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!
- Common Tomato Paste Substitutes
- Make Your Own
- How to Save Your Extra Paste
- Recipes with Tomato 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.
1. Tomato Sauce
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
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
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
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
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!
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
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
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.
9. Extra Seasoning
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
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 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.
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
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.
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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!