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All The Different Ways To Substitute Tomato Sauce

Maria Foster
Last Updated on
by Maria Foster

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.

All The Different Ways To Substitute Tomato Sauce

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

Per 100gCaloriesFatCarbsProteinFiberRatio
Tomato sauce24 kcal0.3 g5.31 g1.2 g1.5 g1:1
Ketchup97 kcal0.38 g25.08 g1.74 g0.3 g1:1
Fresh Tomatoes21 kcal0.1 g3.47 g0.8 g1.4 g1:1
Passata26 kcal0.2 g4.8 g1.4 g0 g1:1
Tomato Juice17 kcal0.05 g4.24 g0.76 g0.4 g1:1
Pasta Sauce74 kcal2.38 g11.27 g1.95 g0.4 g1:1
Tomato Soup42 kcal1.2 g7.35 g1.25 g0.4 g1:1
Marinara Sauce74 kcal2.38 g11.27 g1.95 g0.4 g1:1
Tomato Paste82 kcal0.47 g18.91 g4.32 g4.5 g1:1
Tomato Purée18 kcal0.2 g3.9 g0.9 g1.2 g1:1
Canned Tomatoes32 kcal0.28 g7.29 g1.64 g1.9 g1:1
Puréed Bell Peppers21 kcal0.8 g4.3 g0.2 g1.0 g1:1
Beets 43 kcal0.2 g9.6 g1.6 g2.8 g1:1
Ajva60 kcal0.23 g15.56 g0.72 g0 g1:1

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
All The Different Ways To Substitute Tomato Sauce

Tomato Sauce Substitutes

  1. Ketchup
  2. Fresh Tomatoes
  3. Passata
  4. Tomato Juice
  5. Pasta Sauce
  6. Tomato Soup
  7. Marinara Sauce
  8. Tomato Paste
  9. Tomato Purée
  10. Canned Tomatoes
  11. Puréed Bell Peppers
  12. Beets and Carrots
  13. Ajvar


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.

Fresh Tomatoes

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

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.

Pasta Sauce

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 Soup

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

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

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

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

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.

All The Different Ways To Substitute 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

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.

Vegetable Pasta Bake

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.

About Maria Foster
Maria Foster
Maria Foster is a mother of 3 and she and her husband of 23 years share their home with 2 faithful dogs. Besides being CEO of the household and active in her community, Maria is the lead contributor to Food Champs and loves to try new food ideas and kitchen accessories to make easier and more delicious meals.
Maria Foster
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