Tomato sauce is a very versatile ingredient, used in cuisines from all over the world. It’s perhaps best known for its use in pasta dishes, but it can also be used in many other dishes besides, chili for example.
If you’re out of tomato sauce, the best substitutes are canned tomatoes, ketchup, fresh tomatoes, passata, tomato juice, tomato paste, tomato purée, pasta sauce, tomato soup, marinara sauce, ajvar, and beets and carrots.
Tomato Sauce Substitutes: Cooking Ratio & Nutritional Value
|Tomato sauce||24 kcal||0.3 g||5.31 g||1.2 g||1.5 g||1:1|
|Ketchup||97 kcal||0.38 g||25.08 g||1.74 g||0.3 g||1:1|
|Fresh Tomatoes||21 kcal||0.1 g||3.47 g||0.8 g||1.4 g||1:1|
|Passata||26 kcal||0.2 g||4.8 g||1.4 g||0 g||1:1|
|Tomato Juice||17 kcal||0.05 g||4.24 g||0.76 g||0.4 g||1:1|
|Pasta Sauce||74 kcal||2.38 g||11.27 g||1.95 g||0.4 g||1:1|
|Tomato Soup||42 kcal||1.2 g||7.35 g||1.25 g||0.4 g||1:1|
|Marinara Sauce||74 kcal||2.38 g||11.27 g||1.95 g||0.4 g||1:1|
|Tomato Paste||82 kcal||0.47 g||18.91 g||4.32 g||4.5 g||1:1|
|Tomato Purée||18 kcal||0.2 g||3.9 g||0.9 g||1.2 g||1:1|
|Canned Tomatoes||32 kcal||0.28 g||7.29 g||1.64 g||1.9 g||1:1|
|Puréed Bell Peppers||21 kcal||0.8 g||4.3 g||0.2 g||1.0 g||1:1|
|Beets||43 kcal||0.2 g||9.6 g||1.6 g||2.8 g||1:1|
|Ajva||60 kcal||0.23 g||15.56 g||0.72 g||0 g||1:1|
What Does Tomato Sauce Taste Like?
Tomato sauce has a distinct tomato taste, which features a combination of different types of flavors, including sweetness, acidity, and umami.
It has a bright red color, and adds moisture to dishes that would otherwise feel dry. It has such a strong taste that it often masks other flavors when used in dishes. This makes it a key ingredient.
Tomato Sauce Nutritional Value
One hundred grams of tomato sauce contains:
- 24 kcal
- 0.3 g fat
- 5.31 g carbs
- 1.2 g protein
- 1.5 g fiber
Tomato Sauce Substitutes
- Fresh Tomatoes
- Tomato Juice
- Pasta Sauce
- Tomato Soup
- Marinara Sauce
- Tomato Paste
- Tomato Purée
- Canned Tomatoes
- Puréed Bell Peppers
- Beets and Carrots
Ketchup has a distinctive taste, but while it is tomato based, it is generally sweeter than most tomato sauces, so it’s best to substitute it sparingly if you can, unless you want to go for a sweeter overall taste. A 1:1 substitution ratio should be fine in most recipes.
You could consider making your own tomato sauce using fresh tomatoes. All you have to do is soak the tomatoes to soften them, remove the skin and seeds and mash to pulp before adding olive oil and seasoning and simmering on the stove.
Passata is basically sieved tomatoes, and it is made with real tomatoes, but has no skin or seeds and is a smooth sauce. You can use it in the place of tomato sauce at a ratio of 1:1.
Tomato juice is another option to consider. It is readily available in many grocery stores, or alternatively if you have a juicer you can juice fresh tomatoes yourself.
For every half cup of water combined with a half cup of tomato sauce, you can substitute a cup of tomato juice.
In the pasta aisle of the supermarket, you will find jars of pasta sauce, and more often than not these are tomato based, albeit with other ingredients and flavorings besides.
You can use such sauces in a 1:1 ratio as a substitute for tomato sauce.
