Last Updated: September 14, 2022

What to Substitute for Tomato Sauce in a Recipe and How to Use those

substitute for tomato sauce

Hey there! Are you about to cook dinner and see that you are all out of tomato sauce? And it’s too late, so you can’t go grocery shopping? Don’t worry, my friend; I have been in similar situations before, and the answer was already in my kitchen pantry. Today I shall teach you what and how to substitute tomato sauce in case of emergencies. 

To begin with, let us first understand what tomato sauce is. 

What is Tomato Sauce? 

Tomato sauce is undoubtedly one of the most common and recognized sauces. Every culture has a slight variation, but the core ingredient remains the same. The humble tomato! Now you may be wondering how they make it.

These are the primary and quintessential ingredients of a tomato sauce:

  • Tomatoes
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Garlic
  • Onion
  • Basil 

 Tomato sauce has a wide range of uses, for instance:

  • Pasta
  • Curries
  • Baked dishes
  • Stews
  • Soups
  • Fast Food

Most of your favorite go-to foods and snacks are either made with or served with tomato sauce. It is a staple and must-have in cuisines all over the world. Some dishes are truly incomplete without tomato sauce, as it is a crucial element to those dishes.

Fun Fact : Tomato sauce is called a Mother sauce. A mother sauce is one of the five basic sauces from which more other sauces are created. 

Now a question may arise: why use a substitute at all? There could be many reasons. Let’s take a look at some.

Why Use a Substitute for Tomato Sauce?  

Here are a few instances in which you may need or want a substitute:

1. You ran out of tomato sauce

This is the most common reason for which you may need to look for substitutes. Often, in our busy lifestyle, we forget certain things. I’m pretty sure that buying tomato sauce isn’t high on your priority list unless you are an Italian grandma.

2. You have digestive issues

After consuming tomatoes, many people face digestive problems such as heartburn, acid reflux, etc. Tomatoes and tomato-based dishes tend to trigger these involuntary reflexes.

3. You are allergic to tomatoes

It is not uncommon for individuals to have allergies. If you have an allergy to tomatoes, then you must avoid them at all costs.

Caution :

Tomatoes contain a chemical compound called alkaloids. Alkaloids, when consumed in very large quantities, are very dangerous. 

Substitutes for Tomato Sauce

1. Tomato Paste

As a more concentrated version of tomatoes, tomato paste is likely the best alternative to tomato sauce. Tomato paste is pureed tomatoes, but it is dehydrated and concentrated; as a result, it is packed with more flavor and taste of tomatoes.

To use tomato paste as a substitute, you must mix it with water and reach the consistency you like. In addition, you can add herbs and spices to it to achieve a similar taste to tomato sauce. Olive oil, garlic, basil, etc., are good choices.

Another plus point for tomato paste is that tomato paste has no added sugars or salts. When you use tomato paste instead of tomato sauce, you get to regulate and control the amount of sugar and salt per requirement, which you can’t achieve with pre-made sauces. 

2. Canned Tomatoes

Canned tomatoes are another great substitute for canned tomatoes. Canned tomatoes are tomatoes that have been preserved and somewhat softened. They come in various forms, including whole, cut, and crushed. Surprisingly, some recipes often prefer canned tomatoes over fresh tomatoes when making dishes.

Another interesting thing about canned tomatoes is that you can often make tomato sauce from canned tomatoes. Simply blend the canned tomatoes into a smooth consistency. Then thoroughly cook it with some olive oil, herbs, and seasonings. The result is a tomato sauce that, in many cases, tastes better than pre-made tomato sauces.

3. Ketchup

This is probably a substitute you already have in your pantry, as ketchup is one of the most widely used condiments and sauces. That being said, it is perhaps the most processed and contains the most added sugar and preservatives. This makes ketchup an unconventional substitute.

You can simply follow the 1:1 ratio for ketchup and tomato sauce to use ketchup as a substitute. But be careful of how much sugar and vinegar are present in the ketchup, as it is usually in large quantities.

4. Tomato Soup

Tomato soup isn’t the best substitute for tomato sauce. That’s because it is more liquid than tomato sauce. Moreover, tomato soups don’t have the same flavor profile as tomato sauce, so taste them first.

To replace the tomato sauce with tomato soup, you can use one can of tomato soup for one cup of tomato sauce. But doing so will make the recipe runnier. So a good way to avoid that is by reducing other liquids in the recipe, like water, stock, etc. 

Another thing you can do is to simmer and reduce the tomato soup for a while till you reach a preferred consistency. Tomato soup tends to be sweet in general, so always keep the sweetness in check by adjusting other ingredients like salt, seasoning, herbs, etc., to your liking.

To Conclude

Desperate times call for desperate measures; if you are in desperate conditions, follow my tips and tricks. So next time you need to substitute tomato sauce in a recipe, you’ll be better prepared and have a pleasant cooking experience.

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