Substitutes for Tomato Paste

Tomato paste, known for its rich, concentrated tomato flavour and deep colour, is a key ingredient in many recipes. If you’re in need of substitutes that can mimic or complement these qualities, here are various options to consider for different needs and preferences.

Best: Canned Tomatoes (Reduced)

Canned tomatoes, when reduced down, can serve as an excellent substitute for tomato paste. The process of reducing concentrates the flavour, bringing it closer to the intensity of tomato paste. This option works best in recipes where the texture of the tomato paste isn’t critical.

How to Use

To use canned tomatoes as a substitute, simmer them over low heat until most of the liquid has evaporated and the tomatoes have thickened to a paste-like consistency. This may take some time, depending on the amount of tomatoes used.

Cheapest: Ketchup

Ketchup is a readily available and inexpensive substitute for tomato paste. While it’s sweeter and has added flavours like vinegar and spices, it can work in a pinch, especially in small quantities or in dishes with strong flavours where the nuances of tomato paste won’t be as noticeable.

How to Use

Use ketchup in a slightly lesser quantity than you would tomato paste, as its flavour is more pronounced. It’s most suitable in casual recipes like stews, barbeque sauces, or meatloaf.

Tastiest: Sun-Dried Tomatoes (Puréed)

Puréed sun-dried tomatoes can serve as a flavourful substitute for tomato paste. They offer an intense tomato flavour with a hint of sweetness and umami, which can enhance the taste profile of your dish significantly.

How to Use

Blend sun-dried tomatoes with a bit of olive oil to create a smooth paste. Use it in a one-to-one ratio as a substitute for tomato paste in recipes like pasta sauces, marinades, or spreads.

Most Accessible: Tomato Sauce (Reduced)

Tomato sauce is a more diluted form of tomato paste but is widely available and can be reduced to mimic the thickness and concentration of tomato paste. This substitute works well in most recipes that call for tomato paste.

How to Use

To use tomato sauce as a substitute, simmer it on low heat until it reduces to a thicker, more concentrated consistency. This may take some time, so it’s best to do this in advance of preparing your recipe.

Most Unusual: Roasted Red Peppers (Puréed)

For a unique and unusual substitute, puréed roasted red peppers can offer an interesting twist. While not tomato-based, they provide a sweet, slightly smoky flavour that can add depth to dishes in a way similar to tomato paste.

How to Use

Purée roasted red peppers until smooth. You can use them in equal amounts as tomato paste in recipes where a slightly sweet and smoky flavour would be complementary, such as in sauces, soups, or stews.