Tomato sauce, of any variety, is undoubtedly tomato tasting. However, even when it’s creamier than tomato sauce, it can be thinner and more watery.
For this reason, if you decide to substitute tomato soup in place of tomato sauce in your recipe, remove a quarter cup of liquid from it before adding one can of tomato soup.
Marinara sauce is tomato based and also features garlic, onions, and herbs. It’s often used with ground beef or lentils to make spaghetti sauce, but it can also be used in cannelloni, lasagna, pasta bakes, and more. A 1:1 ratio substitution will be fine.
Tomato paste is concentrated tomatoes and it has a thick consistency. But, when thinned out with a little water, it can have a consistency and texture that’s just like tomato sauce, making it an excellent substitute.
You can substitute a half cup of tomato sauce with a half cup of water to create a 1:1 cup substitute for tomato sauce.
Tomato purée is also a form of concentrated tomato, but it’s not usually as thick as tomato paste, and is typically used to be blended into tomato based sauces rather than as a replacement for tomato sauce.
If you do wish to use tomato purée as a substitute for tomato sauce, then a 1:1 substitution ratio will be fine in a pinch.
Canned tomatoes may be diced tomatoes in tomato juice, crushed tomatoes, or stewed tomatoes. You can use them as a substitute for tomato sauce in a 1:1 ratio, draining them first and adding seasoning if you so wish.
Puréed Bell Peppers
You can buy roasted red bell peppers, or roast them yourself, and blend them in a food processor to make an excellent substitute for tomato sauce that you can use in a 1:1 ratio, thinning with broth or water if necessary.
Beets And Carrots
When done right, a paste made of carrots and beets can be very similar in both texture and taste to tomato sauce, just with a different color. We recommend using such a paste in a 1:1 substitution ratio in place of tomato sauce.
Ajvar is basically a sauce made from charred red bell peppers and roasted eggplant combined with garlic, vinegar and oil.
It makes for an excellent substitute for tomato sauce, and is best used in a 1:1 substitution ratio.
Popular Recipes That Call For Tomato Sauce
Tomato sauce is a staple ingredient in a wide range of recipes, but it’s perhaps best known in Italian and Mexican cuisine. Here follows four traditional recipes that feature tomato sauce.
Spaghetti Bolognese is a popular Italian dish typically featuring spaghetti noodles, ground beef, and tomato sauce.
The sauce often features chopped onion, fresh tomato chunks, garlic flavoring, and other ingredients besides.
The pasta noodles can be substituted by vegetable noodles, and the ground beef can be substituted with veg or lentils for a healthier, vegetarian dish.
Chili also features tomato sauce, onion and ground beef, but rather than featuring garlic, it has chili seasoning instead.
It typically features kidney beans as well, and can be served with rice, or as a dip for cheese. It is often served with sour cream, to establish a contrast of flavor and a cooling effect.
To make the chili vegetarian, simply replace the ground beef with lentils.
Veggie pasta bake dishes typically feature pasta shapes combined with chopped vegetables smothered in tomato sauce, and topped with shredded cheese and baked in an oven.
You can add any veg you like, such as sweetcorn, eggplant, zucchini, fresh tomatoes, and more.
Lasagna is very similar to spaghetti bolognese in that it usually features ground beef in tomato sauce with onion and garlic. This time, however, layers of this mixture are baked in an oven, with layers of lasagna noodles in between, and topped with a creamy cheese-like sauce.
To make lasagna vegetarian-friendly, simply replace the ground beef with either lentils or some finely diced vegetables, such as carrot, mushrooms, or bell peppers.
So, in short, there are a great many ways to substitute tomato sauce if you need to. But please do bear in mind that the substitutes mentioned here all have their own, slightly different nutritional profiles, and they also differ in flavor profile and texture.
This means that some tomato substitutes will work better in some recipes than others, given there may occasionally be inclusions such as garlic, onion, or vinegar.
For this reason, feel free to experiment to find out which substitutes best suit the needs of your recipes and the tastes of your dinner guests. You can experiment with the substitution ratios, or combine more than one substitute to achieve a different effect.