Cooking Hacks: Tomato Paste Substitute


Tomato paste is made by cooking down tomatoes and turning it into a thick and dense paste. This method of preparation results in a concentrated tomato flavor that is more intense than a regular tomato sauce. The paste consists only of the strained tomatoes and does not have any sugar or preservative. For this reason, it is a bit of a challenge to replicate the flavor of a tomato paste in cooking, but it is not hard to find a tomato paste substitute for.

If you are making a dish that requires tomato paste only to find out that you’ve run out of them in the pantry, you have a few options for tomato paste substitute to use instead.

Tomato Sauce

The most obvious substitute for tomato paste is a tomato sauce. While the latter is not as thick in terms of consistency, you can help thicken tomato sauce by allowing it to simmer for a few more minutes. Once the water has been reduced, the sauce will thicken.

The good thing about using tomato sauce is that you can get the same full-bodied tomato flavor as a paste in your dish. If the recipe requires 1 tablespoon of tomato paste, you can substitute it with 3 tablespoons of tomato sauce.

Crushed Tomatoes

If a tomato sauce is not available either, you can open a can of crushed tomatoes as tomato paste substitute. Simply strain the liquid and mash it with a spatula while you are cooking it. Like tomato sauce, you can leave it to simmer for a few minutes longer in order to thicken the sauce. You can adjust it according to the desired taste and thickness.


Ketchup is one of the easiest ways to substitute tomato paste in your dish (if you don’t have one in your pantry). The great thing about the use of catsup if you don’t have tomato paste is that it adds a hint of tanginess to your dish along with some sweet undertones.

Pureed Red Peppers

When all else fails, you can puree red peppers as a substitute for tomato paste when cooking. This is a good option only when that potent tomato flavor is not crucial in your dish. It is a great option if you want to recreate the paste’s texture.

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