What Is A Good Replacement For Tomato Paste and a Tomato Paste Alternative?


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When would I need a replacement for Tomato paste?

When preparing a meal, you may sometimes find yourself without the ingredients you need for one reason or another. You may also find that you are cooking for someone with an allergy to a particular ingredient. Perhaps you have the allergy yourself.

What do you do when you need to replace an ingredient such as tomato paste? I know of many recipes that use tomato paste as an ingredient. It is good to know how to replace tomato paste when you need to so that you don’t miss out on cooking these recipes. I put together this guide to help you replace tomato paste in your cooking.

What if you just don’t have it?

I often use tomato sauce to thicken dishes as well as add a great deal of tomato flavor, which I love. Along with flavor and thickness, tomato paste adds acidity to a dish. One way that you can replicate tomato paste is by using other tomato products such as tomato sauce. About Food gives a great solution for missing tomato paste using tomato sauce.

Tomato Paste Replacement

They suggest using eight to fifteen ounces of tomato sauce to create a tomato paste replacement. They say that you should put it into a saucepan and put it over medium heat, and stir occasionally. In about seven minutes the sauce will be reduced by about two-thirds. From an eight ounce can of tomato sauce, you can yield about three to four ounces of tomato paste. From a fifteen ounce can you can get closer to six to seven ounces.

Credit: Urban Farmer

Another Tomato Paste Alternative

A second option they offer for a replacement for tomato paste is canned tomatoes. By blending fourteen ounces of canned tomatoes in a food processor until smooth, you will get a nice tomato mixture. Pour the mixture into a saucepan and boil over medium heat like with the tomato sauce. Again the goal here is to reduce the mixture and concentrate it. I would note that this method can take a bit longer, up to around ten minutes. You are still looking to reduce the mixture by about two-thirds.

If it is only the flavor component that you are missing from your dish, you can make do with ketchup as well. I have noticed that because of ketchup’s thinner consistency it may not work well to thicken your dish, but it can provide you with some of that tomato flavor. You can reduce ketchup as well, but it will not be as thick as tomato sauce will become.

You can also use stewed or chopped tomatoes. These will introduce a thicker, chunkier texture, but will still provide a tomato flavor. I found that this may not work amazingly in sauces, but in chilis and other similar dishes, I think they work perfectly fine.

If I have a recipe that calls for both tomato paste and water, I substitute out the tomato paste for tomato sauce and just skip adding the water. This sometimes happens in recipes that call for marinara sauce and spaghetti sauce with a tomato paste alternative.

What if I have an allergy to tomatoes?

If you or someone you are cooking for have an allergy to tomatoes, there are options for you. According to Wise Geek, one healthy solution to tomato paste is crushed red pepper or red pepper puree. The flavor may be slightly different, but you can get a similar consistency by concentrating the puree through boiling.


Credit: Manning Canning

When making a red pepper puree, I would make sure to remove the seeds and dice the pepper into small pieces before pureeing in a blender. Boil the puree over medium heat to evaporate the excess liquid. The reduction should be about two-thirds. I would be prepared for the taste to differ, as red pepper is not going to give you a tomato flavor at all. Though this vegetable will give your dish a good color and help thicken the sauce.

Romesco sauce is a red pepper based sauce that I love, and it can be swapped out for a number of tomato sauces and treated much the same. It can also be reduced in a similar method to add to the thickness. The one thing that red pepper solutions lack is the added element of acidity. Tomatoes have a level of acidity that red peppers do not. You can reintroduce that acidity to the dish with lemon if it suits the dish.

If the red pepper is not an option, you can also puree other vegetables. Squash is a viable option. There are many kinds of squash; try out different types to see what works for you. I really like butternut squash, mostly because it is delicious, but also, because it works well in dishes.

Alternatively, there are products on the market that can be used to make tomato-less cooking simple and manageable. There is a line of products called “nomato” that offer a number of tomato substitutes including sauce, ketchup, and a barbecue sauce. I think this line looks interesting and is definitely worth a try.

Credit: Nomato

These sauces use carrots, beets, onions, and lemon juice to make a tomato-like flavor without any actual tomato. Reducing a nomato sauce is very similar to reducing a tomato sauce and it yields similar thickness results. The nomato also utilizes lemon to bring back the acidity you may be missing. http://www.nomato.com/index.htm

You have options

When you don’t have tomato paste there are ways that you can still make a great dish. Many tomato products can be reduced to a workable paste. Tomato sauce, ketchup, and even a homemade tomato puree can be boiled and reduced so that they work in the place of tomato paste.

In cases of allergies, I would suggest that you use the puree of other kinds of vegetables. The most popular alternative is pureed red pepper. There are even red pepper sauces that can also be reduced to a thick paste.

There are products out there, such as nomato, that offer a delicious tomato free alternative to tomato sauces. These can also be reduced in a similar method to make a paste.

  • Find your preferred base (tomato sauce, tomato puree, red pepper puree or nomato)
  • Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally, evaporating the water content
  • Reduce the mix by about two thirds so you end up with a workable paste.

Helen Harris

Helen’s your eternally cheerful, next-door suburban mom that genuinely enjoys sharing with the whole neighborhood her latest fresh-from-the-oven culinary creations. She’s also a treasure trove of kitchen hacks and DIY advice if you have the patience to listen to her life story on repeat and the latest news on her son, Marv, and on how great he’s doing on the college football team. Fortunately, she agreed to leave her kitchen wisdom in writing as well when one of our editors with saintlike patience asked her to.

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