Tomato Sauce Substitute – 13 Superb Alternatives You Can Get Around

A popular ingredient in many well-known recipes includes tomato sauce. As a pasta lover, your recipe is not complete without the spice of tomato sauce. However, you are likely to run out of it while preparing your meal. When that happens, you can always opt for a tomato sauce substitute. 

Many of these substitutes are ingredients you can find in your pantry. Therefore, you do not need to rush down to a grocery store or defy your recipe by omitting the sauce completely. 

Keep reading to discover 12 Cheffist recommendations for alternatives you can use instead of tomato sauce. These recommendations also include tomato-free alternatives. 

SEE: Honey Substitutes You Should Know About

What Is Tomato Sauce?

Tomato sauce is a popular ingredient used in preparing various recipes including meatloaves and sloppy joes. The sauce is made from fresh tomatoes and medium-thick sauce. 

Tomato sauce is often thinner than tomato puree, making it a unique, versatile ingredient that you can add to your recipe. The process involves cooking the tomatoes into the sauce, after which the peels and seeds are strained out. 

Water, stock, and wine are the commonly used ingredients to stop the sauce from becoming too thick. Other seasoning ingredients include garlic, onion, black pepper, parsley, and others.

What Is the Purpose of Tomato Sauce in a Meal?

The primary purpose of adding tomato sauce to your meal is to boost the flavor. The sauce gives your recipe a quick burst of flavor and can intensify the flavor profile of your meal. 

Using tomato sauce or its substitute is essential to any dish that needs an intense flavor. Additionally, it is often used as a base ingredient to thicken and add color to other liquid recipes such as soups and other sauces.

SEE: Here’s What You Need to Know About the Shelf Life Of Worcestershire Sauce

Tomato Sauce Substitutes

1. Tomato Paste 

You can use a tomato paste in place of tomato sauce if that is what you have in your pantry. This is one of the best substitutes there is for tomato sauce as you only need tomato paste and water to create a substitute for the dish. 

All you need to do is mix equal parts of water and tomato paste. Once you get a smooth blend, add seasoning to give it a taste. You can use typical seasonings like herbs, garlic, and onion, while you can also drizzle some olive oil into it as well. 

To get a similar tomato sauce taste, cook the garlic and onion in oil before adding the tomato paste and water mixture. Adding other seasonings to the mixture will also help enhance the taste of the finished sauce. 

2. Canned Stewed Tomatoes

You are in luck if you have this available in your pantry. Canned stewed tomatoes are an excellent substitute for tomato sauce that you can use in most dishes. 

To use this as an alternative for tomato sauce, simply blend the content of the can until it becomes smooth. Use equal parts of the stewed tomatoes in place of the tomato sauce. 

3. Tomato Soup

This substitute will help you achieve the flavor you need for your recipe. It is a great alternative to try if you have it available. Tomato soup had a similar consistency and flavor to tomato sauce—it will work just fine for what you need.

However, it doesn’t have the same savory taste as a tomato sauce. You can make up for this by adding more salt, minced garlic, and some other flavors needed to achieve the taste your food requires. Tomato soup is tastier and can help elevate the taste of your recipe.

4. Ketchup

This is an uncommon substitute you can also try out for your recipe. Even though ketchup contains sugar, vinegar, and other ingredients that can change to flavor of your savory dish, it will still work for your tomato sauce needs. 

To avoid unwanted changes to your recipe, you should use ketchup for dishes that already have a certain level of sweetness. Don’t use it for your lasagna or similar recipes. However, you can use it in other varieties of dishes, depending on your sense of judgment.

5. Tomato Juice

This is another great alternative you can try in place of tomato sauce. Tomato juice is made from freshly squeezed or crushed tomatoes. It contains no preservatives or additives—which makes it one of the healthiest choices for you. 

However, it can turn bad quickly compared to other substitutes. It is best used fresh for recipes that need tomato sauce.

SEE: Are Tomatoes Berries Or Not?

6. Fresh Tomatoes

Fresh tomatoes are the best alternative you can find around as you can easily create a homemade tomato sauce from them. Making your tomato sauce is a healthier choice and the best decision you can make. 

