Quick and Easy Tomato Sauce Substitutes

If you don’t have tomato sauce on hand, but the dish that you wanted to make requires it, then it can be helpful to have a backup plan in place.

We have grown accustomed to having canned tomato sauce at the ready in our pantries, but keep in mind that for centuries, people made tomato sauce from scratch. In fact, tomato sauce is easy to make, but it does take a lot of time. It’s so much easier to have those inexpensive little cans handy, isn’t it?

Another issue is this: In the last few years, canned goods haven’t always been available. Fortunately, you have options, from homemade to substitutions. These days, you can find tomato sauce in all sorts of flavors, and that makes it easy to add quick flavor to recipes.

Tomato sauce is a versatile and essential ingredient in many recipes. It provides a rich, tangy flavor and a deep red color to a variety of dishes. When you use tomato sauce, you may be seeking a specific consistency and taste that complements the other ingredients in your recipe.

The consistency of tomato sauce can range from a fairly thin liquid to a thick puree. Generally, it is important to find the right balance between these two extremes to ensure the best results in your dish. If the sauce consistency is too thin or too thick, it may alter the cooking process and final texture of your meal.

The tomato sauce substitute is varied from canned tomato, tomato puree made from fresh tomatoes, marinara sauce, diced tomatoes, tomato juice, any spaghetti sauce. In short you can use just about any canned tomato product that gives the distinctive tomato flavor. I’ve even seen a famous chef I used to work with use ketchup and red pepper as a tomato sauce substitute when out of all other options. You can even look at Nomato sauce if you’re allergic to tomatoes.

Thankfully, there are lots of different things that you can use as a substitute for tomato sauce, and if you find yourself without it, you can whip up some quick recipes to save your meal.

Tomato sauce is probably one of the most popular types of sauces for so many different recipe ideas, and if you are out of it, and you don’t feel like going on a trip to the grocery store, then we have some tips that you can use instead.

These tomato sauce substitutes can be especially helpful if you do not have time to go out and get what you need, and you should be able to find some alternative ingredients around your home that can still do the job just as well.

Time-saving Tomato Sauce Substitutes for Last-minute Situations

Tomato Sauce Substitutes

To help save the day, we are going to let you in on a few secrets when it comes to tomato sauce substitutes, so you will still be able to enjoy your meal as planned without it.

There are lots of different things that you can use as a substitute, and we will explain some of these below.

Feel free to copy some of these down into a notebook for future reference, as they could come in really handy, especially when you least expect it.

Tomato Paste

If you have any form of tomato paste hidden in a cupboard somewhere, then you will be able to create your very own tomato sauce substitute. All you need to do so is some tomato paste and some water.

You will need to mix 1 part of tomato sauce with 1 part of water until it is well blended, and then you should season the sauce with whatever you would prefer.

Tomato sauce is usually sweetened using ingredients like herbs, garlic, and onion, so you might want to take inspiration from this if you are looking for a similar flavoring.

For the most authentic tomato sauce taste, you should cook some garlic and onion in oil until they become soft, and then add the tomato paste and water mixture.

Heat this up until it is warmed through completely, and then add any extra ingredients that you want. This will work to enhance the flavor and texture of the sauce that you have created, and you will be left with the perfect tomato sauce.

Canned Tomatoes

If you don’t have any tomato paste to hand, but you manage to get your hands on some canned tomatoes, then you are in luck.

Canned tomatoes are just the thing that you can use to your advantage to make your own tomato sauce.

Thankfully, it doesn’t even matter what type of canned tomatoes you use, as long as you have enough to spare.

The first thing that you will need to do is to drain away any liquid that is inside the can and move it to the side. The next step is to put your tomatoes in a blender or a food processor and blend them until they turn into a puree consistency.

If this consistency ends up being a lot wetter than normal tomato sauce, then you should drain away any excess water that has been left over. An alternative to this would be to cook the mixture in a pan for a little while until the consistency is better.

This method takes slightly longer, but it will give you the same result. If you are using crushed tomatoes, you are more likely to have to cook it for a short time to make it thicken up a bit before you use it.

If you want to add seasoning, you should check that the canned tomatoes that you are using are not already seasoned.

Some of these types of products come pre-seasoned, but others do not, so it is worth checking before you over-season your sauce.

If it doesn’t, and you want to add some seasoning, then you can choose to add salt, spices, and even basil to your sauce to add some extra flavor.

You will need to cook your sauce so that it can completely warm through, and until it develops a darker color and thicker consistency.

If the sauce does get too thick, you can use some of the liquid that you kept aside from the can to bring it back to normal.

Tomato Soup

Though this method is used less commonly, you can actually use some tomato soup that you have in your pantry to create the perfect tomato sauce.

It probably isn’t the best consistency to use for dishes like pasta or spaghetti, but it would make a great addition to any liquid-based dishes like a casserole or something similar to this.

To use this method, you will need to add a 10 ¾ ounce can of tomato soup to a pan to start the process.

It is better to make your sauce separately rather than throw the soup in with your dish straight away due to the fact that tomato soup is a lot sweeter than other types of tomato sauces, which means that it is more likely to need flavor adjustments and additional seasoning.

