Tomatoes and Tomato Paste
Vegetables International Kitchen Tips

Tomato Paste Substitute

Tomato paste substitute came to mind when I ran out of it in my pantry. It would have been easier to go out for a few minutes and pick up tomato paste from the nearest local store, but sometimes, taking the hard way has its benefits, because it can also be interesting. 

I could not imagine a kitchen without tomatoes!  With tomatoes ever ready in the kitchen, I feel no fear of running out of sauces and pastes, as the real and fresh ones are the secrets to having tomato sauce and tomato paste substitute.

tomatoes and tomato paste -
tomatoes and tomato paste – MMK

My two moms – my birth mom and my mother-in-law – must have obsessions with tomatoes. Anybody who cooks does! Mom’s kitchen has a perennial stock of this ambivalent fruit or vegetable produce. That should not be the case as tomatoes are abundant in my home country. But, of course, when you are cooking, you wanted all the ingredients within easy reach. That explains her hoarding; plus that most of our local recipes call for tomatoes. We use tomatoes in cooking meat and seafood or served them raw alongside something fried or grilled. As for tomato sauce and paste, mom will have a can of each – just in case. Yes, they are “just-in-case” items in my mom’s pantry. My mom’s use of tomato paste and sauce is almost always limited to the color they give the dish, not the taste. Her preferred color is slightly orange; anything darker — bright orange or red — is a turn-off. She used achuete or annatto seeds for dishes that call for that orangy color. So why bother stacking tomato paste? Well…

Tomato sauce versus tomato paste

Tomato paste is achieved by cooking deseeded tomatoes and letting all its juices evaporate until you are left with a highly concentrated, thick version. Expectedly, the flavor is stronger. Tomato sauce, on the other hand, has a thinner texture and has more added flavors to it. On my own, I replace the tomato sauce with a smaller portion of tomato paste that is mixed with water, and depending on the dish I am cooking, I add my own spices to it. 


Substitute for tomato paste

You do not have tomato paste? Worry not, as there are several substitutes you can use to retain the tomato flavor in your original recipe, and you will have the alternative in a minute depending on what you have in your pantry. Here are a few options:

  • Canned Tomatoes are wonderful saviors. Their variety: whole, stewed, chopped — all in cans. Just drain them to make tomato pastes. Between 2-4 tablespoons of these canned items in your kitchen, you would have a tablespoon of its paste counterpart.
  • Believe it or not, a tablespoon of ketchup is equivalent to a tablespoon of tomato paste. 
  • Tomato Sauce is incredibly another alternative. I used it the other way around (use the paste to make tomato sauce), but the reverse can also be done. For every 2 or 3 tbsps tomato sauce, you will have a tablespoon of tomato paste.
  • Tomato Soup. Use this as you would the paste but cut down the other liquid ingredient of your recipe.
  • Fresh Tomatoes are my favorite alternative to tomato paste, and you can see the recipe below.  


Tomato paste recipe (how to make your own tomato paste)

There are only a few steps you can follow to make a tomato paste substitute from its fresh counterpart. You can even make loads of them and keep them in the refrigerator for months. 

Skin and deseed. 

This is easy. Put your peeler or knife aside and heat water to a boiling point. Pour the hotel water over washed tomatoes in an aluminum dish and let them rest for a few minutes. You may want to observe its behavior or leave it, do other things and return to it when you are ready, and it would be ready for you. You would see the tomato skin splitting and coming off itself. At this stage, you can easily slip them off their skin (which you can discard). Then deseed them. 


Run your skinned and deseeded tomatoes in a food processor or an immersion blender until they are smooth adding olive oil midway. Play on these ingredients for a thicker consistency. 


Over medium heat, simmer tomatoes until they are smooth and to the texture you prefer or how you like your concentrated tomato paste to be. You may want to add salt and/or a pinch of sugar at this stage.

Store tomato paste.

  1. Keep in a tight lid container and store in the refrigerator for up to three months.
  2. Ever heard of frozen tomato paste? Pour them in an ice cube tray, freeze and use as needed.


How to make your own tomato sauce

Using the same recipe for tomato paste, you can add your own aromatics to the paste, and extra liquid and you have your instant tomato sauce. 

1 Comment

  1. […] could not imagine a kitchen without tomatoes! With tomatoes ever ready in the kitchen, I feel no fear of running out of sauces and pastes, as […]

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