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Best Substitutes For Tomato Puree

Out of puree? Don’t sweat it. From one home cook to another, I’ve got you covered with 9 of the best tomato puree substitutes!

tomato puree substitutes

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If you are out of tomato puree and wondering what to substitute for tomato puree or maybe just wondering what the heck tomato puree is, then you’ve come to the right place.

We have all of your questions answered. From what tomato puree substitutes are out there and how to choose the best substitute for tomato puree and everything in between. The best thing about these tomato puree substitutes is that they can be made from things you already have in your pantry or fridge. No need to go out and buy anything new!

Also, learn how to make homemade tomato puree as well as tips as to which ingredients you should keep in stock at home so you always have a substitute for tomato puree on hand.

Let’s get started…

What Is Tomato Puree?

In the United States, tomato puree is a cooked tomato-based liquid. It is thicker and has a deeper, richer taste than tomato sauce. And its taste is not as rich nor is it as thick as tomato paste. Basically, puree falls in between tomato sauce and tomato paste in regards to its rich flavor and its thickness.

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What is Tomato Puree Used For?

Tomato puree is used in a variety of dishes where you want a richer tomato taste than that which you get from tomato sauce alone.

You can use it in sauces, gravies, soups, casseroles, and more.

Best Substitutes For Tomato Puree

Here are 9 substitutes I use in my kitchen. Not each substitute works for every recipe because some tomato products have additional spices added. But I’ve included tips to help you decide which is best. All of them are pantry staples many people will have on hand.

Tomato Paste

Tomato paste often has spices that many tomato puree’s do not as well as a decent amount of salt. If your recipe calls for a mere tablespoon or two of tomato puree then tomato paste would likely work.

Just remember, tomato paste often has additional seasonings and is thicker than tomato puree, so start with 1/2 of the amount of tomato puree called for then add more if needed.

Equal Parts of Tomato Paste & Water

If you have a recipe such as a soup that calls for a cup of tomato puree or more, you may want to consider blending together equal parts of tomato paste and water.

The consistency will be almost identical to canned tomato purees. But remember, use caution and consider the other spices in your dish.

If you’re worried the spices may clash, don’t use this suggestion. Instead, use one of my next two suggestions.

Tomato Sauce

When you have a recipe that calls for 1 or 2 cups or more of tomato puree and you’re worried about the spices in tomato paste, your best bet may be to use tomato sauce straight out of the can.

Most tomato sauces aren’t flavored with additional spices so sauce out of the can would likely work. However, if you’re worried your dish would be too watery, then opt for cooked-down tomato sauce.

To substitute sauce for tomato puree, use a 1:1 ratio. One cup of tomato sauce for every once cup of tomato puree

Cooked Down Tomato Sauce

This is probably the best substitute for tomato puree out there but it does require some effort that many of us home cooks aren’t willing to put in. Right?

If you are worried the consistency of your dish may be too thin if you substitute straight canned sauce, then you need to reduce your tomato sauce on the stovetop. This will thicken the sauce and concentrate the flavor.

All you need to do is reduce your tomato sauce on the stovetop over medium-low heat until it reaches a similar thickness to the tomato puree. Be sure to stir often so your sauce doesn’t scorch.

Blended Diced Canned Tomatoes

Got diced tomatoes but no sauce? No worries! All you need to do is blend the diced tomatoes in a blender or food processor. You’ll get a thicker consistency than with straight sauce.

But, if you are worried about the thickness, you can always reduce your blended, diced tomatoes on the stovetop over medium-low heat.

You may need to strain out any small bits of tomato if you’re worried about the texture.

Blended Whole Canned Tomatoes

Blended whole tomatoes also work as a great tomato puree substitute.

Whole tomatoes can be successfully substituted for tomato puree provided they are thoroughly blended in a food processor or blender. As with diced tomatoes, you could also reduce the blended whole tomatoes on the stovetop to thicken them and concentrate the tomato flavor. As with diced tomatoes, don’t forget to strain out any small bits if you’re concerned about texture.

Blended Crushed Canned Tomatoes

Just like with diced or whole tomatoes, crushed tomatoes can be successfully substituted for tomato puree, provided they are blended and possibly reduced. As with the others, you may need to strain them if you’re worried about the texture.

Diced Tomatoes With Green Chiles

Got Rotel? Blended diced tomatoes with green chiles work as a great tomato puree substitute if you’re making a spicy or Mexican-inspired dish. As with other diced tomatoes, blend thoroughly and reduce on the stovetop if needed.

Homemade Puree With Fresh Tomatoes

If you have an abundance of fresh tomatoes and none of the above substitutes, you can make homemade tomato puree rather easily. It does take some time and effort because you must wash, chop, and cook the tomatoes. Then you must strain out the seeds. So, I don’t recommend this unless you’re desperate but it is a perfect substitute. In case you’re interested, here’s how I make homemade tomato puree.

How Is Tomato Puree Made?

Recipe For Tomato Puree

Freshly made puree is simple to make. Here are the steps:

  1. Wash your fresh tomatoes.
  2. Cut out any bad spots.
  3. Chop up the tomatoes. Don’t worry if they’re exactly the same size. It won’t matter.
  4. Place your chopped-up fresh tomatoes in a pot along with any juice from your cutting board and slowly bring them to a boil, stirring often. Because you aren’t adding water, you want to keep them moving so they don’t burn.
  5. Let them boil for around 10 to 15 minutes.
  6. Remove from the burner and let your tomatoes cool for another 10 to 15 minutes.
  7. Puree your tomatoes in a food processor.
  8. Strain out the seeds and any leftover tomato skins.
  9. Add salt to taste (optional)
  10. Store the tomato puree in the fridge for up to 5 days or freeze in ice cube trays for future use.

If your puree is too thin, just pop it back on the stove and let it reduce for a few more minutes until it reaches the consistency you desire.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I Substitute Ketchup For Tomato Puree?

Technically yes, but I wouldn’t unless you making something like meatloaf. Ketchup has a ton of spices and sugar, which tomato puree doesn’t. It would likely dramatically alter the taste of your recipe. You may want to consider leaving the tomato puree out if ketchup is your only option.

Can I Substitute Marinara Sauce For Tomato Puree?

If you’re making an Italian-inspired dinner then you may be ok using marinara. It will change the taste of your recipe but it would likely still be successful.

Final Thoughts From Cost-Effective Kitchen

Don’t sweat tomato puree! I don’t even buy it anymore. I keep tomato sauce, tomato paste, diced, and whole tomatoes on hand and substitute when necessary.

But, you don’t need to keep all these. Just always keep tomato paste and plain tomato sauce on hand and you’ll be fine!

Here’s a pro tip for you…

Freeze tomato paste and tomato sauce in ice cube trays then transfer to a freezer-safe bag once frozen. Each standard tray will hold about 2 tablespoons so you can easily pull what you need out of the freezer without having to open a new can and worry about what to do with the leftovers.

Until next time…


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