Crushed Tomatoes Substitutes

Crushed tomatoes are a staple ingredient in many recipes, providing a rich flavor and smooth texture to dishes like pasta sauces, soups, and stews. However, there may be times when you don’t have crushed tomatoes on hand or need an alternative due to dietary restrictions, taste preferences, or simply wanting to try something new. Fortunately, there are several substitutes available that can deliver similar results and elevate your culinary creations.

Exploring the world of crushed tomato substitutes not only expands your ingredient repertoire, but also allows for adaptation and creativity in your cooking. This article dives into the top substitutes for crushed tomatoes, delving into their unique characteristics, applications in various dishes, and potential challenges. Moreover, the article provides guidance on purchasing, storing, and even making your own tomato substitutes at home, ensuring that you have the knowledge and tools to confidently navigate your experiences in the kitchen.

Key Takeaways

  • Discover a variety of crushed tomato substitutes, each with unique attributes
  • Learn how to incorporate these substitutes into different dishes effectively
  • Gain insight on purchasing, storing, and creating homemade alternatives

What Are Crushed Tomatoes

Crushed tomatoes are a versatile and essential ingredient in many recipes. They are basically tomatoes that have been processed and partially pureed, resulting in a mixture with a chunky texture. Crushed tomatoes can be found in the canned goods section of your grocery store, and they are an essential pantry staple for many home cooks.

In most cases, canned crushed tomatoes are made with ripe tomatoes, ensuring a consistent flavor and quality. They can be used in various dishes, from pasta sauces to soups and stews.

Crushed Tomatoes in Recipes

Crushed tomatoes play a vital role in many recipes, as they provide a rich tomato flavor and a thick, sauce-like consistency. Some common dishes that use crushed tomatoes include:

  • Pasta dishes, such as spaghetti or lasagna
  • Soups and stews, where the tomatoes add depth and body
  • Casseroles and baked dishes, where the moisture content helps create a delicious, tender result
  • Pizza sauces and other tomato-based sauces, where the crushed tomatoes form the base of the sauce

When using crushed tomatoes in recipes, you can typically substitute them with other tomato products if you don’t have crushed tomatoes on hand. However, keep in mind that different tomato products have varying textures and consistencies, so you may need to adjust the recipe accordingly.

Texture of Crushed Tomatoes

The texture of crushed tomatoes is one of their key features, as it adds a unique element to your dishes. Unlike tomato paste or sauce, which have smooth, uniform consistencies, crushed tomatoes have a chunkier texture with small pieces of tomato still present. This creates a hearty, substantial quality in recipes and can add more visual appeal to your dishes.

When substituting other tomato products for crushed tomatoes, be aware of the changes in texture and consistency that might occur. For example, if you are using tomato sauce instead of crushed tomatoes, you may need to reduce the liquids in your recipe to achieve a similar consistency. Alternatively, you can try adding some chopped fresh or canned whole tomatoes to mimic the chunkiness of crushed tomatoes.

Top Substitutes for Crushed Tomatoes

Fresh Tomatoes

If you’re out of crushed tomatoes, using fresh tomatoes is a great option. Simply chop or blend them until they reach the desired consistency. Keep in mind that fresh tomatoes have a higher water content, so you may need to cook them a bit longer to achieve the desired thickness in your dish. They work well in soups, stews, and sauces.

Tomato Sauce

Tomato sauce can be a convenient substitute for crushed tomatoes. Since it’s already cooked and seasoned, it’s ready to use in your recipes. Bear in mind that tomato sauce is thinner in consistency, so consider reducing it or combining it with a small amount of tomato paste to achieve the desired texture. It works nicely in pasta dishes, pizzas, and chili recipes.

Diced Tomatoes

Diced tomatoes, whether canned or fresh, can be a suitable replacement for crushed tomatoes. If you need a more similar consistency, simply mash or blend them before adding to your recipe. Diced tomatoes are great for casseroles, soups, and stews.

Tomato Paste

Using tomato paste as a substitute for crushed tomatoes requires some adjustments. Since tomato paste is highly concentrated, dilute it with water or broth (1:1 ratio) to achieve a similar consistency. Tomato paste is ideal for pizza sauces, meat dishes, and adding depth to soups.

Stewed Tomatoes

When considering a substitute, stewed tomatoes offer a versatile option. These are often seasoned and cooked with vegetables like onions, celery, and peppers, adding extra flavor to your dish. You can mash or blend them to achieve the desired consistency. Stewed tomatoes work well in pasta dishes, chili, and slow cooker recipes.

