Tomato purée is by far one of the most common yet loved ingredients used worldwide for cooking.
From making delicious pasta sauces to special dips for tortilla chips, seasoning soups, or lasagna, this simple ingredient is thick, sweet, full of flavor, and adds a unique perfume to your dishes.
Moreover, tomato purée can enhance the thickness of sauces, making it a great base for homemade barbeque dressings.
However, what if you find yourself in a situation where you really need to use some tomato purée and realise that you have none left?
Don’t worry, this article will teach everything about tomato purée substitutes, as well as how to create your own homemade alternatives.
Do these options work as well as a tomato purée? Let’s find out!
What Is Tomato Purée?
According to the U.S. definition, we consider tomato purée to be the thick sauce made from long-cooked and strained tomatoes. Ok, but how is purée different from other sauces?
Well, the difference is made by the way you are cooking the tomatoes (1). Comparing it with tomato paste, the tomato purée is thinner, and when it comes to the classic sauce, the purée made of tomatoes has much more flavor.
Furthermore, while the classic tomato sauce is usually seasoned with salt and other spices, the purée is made only with tomatoes.
Some companies refer to their whole chopped tomatoes as tomato purée rather than juice. Now, when it comes to the U.S., tomato purée is kind of the same as tomato paste.
6 Best Tomato Purée Substitutes
If you don’t have tomato purée at your fingertips, there are other ways to save your special dishes. Here are the best alternatives, which are also based on delicious tomatoes (2). I have selected 6 of these options, so use the one that suits you best:
1. Tomato Paste + Water
One of the easiest yet best tomato purée substitutes is mixing equal parts of tomato paste with water. Yes, it is that simple.
The result will be a flavorful sauce that has almost the same texture as the tomato purée. In fact, many people don’t know that this mixture stands most of the time in the cans of tomato purée we are all buying.
Recipe: If you want to obtain half a cup of tomato purée, you just need to mix ¼ cup water with ¼ of tomato paste. You will thank me for the delicious result.
Personal Opinion: Here is my favorite tomato paste pick.
2. Tomato Sauce
One of my favorite tomato purée substitutes is simple and full of flavor: tomato sauce. Although the taste might not be the same, tomato sauce will add great flavor to your dishes once you add it to your recipes.
You might even don’t notice any difference. Don’t be afraid to use this replacement as a 1:1 ratio. However, keep in mind that usually, the sauce is more seasoned and spicy than the purée, which is all plain.
Recipe: You don’t have to do too much to replace the tomato purée with the tomato sauce. Just put the last one in a pan and cook it at slow heat until its volume is reduced and becomes thick. This way, you will obtain almost the same consistency with the purée.
This video has one of the easiest tomato sauce recipes to make at home.
3. Pizza Sauce or Marinara Sauce
Everyone loves pizza (3). This is why almost any kitchen has some marinara sauce in its pantries. If you need a good substitute for the tomato purée, try the pizza sauce.
However, it is essential to notice that the marinara sauce recipes are usually very flavored and usually contain lots of garlic, basil, and other herbs that add that unique taste. All the while, the tomato purée is perfectly lean and unflavored.
My recommendation is to substitute the classic purée only with a pinch of pizza sauce, to avoid that Italian flavor to your recipe if you don’t want to.
You can start by tasting the marinara, add it in small amounts to your dish and continue to try the sauce until you reach the flavor you wish for.
Personal Opinion: If you don’t want to cook your own marinara sauce, here is my favorite organic one.
4. Fresh Tomatoes
Eating fresh vegetables is always the best idea, so if you have a nice batch of tomatoes, you can immediately turn them into a tomato purée.
Recipe: You just need to nicely wash the fresh tomatoes, then chop them using a sharp knife.
Toss them into a large pot, then let them boil for around 10 to 15 minutes until the moisture will evaporate. Let the purée cool down, then use a blender to pulse the mixture. Do this process until you reach that smooth consistency you are looking for.
One of the best options to use is the Roma tomatoes. However, most of these fruits are excellent for making a flavorful purée. You can replace one cup of tomato purée with four cups of fresh tomatoes. Here’s a nice video to inspire you.
5. Canned Tomatoes
Another great substitute for the classic tomato purée are canned tomatoes. You find them in every corner store, and this option is extremely practical, as the “best to consume” date for canned fruits is quite generous.
You can either blend these tomatoes and then remove the liquid to avoid any excess or leave them in big pieces. If you want a genuine substitute, then do not add any seasoning, spices, pepper, or salt, as tomato purée is unseasoned.
Use canned tomatoes in equal parts to substitute the purée in your recipes.
Personal Opinion: If you go for this option, you should pick a brand that uses San Marzano tomatoes, such as this one.
Since ketchup is full of spices and sugar (4), you might think that you will fail to try to substitute the unspiced purée.
As long as you really enjoy the flavor of ketchup and the herbs that are usually added, there is no mistake in using it as a substitute.
All you will need to do is take a tomato ketchup dash and add it to your dish. If you want to control the number of spices in your ketchup, you can try making your own homemade one.
Making A Homemade Tomato Purée. Tips
If you prefer to make your own tomato purée and store it accordingly to have it always at your fingertips, here are some tips to keep in mind:
- Make sure you use nice fresh tomatoes.
- Give them a good wash.
- Use a large pot to boil the fruits.
- Use a powerful peeler of a blender to obtain that smooth consistency.
- A scrape will help you eliminate all the seeds and watery pulp.
- Put the tomatoes at medium heat until the flesh becomes tender.
- Let the sauce cool down for around 15 minutes.
- Remember that as long as you will use canned tomatoes, the flavor won’t be the same.
- You can also smash the tomatoes after you chopped them.
- Tomato purée can change the texture of your dish, so use it according to the recipe.
- If you want to prepare a genuine tomato purée, do not add any spices. Use only tomatoes.
You cannot fail by substituting the classic tomato purée with the options from this article. If you are in a rush and don’t have the purée at your fingertips, don’t panic, these substitutes will give your dish a nice flavor.