This way, you know what goes in your sauce and what is suitable for your dish. To make your tomato sauce with fresh tomatoes, you need to peel them off and get rid of the seeds. After that, simmer the tomatoes until you get it reduced, and get rid of half the liquid parts.

7. Pureed Bell Peppers

This is a tomato-free alternative you can opt for if you can’t find a tomato-based substitute around. Bell peppers are a good substitute for tomato sauce. When you want to use bell peppers as a tomato sauce substitute, you have to roast them before creating a bell pepper puree. 

You can also buy a jar of roasted red peppers at a store and blend them in a food processor. Add water or broth to the blended pepper to create the consistency you need for your recipe. Use equal parts of pureed bell peppers in place of tomato sauce. 

8. Tomato Puree

Tomato puree is an excellent alternative to tomato sauce. You can use it to prepare your dish when you run out of tomato sauce. 

Tomato puree is made out of cooked tomatoes that have been strained. It has a thicker consistency than tomato sauce. However, you can use an equal amount of tomato puree in your meal in place of tomato sauce.

9. Tomato Passata

Tomato passata is another worthy tomato sauce substitute you can use in preparing your dishes. It is made from uncooked pureed tomatoes that have been strained.

Tomato passata is similar to tomato puree and is richer and thicker than tomato sauce. Use an equal amount of tomato passata to replace tomato sauce in your dish. 

10. Marinara Sauce

Marinara sauce is another tomato-based substitute you can use to replace tomato sauce. It is very similar to pasta sauce and tomato sauce as they contain the same seasonings. 

However, marinara has a thinner consistency compared to tomato sauce and may not give you the tomato palette you need for your dish. But overall, it is a close substitute to tomato sauce and can come in handy when you run out of tomato sauce.

SEE: Everything You Need to Know About the Shelf Life of Soy Sauce

11. Beets

This may seem odd as an alternative for tomato sauce but it’s not. Beets have a similar taste and texture to tomato sauce when prepared properly. The color is the only difference and not a reason to overlook beets as a tomato-free substitute for tomato sauce. 

12. Carrots

This veggie is another uncommon tomato-free sauce substitute that you can try. Like beets, it has a similar taste and texture to tomato sauce but different color. 

To use carrots as your substitute for tomato sauce, blend them with garlic and oil. Apply water to it after blending to create the right consistency for your recipe. 

13. Ajvar

Here’s a good tomato-free substitute you can try. Ajvar is a combination of red bell pepper and eggplant spread that you can buy a jar of ajvar at a store. Mix your ajvar with 1⁄2 cup of water or broth before using it in place of tomato sauce. 

Why Does Tomato Sauce Need Substitutes?

There are several reasons why tomato sauce needs substitutes. Allergy is one of the major reasons why tomato sauce should have substitutes. If you are allergic to tomatoes, it is best to opt for tomato-free substitutes when you need to use tomato sauce in your recipe. 

In addition to that, tomato sauce alternatives are needed when tomato sauce is not available, or when you need to try something different. 

SEE: Cointreau Substitute You Didn’t Know Before


Are tomato sauce and spaghetti sauce the same thing?

No, they aren’t. Tomato sauce and spaghetti sauce are two different ingredients even though they are both tomato-based. 

Does pizza need tomato sauce?

No, it doesn’t. You don’t need tomato sauce for your pizza. Traditionally, most pizzas are made with a tomato-based sauce called the red pizza sauce. While you can also use tomato sauce, you should know that it is not necessary. 

Can you add ketchup to your weight loss diet?

No, you can’t. Ketchup is not a good addition to your diet if you are trying to lose weight or eat healthily. For a healthy tomato sauce alternative, you can try fresh tomatoes, tomato passata, and tomato puree.

SEE: Get a Chance to Win $500 Gift Card at Giant Foods


Running out of tomato sauce doesn’t mean you have to rush down to the grocery store to get another. You can save yourself the stress of taking a trip to the store by using a substitute of tomato sauce to make your dish. 

Tomato sauce substitutes include Marinara Sauce, Beets, Carrots, Ajvar, Tomato Ketchup, Fresh tomatoes, Pureed Bell Peppers, Tomato Puree, Tomato Passata, Tomato Paste, Canned Stewed Tomatoes, and Tomato soup.

Thanks for reading.

Read more food and seasoning alternatives on Cheffist.