Last Updated: May 20, 2022

Tomato Puree vs Paste: 5 Differences

tomato puree vs tomato paste

Tomato Puree vs Paste: Can They Be Substitutes for Each Other? Tomato puree and paste almost look alike as they are made of the same ingredient, tomato. Still, there are some clear differences between these two. In short,

Tomato PureeTomato Paste
Tomato puree is made of cooked and strained tomatoes having a liquid texture, and a solid tangy taste as it is made by blending ripe tomatoes, citric acid, and salt.Tomato paste is a thick concentrate made from blended tomatoes. To make this thick, concentrated paste, first the tomatoes are cooked, strained, and then recooked.

The Main Differences Between Tomato Puree and Paste

Both tomato paste and pure are made of cooked and strained tomatoes and are frequently used to season and thicken the texture of a dish. However, as I mentioned before, these two have a few major differences.

1. Consistency: Tomato puree has a thinner and more liquid consistency. But tomato paste has a relatively thicker texture, and that’s why it either needs to be squeezed or spooned from its container.

tips icon Worthy Tip : You can mix water with tomato paste to get tomato puree if you want. You can also turn the puree into a paste if you cook it longer.

2. Flavor Intensity: Tomato puree has a deep, tangy, and acidic flavor, but tomato paste has a sweeter, milder, and richer taste with no acidic taste.

3. Preparation Method: Tomato puree is made by cooking tomatoes lightly (and relatively for a short time). It is the liquid version of tomato paste.

Meanwhile, for tomato paste, tomatoes are boiled, strained, and then simmered for a long time. The tomato paste becomes denser as it is simmered twice and is nearly reduced to half of its original volume. That’s why it has a stronger flavor than puree.

4. Uses:  Tomato puree is used in making sauces like pizza sauce, dips, salsa, soups, stews, and casseroles because-

  • It adds flavors to dishes that require extra liquid and a tomato base.
  • It adds volume and spices to any savory dish.

A small amount of tomato paste is enough to make the recipe savory. On the other hand, tomato paste is mainly used in sauces like marinara to thicken or add extra flavor to pizza and pasta sauce. Tomato sauce is also used to enhance the flavor of stews and soups.

So, using tomato puree and tomato paste is the opposite of each other.

5. Storing Method: Due to their consistency, the storage method for these two is different. Tomato puree can be stored in a zip-lock plastic bag first, then frozen in the bag.

The chunks can be stored in a plastic container when they are frozen. But for tomato paste, the freezing method is to scoop blobs of paste and place them onto a baking sheet first. Doing this will enable you to store your extra tomato puree or paste and use them when any dish needs the flavor of tomato.

Now the big question- 

Can You Substitute One for the Other?

You can easily substitute tomato puree with tomato paste and vice versa. So, if you have one but need the other one for your dish, here’s what you need to do.

  • How to Substitute Tomato Paste for Tomato Puree

If you need tomato puree but you’re out of tomatoes and, luckily, you have tomato paste in your pantry, your problem is half solved. You need to mix an equal amount of water with tomato paste to turn it into the required amount of tomato puree.

For example, if you need one cup of tomato puree for your recipe, mix half a cup of water with half a cup of tomato paste. You can keep adding both water and paste until you achieve your desired consistency.

tomato paste in a glass
Image credit: Shutterstock
  • How to Substitute Tomato Puree for Tomato Paste

In a 1:3 ratio, you can substitute tomato puree for paste. For instance, if you need one tablespoon of tomato paste, you can use three tablespoons of pure in the recipe instead. Cook the puree until the water content is reduced and it has a thicker consistency. You may add some sugar to the tomato puree while turning it into tomato paste.

You may also like: Substitute for Lemon Zest

Difference Between Tomato Sauce and Tomato Puree

There are notable differences between tomato puree and sauce. 

Tomato puree has a thin liquid consistency.The sauce is much thinner than puree.
One can easily make tomato puree using fresh, canned, or peeled tomatoes.The sauce requires peeled or fresh tomatoes.

Furthermore, because tomato sauce has added spices and seasonings, it is more flavorful than tomato puree.

Difference Between Tomato Sauce and Tomato Paste

It’s easier to tell the difference between paste and sauce because the paste is thicker in texture and takes longer to prepare. It takes only 30 minutes to prepare the sauce. On the contrary, the sauce has the thinnest consistency of the three tomato products.

When the puree is concentrated, it turns into a paste. Meanwhile, when you make the thinnest tomato puree and add spices, it becomes tomato sauce.

Final Words

Suppose you’re wary of acidity and looking for sweeter, richer, and more intense flavors for your recipe. In that case, tomato paste is the best option. And you will get similar tastes to dried tomatoes as hours are spent drying and overheating them.

On the other hand, if you want to add the taste of fresh tomato and a milder finish than the paste, you should go for tomato puree.

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