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19 Easy Ways to Substitute for Tomato Paste

Out of tomato paste? Here are 19 easy ways to substitute for tomato paste in a pinch. Use these for sauces, soups, and more!

Tomato paste is used in tons of dishes, but it’s sometimes hard to keep on hand. You’ll usually only need a little bit for a given recipe and the rest ends up getting tossed.

So, what do you do if you don’t have any in your pantry?

Here are several easy tomato paste substitutes you can try, including ways to make your own.

And, be sure to scroll to the end for tips on how to preserve your leftovers!

Tomato paste in open tin can next to garlic cloves and spoon covered in the paste.

Common Tomato Paste Substitutes

The following ingredients are the best, common tomato paste substitutes that you can use in a pinch, including non-tomato-based options and alternative ways to thicken a dish.

Tomato-Based Substitutes

1. Tomato Sauce

Tomato sauce in large cast iron skillet next to fresh tomatoes, garlic and onion.

Tomato sauce is an incredibly easy substitute for tomato paste. It has a soupier consistency, but a similar flavor profile.

While tomato paste does pack a deeper, more umami tomato flavor, the seasonings that are added to canned tomato sauce make it a great option to replace tomato paste in a soup or pasta dish.

If you do chose this as your substitute, simply reduce the amount of other liquids in the dish to balance it out.

Or, you can boil the tomato sauce into a paste, using the instructions below!

Use 2-3 tablespoons of tomato sauce for every 1 tablespoon of tomato paste in the recipe.

2. Tomato Puree

Close up of tomato puree on spoon sitting on wood table.

Tomato puree is very similar to tomato sauce.

Its consistency lies somewhere between the thickness of tomato paste and the thickness of tomato sauce, with a strong tomato-y flavor.

However, canned tomato puree, typically does not have added seasonings.

You can substitute with tomato puree the same way you would tomato sauce, but you may need to add some additional seasoning to help balance out the flavors of your dish.

Use 2-3 tablespoons of tomato puree for every 1 tablespoon of tomato paste in the recipe.

3. Canned Tomatoes

Petite diced tomatoes spill out onto white surface from tin can.

Canned tomatoes also make a great tomato paste substitute. You can get canned tomatoes with our without salt added and you can throw in some additional seasoning to bump up the flavor.

If consistency is an issue, you can strain out the extra liquid or reduce it down by boiling it in a pot.

Use 2 tablespoons of strained canned tomatoes for every tablespoon of tomato paste in the recipe.

4. Crushed Tomatoes

Overhead photo of crushed tomatoes in glass serving bowl on wood table.

If you have fresh or canned whole tomatoes, you can drain and crush them into a mash.

Crushed tomatoes can act as a great thickener for a dish, similar to tomato paste, just be sure to adjust seasonings as needed.

Use 2 tablespoons of strained crushed tomatoes for every tablespoon of tomato paste in the recipe.

5. Pureed Red Peppers

Table full of fresh peppers and pureed red peppers in glass jar and on toast.

Pureed red peppers have a similar look and consistency as tomato paste. The flavor is a bit different, but still rich and bright.

You can roast fresh red peppers over a flame and blend them into a paste, or you can blend store bought, jarred peppers for an even quicker stand in.

Pureed red peppers taste great in pasta sauces, over pizza, and even in soups!

6. Ketchup

Heinz ketchup bottle stands on its cap on table in a restaurant.

Ketchup can add a similar depth and layer of flavor to your favorite hearty, tomato-based dishes.

It has a very distinct flavor profile with a sweet and tangy kick. It is thinner than tomato paste but can work as a replacement in dishes like chili, baked beans, and braised meat.

Use one tablespoon of ketchup for every tablespoon of tomato paste in a recipe.

7. Pasta/Marinara Sauce

Small pot with spaghetti and pasta sauce on table with fresh basil leaves.

Marinara and pasta sauce are similar to tomato sauce as a substitute. They have basically the same consistency and are seasoned with ingredients like garlic, oregano, and onion.

To stand in for tomato paste, use 2 tablespoons pasta sauce per 1 tablespoon of paste.

8. Tomato Passata

Tomato passata in orange dish next to vine ripened tomatoes and basil leaves.

Passata is an Italian tomato product that is regulated by strict rules. Only very specific ingredients are allowed in order for the product to be called a passata with NO water added.

You can find tomato passata in specialty food stores and select grocery stores. It is typically jarred with a smooth texture and consistency, and usually only has salt or citric acid added.

You can easily use passata as the base for soups and pizza sauce.

Use 3 tablespoons of tomato passata for 1 tablespoon of tomato paste in the recipe.

Non-Tomato Substitutes

9. Extra Seasoning

Various seasonings in lined up wooden spoons with some seasoning sprinkled on table.

If you don’t need a tomato base for your recipe, and only need to replace the deep, umami flavor, try using a spice blend instead.