Tomato Puree

Tomato puree is a blend of cooked tomatoes that shares a similar consistency with crushed tomatoes. It’s smooth and ready to use in your recipes. Just be aware that it may be slightly sweeter, so adjust the seasoning accordingly. Tomato puree is excellent in sauces, soups, and curry dishes.

Utilizing Substitutes in Various Dishes

Soups and Stews

In soups and stews, substituting crushed tomatoes can be easily done with alternatives like whole canned tomatoes, tomato sauce, or tomato puree. You can just crush whole canned tomatoes by hand or using a blender, while tomato sauce can be directly added to your soup or stew. When using tomato puree, you might want to add a little water to thin it out before mixing it into your recipe.

Pasta Dishes

For versatile pasta dishes, you can use options like diced tomatoes or canned whole tomatoes for a different texture. If you’re aiming for a smoother sauce, opt for tomato sauce, tomato puree, or even store-bought marinara sauce. If you want a fresh touch, you may consider using chopped fresh tomatoes, but keep in mind cooking time might increase.

Pizza and Salsas

Pizza sauces and salsas can also benefit from crushed tomato substitutes. Fresh tomatoes, tomato puree, and tomato sauce all work well as bases for homemade pizza sauce. If using fresh tomatoes, consider blending them or cooking them down to achieve the desired consistency. When making salsas, fresh tomatoes are the perfect choice, but diced canned tomatoes can provide a firmer texture.


For casseroles, you might want a substitute that can withstand prolonged cooking without breaking down. In this case, whole or diced canned tomatoes are great options. If you prefer a smoother texture, consider tomato sauce or tomato puree. Keep in mind that the liquids in some substitutes, such as tomato sauce, may need to be reduced to avoid a watery casserole.

Tomato sauce in a glass jar

Creating Homemade Crushed Tomato Substitutes

Creating homemade crushed tomato substitutes is a simple and convenient way to use fresh ingredients in your recipes. There are a few techniques you can use to achieve the desired consistency and flavor profile for your substitute.

Using a Food Processor

A food processor is a great tool for creating a homemade crushed tomato substitute. Start by washing and roughly chopping fresh tomatoes, discarding the cores. Place the chopped tomatoes in your food processor, and pulse until you reach the desired consistency. Be careful not to over-process, as you want to retain some texture, similar to crushed tomatoes.

Blending Option

If you don’t have a food processor, you can use a blender to create a homemade crushed tomato substitute. Add the chopped tomatoes to your blender and blend on a low setting, using a tamper or spatula to move the tomatoes around if needed. This method will create a slightly smoother consistency than the food processor, but it’s still effective for many recipes.

Seasoning your Substitute

To add flavor to your homemade crushed tomatoes, experiment with the following seasonings:

  • Spices: Add a mix of spices, such as ground cumin, paprika, or chili powder, to taste.
  • Garlic: Mince a clove or two of garlic and add it to your tomatoes for a burst of flavor.
  • Herbs: Fresh or dried herbs, like basil, oregano, or thyme, will enhance the taste of your crushed tomato substitute.
  • Pepper: Adjust the heat level to your preference with crushed red pepper flakes or freshly ground black pepper.
  • Olive oil: Drizzle a bit of extra virgin olive oil into your substitute for added richness and flavor.

Incorporate these seasonings either during blending or food processing, or stir them in afterward. By using these techniques and seasonings, you can create a versatile, homemade crushed tomato substitute perfect for your culinary needs.

Frequently Encountered Challenges and Solutions

Issues with Flavor

When substituting crushed tomatoes, you may struggle with achieving the right flavors in your sauces or tomato-based dishes. To tackle this, consider adding some garlic powder or other dried herbs and spices to give your alternative ingredients the depth commonly found in crushed tomatoes. Adjust seasoning accordingly until you find the desired taste in your pasta sauce or tomato-based sauce.

Achieving the Desired Texture

The texture of your dish might be affected if you’re not using crushed tomatoes. In order to achieve a smooth and consistent texture, try the following steps:

  1. If using whole or diced tomatoes, gently mash them with a fork or potato masher to break them down into smaller pieces.
  2. Blend the tomatoes using an immersion blender or regular blender to transform them into a smoother sauce. Be cautious not to over-blend, which can cause a watery texture.
  3. In the case of tomato sauce or tomato purée, you can add finely chopped or grated vegetables like carrots, zucchini, or bell peppers to give the sauce a thicker texture similar to crushed tomatoes.

