Use one of these easy tomato paste substitutes whenever you’re in a pinch!

It can be so frustrating to start a recipe and realize you’re missing a key ingredient. If that ingredient is tomato paste, you’re in luck!

There are several great options to use as tomato paste substitutes. We’ll guide you through each one and you’ll be cooking in no time!

A variety of tomato paste substitutes placed on a marble countertop.
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While I love to cook, I’m not always the best planner. My pantry isn’t always stocked with every ingredient, and I tend to fly by the seat of my pants when it comes to making dinner!

With that said, I am always looking for creative substitutes for ingredients in my recipes. Tomato paste is one of those items that I’d love to consistently have on hand, but it’s just not always the case.

Today, we’re sharing the six best tomato paste substitutes you can use if you’re in a pinch. No matter what kind of recipe you’re working on, this guide is sure to give you a solid solution.

A small bowl of tomato paste on a marble countertop, gold spoon full of tomato paste substitute to the side.

What is Tomato Paste?

Tomato paste is simply a dense, very smooth concentrated tomato product, generally sold in very small cans at your grocery store. It’s thicker than tomato sauce, and richer than most other canned tomato products.

Tomato paste is cooked for a long time to create a vibrant, velvety consistency. A little goes a long way in any recipe.

With only citric acid added to the canned tomato paste available on store shelves, it can be difficult to mimic the exact flavor of tomato paste. In this guide to tomato paste substitutions, we’ll show you the best options!

Six Easy Tomato Paste Substitutes

  1. Tomato Sauce – Tomato sauce is thinner with a less concentrated and tart flavor than paste. While it does usually have added sugar, an extra 1/2 teaspoon per 2-3 tablespoons makes this is my favorite tomato paste substitute. A can of tomato sauce on a marble countertop.
  2. Ketchup – Ketchup is sweetened and full of flavor, making it a great substitute for tomato paste. Use it in your recipes requiring tomato paste as a 1:1 ratio. A small bowl of ketchup on a marble countertop, image is featured in a guide to tomato paste substitutes.
  3. Tomato Purée – Thinner than both sauce and paste, this also has more texture. Double the request amount of tomato paste in your recipe, because the puree won’t have as much flavor. A small white bowl full of tomato sauce for a tomato paste substitute.
  4. Canned Tomatoes – Much like puree, you’ll want to double your canned tomatoes if you’re using this sub. The flavor just isn’t as concentrated. A small white bowl full of stewed tomatoes for a tomato paste substitute.
  5. Tomato Soup – Much thinner than tomato paste, but can work in certain recipes for a tomato based flavor.
  6. Marinara – In a pinch, you can sub marinara for tomato paste. Keep in mind that most jarred marinara will contain a wide variety of additional sugar, seasonings and vegetables.


  • Tomato paste that comes in a can at the grocery store will be naturally sweeter than most of these substitutes.
  • With that in mind, consider adding 1/2 teaspoon of white granulated sugar to every 2-3 tablespoons tomato paste substitute you choose. This won’t be necessary with ketchup, as it’s already sweetened.
  • A little tomato paste goes a long way, which is why it’s sold in such small cans. It’s so concentrated that most ingredients will need a little extra flavor boost to match it!

Make More (or Less!)

Scaling up, down or substituting? You’ll love this printable Measurement Conversion Chart!

A variety of tomato paste substitutes placed on a marble countertop.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are tomato paste and tomato puree the same?

These two ingredients are quite similar, but have differences in both the way they are made and the way they are used in recipes. Tomato paste is richer and a little sweeter because it’s so concentrated, and it’s cooked for longer. Seeds and skins are removed to achieve the rich flavor.
Tomato puree is milder, with a fresher, lighter texture and flavor. All parts of the tomatoes are used, and the tomatoes are cooked just lightly. This keeps the flavor more in line with fresh tomatoes.

What can I use instead of tomato paste without tomatoes?

If you don’t have any tomato based products on hand, try soy sauce. Use a little less than the requested amount of tomato paste, though, as it’s much saltier. The consistency and texture won’t be the same, but you’ll get a good flavor boost.

Serving Suggestions

Tomato paste is one of those ingredients that is used in a variety of soups, stews, pastas and casseroles. Here are a few great ways to use it!

A small bowl of tomato paste on a marble countertop, gold spoon full of tomato paste substitute to the side.

More Substitutions

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