tomato puree perfectly seasoned with paprika, cumin, ginger, and oregano.

Use These Delicious Tomato Puree Substitute Options to Flavor Your Dishes

Tomato puree is indeed a versatile ingredient that can easily run out. Although some tinkering is required, these ingredients can stand in for any dish that requires a rich tomato flavor. So the next time stock empties, open your cupboard and check if you have one of these excellent tomato puree substitute choices.

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Odette

Odette is a content writer and proofreader by day, and living her inner artist as a poet and singer by night. She's also a former member of a publication who she now mentors from time to time. She likes how sharing a tiny bit of her life and her journey can help others in return. And because she is a curl embassador, she finds joy in empowering fellow curlies to embrace their natural curls. She also loves doing random acts of service to people she loves by cooking for them during her free time. This girl loves anything pasta and French cuisine though she just went through her Japanese and Korean cuisine phase.

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