The Best Simple Tomato Paste Substitutes

tomato paste substitutes

All out of tomato paste? Or looking to avoid nightshades? Either way it’s all good. Here are my favourite simple tomato paste substitutes both with and without tomatoes.

The Best Tomato Paste Substitutes – Tomato Free

1. Skip it

The easiest and quickest option is to skip the tomato paste. If you’re cooking a dish with a lot of other ingredients, you probably won’t notice it.

2. Extra Seasoning

Tomato paste adds salty and sweet flavours so in some cases an extra pinch of salt and possibly a little sugar will work.

3. Soy Sauce

To replace the savoury umami flavours of tomato paste, a little soy sauce is an option. It’s less sweet and much more salty though, so start slowly.

I’d start with the following ratio:
1 tablespoon tomato paste = 1 teaspoon soy sauce.

Increase the soy as needed.

4. Olive Tapenade

Tapenade will add a very different flavour profile, but that may not be a bad thing!

Olives provide the lovely savoury umami flavours you also get from tomato. So they will take your dish in a different direction but you won’t be lacking in flavour.

Plus they’re not nightshades.

The Best Tomato Paste Substitutes – Tomato Based Ingredients

1. Tomato Passata

Tomato passata is essentially tomato paste that hasn’t been concentrated. So it’s more watery but has a very similar taste.

If the extra moisture isn’t going to impact your finished dish use the following quantities:
1 tablespoon tomato paste = 3 tablespoons tomato passata.

If the extra liquid is a problem, simmer tomato passata for a few minutes in a frying pan to thicken it. When it looks like tomato paste (reduced to about 1/3 the original volume) it can be cooled and used 1:1 as a substitute.

2. Canned Tomatoes

Like tomato passata, canned tomatoes are more watery than tomato paste. Plus they also contain the seeds and pulp of the tomato.

To make a quick tomato paste from canned tomatoes, just simmer rapidly uncovered in a large frying pan for 10-15 minutes or until the quantity has reduced to at least half the original volume. Then strain to remove the seeds (if needed) and use in your dish as you would use tomato paste.

3. Tomato Pasta Sauce / Marinara Sauce

Commercial tomato pasta sauces generally fall somewhere in between tomato passata and tomato paste in terms of concentration. They can have additional flavourings like onion or basil which may or may not be a good thing.

I start with the following rule of thumb:
1 tablespoon tomato paste = 2 tablespoons tomato pasta sauce.

As per passata, if the extra moisture is a problem, you can simmer your sauce to reduce until it resembles tomato paste.

4. Tomato Ketchup

While tomato ketchup is significantly sweeter than tomato paste, it’s similar in terms of intensity and moisture contents. Which makes sense given the major ingredient is concentrated tomatoes!

It can be used on a 1:1 basis.

Just keep in mind you’ll end up with a sweeter flavour. Plus there will also be the extra flavours from the spices and vinegar used in ketchup. Which may be a good thing.

5. Fresh Tomatoes

Fresh tomatoes are even less concentrated than passata. And they contain skins and seeds. But if they’re all you have you can make a tomato paste substitute by chopping and simmering fresh tomatoes until they thicken to resemble tomato paste.

More Tomato Substitute Ideas

How to Store Tomato Paste

Keep unopened containers in your pantry. Once opened keep containers in the refrigerator.

If using cans of tomato paste, transfer any leftovers into a glass jar or other sealable container before storing in the fridge.

Delicious Tomato Substitutes Flavour Pairings

  • Avocado & Tomato
  • Bacon & Tomato
  • Basil & Tomato
  • Cheese & Tomato
  • Oregano & Tomato
  • Rosemary & Tomato
  • Garlic & Tomato
  • Liver & Tomato

More Ingredient Substitutes

Also see see the Simple Ingredients Substitutes Index.

Have fun in the kitchen!

With love,
Jules x