Correcting Water Content

Different substitutes for crushed tomatoes might have varying water content, which can impact the overall consistency of your dish. To address this issue, follow these tips:

  • For watery substitutes: Simmer the sauce over low heat until it reaches the desired consistency. Remember to stir occasionally to prevent sticking.
  • For thicker substitutes: Add some water or broth to thin the sauce to your preferred consistency. Start with small amounts and adjust gradually to avoid making the sauce too thin.

By paying attention to flavor, texture, and water content, you can successfully replace crushed tomatoes in your recipes and still create delicious, well-balanced dishes.

Guide to Purchasing and Storing Tomato Substitutes

Choosing the Right Substitute at the Store

When looking for a suitable substitute for crushed tomatoes, visit grocery stores or supermarkets to find a variety of options. For a versatile base, consider canned tomato products such as tomato sauce or tomato paste. You can also opt for fire-roasted tomatoes for a smoky flavor. Alternatively, check the soup aisle for condensed tomato soup as a quick and easy substitute.

When choosing a product, keep the following factors in mind:

  • Check the label for added sugars or preservatives
  • If possible, go for a low-sodium option
  • Ensure the packaging is well-sealed and undamaged

Storing for Long Term Use

Proper storage prolongs the shelf life of your tomato substitutes. Here’s how:

Pantry: Keep unopened canned tomato products and condensed tomato soup in a cool, dry place. Make sure to use them before the expiration date.

Refrigeration: Once opened, transfer unused portions of tomato sauce, paste, or condensed soup into airtight containers. Store them in the refrigerator for up to a week.

Freezing: For longer storage, freeze your tomato substitutes in freezer-safe containers or plastic bags. Label them clearly with the date and type of product. You can keep them in the freezer for up to six months.

By following these guidelines, you can ensure the freshness and quality of your tomato substitutes, making them ideal for use in various recipes.

Frequently Asked Questions

How to create crushed tomatoes from other canned tomato varieties?

To create crushed tomatoes from other canned tomato varieties, you can use canned whole or diced tomatoes. Drain the liquid from the can and then pulse the tomatoes in a blender or food processor until they reach the desired consistency. Adjust the texture by adding a little liquid if needed.

What can be used as a replacement for crushed tomatoes in a recipe?

You can use several alternatives for crushed tomatoes in a recipe. Possible replacements include canned whole or diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, tomato paste mixed with water, or fresh tomatoes that have been peeled, chopped, and cooked down.

Can tomato sauce be an alternative to crushed tomatoes in chili?

Yes, tomato sauce can be an alternative to crushed tomatoes in chili. If using tomato sauce, you may need to adjust the consistency. Consider adding a little water or broth to thin it out, or reduce the sauce by simmering it to achieve a thicker texture.

How to make a sauce using crushed tomatoes?

To make a sauce using crushed tomatoes, start by sautéing onions, garlic, and any desired herbs or spices in olive oil until they become fragrant and translucent. Next, add the crushed tomatoes and simmer on low heat for 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the sauce reaches your desired thickness. Adjust the seasoning with salt, pepper, and any additional spices as needed.

What is the closest substitute for tomato paste?

The closest substitute for tomato paste is tomato sauce mixed with a small amount of cornstarch or flour to thicken it. You can also reduce tomato sauce by simmering it until it becomes thicker and more concentrated. Alternatively, try blending a can of whole or diced tomatoes and cooking it down to achieve a similar consistency.

How can I swap out diced tomatoes for crushed tomatoes?

To swap out diced tomatoes for crushed tomatoes, first drain the can of diced tomatoes, reserving the liquid. Then, pulse the diced tomatoes in a blender or food processor until you achieve a crushed-like texture. If needed, adjust the consistency by adding the reserved liquid from the can until you reach your desired thickness.

Substitutes For Crushed Tomatoes

These options are sure to be a hit. So, gather your family and friends and enjoy. Let us know your thoughts!
5 from 6 votes
Total Time 9 minutes
Course Substitute
Cuisine American
Servings 4
Calories 155 kcal


  • Fresh or Chopped Tomatoes
  • Store-Bought Tomato Cooking Sauce
  • Ketchup and Tomato Purée
  • Condensed Tomato Soup
  • Roast Fruit and Vegetable Blend


  • Try our kitchen tested crushed tomato substitutes.


Select your option.
Use in or with your favorite recipe.


Calories: 155kcal
Keyword crushed tomato substitutes
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Cassie brings decades of experience to the Kitchen Community. She is a noted chef and avid gardener. Her new book "Healthy Eating Through the Garden" will be released shortly. When not writing or speaking about food and gardens Cassie can be found puttering around farmer's markets and greenhouses looking for the next great idea.
Cassie Marshall
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