Have you ever found yourself in the midst of cooking, only to realize you've run out of tomato paste? No need to panic!
This comprehensive guide will show you some of the best substitutes for tomato paste to use when you're in a pinch.
⬇️ Table of Contents
- What Is Tomato Paste
- What is Tomato Paste and Its Role in Recipes?
- The Best Alternatives for Tomato Paste
- Can Tomato Sauce Replace Tomato Paste?
- Is Ketchup a Good Substitute for Tomato Paste?
- Fresh Tomatoes vs. Canned Tomatoes: Which is Better?
- Can I Use Marinara Sauce Instead of Tomato Paste?
- Will Tomato Soup Work as a Tomato Paste Substitute?
- How To Thicken Tomato Puree to Mimic Tomato Paste?
- What About Miso Paste: An Unusual Substitute?
What Is Tomato Paste
Tomato paste is a thick, concentrated paste made by cooking tomatoes for several hours to reduce their moisture content and then straining and further cooking them to reduce them to a rich, thick paste.
It's a staple ingredient in many cuisines worldwide and is used to add depth of flavor, color, and body to various dishes. Here's a more detailed look at tomato paste:
Characteristics of Tomato Paste
- Texture and Consistency: Tomato paste has a thick, almost paste-like consistency. It's much denser and richer than tomato sauce or tomato puree.
- Flavor: It has a deep, concentrated tomato flavor. The cooking process caramelizes the natural sugars in the tomatoes, giving the paste a slightly sweet, robust flavor.
- Color: It's typically a deep red, indicating a high concentration of tomatoes.
What is Tomato Paste and Its Role in Recipes?
Tomato paste is one of the most commonly used tomato products. It's made by cooking down fresh tomatoes into a dense, rich paste that has an intense tomato flavor.
Typically, a recipe calls for one tablespoon of tomato paste to add depth and a concentrated tomato flavor to dishes.
The Best Alternatives for Tomato Paste
Ajvar is a type of relish originating from the Balkans. Made primarily from red bell peppers, it also contains eggplant and garlic. It has a rich flavor and a similar texture to tomato paste, making it a good substitute. However, it's a bit sweeter and less tangy than tomato paste.
Canned tomatoes can be used as a substitute for tomato paste. They are less concentrated, so you'll need to use more to achieve the same flavor. You can also cook them down to reduce the liquid and concentrate the flavor.
Harissa, a spicy paste that finds its roots in Tunisia, is primarily composed of various hot chili peppers, including roasted red and serrano peppers. This fiery blend is further enhanced by adding garlic paste, coriander seeds, and occasionally, saffron and tomatoes.
Ketchup is a sweet, tangy sauce with assorted seasonings and spices, typically made from tomatoes, sugar, and vinegar. It's less concentrated and sweeter than tomato paste but can be used in a pinch if nothing else is available.
Marinara Sauce is made from tomatoes, garlic, herbs, and onions. It's less concentrated than tomato paste but has a similar flavor profile. You can use more of it to get the same tomato flavor in your dish.
Miso Paste is a traditional Japanese seasoning produced by fermenting soybeans with salt and a type of fungus called koji. It's salty and has a unique umami flavor. It doesn't taste like tomatoes, but it can add depth and richness to your dish.
Olive Tapenade is a rich and savory spread made from olives, capers, and olive oil. It doesn't have the same flavor as tomato paste, but it can add a similar richness and depth of flavor to dishes.
Salsa Verde is a type of spicy green sauce in Mexican cuisine. It's made from tomatillos, jalapenos, cilantro, garlic, and onion. It's tangy and spicy and can add a nice kick to dishes.
Soy Sauce is a liquid condiment of Chinese origin, made from a fermented paste of soybeans, roasted grain, brine, and a mold. It's salty and has a strong umami flavor. It doesn't taste like tomatoes, but it can add depth and richness to your dish.
Tomato Passata is uncooked tomato puree that has been strained of seeds and skins. It's very similar to tomato paste but less concentrated. You can use more of it to get the same tomato flavor in your dish.
Tomato Purée is a thick liquid made by cooking and straining tomatoes. It's less concentrated than tomato paste but has a similar flavor profile. You can use more of it to get the same tomato flavor in your dish.
Tomato Sauce is a sauce made from tomatoes, often used as a base in many dishes. It's a less potent paste but has a similar flavor profile. You can use more of it to get the same tomato flavor in your dish.
Tomato Soup is a soup made with tomatoes as the primary ingredient. It can be served hot or cold in a variety of ways.
Worcestershire Sauce is a fermented liquid condiment created in Worcester in Worcestershire, England, during the first half of the 19th century. It's tangy and sweet, with a distinct flavor that can add depth to dishes. It doesn't taste like tomatoes but can be used as a substitute in some recipes.
If you're cooking for someone with a tomato allergy or intolerance, there are non-tomato alternatives you can use. These include red bell pepper paste, pumpkin puree, and carrot puree.
These options won't provide the same flavor as tomato paste, but they can mimic the texture and provide their own unique flavors.
If you're using tomato paste as a thickener rather than for its flavor, there are several other ingredients you can use. These include cornstarch, flour, and arrowroot powder.
These options should be mixed with a small amount of cold water before being added to your dish to prevent clumping.
Can Tomato Sauce Replace Tomato Paste?
Yes, tomato sauce can replace tomato paste in a recipe, but you will need to adjust the amount of tomato sauce to achieve the same taste of tomato.
Tomato sauce is thinner than tomato paste and less concentrated. Use 2-3 tablespoons of sauce for every tablespoon of paste.
Is Ketchup a Good Substitute for Tomato Paste?
Ketchup can indeed substitute for tomato paste. It has a similar consistency to tomato paste, although it's sweeter and less concentrated.
To use it as a tomato paste substitute, use two tablespoons of ketchup for every tablespoon of paste. Keep in mind that this may alter the taste of your dish slightly.
Fresh Tomatoes vs. Canned Tomatoes: Which is Better?
If you have extra time, homemade tomato paste made from fresh tomatoes can serve as an excellent substitute. Use three tablespoons of cooked down fresh tomatoes for every tablespoon of paste.
Alternatively, canned tomatoes can be used as well. Crushed tomatoes or diced or stewed tomatoes are the best choices from canned tomato products. You must blend them and cook them down until thick as tomato paste.
Can I Use Marinara Sauce Instead of Tomato Paste?
Marinara sauce, or any other pasta sauce or pizza sauce, can be used in place of tomato paste. Suggested to use San Marzano tomatoes.
Remember that sauces are less concentrated than tomato paste and often have additional seasonings, so you will need to use more (about 3 tablespoons for every tablespoon of tomato paste), and the flavor profile of your dish may change.
Will Tomato Soup Work as a Tomato Paste Substitute?
In a pinch, condensed tomato soup can work as a substitute, but it will alter the flavor and texture of your dish. Tomato soup is much thinner and will not provide the same overall flavor strength.
How To Thicken Tomato Puree to Mimic Tomato Paste?
Tomato puree or tomato purée can also serve as a substitute. Tomato puree is less concentrated and thinner than tomato paste.
To achieve a similar consistency to tomato paste, simmer the purée to reduce and thicken it before use. For every tablespoon, use 2 tablespoons of reduced tomato puree.
What About Miso Paste: An Unusual Substitute?
Although it might sound unusual, it can be a great tomato paste substitute if you're looking to add umami and depth to your dish.
Miso paste won't provide the tomato taste, but it will add a savory flavor that can make your dish interesting. Use a tablespoon of miso paste for every tablespoon of tomato paste in your recipe.