If your consistency becomes too thick while cooking, you can always opt to add some extra water, but other than this, you are good to start creating your own unique flavor.

You can add a variety of different herbs and spices, depending on your personal preference, and by the end of the process, you will have the perfect tomato sauce to add to your dish.

Preparing for Tomato Sauce Substitutes

A great way to be prepared for any tomato sauce outage is to always have some substitute sauces readily made up so that you can use them when you need to.

You might even find that you prefer some of these substitutes to store-bought tomato sauce, so you can pre-make them to use when you need to.

Frequently Asked Questions

What can replace tomato sauce in a recipe?

If you need a substitute for tomato sauce, you can try using canned crushed tomatoes or tomato puree. Another option is to blend canned diced tomatoes until smooth. You can also combine a small amount of sugar, garlic, and onion powder to match the flavor profile of tomato sauce.

How can I make tomato sauce from tomato paste?

To make tomato sauce from tomato paste, combine one part tomato paste with one part water. Add seasonings such as garlic, onion powder, salt, and pepper, as well as herbs like basil and oregano to taste. Simmer the mixture until it reaches your preferred consistency.

Can ketchup be used instead of tomato sauce?

While it is not the ideal substitute, ketchup can be used instead of tomato sauce in certain situations. Ketchup is much sweeter and has a different flavor than tomato sauce, so adjustments to other ingredients may be required. Consider adding water to ketchup to achieve a similar consistency to tomato sauce, and be mindful of the added sweetness.

Is pasta sauce a suitable substitute for tomato sauce?

In most cases, pasta sauce can be used as a substitute for tomato sauce. Keep in mind that pasta sauce typically contains more herbs, vegetables, and other flavorings than tomato sauce. The final dish may taste different than if you used tomato sauce, but it should still be delicious.

How can I substitute crushed tomatoes for tomato sauce?

To substitute crushed tomatoes for tomato sauce, use an equal amount of crushed tomatoes in place of the tomato sauce in your recipe. If the consistency is too thick, add a small amount of water to achieve the desired texture. You can also add sugar, salt, and other seasonings to match the flavor profile of tomato sauce.

What are some non-tomato alternatives for tomato sauce?

If you need a non-tomato alternative for tomato sauce, consider using pureed roasted red bell peppers, pumpkin or squash puree, or even a mixture of olive oil, garlic, and fresh herbs. These options may not replicate the exact flavor and acidity of tomato sauce, but they provide unique alternatives for those avoiding tomatoes.

Can I substitute tomato sauce with pasta sauce?

Pasta sauce is a type of tomato sauce that has been seasoned to enhance the flavor.

While it is possible to use pasta sauce as a replacement for tomato sauce in several dishes, it is worth noting that you will likely notice a difference in flavor because it contains more herbs and spices than tomato sauce.

Tomato paste is one of the best substitutes for tomato sauce, so if the slight difference in taste between pasta sauce and tomato sauce doesn’t suit your recipe, this may be worth considering.

To create the tomato sauce you will need to add water and then blend it. Another option is to use canned tomatoes by draining them and then cooking them down.

There are many other substitutes available, though the type that you choose will depend on the dish you are making.

What can I substitute for tomato sauce in lasagna?

If you are planning on making lasagna there are a few substitutes that you can use instead. Vegetables such as eggplant or peppers are a great option.

Either roast or sauté the vegetables and once they have finished cooking remove the skins. Then add flavorings such as olive paste and salt and pepper and blend the ingredients to create a puree.

Another option is to use spinach as a substitute for the tomato sauce and the tomatoes.

Again we would recommend that you had some flavoring such as garlic to the flavor as this will create a flavor that is more apparent when the spinach is combined with the béchamel sauce.

You may choose to skip a substitute and instead just use the béchamel sauce. This is a good option for those who prefer a lasagna that has a milder flavor.

What can I add to pasta if I have no sauce?

If you are making a pasta dish but don’t have any pasta sauce there are several other great tasting options available.

Canned tomatoes offer an easy alternatives that require little effort in regards to the preparation.

Open the can and then add them to your pasta. Alternatively, you may wish to make your own sauce using canned tomatoes. They will need to be blended and then you can add your desired seasonings.

Alternative options include chili, olive oil, and garlic. Mix and then add to your pasta as it cooks. You may also choose to combine butter or garlic butter with some seasonings.

Instead of using seasonings, you could also use goat’s cheese and spinach mixed together.

There are many ingredients that you can add to your pasta if you don’t have any sauce, and finding the best alternative often involves experimenting with different flavors and seasonings.

Time-saving Tomato Sauce Substitutes for Last-minute Situations

Time-saving Tomato Sauce Substitutes for Last-minute Situations

Easy Tomato Sauce Substitutes

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 8 minutes
Course Substitute
Cuisine American
Servings 4
Calories 144 kcal


  • Tomato Paste
  • Canned Tomatoes
  • Tomato Soup


  • Try our kitchen tested tomato sauce substitutes.


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


Calories: 144kcal
Keyword tomato sauce 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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