Substitute For Tomato Paste

by Christopher Jones

Are you aware that there are literally hundreds of recipes that require tomato paste? A lot of newcomers in cooking are actually spooked when they see tomato paste in the recipe and there is no specific designated replacement.

Now tomato is a highly versatile fruit—and yes larval ones, it’s a fruit—that you can turn in a pinch, any product based on it to take on double roles. And while there is no real substitute for tomato paste when the recipe requires it, it only takes a little kitchen wizardry to create tomato paste aside from buying the canned version.

Obviously, tomato paste is based on tomatoes. All you need, therefore, is to find ways to create it based on what tomato product you have lying around. No need to panic, there is really nothing magical about what I’m going to show you. I have chosen five clever replacement methods to create tomato paste and the directions are easy to follow.

From Traditional Replacements to Innovative Alternatives

Substitute For Tomato Paste
Substitute For Tomato Paste
When you find yourself in an adventurous mood, you will easily need tomato paste when you want to make a new tomato-based soup or any sauce that requires thickening.

In this article, I’m going to share with you the result of years of personal experimentation and cooking experience. Aside from that, a friend of mine who is also a chef has passed down his own tricks in making tomato paste along with the ingredients he used.

Finally, the resulting replacements are the result of my own intensive research and I will provide these resources to you so you too can make your own tomato paste without buying an actual can. Try to pay attention to the recipes and replacement options that I provide along with the links that are scattered all over this article.

The Only True Substitute for Tomato Paste is to Make Your Own

When cooking a recipe that needs tomato paste, you need to have some tomato-based product to replace it. There’s just no other way that you can spin it. You can’t just pick any thickening because it won’t taste the same.

There are five replacement methods that I’m going to share with you in this article, four of which are really easy to follow. The fifth, well, it’s a bit technical but there are some culinary principles that you will discover along the way. Don’t worry though, because the hardest method also delivers the best quality of tomato paste.

1. Making Tomato Paste out of Tomato Sauce

Tomato sauce is the result of reducing the moisture of the tomato fruits. The process will produce a sweet concentrate which you can then use a binder, thickener or sweetener in many recipes. But you can’t just simply add tomato sauce in place of tomato paste in a recipe, you have to allow for a little more extra time for that.

  • Pour the sauce into a saucepan. Make sure that the saucepan has a thick bottom because tomato as a fruit has a lot of sugar content in it, and you’d want to prevent it from scorching.
  • Put the stove to medium heat and let the sauce warm to a brisk simmer.
  • After 7 minutes the original amount of tomato sauce should be reduced to about two-thirds.
  • What you’ll have should be a thick paste left over. A 15-ounce can should give you around 7-8 ounces of tomato paste.

2. Creating Tomato Paste out of Dice Canned Tomatoes

Suppose you run out of paste and when you check the pantry, you don’t have tomato sauce but have a lot of canned diced tomatoes lying around? No need to worry. You don’t have to rush to the store and buy a can of tomato paste, here is the recipe for it:

  • Using the same saucepan as above, empty a 14.5-ounce can of diced tomatoes into it.
  • Do not drain the excess liquid from the can, empty all its content into the saucepan and bring it to a boil in medium heat.
  • Stir the mixture constantly to prevent it from scorching. Be very careful because scorching will cause the resulting paste to taste like burnt sugar.
  • It will take 10 minutes to cook this mixture because compared to the previous procedure, there is already some liquid in the can and the tomatoes will release more liquids as it breaks down.
  • This method will give you 6 ounces of thickened paste out of a 14.5-ounce can of diced tomatoes.

3. The Chain Replacement Method

Did you remember that I mentioned a replacement that my chef friend taught me? Well, here it is. There’s actually a lot that you can do with a can of plain diced tomatoes, preferably the one without seasonings like garlic, oregano or basil. He calls it the “Chain Replacement Method” because you can actually get everything from just diced tomatoes because it chains so well.

  • Empty a can of 14.5-ounce diced tomatoes into a blender or a food processor.
  • Let the blender or food processor run until the tomatoes reach the consistency of tomato sauce.
  • You can then use the first procedure to turn it into tomato paste or you can turn it into an all around sauce for other recipes.
  • Here is my own Pro Tip: Reducing the blended mixture into a paste using poaching temperature will result in a more natural texture.

4. The Homemade Roasted Tomato Paste

The homemade roasted tomato paste is my de facto replacement method and I believe this is better than the rest. It requires a little bit of skill to prepare but it will really improve whatever recipe that requires garden variety paste. This will make you crave for more food compared to the rest of my replacement methods.


  • Use 10 pounds of San Marzano or Roma tomatoes
  • 2-3 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 2 tablespoon of table salt
  • Half teaspoon of citric acid


  • Simmer some water and add olive oil
  • Using this video as guide, blanch and peel the tomatoes.
  • Shove the blanched and peeled tomatoes into a food mill to remove the skin and seeds leaving on the flesh and juice. You can use this video as a guide.
  • Spread the pulp evenly into baking sheets. Since you’re using 10 pounds of tomatoes, you can easily use two baking sheets to spread the pulp thin.
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and place the sheets.
  • Bake the pulp and rotate the sheets to ensure even cooking. Combine the contents when it turns into a paste.
  • Once the mixture turns to paste, it will need 3-4 hours more to cook but the baking time can vary depending on the composition, kind, the size of tomatoes.

After baking, the paste will take on a brick-like color and will reduce to half its original amount. Divide the paste into 4-ounce jars but leave a quarter inch at the top of the jar as a preservation technique.

When All else Fails, Grab a Ketchup

If it happens that you’re out of time and the ingredients are just not there, grab a ketchup and a little tomato sauce as a quick hack. Don’t be scared to experiment with the ratio to find the best consistency and don’t forget to reduce it by cooking.

The best substitute for tomato paste as far as I’m concerned is my homemade roasted tomato paste. This requires a bit of skill but you won’t regret the result. With 10 pounds of raw tomatoes, you will be left with plenty of tomato paste to face the future.

How about you? Do you have a favorite replacement method you’d like to share? Drop a comment below and share your wisdom.

About Christopher Jones

Chris is a true globetrotter. He has been to many destinations and tried different types of food from all over the world, yet he still loves finding new places and tasting their specialties. Chris has always had an entrepreneurial spirit and so he decided to go back to school at age 24 for his MBA at University of San Francisco so that he could have a better understanding of business strategy in order to start his own company. His favorite motto is “how can one live well, travel well, and work well without having good food every time?”

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