If you’re a big foodie or keen cook, you’ll know just how popular tomato sauce is as an ingredient.
Used in a wide variety of our favorite dishes including pasta sauces, chili con carne, and even the famous meatloaf, tomato sauce is made easily by cooking down fresh tomatoes into a not too thick sauce.
The tomato seeds and peels are then removed before herbs and spices are added.
You’ve probably enjoyed a great tomato sauce with onion, garlic, and plenty of herbs to add an exciting flavor to your recipe.
This is great but what happens if you have none of this versatile sauce left. You may even require a tomato-free alternative.
Luckily for you, there are plenty of exciting tomato sauce substitutes out there that can be made at home in a matter of minutes.
Today in this blog post, we’ll take you through our 13 favorite tomato sauce substitutes. We might even give you our homemade tomato sauce recipe at the end so be sure to stick around.
Our Favorite Tomato Sauce Substitutes
Below, you’ll find our favorite 13 tomato sauce substitutes. When picking the right substitute, always keep the sauce’s overall flavor and texture in mind so that you don’t overpower your recipe.
1. Canned Tomatoes
The chances are you already have canned tomatoes in your kitchen cupboard or pantry. Whether they are diced, crushed, or stewed, canned tomatoes can be used to create a wonderful tomato sauce.
To use canned tomatoes as a tomato sauce substitute, drain the contents of the can before blending them.
If necessary you should then reduce the tomato mixture down until it reaches your desired consistency. You can then add any seasonings you feel necessary.
Use canned tomatoes as a 1-1 substitute.
2. Tomato Paste
Out of all the substitutes on our list, tomato paste is probably the easiest to use. Tomato paste and tomato sauce have a similar taste.
When tomato paste is thinned using water, it also has a similar consistency and texture.
To make the perfect tomato sauce using tomato paste, mix 1 part water with 1 part tomato paste. If necessary you can then add various herbs and spices too. This substitute can also be a 1-1 substitute.
3. Fresh Tomatoes
Fresh tomatoes can be used as an easy substitute for tomato sauce. Requiring little work, you can produce a beautifully fresh sauce with your homegrown tomatoes.
To make this sauce, simply soak your tomatoes, peel the skins back and remove any seeds.
Then you can mash the tomatoes and simmer them in a saucepan with various herbs until it reaches the desired consistency.
Whenever we’re struggling for time or simply don’t have the right ingredients at home, we use ketchup as a tomato sauce substitute. This may seem a little strange but if your options are limited, you can’t go wrong.
Ketchup’s strong sweet flavor and versatility go with many foods, so it works well when replacing tomato sauce in recipes that require some extra sweetness.
If you plan on using it, treat the ketchup as a 1-1 substitute.
5. Marinara Sauce
Marinara sauce comes very highly seasoned, so it makes a brilliant substitute for a flavorful tomato sauce.
Primarily used as a chili or pizza sauce, the texture of marinara sauce is also quite similar to tomato sauce. This is great because it means we don’t need to do too much to find the right consistency.
This sauce is so flavor-packed that you may need to alter the flavor of the rest of the dish.
6. Tomato Puree
Tomato puree is in its own right used in a huge variety of our favorite dishes. This pureed tomato formula has a sweet taste like tomato sauce but comes with a thicker texture.
If you don’t mind that extra bit of thickness, the puree is an awesome substitute. If you need to reduce the thickness, you could always mix it with some water.
It is worth noting that tomato puree normally doesn’t contain any additional seasonings. Therefore, you will need to add your own if you want your tomato sauce to have plenty of flavors.
Despite having a texture similar to that of tomato puree, tomato passata is a good suitable tomato sauce substitute. It is less common in the US, but it can still be found in general grocery stores or online.
If you have some passata at home already, simply use it as a 1-1 substitute. Nothing else needs to be done.
8. Tomato Juice
You can buy tomato juice from most stores or easily make your own if you have some fresh tomatoes. All you need to do is add sugar and salt to your blended tomatoes before reducing the mixture down in a dish.
To get this substitute right, replace every ½ cup of water and ½ cup of tomato sauce a recipe needs with 1 cup of tomato juice.
9. Tomato Soup
If you want a quick tomato sauce substitute, try using tomato soup. Tomato soups typically have a very similar flavor to tomato sauce, even containing the same herbs and spices.
The only real difference between the two is the thickness of the soup.
Tomato soup is thinner, though. If this doesn’t suit your recipe, you will have to make changes. Simply remove ¼ cup of liquid from the recipe ingredients. Do this for every 10.75 ounces can of soup used.
10. Spaghetti Pasta Sauce
A lot of recipes involve using a tomato sauce to make our spaghetti pasta sauce, so it only makes sense to use a pasta sauce as a tomato sauce substitute.
These sauces are normally packed with beautiful flavors that boost an overall dish. With this in mind, consider adjusting the other ingredients in the recipe.
Use your spaghetti sauce as a 1-1 substitute.
If you have an allergy to tomatoes, one of these substitutes will be better for you.
Ajvar can be made at home or bought fresh and ready to go in-store. Ajvar is an eggplant and red bell pepper spread that doesn’t taste too unfamiliar to tomato sauce.
If your recipe requires 1 cup of tomato sauce, mix ½ cup of water with ½ cup of ajvar to make a 1-1 substitute.
12. Carrots And Beets
Carrots and beets probably seem like an absolutely crazy tomato sauce substitute, but you will be surprised.
When cooked to perfection, these two veggies have an amazingly similar texture and taste to tomato sauce. However, the color will be different.
Simmer the two vegetables with oil and garlic. Then blend the mixture into a thick paste. You should then add some water like you would with tomato paste. This can also be a 1-1 substitute.
13. Pureed Red Bell Peppers
You can very easily use red bell peppers to make a delicious tomato sauce.
All you need to do to make an excellent tomato sauce alternative is blend the peppers and add some water until they reach the consistency you’re looking for.
You can also use a jar of roasted red peppers if you have those.
Conveniently, this pepper sauce can be used in any way a standard tomato sauce would be used.
Our Tomato Sauce Recipe
Here’s our homemade tomato sauce recipe for you:
- 5lbs tomatoes
- 2tbsp olive oil
- Seasonings of your choice
- Soak the tomatoes in hot water for several minutes.
- Remove the seeds and skins.
- Mash the tomatoes into a pulp.
- Simmer in a saucepan with oil and seasonings until reduced by half.
As you can see from our list, there are plenty of options when it comes to needing a tomato sauce substitute. This gives you the freedom to make a sauce to your taste.
These substitutions are also a real lifesaver when making the most of whatever you have in your pantry.
Now you have this list, why not make your own tomato sauce, or use one of our 13 substitutes to get the job done quickly without sacrificing taste and flavor.