Add extra seasoning to taste in order to bring up the flavor profile of your dish.

Some basic herbs and spices to try are garlic powder, onion powder, garlic salt, curry powder and paprika.

10. Olive Puree

Toast with pureed olives on top next to sprigs of thyme all on white plate.

Olives have a different flavor profile than tomatoes, but still have a deep and rich flavor. Once blended, the consistency is similar to tomato paste.

Depending on the dish, you could use this as a great flavor and texture replacement. This is an especially great tomato paste substitute for those who cannot eat nightshades.

You can use it in a sauce for pasta, top it on a pizza or in a Mediterranean burger blend.

11. Soy Sauce

Soy sauce is poured from bottle into small white ramekin on table.

Soy sauce is another flavorful, umami ingredient. If texture and consistency isn’t an issue, soy sauce can make a great replacement for tomato paste in a recipe.

It’s less sweet and more salty than tomato paste, though, so start with a little and add more as needed.

A suggested ratio to start is 1 teaspoon of soy sauce per every tablespoon of paste.

Thickener Substitutes

Tomato paste is often used to thicken a dish. If the flavor is less of an issue, and you need to replace tomato paste as a thickening agent, here are several options to try!

12. Corn Starch

Corn starch in wooden bowl next to bowls of dried corn kernels.

Cornstarch is a common thickener found in most pantries. You can add a little directly to a dish or make a cornstarch slurry by mixing 1 tablespoon of cornstarch with 1 tablespoon of cold water.

Once the cornstarch slurry is smooth, you can whisk it into your recipe.

Start with 1 tablespoon of cornstarch and water and add it to your dish. You can add more as needed if you still need more thickness.

13. Roux

Roux sauce in metal bowl next to whisk, timer and flour in wooden bowl.

A roux is similar to a slurry and is usually used to make gravy or to thicken soups.

STIR together equal parts butter and flour in a pan and COOK over medium-low heat until golden brown. Then ADD liquid a little at a time to create a slurry.

POUR your roux a little at a time into your dish until thickened to your liking.

14. Cream Cheese

Cream cheese in red party bowl next to plate of grainy chips.

Depending on the dish, you can use cream cheese as a thickening substitute for tomato paste. This works especially well for soups and provides a mild creamy flavor.

Whipped cream cheese is the easiest to add to soups and sauces as it will melt and blend more easily.

15. Cheese

Grated cheese on circular wooden cutting board next to block and metal grater.

Who doesn’t love cheese? Shredded cheese can be used to thicken a dish as well as to pump up the flavor. Cheese works as a great thickener for soups and pasta sauces.

Be sure to use shredded cheese from a block and not pre-shredded. Pre-shredded cheese typically doesn’t blend well and you’ll end up with a gloopy mess!

16. Pureed Veggies

Vegetable puree in glass jar next to fresh carrot and two potatoes.

Pureed veggies are a super healthy way to thicken up a dish. It’s also a great way to sneak in some extra nutrition for your kids. Use this in place of tomato paste to beef of the consistency of sauces and soups.

To start, BOIL or ROAST your desired vegetables until tender and then BLEND them in a blender, food processor or use a stick blender until smooth.

You may need to add some of the cooking water to help break down the veggies as they blend.

Make Your Own

With Tomato Sauce

Tomato sauce in sauce pan with basil leaf stem on top sits on wood table.

Tomato paste is just an ultra-concentrated version of tomato sauce. You can achieve the same texture by reducing it down in a sauce pan.

You can get about 3 ounces of paste from an 8 ounce can of sauce using this method.

Simply ADD your sauce in a pan and SIMMER over medium heat for 7-10 minutes until reduced by two thirds.

With Fresh Tomatoes

Scored and cooked whole tomatoes in large metal cooking pot filled with water.

You can also create paste from fresh tomatoes. You’ll need 1 medium tomato per tablespoon of paste.

DE-SEED your tomato(s), BLEND them together and then COOK them in a sauce pot for at least 10 minutes on medium heat.

With Canned Tomatoes

Close up of canned, diced tomatoes in bowl with other ingredients in background.

You can also do the same with canned whole or diced tomatoes.

You’ll need to DRAIN any excess liquid and PASS them through a strainer. Then BLEND, ADD to your pan and COOK for 7-10 minutes.

How to Save Your Extra Paste

Did you know you can freeze leftover tomato paste to use for later?

Simply ADD your leftover tomato paste to an ice tray and FREEZE. Once solid, pop the cubes out and add them into a Ziploc bag. (Each cube will yield about 2 tablespoons of paste.)

Recipes with Tomato Paste

And, here are some easy and delicious recipes that call for tomato paste you have to try!

Authentic Italian Spaghetti and Meatballs

Fork in bowl with Italian spaghetti and meatballs on white table.

Best Ever Lasagna Made With Cottage Cheese

Baking dish of lasagna with cottage cheese on white dinner table.