Tomato Sauce Substitute

Tomato Sauce Substitute. Photo © Erin Huffstetler
  • Prep Time
    2 min
  • Cook Time
    600 min
  • Total Time
    602 min
  • Yield

Out of tomato sauce, and trying to avoid a trip to the grocery store? You probably have something in your pantry or fridge that you can use in its place. Let's look at four possible substitutes for tomato sauce, in order from best to worst.


  • Tomato paste
  • Water


Easiest Tomato Sauce Substitute: Tomato Paste

Mix together one part tomato paste and one part water until well blended. Then, season your "sauce" to taste. Tomato sauce is typically seasoned with herbs, garlic and onion. You may even find it benefits from a drizzle of olive oil or a pinch of sugar. For the most authentic tomato sauce taste, cook the garlic and onion in a bit of oil, until they're soft.

Then, add the paste-water mixture, and heat it through.Taking the time to add a few extra ingredients will greatly enhance the flavor and texture of your finished sauce.


Another Good Tomato Sauce Substitute: Canned Tomatoes


Make your own tomato sauce out of a can of tomatoes (whole, stewed, diced, or crushed). Just open the can and drain off the liquid. Then, give the tomatoes a quick whirl in your blender or food processor. If the resulting puree seems wetter than a typical tomato sauce, just drain off some of the excess liquid, or cook the mixture down, until you reach the desired consistency. Some canned tomato products have added seasonings, some don't. Taste your sauce, and tweak the flavor, until you're happy with it.Cook your sauce just long enough to warm it through, if you want a fresh tomato sauce. Cook it until it develops a dark color and thick texture, if you want more of a jarred sauce consistency.

More Tomato Sauce Substitutes

The following substitutes won't stand in for tomato sauce, if you're making a pasta dish, but they will you give you satisfactory results, if the tomato sauce is being mixed into a crockpot recipe, casserole or something similar that just needs that touch of tomato taste.

Here are a couple options to try:

  • Ketchup - Use one cup of ketchup in place of one cup of tomato sauce. Add spices to tweak the flavor as needed. A bit of basil is a good choice.
  • Tomato Soup - Add a 10-3/4-oz can of soup. Then, cut one of the wet ingredients in the recipe back by 1/4 cup to account for the extra liquid. Tomato soup tends to be sweeter, so you make need to make some flavor adjustments.

Make Your Own Tomato Sauce

Whip up a batch of this crockpot tomato sauce, so you always have plenty of homemade sauce on hand. It requires no peeling, blanching or coring, and it freezes beautifully, Divide it up into meal-size portions, so it's easy to grab just what you need from the freezer. Allow it to thaw overnight, or defrost it in the microwave, if you're in a hurry.

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