Tomato puree is without a doubt the most used ingredient in the world. There is no cuisine that does not make use of tomatoes or their puree.
From soups to sauces and stews, tomato puree is used in a variety of recipes. It is not only used for its tomato-based flavor but also for the texture it adds to the meals.
Tomato puree gives a nice consistency to several gravies and soups. And that tempting red color that we see in some curries and stews is also due to this puree.
The good thing is that even if you don’t get to make this puree or buy from the store, there are still plenty of tomato puree substitutes that you can find easily at home or at the grocery store. Let’s see, what are the 7-best sub for tomato puree?
What is Tomato Puree?
Before we begin with the list of all the tomato puree alternatives, let me explain what tomato puree really is!
People often confuse tomato puree with other tomato sauces and paste. Though they all have the same tomato base, the difference lies in the consistency and the intensity of the flavor.
Before you choose the right tomato puree replacement, it is important to know what is the intensity of its flavor and how thick it really is!
Are tomato Puree and tomato sauce the same?
The simple answer is NO! Unlike tomato sauce, tomato puree does not contain any additives. There are no artificial flavors or thickeners added to this liquid paste.
Tomato Puree as an Ingredient
Well, as an ingredient, tomato puree is used in an endless variety of meals. Whether you are making a pasta sauce or cooking some soup and gravy, this puree is a must to add for good taste and a nice texture. There IS a variety of meat marinades prepared by adding some amount of tomato puree. Tomato puree is thicker than tomato sauce, so you can always mix it up with spices, seasonings and liquids to make other sauces.
7 best Substitutes for Tomato Puree
You can find the best tomato puree replacement by keeping its consistency and taste in mind. We are looking for something with a thicker texture and lesser spices and seasonings. Following are the top 7 cooking substitutes for tomato puree:
1. Tomato Paste
Yes! You can substitute tomato paste for tomato puree. It is a good option and the closest match to the tomato puree. It is thick and concentrated, just like the tomato puree.
Tomato paste is also available in large amounts in bottles, and there are no spices and seasoning that are added to the tomato paste. So, you can easily replace tomato puree with tomato paste.
And if you are thinking, “is the tomato puree and tomato paste the same thing?” then No, they are not the same. Tomato paste is cooked longer, and the mixture is first strained to remove the liquid then cooked, which is not the case with the tomato puree.
How to use
Tomato paste is a good tomato puree substitute for beef stew, soups, Bolognese and other sauces. To replace the tomato puree with tomato paste, mix 2/3 cups of water with 1/3 cup of tomato paste. This will give you the right taste and texture.
2. Tomato Sauce
Can you really substitute tomato puree for tomato sauce? Well, they both are a good replacement for one another. Tomato sauce has a lighter consistency and is less concentrated than tomato puree. Tomato sauce is usually prepared using different seasonings. So, it is a bit spicy and mildly sweet compared to the tomato puree.
How to use
Tomato sauce is a good tomato puree equivalent, especially consistency-wise. However, you will have to cook it a little before adding it to the recipe to make it more concentrated. Since tomato sauce has seasonings of its own, so make sure to adjust the spices in the recipe accordingly. For instance, use a lesser amount of peppers or chilli flakes in the recipe if there is tomato sauce instead of tomato puree.
3. Fresh Tomatoes
Using fresh vegetables and ingredients is always a great choice. You can also use fresh tomatoes to make the tomato puree. Roma tomatoes are the best to make the puree, but you can use plum tomatoes as well.
How to Use
To turn the tomatoes into the tomato puree, peel and chop them first, then cook them for 10-15 minutes on a simmer and then blend well.
4. Canned Tomatoes
Canned tomatoes are another great substitute for tomato puree. They are so soft and mushy that when they are used in the recipes and cooked, they immediately turn in to a puree.
How to Use
To replace the tomato puree with canned tomatoes, make sure to remove the excess liquid and then add it to the recipe. Cook the canned tomatoes in a cooking pot on low heat for 10 minutes, without adding any spices and seasonings. Then either blend or mash them to get a good puree. Use an equal amount of canned tomatoes to replace the tomato puree.
5. Pizza Sauce
Pizza sauce is a modified form of tomato sauce, and it can best to substitute tomato puree for the pizza recipe. When you have pizza sauce, you won’t need to cook the tomato puree into a sauce.
How to use
In several other recipes, you can use pizza sauce instead of tomato puree. Use an equal amount of pizza sauce to replace the tomato puree. Adjust the other spices in the recipe accordingly.
6. Marinara Sauce
A good tomato puree substitute for Bolognese is the marinara sauce. In fact, the marinara sauce is prepared using tomatoes or their puree.
How to Use
This sauce has a different taste than the tomato puree, but in certain recipes like the saucy pasta, meatballs and meatloaf toppings, you can easily replace the tomato puree with an equal amount of marinara sauce.
Can I use ketchup instead of tomato puree? That is one of the frequently asked questions I hear from people around me. Well, to be honest, ketchup is not the best substitute for tomato puree, but you can use it when there is no other option available.
Unlike tomato puree, ketchup is loaded with flavorings and seasonings. Ketchup also contain some sugar which makes it sweeter than tomato puree.
But if a recipe calls for a mildly sweet taste, then you can always use ketchup instead of tomato puree.
How to Use
You can use an equal amount of ketchup to replace the tomato puree. But make sure to reduce the number of other spices and sweeteners in the recipes to compensate for the taste.
How to Make Tomato Puree at Home?
So, what if you can’t find the tomato puree in the store! You can make your own tomato puree at home using fresh tomatoes.
Homemade tomato puree is much healthier than market bought ones. Once prepared, the puree can be easily stored for long term use as well.
To make the tomato puree, here is what you will need:
- Water for cooking
- Heavy bottom cooking pot
- Sharp serrated knife
To make the tomato puree, first, carve a cross on top of each tomato and then add to the boiling water in a pot. You will have to blanch the tomatoes for 1-3 minutes, then remove them from the water. Allow the tomatoes to cool and peel off their skin.
Cut the peeled tomatoes in half and remove their seeds using a scraper. Chop these tomatoes and transfer them to a pot. Add the tomatoes to a cooking pot and cook for 10 minutes on a slow simmer.
Allow the cooked tomatoes to cool down, then blend in a blender or puree using a hand blender.
Tips for storing tomato puree
Tomato puree can be stored in the refrigerator for short term use and in the freezer for long term use.
To store the tomato puree in the refrigerator, simply pour IT into a sealable glass jar. Cover its lid and refrigerate for up to 7 days.
If you want to freeze the tomato puree, then it is best to divide them into portions according to your use.
The technique I find most useful for tomato puree storage is ice-cube freezing. Divide the tomato puree in the ice cube tray and then freeze. In this way, you can use small portions of tomato puree according to the recipe requirement.
Another good way to freeze the tomato puree is to seal it in a ziplock bag of suitable size and freeze it after removing all the air.